Testing out the Billion Dollar Brushes

The brush set, new and just out of the package

Recently, Billion Dollar Beauty sent a package over and contained in that package was the Pro-Brush Essentials Kit. I have been using the kit ever since to determine how I feel about them and how they work.  I absolutely love testing out new makeup brushes, especially when they are in a pre arranged kit like this.  Not only is it fun to try out new brushes, but I always end up learning something about how I actually apply makeup when I do. 

I think it is because I’m testing I am not just reaching for whichever brush I want automatically from my stash of brushes but using a specific set so I have to focus. The set in general is a lovely one to focus on.  It is black and gold with gray bristles.  The bristles are soft and well attached.  I had absolutely no issues with bristles falling out.  The quality is very nice. 

I really like that they are infused with charcoal.  It doesn’t add any dust to your face (if that is a concern), but it is infused into the bristles.  Charcoal has anti-microbial properties in it which quite honestly I think is genius in a makeup brush.  I am pretty good about washing my brushes, but in all honesty I generally wash the ones I’m using once a week.  Otherwise I use  a color switch. Having a little help in keeping the microbes in check between washes is definitely something I can get behind.

Plus, I’m pretty sure it is also what gives the bristles their cool gray color, which personally I am partial to. I also like that the bristles are synthetic and cruelty free. 

As I go through the six brushes in the kit, I am going to use the name that is inscribed on the brush itself as they don’t have numbers.

Powder Brush

Powder Brush: It is nice and fluffy and applies powder products well.  I started off using it for my powder, but I found I generally I wanted to use another brush for powder instead.  I absolutely loved this brush for applying blush. So I ended up using it as my blush brush and I really enjoyed it as a blush brush.  It applied product well and then was dense enough that I could use it to help blend in the blush.

Foundation Brush

Foundation Brush: I’ll be honest, I didn’t like using this for foundation.  For my foundation, I really wanted a densely packed brush like the one I usually use and I did end up rotating in my 999 Master Blender from Bdellium tools.  However I loved this brush for dealing with loose setting powder.  I found I could use less powder and really control where I put it when I used this brush.  For me, that is what this flat brush was made for. It swept away any eyeshadow fall out and was then used for the powder.

Contour Brush

Contour Brush: This worked well with any powder bronzer or contour I paired with it.  I was very pleased with its performance.  The angled edge was perfect for applying across my cheeks and it really helped blend the product well.  It wasn’t as good for my cream based products.  When I tried it with the creams I generally found I blended better with my fingertips.  Admittedly I usually find I blend cream products better with my fingertips.   But for powder products it worked really well.

Eyebrow Brush

Eyebrow Brush:  This worked perfectly as you would expect. This size brush is always fantastic for the eyebrows.  It worked well with both powder and cream products.  It paired with the Billion Dollar Brows Pomade is a fantastic duo for me. I found that once cleaned off, this brush worked really well for lipstick application.  I have a couple of cream lipstick pans that it worked well with.  I also have a couple of lipsticks that I’ve worn down to that they no longer give the best angle during application, so it is easier to use a brush to get the clear lines.  A brush like this is especially useful if you have a deep red or berry shade that sometimes gets a little messy when you apply it.  Using a small angled brush can give you so much more control.  This little brush worked well for both lipsticks and its designated eyebrow status.  It is a style of brush I always find a use for so I’m not surprised that I liked having another one in my collection.

Highlighter Brush

Highlighter Brush:  I’ll be honest, until I looked at the handle to write this up, I didn’t realize this was a highlighter brush.  I tend to apply my highlighter with my fingertips.  I don’t like a bright blazing highlighter strip but more of a blended in glow and fingers work the best for me. This brush I have been using as an eyeshadow brush and it is a really good blending brush and just all round eyeshadow brush.  In fact partnered with the actual Eyeshadow Brush in the kit, the two brushes were all I really needed to do my eyes.  Now I do have a rather tame eyeshadow look as I lean more towards everyday looks than the super creative ones.  I actually envy the super creative looks. Occasionally I try to emulate them at home when I am just playing around.  Usually that ends up with me looking like I got into some sort of bizarre fight and ended up the loser. Or they will look fantastic when my eyes are closed but then everything is hidden when I open my eyes because they are somewhat hooded.

The point is that for an everyday look, the Highlighter brush was the perfect general all round eyeshadow brush.

Eyeshadow Brush

Eyeshadow Brush: the last brush in the Essentials kit and the one I used for shimmers.  It worked well with shimmer application and when called upon it helped blend fairly well.  It isn’t as thick as the Highlighter brush so I often called upon the highlighter brush for blending, but the eyeshadow brush did a really good job.  With some shadows and glitters it needed to be damp to work well but the brush worked well either damp or dry with no bristle fall out.  I had some eyeshadows that I played around with that required a lid primer and this eyeshadow brush worked well applying the lid primer to the lisd as well as blending it into place.  Then it had to be washed, but after washing it was as good as before and fantastic with the shimmers.

Overall I thought this was a really good mix of brushes.  It is a nice kit that gave most of what I wanted when putting together my makeup.  I added a different foundation brush because I prefer a kabuki style brush for foundation, however the foundation brush in this kit will definitely become part of my everyday makeup kit in a different capacity. I really enjoyed the use of the flat foundation brush, just not with my foundation. Other than that, the only thing missing from this kit is spoolie to finish off your eyebrows.  And as I have quite a few of those around, many attached to eyebrow products, it was no real problem at all.



Testing out the Flat Foundation Brush from F.A.R.A.H Beauty

I am a big fan of the flat foundation brush.  Even though my usual 999 Master Blender from Bdellium tools has a truncated handle, it is essentially a flat topped foundation brush. It is however densely packed. 

While I love my master blender, I have been on sort of a quest to find a long handled flat topped foundation brush that I enjoy using.  Part of the reason is that a couple of my favorite foundations come in foundation sticks.  While the Kristofer Buckle Foundation stick is my absolute favorite, I also enjoy the NARS (which sadly I think has been discontinued. I have mine down to a tiny nub and went to look at replacing it and it is no more) and ABH Foundation sticks

Most of the time when I apply stick foundation, I draw lines on my face with the foundation and then blend.  This is mostly because when I run the master blender over the top of them to pick up product the large oval size of it picks up too much product. It is simply too much surface area.

I know some of you think this is a bit too particular, but the truth is that I have had smaller flat topped foundation brushes in the past where I could swipe the brush over the top of a stick foundation and apply a very sheer coverage to my face.  It uses less product and I can build it up if I want to. Unfortunately the flat topped brush I was using (once upon a time) has long gone from my dressing table and I can’t remember the brand.  To be honest, I believe the brand may no longer exist.

So there is the quest. 

This month I received a Flat top Foundation Brush in my IPSY Glam bag and I thought, wow, this could be the shortest quest ever.

The brush as it arrived

The Flat Top foundation brush in question is from F.A.R.A.H By name it is the Flat Foundation 615 F and retails for $16 on the F.A.R.A.H site.  With F.A.R.A.H brushes I’ve had some good luck and some bad.  I’ve had an eyeshadow brush I loved (and still use) and I’ve had one that I hated. I’ve had a contour brush I loved and a powder rush I didn’t.  On the whole it is pretty even as to likes and dislikes with their brushes.

According to the site:

F.A.R.A.H brush heads have 100% Vegan synthetic luxury bristles for supreme application. Handles designed for ultimate comfort. Easy to use:  Dip your Flat Foundation 615F Brush into your favorite foundation and apply using a gentle tapping motion to the face for a flawless airbrush finish. Designed with 100% synthetic bristles. This brush is specifically made to be used with powders and cream foundations.

This week in order to test out the foundation brush I pulled several foundations from my collection. I pulled a KVD Vegan Beauty Powder blush, Kristofer Buckle Triplicity Foundation stick, Neutrogena Cream Foundation, E.l.f. Acne Fighting foundation and my Pretty Vulgar Cool AF Lava Water Foundation.  I figured this gave me an array of products to work with and see how I liked the brush. I used a different foundation each day and washed the brush each evening to let it dry overnight and so that it was clean for each application.

All of the foundations I have used before and really enjoy using. I also know how they work on my face with normal application.

The first up was the KVD Powder Foundation.  With this product the Foundation worked really well.  It gave a wonderful finish to the application process.  Powder foundations are this brushes strong suit.  It made me very hopeful that this would be a good brush. 

Loose Bristles

I don’t know how well this photo shows the small hairs, but after a first use, there were a couple of loose hairs.  I cut the ends off rather than pulling them out so as not to loosen the brush from the handle.

Incidentally, I really like the use of the tapered handle.  The slim handle made it easy to maneuver and use.  The metal did get a little slick if I had product on my hands.  As I often apply primer with my finger, this is not an uncommon occurrence and so I had to wipe off my hands really well before using the brush or the slick hands made the metal a little slippy. A few grooves cut into the handle would actually make it perform a lot better. As it is, the handle does feel good in the hand.

Next up I tried the Kristofer Buckle with this brush.  I tried picking up the formula from the top of the tube, but the bristles were a little too soft and didn’t pick up a lot of product unless I dug in too much.  It they were more densely packed or about half an inch shorter it would have worked better with this application.  As it was, the brush simply was too bendy to pick up much product. When I applied the stick to my face in streaks this flat foundation brush did a good job of blending the cream product in.  It took a little longer than I’m used to but it did work well.

It did not work well with either the e.l.f acne fighting Foundation or the Pretty Vulgar Cool AF. The e.l.f is more of a medium coverage and the Pretty Vulgar is medium to full coverage.  Streaks were left in the foundation and I had to go back in and smooth them out with my Master Blender and my Huda Beauty Makeup sponge.  It is simply not dense enough to work well with the liquid foundations without leaving streaks. 

Streaks showing in the foundation across my cheek

In all fairness the product description does say that cream and powder products are this brush’s wheel house.  I would describe the Kristofer Buckle Triplicity Foundation stick as a cream product and the KVD Vegan Beauty Powder foundation was of course, a powder.  These are the two products that this foundation brush worked with the best. 

It was only after the first use that it shed any bristles.  I’m thinking that first use just knocked a couple of them use.  While it doesn’t argue for the longevity of the brush, after that initial use, even with the four washes this week no further bristles were lost. To be honest, I will be reaching for this brush when I wear a powder foundation.  I have a couple and that is where this brush will be deployed. 

While it worked well enough in blending the Stick foundation and I’m sure would work well blending in any cream foundation it probably won’t be the brush I reach for when I do use the cream foundations. Last but not least, I used the Neutrogena cream foundation in my drawer and I did try swirling it in the product and applying it as well.  I had the same problem picking it up with the brush.  The brush is either not dense enough or it needs shorter bristles. It blended in the Neutrogena cream foundation well enough, but I still had to apply it with my finger.

As the point of the brush is to take it from the pan to the face without fingertip application, I won’t be using it for cream based products. The Flat Foundation Brush from F.A.R.A.H makes a good powder foundation brush, but in general, that is the only time I am reaching for this where foundations are concerned.  After my last wash of the brush I tried it with powder in general and it worked like a dream when applying both pressed powder and loose translucent setting powder. The bristles make it ideal for powder application, everything else is a bit of a strain.  I don’t mind having an extra powder brush so I’m not bothered by this and will get a lot of use out if it.  It just won’t be with foundation, so my flat foundation brush quest must continue.


Makeup Eraser

Tool Talk: Laruce Beauty Brushes

Through my IPSY Glam Bag subscription I have received two five piece sets of Laruce Brushes. One of the sets was an item in my Glam bag and the second I picked up using accumulated points.  While on the website I noticed that neither set was really listed however when I put the two sets together was really only one repeat so the two sets gave me a wide variety of brushes.  In fact it gave me enough of a mix of brushes that I was able to use them as my only brushes for the last few weeks. 

Which I did. 

General Notes

The brand Laruce Beauty started in 2019 and focuses on providing luxurious vegan and cruelty free brushes. The bristles are synthetic and hypoallergenic. Individually their brushes range from $26 to $30. Sets can range from $65 all the way up to $350. The $350 set contains thirteen brushes and comes in a vegan leather carrying case.

One of my sets is blue and the other black, but they each have a textured, rubberized handle that makes them easy to grip and use.  I am actually quite fond of the handles actually.  They aren’t too thick to hold comfortably, even with the larger brushes and they are easy to wipe down should product get on any of the handles. 

In addition each of the brushes not only has the Laruce number stamped on it but it has the name of the brush on it as well so that if you are just starting out or expanding your use of makeup brushes, you can easily tell what is what. All of the brushes feature the same synthetic bristles (One set dark and the other side light) and the bristles are well attached to the ferule with no loose ones sticking out or shedding.  I feel confident that these brushes will last quite a while.

LR334 Angle Contour: 

This brush is thick and dense enough to work well with contour and bronzing powders.  I did not like it with cream products.  While it is dense enough for the powders it isn’t dense enough of a bristle set to work well with cream contour products.  When I used them I generally had to apply it with my fingers and blend it with my fingers as well rather than the brush.  It does however work really well with powder products.

LR335 Flat Foundation:

I’ll be honest this was my least favorite of the brushes in the set.  I like flat foundation brushes but I found myself wanting stiffer, more densely packed bristles. This one tended to leave a few streaks in the foundation. I could see using it for a powder foundation but not for any liquid or cream products. I like flat foundation brushes, but this one did not make the cut for me.

LR222 Kabuki:

At first I didn’t think I was going to like it, but this ended up being one of my favorite brushes in the set.  It was more versatile than I expected and was able to blend shadows and highlighters well and was one of the only brushes that worked well with both powder and cream products. I will be keeping this brush in my selection of everyday brushes.

LR110 Shadow: 

This is a good general shadow brush.  It worked as well as any other that I tried.  I would perhaps like to see it a little smaller as it was wide enough that it tended to fan out powder products more than I intended, however it was a good sturdy shadow brush.

LR005 and LR007 Tapered Blending:

This was the only brush I have two of and quite frankly if you are going to have doubles of a brush, the tapered blending is the one you are going to want to double down on.  The 005 is the black handled brush and the 007 is the blue handled brush, Although they both have the same name, the 007 brush is slightly smaller than the 005 as you can see in the photograph.  They were excellent shading brushes and I liked having the two slightly different sizes. Both worked well and both are ones I would continue to use.

LR002 Flat Shading:

As a shading brush this worked well.  It is a little wide for my tastes but not over the top wide.  It was nice to use.  It is not my favorite shading brush, but I liked it and will continue to use it.  If something were to happen to it, I probably wouldn’t replace it.

LR309 Blush:

  This is a loose and somewhat floppy brush that holds pigment well.  It is very soft on the skin and very good for blushes where you need to build up color.  It is good for applying blush, but not for blending.  It is simply too soft and loose to blend well.  It is excellent if you are looking for only a light wash of color though as even the most highly pigmented blushes come in light with this product.  It does not work with cream products at all.

LR308 Highlighter:

This is excellent if you want only a light highlight as it is a soft bristled brush that applies highlighter well.  It can turn even a brightly sparkling highlighter into a soft glow.  It is long enough to disperse the product but not too large for control.  It is useless with cream products.  For any cream product I used, I ended up reaching for the Kabuki brush instead.

LR 375 Flat powder:

While I did miss my fluffy powder brush, I ended up really liking this brush.  It is dense enough to work well with pressed powder, yet large and loose enough to work well with loose setting powder.  It is a really good brush to set your under eyes after concealer and if you are the sort who bakes your face, this could very easily be a go to tool. I don’t really bake, but as I used it, I found myself missing my fluffy brush less and less.  It is a versatile powder brush and one of the stand outs of the set. It actually worked better for blending in blush than the blush brush as well so I could very easily see picking up a second one of these Flat Powder brushes.

So that my darlings, was my experience using only Laruce brushes for the past few weeks.  There were a couple of clear winners that I would purchase on their own and there were a couple that I will simply pull from my brush rotation.  There were a couple of average ones as well that I will happily use since I have them, but probably not replace at the $28-$30 price range.  

Over all I think this is a brand where I would buy individual brushes, but probably not pick up a full set.  The quality of the brushes is there and for the brushes I liked using, the price seems fair.  The textured handle, metal ferrule and synthetic bristles are all very good quality.  In addition, if you have any hand mobility issues the textured handle coupled with the fact that it is sturdy, but not overly heavy, might be a good option for you.

I use a lot of cream products so I had issues with some of the brushes, but if your product list is all powder than you might have fewer difficulties.  And to be fair finding brushes that work well with cream products is an ongoing quest of mine.  Most of the time I end up blending with fingertips. I’m okay with that, but I would like the option of a brush for some of those products as well. That quest sadly continues.


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