When you’re just staring out with makeup, and creating simple looks, fingers are fine, but for creating more technical makeup looks, your tools are even more important than the products you use. Makeup brushes are a wonderful investment for the makeup aficionado, but they don’t have to cost a fortune. I would guess that half my professional brush kit is made up of “budget” brushes.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be going over a couple of exceptional budget makeup brush brands that I use and love. This week I’ll be talking about Real Techniques.
The Real Techniques line of brushes is a range of synthetic, cruelty-free brushes designed by popular YouTube beauty vloggers Sam and Nic Chapman from Pixiwoo. The Taklon bristles used in these brushes have a texture that emulates natural hair, and I find them to be equally effective for use with cream and powder products (a claim that most synthetic brushes cannot make). The extra-long ferrules (the metal bit between the bristles and the handle) of the brushes make them very easy to clean (FYI: when washing makeup brushes, it’s important to ensure water doesn’t creep into the ferrules as it can make the bristles fall out).
The handles are colour coded in an effort to make it easier to identify the intended purpose of each brush – a great feature for beginners, but more advanced makeup users will mix and match the uses of the brush to their specific needs and style of makeup application. Still, the coloured handles look very pretty in my kit. The brushes with orange handles are intended for laying down base products, the purple handles brushes are for eyes, and the pink handled brushes are finishing brushes.
Some brushes are sold individually, and some are sold in sets. The brush sets come presented in a panoramic brush case that is handy for travel, and folds out into a stand for ease of use.
Part of the Core Collection, the Real Techniques Buffing Brush is a densely packed domed brush with a round ferrule ~1.5cm in diameter. It works very well for buffing foundation into the skin for a perfected, long-wearing finish, although due to the bristle density, it can absorb a lot of foundation. I get around this by applying foundation directly to the skin with my fingers, then using this brush to “polish” the foundation into the skin.
Part of the Core Collection, the Real Techniques Contour Brush is a slightly pointed, tapered brush of medium density with a round ferrule ~1cm in diameter. This is a very versatile brush – it works well for contouring, but I also like to use it for highlighting, very targeted blush application, and even for buffing foundation in. Due to the bristles being a little looser than the buffing brush, this can give a lighter, more natural foundation application, and seems to not absorb quite as much foundation as the buffing brush.
Pointed Foundation Brush:
Part of the Core Collection, the Real Techniques Pointed Foundation Brush is a brush that doesn’t get a lot of love from me. It’s a very small paddle brush with proportionately long bristles that can work as a concealer brush for larger areas like the cheeks or chin. I find it to be too small and flexible for me to use as a foundation brush.
Part of the Core Collection, the Real Techniques Detailer Brush is a teeny tiny paddle brush that works well for eiter targeted application of concealer, or as a lip brush.
Miracle Complexion Sponge:
The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge is one of the new(er) breed of foundation sponges that dramatically expand when wet, and when damp, can provide a flawless foundation application, comparable to the finish achieved with an airbrush. This particular sponge is one of the best I have tried. The texture when wet is perfectly soft and “smooshy” allowing the foundation to be perfectly bounced into the skin, and the combination of available surfaces (flat, rounded and pointed) allows for a targeted makeup application to all areas of the face.
Deluxe Crease Brush:
Part of the Starter Set, the Real Techniques Deluxe Crease Brush is a small, densely packed domed brush with a round ferrule. I prefer a slightly more tapered brush for the crease of the eye, but this brush is sensation for buffing concealer under the eyes, and even works well for spot application of concealer. I use it on virtually every makeup gig.
Base Shadow Brush:
Part of the Starter Set, the Real Techniques Base Shadow Brush is another brush that I love to use, but not for it’s intended purpose. It is a very tapered shader/blender brush, shaped to be reminiscent of the “ultimate” eyeshadow brush, the M.A.C 217. This brush is one of my favourites for gently buffing out illuminating concealer under the eyes.
Part of the Starter Set, the Real Techniques Brow Brush is nothing to write home about. It’s a soft-bristled angle brush that is fine for filling in eyebrows with a wash of colour, for a soft, everyday look. It is too soft to create a sharply defined brow, and too wide/full to simulate brow hairs or to use for winged eyeliner.
Part of the Starter Set, the Real Techniques Accent Brush is a very small flat shader brush. It works well for smudging out eye kohl or softly defining the lower lashline, but is a little stiffer that I like for around my sensitive eyes.
Pixel Point Eyeliner Brush:
The Real Techniques Pixel Point Eyeliner Brush is no longer part of the Real Techniques Starter Set, and for good reason. It was a pretty terrible eyeliner brush, and has been replaced by the Real Techniques Fine Liner Brush. It is much too broad and fluffy to create a sharp or fine eyeliner look. I use this with mixing medium and glitter, because I don’t like using my good brushes with glitter.
The Real Techniques Blush Brush is one of my absolute favourite powder brushes in my entire brush collection, both budget and high end. The bristles of this brush are very tapered, creating an almost ball-like shape. It can be used with the lightest of touches to set very targeted areas, or with just a little more pressure to quickly set an entire face. It is also a lovely blush brush for a more natural, blown-out application.
The Real Techniques Stippling Brush is a small, dense, flat-topped duofibre stippling brush that is almost a dupe for the cult favourite M.A.C 130 brush (the RT brush is just a little larger). It works very well to apply cream blushes and can help soften the appearance of highly pigmented powder blushes. It is also a sensational foundation brush.
The Real Techniques Setting Brush is a small, fluffy brush with medium bristle density and a pinched ferrule, creating a wider side and a narrower side. It is particularly good as a targeted powder brush, and also works well for contouring, highlighting, and even the application of foundation.
There are a few Real Techniques Brushes that I have tried that are not spectacular brushes, and there is one that is really terrible (but has been discontinued), however overall, these are fantastic brushes that belie their affordable price-point. I have not by any means tried the full range, but I have purchased, own and use a generous number of these brushes in my professional kit. Real Techniques makes good quality brushes that work equally well for beginners and professionals alike, at an affordable price.
I’m sure that I’ll be purchasing more Real Techniques brushes for my kit, and at the moment, I’ve got my eye on this limited edition DuoFibre set.
Real Techniques Brushes are available in the US from Ulta.
Real Techniques Brushes are available in the UK from Boots.
Real Techniques Brushes are available internationally from iHerb – just search “Real Techniques” in the top search bar (if you shop from this link or use the code FPG284, and it’s your first iHerb order, you’ll get a $10 discount!).
All of the brushes mentioned in this article have been purchased by Makeup Utopia. I was gifted a “Core Collection” set by The Beauty Office for editorial consideration – but I already owned it and loved it, so the extra brushes have been very handy in my pro kit. This post contains affiliate links – thank you for supporting Makeup Utopia!