l-r: e.l.f. Essential Eyeshadow Brush, e.l.f. Essential Blending Eye Brush, e.l.f. Studio Blush Brush
l-r: Sportsgirl dual-ended brush, Real Techniques Domed Shadow Brush, e.l.f. Eyeshadow Brush
l-r: Ecotools Smudge Brush, e.l.f. Blending Eye Brush, Ecotools Blending Brush
The two eyeshadow brushes I picked out seem to be the most popular and well-received of e.l.f.'s Essential range, so my expectations were fairly high despite how affordable they were. Before anything, I gave them a good wash with Daiso Detergent for Puff and Sponge and not a single hair shed which was a positive start. After they'd dried and I'd used them for the first time, I was pleased at how soft the bristles were without being floppy and hard to control.
The Essential Eyeshadow Brush seems designed for the basic job of packing on a single colour all over the eyelid. It picked up a good amount of shadow, especially with the lighter shade I used, without resulting in too much fallout. The only issue I had was the length of the bristles which I found a bit too short. Occasionally I'd feel the cold, hard ferrule on my lid rather than the actual brush hair.
The Essential Blending Eye Brush was excellent at concentrating a deeper colour on the outer-V of the eye and blending into the crease. It fits really snugly into the crease (or disappears into the skin fold, if you have monolids) and deposits colour accurately. The smaller, rounded shape allows for better control and placement compared with something much larger and fluffier, like the Ecotools Blending Brush from the Bamboo 5 Piece Brush Set. Together, the Eyeshadow Brush and the Blending Eye Brush make eyeshadow application a simple, approachable 2-step process that even eyeshadow novices can master.
l-r: Real Techniques Setting Brush, Real Techniques Contour Brush, e.l.f. Blush Brush, Ecotools Blush Brush
Out of the Studio line, I was tempted by the gigantic Kabuki Face Brush but in the end, I had to go with the Blush Brush. Mainly, I was intrigued by the shape of it, which is significantly smaller than what I'm accustomed to in a blush brush. It actually reminded me of the SUQQU "Kitten Paw" Cheek Brush beloved by Lisa Eldridge, though that could be more because both are all black than anything else. Notwithstanding other major quality/materials/craftsmanship/price differences, the SUQQU appears more fluffy and rounded, whereas this e.l.f. one is mainly flat.
Of course, I had to try the brush with e.l.f.'s own Studio Blushes. I whipped out my oft-neglected Pink Passion, a colour I've struggled with and been frequently intimidated by as it's so bright and pigmented. Using the Studio Blush Brush, with its flat edge and smaller shape, gave me far greater control as to placement and opacity. I could concentrate the colour exactly where I wanted it on the cheek and build up the pigmentation slowly with each layer. I think the Studio Blush Brush has the potential to make more accessible any strongly pigmented blush that more traditional blush brushes would overdo. I don't have anything similar in shape, so it's a welcome addition to my brush collection.