Face brush comparison: Benefit, Essence and Real Techniques

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Two short years ago, I owned one makeup brush, and it came in a blush compact. Now I have about 50 (don’t ask me to actually count!), and I’m addicted. The smooth application is fun, not to mention the face tickle you get from the touchably soft brushes! Here are some face-stroking ranges I’ve been using a lot lately:

Essence Bloom Me Up collection

I picked these up in Spain when I went there earlier this year. I literally borrowed €20 off the boyfriend, promised not to spend it all, walked into the store expecting to be disappointed (I’d been stalking every Essence retailer in Lausanne for the past few months), then walked out with a handful of brushes and 10 cents. Oops!

The brushes are a mix of amazing and meh. Most of them seem to be better suited to other applications than what they’re made for…

The powder brush though, is a good powder brush. It’s big, super soft and picks up powder well. Massive thumbs up!


The concealer sponge is way, way too big for concealer. It’s bigger than my eye I think! I’ve been using it for foundation instead. It’s made of the same sort of sponge as the Beauty Blender so it swells up in water – while this is great for application, unfortunately the sponge is pulling out of the ferrule already.

The blush brush looks like a buffing foundation brush to me, and works pretty well as one. I’m not sure how it’d go with blush – it doesn’t seem splayed enough to give a soft blended gradient. It might be better for cream blush?

The eyeshadow brushes have very stiff bristles that don’t pick up powder very well. I think they’d work well for cream eyeshadows, but I’ve found that the small orange brush is perfect for concealer. I’ve also been trying out the green one for liquid illuminator.

Pros:
– Very budget friendly
– Some very high quality brushes
– Pretty colours
– Synthetic bristles

Cons:
– Eye brushes too stiff to pick up powder (but pretty good for liquid/cream products)
– Super limited edition

Benefit*

These brushes are super soft and high quality. The foundation brush is great with cream and liquid foundations (though a tad stuff for my liking) and the angled brush is very good as well – but I have so much love for the blush and eyeshadow brushes! The blush brush is perfect for both contouring and a light sweep of colour – it’s the best two-in-one cheek brush I’ve ever tried. To switch you simply rotate the brush a quarter turn. The eyeshadow brush is thick and bushy and picks up eyeshadow like nobody’s business.

Pros:
– High quality
– Animal hair bristles (blush and powder shadow brush – holds powder well)

Cons:
– On the pricey side
– Animal hair bristles (powder brushes not cruelty-free)

Real Techniques

I bought these a while ago on iHerb and the foundation brushes have been in high rotation. I recently purchased the makeup sponge as well, which is a Beauty Blender dupe, and has pretty much taken the place of the  foundation brushes (though I end up using more product, plus it gets gross-looking faster).

Pros:
– Synthetic bristles
– Reasonably priced (from iHerb, not so much at Australian retail prices)
– Consistent quality

Cons:
– Unusual shapes for eye brushes
– Can’t buy brushes from most sets individually

I’m pretty happy with my brush collection at the moment – I have brushes for everything, and I have spares for when they’re being washed, but I doubt I can stop myself from getting more! Do you also have a brush-hauling issue? What are your favourite brushes? Let me know in the comments!

*This product was provided for review, which did not affect my opinion. For more information, see Disclosure Policy.

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16 thoughts on “Face brush comparison: Benefit, Essence and Real Techniques”

  1. I consider brushes as investment, which is how I’m justifying buying more…..
    I don’t have as many as you do though. I really like my Real Technique brushes from the core collection.

    Reply
  2. I’m pretty in love with Real Techniques brushes. I made sure to stock up when I was in Canada so I could avoid the huge mark-up! I do with they sold them all individually though– I adore the contour brush for liquid foundation and setting powder so I’d be really happy grabbing a second one, but I rarely use the other brushes from that set. I’ve also had quite good luck with the Models Prefer Professional brushes (though not the rubbish double-ended brightly coloured ones in the standard range!). They have a good variety of shapes and sizes and rival some high end brands in the more ‘expert’ brushes they stock, like the flat contour, bent liner and stippling brushes.

    Reply
    • I’ve heard good things about the Models Prefer brushes but amazingly I haven’t been to Priceline in a while! I’ll have to check them out soon. I love the contour brush too – it’s really excellent for shading my nose and cheeks, my other contour brushes are too big for my nose.

      Reply
  3. I got some RT brushes and the sponge from iherb as well. I’ve never made the investment into expensive brushes, and with these I don’t really feel the need to so far! Although one day I may get some Hakuhodo ones — they sound amazing.

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    • I agree, I’m always groping the Hakuhodo brushes at exhibitions! They’re so soft and fluffy. I want a bed made of Hakuhodo brush hair, but I get the feeling it would be very guilt-inducing.

      Reply
  4. Just discovered your blog, via British Beauty Blogger and i’m in love! And OMG, you live in Lausanne?! Me too! Do you have any good recommendations about where to buy make up and cosmetics in general? (except from the obvious Globus, Manor and internet). It’s so hard being a product junkie here 🙁
    Keep up with the great work, really love your blog 😉

    Reply
    • I’m in Sydney right now, but I’ll be heading back to Lausanne in a little over a month 🙂 I agree it’s hard! There are a few interesting looking brands in the grocery stores (Coop and Migros have Essence, Catrice, Manhattan, Astor and a bunch of other stuff), but they’re all way cheaper in other countries. There are also a few luxury finds in the bargain bins at the pharmacies, but I think the real answer is to hop across the border to France 🙁

      Reply
  5. I currently have a bit of a brush fetish myself. I love the Real Techniques and EcoTools. My favourite is the EcoTools bronzer brush that I use daily with Guerlains Meteorites.

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