I've been thinking about getting some Real Techniques brushes for a long time now, and when I was home in LA over winter break I picked up these two at Ulta (I really wanted the Expert brush, but it was sold out! Sadness). Real Techniques brushes were created by Sam from Pixiwoo, which is a sister team of makeup artists from the UK. They are FANTASTIC. Go watch their whole channel right now. I'm waiting. You'll thank me later.
Back to business! The premise behind these brushes is that they're all affordable, but still high quality and high performance, and synthetic (yay!). I got the stippling brush and the fine liner brush.
Real Techniques Stippling Brush, $9.99 at drugstore.com: I wanted a brush that would apply/blend my foundation, concealer, highlighter, bronzer, and brush. Yeah, I'm lazy/very demanding of my brushes. I've had the MAC skunk brush (188) in the past, and while I liked it, I didn't love it. I prefer synthetic bristles, and the bristles on the 188 are so long that it was hard to control where I was putting my product. This brush, on the other hand, is fantastic. It's the length of my hand, so not that huge, has a pretty pink metal body, and a flared plastic bottom so you can stand it up (so handy). The brush itself is pretty short and squat, and the bristles are very soft, but also very packed, so the brush is still firm. The general idea behind the duofibers is that the longer fibers pick up the product, and the shorter, firmer fibers blend the product into your skin--it's often call a skunk brush because it looks a lot like a skunk's tail.
To use this brush for foundation, I'll put a pump of foundation on the back of my hand, and then pick it up on the top of this brush and stipple it on my forehead, chin, both cheeks, and nose. Then I'll buff the foundation into my skin using circular motions. I've found that I can get a much more natural finish with this brush than I can using my fingers, and better coverage as well. For blush, I'll tap this onto my creme blush (MAC Lilicent, sadly discontinued), then stipple it onto the apples of my cheeks and blend it out towards my temples. I like my blush light and very blended, so having a bit of foundation left on the brush really helps keep application smooth and light-handed. Then I do the same with my bronzer and highlighter. I should buy another one of these brushes so I'm not using one to apply so many products, but...I'm lazy. Also poor. But mostly lazy.
I've had this brush for three months now, and it's honestly as good as new. I wash it about once a week with a gentle shampoo, and then lay it upside down to dry, and it dries quickly and holds its shape perfectly. I have literally no complaints here. It's such a great brush, especially for the price. I could see myself paying a lot more for this brush and still feeling happy with the price.
Real Techniques Fine Liner Brush, $5.99 at drugstore.com: I am very pick with my eyeliner brushes. I've had the same little angled brush from Sephora since maybe 10th grade, and I love it. I've had a hankering recently for a fine liner brush, though, instead of an angled one, and since this one is so cheap, I picked it up too. It's thin brush, about the length of an Urban Decay liner, with very thin bristles.
I saw a lot of negative reviews about how thin and long the bristles were when I got this, and I have to say, I was a little scared to use it. The first few times I used it to apply my gel liner, it was a mess. This brush definitely takes some getting used to. HOWEVER, once you get used to applying liner with it, I think it's actually pretty great, especially for getting a thin line across the upper lashes (much much better than my angled brush). I also have an easier time doing my cat eye flick with this, although it was pretty hard for me at first. I think it would be a little easier to deal with if the brushes were a bit shorter, but overall it's still a pretty solid liner brush.
In terms of upkeep, I wipe this down with makeup remover every night (lazy lazy Megan) and wash it thoroughly...occassionally? It's still in tip top shape.
Awkward Chic rating: A+. I love these brushes. They're so cheap but they perform so well. I just want to buy more Real Techniques brushes (like literally all of them). If you take one thing away from this review, it's that you should really buy the stippling brush!
Images via drugstore.com.