Time for a good old 'brushes and sponges' haul!
So... I did some shopping. In this post we are going to chat about some of the new/popular releases from brands like BeautyBlender, L'oreal, Real Techniques and Sephora Collection. Some of it good, some of it great, some of it mweh. Curious? Then please keep on scrolling!
While I was patiently waiting for a 6 dollar mixing palette to come back in stock on sephora.com (BTW: it was never back in stock), I came across BeautyBlender very own [sleek] version called Sur.Face Simple (30 USD; comes with a travel case and mixing wand). Do you mix makeup on the back of your hand? Do you hate having to rub your skin with micellar water afterwards? Then you probably thought about investing in one of these little guys too.
I am not going to sugarcoat it, I do not use this palette at all. For starters, it is a bit bulky and heavy to hold. While I appreciate its modern and aesthetically-pleasing design, I have no desire to clean it after every use. I don't mind washing my sponge every day, but I do have a bit of a pet peeve when it comes to dirty surfaces (mirrors, windows, phone/computer screen - you name it!) and it takes me at least good five minutes every time to first wipe off makeup residue with Kleenex, run the palette under water, towel-dry it and spray antiseptic surface spray to ensure there is no bacteria left. Exhausted yet? Because I am!
Verdict: sadly (for me personally) Sur.Face Simple was a waste of money. Since buying this mixing palette I have realized two things: a) the only face I paint is my own, so unless you are a busy makeup artist, you do not need it; b) I actually do not "mix" products as much as I thought I do. Well, I might mix two shades of foundation, but that is about it. It is easier for me to wipe off my hand with Kleenex, than go through a thorough "clean this, wash that" routine every single time. Nothing against the tool itself - I think it is well made and "in good hands" it will be well-loved. To keep it short: if you think you will use a product like this every single day, then by all means go for it! As for me - pass.
Sponges, Sponges, Sponges
While we are on the topic of BeautyBlender and it's miraculous 20-dollar sponge (Made in USA), I got two nice drugstore alternatives here. I often think to myself "There must be some cheaper yet equally nice sponges out there!". Yes, I have tried (and loved) Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge (4.99 USD; Made in China) in the past, but I still do not consider it a dupe. Having said that, none of these are dupes. Close enough, but not quite there yet.
From my experience Miracle Complexion Sponge does a great job at blending my makeup, but it absorbs quite a lot of it at the same time (which means I waste my foundation). On a good side - it does last me an exact amount of time (2-3 months) as my expensive BeautyBlender and is relatively easy to clean. Just FYI: I do not dip any of my sponges into foundation; I prefer to pump out a small amount of foundation onto the back of my hand, dot the product all over my face first and only then I spread it out/blend it in with a damp sponge.
Recently I have discovered L'oreal Infallible Blend Artist Foundation Blender (7.99 USD; Made in China). This one has a slightly different shape - a much larger, flat bottom and thicker tip (compared to both Real Techniques and BeautyBlender). I have to pinch and squeeze it really well in order to blend my undereye concealer; don't mean to body shame, but it is that chubby. Not a massive deal-breaker for me though, because the texture of the sponge itself is dreamy. It expands easily and feels much softer than its Real Techniques rival.
Verdict: while I still swear by the OG BeautyBlender, I do think that both drugstore sponges mentioned above are great and while they absorb more product than I would want them to, given their friendly price and durability, I would still highly recommend them. Between the two, I do prefer Infallible Blend Artist Foundation Blender though, because it is a touch bouncier and softer.
P.S. I clean all of my sponges using a solid, organic soap. I do not really care about those expensive solid cleansers that brands sell separately. Believe me, all of my sponges are in a wonderful condition and I've been washing them with natural soaps for years now.
Black Magic Eye Makeup Removing Cloths
Disclaimer: this product has been since discontinued.
But at some point - it was one of the hottest new releases from the Sephora Collection. I've never been a cleansing-cloth kinda gal, but when I spotted these cute little fuzzy guys, I thought to myself "Maybe now is a perfect time for you to try something new". And something new I've tried.
So, the idea here is that you can effectively remove eye makeup using these hot pink cloths. Run them under warm water, apply some liquid eye makeup remover (in my case Boscia MakeUp BreakUp Cool Cleansing Oil - a must have!) and gently massage the area for a few seconds. The tip was designed for inner corners; the wider end - for everything else. There are, however, people on YouTube who swear by these cloths, saying that they prefer to use them wet and without any cleanser (SMH).
Verdict: rubbing a wet teddy bear across your face will give you same results (i.e. stain the toy and drag your skin). Washing these was a nightmare too. I am glad this product is no longer available, because it does not deserve Sephora label on it. I now use mine for cleaning purposes (such as my laptop screen for example) and firmly believe that I am just not a cleansing-cloth kinda gal after all and perhaps I should stop trying to become one.
Ultimate 5-in-1 Sharpener
Now, is this a mega sharpener or is this a mega sharpener?
I don't know about you guys, but these days I am all about convenience and keeping my makeup stash well organized. I have realized that I had a bunch of sharpeners, that I kept holding onto mainly because of their unique sizes and shapes. One for a regular pencil, one for a big chubby pencil - so on and so forth.
Thankfully Sephora Collection created Ultimate 5-in-1 Sharpener (14 USD; blades made in Germany; assembled in China), which works for five different pencil shapes. It also has a handy lid, that keeps the shavings in place and petite pink blade cleaner that can easily access every nook and cranny. My pencils have never been this sharp and happy.
Verdict: best fourteen dollars ever spent! Needless to say - I decluttered every other sharpener in my stash and saved so much space.
Forget Bold Metals - these are officially the best quality synthetic brushes that Real Techniques have ever created. Yes, I am talking about their magical PowderBleu line that is supposed to mimic the finest blue squirrel hair.
I have to shamefully admit that I bought mine in 2017 and only started using them earlier this month (fish memory issues). This range was specifically designed for powder products and offers six different tools including: one eye brush, three face brushes, kabuki and powder puff. Prices here vary between 10-25 USD (Made in China), which is a bit expensive for the brand. However, to be very honest, this quality is even better than that of some high-end brands like Marc Jacobs, KVD, MAC etc. (all of which cost more). These are the softest synthetic bristles I have ever had a pleasure to work with (they almost feel like some of the expensive natural Japanese brushes). Brushes do not shed and are easy to clean.
Verdict: I highly recommend B01 Soft Powder Brush, B02 Soft Blush Brush and B04 Soft Eyeshadow Brush, especially if you prefer a softly-diffused makeup application. These brushes pick up and apply less product, all while blending it effortlessly. I also feel like the brand needs to expand this line, by adding a few more eye brushes. That would make me very happy!
Everyday Essentials Kit
Four bestselling brushes plus a sponge for 19.99 USD? YES PLEASE!
This Everyday Essentials Kit is a steal. More - it is actually the best brush set that I have seen in recent years. The value is amazing and as you can probably tell, if you are a fan of Real Techniques, these are actually the brand's iconic brushes that have been redesigned. Brush handles are still covered with rubber, but it looks like metal. It is not the same soft-touch material, that you would get normally (and I hope it won't get as sticky and gross over time as the original - if you know what I mean, then you know what I mean).
Verdict: I absolutely love this new girly design and every single brush model here has been in my rotation for years. They feel just as fluffy and soft as all of the brand's original brushes, so if you were on a hunt for that perfect and affordable holiday gift - this kit is a great option. I oddly feel like I want to get an extra one, mainly because it is so inexpensive and I love it so much. Great job Sam and Nic!
Purchased products; full disclaimer here