For Christmas one of the things my parents got me was a mascara from No7 and with it came a set like they do with free things in it including a makeup brush. I have never tried a No7 makeup brush before so was surprised how soft it was. I ended up buying the makeup organiser in the sale after Christmas because it had the four brushes I wanted and came to less than they would have cost, though to be honest I think I’d happily pay full price for these as a bit of a treat in the future. I was planning on including the original brush in this review but I can’t find it at the moment so I’ll have to review that later. I could almost do separate reviews on each of these but I thought I’d put them all in one place as I have quite a few posts I want to do and don’t want these to get pushed down the list.
The makeup brushes I have are the Powder Brush and Foundation Brush for your face, Eye Colour and Smudger Brushes for the eyes and the Retractable Lip Brush so it covers most of the basic types of brushes. These cost between £8 and £17.50 with the powder brush being the most expensive and the lip and eye pencils being the cheapest. These do cost more than any of my other makeup brushes but I thought I’d treat myself as I was impressed with the first. I have had a bit of a play around with the different products I have to see how they work best. I’ve also done a comparison to similar brushes in my collection, if you just want to see that then scroll to the bottom of the post.
A bit of a side note, sorry about the photo quality if it’s not great. I finally got my camera working but, unfortunately, my Photoshop isn’t cooperating now so these photos have been taken on my camera but I had to edit them using my iPad so I have no idea what the quality will be like when WordPress has uploaded them. I hope they’re good but hopefully it will be fixed soon so it’ll just be a couple of posts like this.
All of the brushes have a similar look, they’re synthetic bristles which are either in black or white, or a combination of the two, and the handle is a matte black finish. It feels very smooth and is easy to hold as it has a bit of grip to it but it does pick up fingerprints very easily. The ferrule is either very dark brown or black, it seems to look more brown at some angles but it’s not obviously different from the handle which makes the brushes look like they’re all black. I do like bright colours but I think the plain black look and feel of these makes them feel more expensive than my other brushes, which is good considering the cost. They also each have the name of the brush, or what they’re used for, on the handle which I find useful and think would be good for beginners or people who maybe haven’t used a range of brushes before. The name isn’t that subtle on it but it also doesn’t take away from the look of the overall brush as it’s silver and on the opposite side to the No7 logo. They all have a fair weight to them and feel well made, none of them feel light and I haven’t had any problems of bristles sticking out at odd angles or falling out, even with the first wash, which I’ve found can be a problem with the first few uses of some brushes.
The biggest brush is the Powder Brush which costs £17.50 and can be found here. This brush is so soft and easy to use, though it’s rather large compared to my other powder brushes I think this works well for finishing powder as you can get a nice light covering and it easily covers your whole face in very few brushes. When you squeeze the bristles you can see how dense they are but it feels very light when you use it on your face and doesn’t feel densely packed even if you press quite hard. I like the domes shape and the fact that it’s oval shaped when you look at it from the end as it means that you can get into the harder to reach areas if you turn the brush in different directions so it’s easy to cover around your nose without getting a lot of powder on your nose or the surrounding area or having to go at awkward angles.
I’ve had a couple of foundation brushes over the past few years and, although I do like them, none of them have been great. They’ve also all been a lot flatter than the No7 one which feels denser and has more bristles than either of the two I have at the moment. This costs £14 and can be found here, though it’s also available in a few of their sets at the moment. I really like this brush, it’s soft and flexible and is great for applying liquid foundation or BB cream evenly. You can use it to build up foundation but it also works well to give a thin layer as it seems to spread it very well and, as it’s dense enough, it works pretty well ad blending it out and buffing it in. The only thing I have found with this is the first time you use it it seems to eat quite a bit of product, I’m not sure why it only happened the first time and hasn’t happened since, even the first time after washing it. This may be a problem with more liquid foundations as mine is fairly thick in consistency, similar to my CC and BB creams. I think it might be due to the larger amount of bristles compared to what I’m use to, maybe more got onto each one, but it did last longer between needing more foundation on it each time so I guess that’s a positive of the denser design. I don’t use liquid foundation much but I do like this brush a lot and like how dense it is compared to my others.
The Eye Colour Brush is probably the one I will be using the most, just because out of the current brushes I own the eye brushes get the most use rather than me liking it more, so I have probably given this the most use. This is also one of the cheapest in the range at £8 on the Boots website. Again, like all of the No7 brushes, this is really soft and pretty densely packed though it doesn’t feel that dense when you use it on your eyes as it’s still fairly flexible. I would say this is definitely a brush for applying colour and not one that can have multiple uses like other eye colour brushes I’ve used before that can be used to do some blending. It’s great for applying loose pigments as you can get a fair amount on the brush and pack it on, the same with eyeshadows as long as they’re good quality. I did find with some of the cheaper, more powdery ones like some of the Elf eyeshadows that when I tapped my brush to get rid of the excess a lot of it came off and didn’t seem to stick to the brush itself. This isn’t really a problem as long as you know in advance, it didn’t have a problem with the Sleek, MUA, TheBalm, No7 or Urban Decay eyeshadows so it seems to be just the especially powdery ones. I did find that it worked well with some of the older Urban decay ones that seem to be known for glitter fallout as it held the glitter until it was on my eye so I was impressed with that.
I did also try this brush as a concealer brush, simply because I like to know if these can be multiuse brushes when travelling and I know some of my other, similarly designed, eye brushes work for this. I mainly use concealer under my eyes and it works pretty well for that, as it’s so dense it worked for both application and blending it so I would definitely consider taking this one travelling to use for both. It’s not as fluffy as any of my other eye brushes so it seemed like it’s closer to a concealer brush from other brands but I do think it does its eye colour job well as well, especially if you like loose pigments or packing on colour.
The Smudger Brush is another of the cheaper brushes at £8 at Boots and is a double ended brush with one end being the smudger brush end and the other a sponge smudging tool. I have to say I don’t think I‘ve ever successfully used a sponge smudger despite owning a few and getting others on the ends of eyeliner. I don’t really expect to use that end much but it’s nice to have it there anyway though it does make it harder to store as I keep my brushes in an old Yankee Candle jar and I don’t want to ruin the sponge end by putting it in there against the bottom. I did give the sponge end a try and, to be honest, I don’t see any really difference between this one and the ones you get on eyeliners. It does feel like it’s a nice quality one, a lot like the sponge applicators you get in Sleek palettes that have more grip than most, so if you like these sponge smudgers then it might be one you’d use. I just tend to find that they grab my skin more than I’d like when blending out or smudging eyeliner and this one was the same.
The smudger brush end is fairly small, about half the length of the bristles on the Eye Colour brush, and like with the Powder Brush it’s fairly dense but doesn’t feel like it is when you use it. I tend to go for fluffy brushes to blend out my colour but this style does work well when it’s smaller, more precise things you want to smudge. I tend to use cream or powder eyeshadows as eyeliner and this works well for smudging or blending those out a bit. It does tend to blend a lot so you have to be careful you don’t use it too much or just reapply the line over the top again for a more precise edge to the smudged look. It’s a duofibre brush so the tip is less dense than the base of the bristles and I think this works really well for the job. I did give this brush a go for applying colour, just to see how it worked, and it actually worked really well when it came to the powdery ones and satin, metallic and shimmery shades. It didn’t work as well with the loose pigments and glittery eyeshadows as the glitter particles got stuck in the brush but I think, alongside the Eye Colour brush the two cover all the types of eyeshadows. Although I do like this brush I think it works better in this use than it does as a smudging tool. I couldn’t get a very precise smudge using the brush end and it seemed to remove a lot of the colour even with pigmented eyeshadows and eyeliners either smudged too much or didn’t really smudge much at all with the harder ones. It may be that I’ve just not used it enough to learn how to use it best but I don’t think I’ll be using it as a smudging brush. This, along with the fact I won’t be using the sponge end means this is probably the one out of the set that has impressed me the least but I do still like it and will use it quite a bit even if it’s not for its originally intended use.
The final brush is another that costs £8 on the Boots website and is the Retractable Lip Brush. This one definitely looks brown so I think all of the ferrules probably are. It’s a nice size and is easy to make the brush retract or be ready for use. It’s easy to push the two ends together to close it and to open it there’s a click when it’s fully extended and it’s stayed that way until I want to close it. Despite being retractable it doesn’t feel cheap or wobbly, which seems to be a problem I’ve had with other that feel like they bend when they’re fully extended. The end that the brush head comes out of closes over after it so you won’t get things falling in there if you keep it in your bag. It is bigger than the other retractable lip brushes I’ve had in the past but I think it’s still a nice size for a makeup bag or when travelling even if it’s not a ‘travel sized’ one. Because of the length of the handle and where the indent is from extending it your hand doesn’t fall naturally on that part, or mine doesn’t anyway, so it’s really comfortable to use and it’s easy to control.
The brush itself is another duofibre and it’s well packed but less flexible than the others in the range. It works well for lipsticks, lip stains and pigmented lip glosses without getting too gunky or soaking up the product though you definitely need to wipe it off with the last one before you put the brush away. It’s precise and easy to use and I had no problems with drawing any shape with it, I did try on my hand drawing patterns and it was very easy to control for even intricate shapes. I haven’t really got on with lip brushes in the past but wanted a nice one as I’m starting to get into more pigmented lip products and I am definitely not disappointed with this one. It’s easy to wash and the bristles have stayed soft and not splayed out which I was a bit worried about as then they’d catch on the edge of the brush when it opens and closes.
I think of these brushes my favourites are the foundation brush, the colour brush and the lip brush though the other two are good as well. I think if I’d bought the smudger brush as a general eyeshadow brush I’d be including that in there as it does work well with the powdery ones and the less pigmented ones but I just don’t get on with it as a smudging tool. I think that they are definitely worth considering and I’d say they are a similar quality to the Real Techniques, though I prefer these handles as the ferrule isn’t as long and the matte handle is longer so there’s more grip to me. I haven’t seen these in the stores near me so I’m not sure how easy they are to find and look at in person but it you can do that first then I’d definitely recommend it, especially if they’re at full price, as I was surprised at the size of the smudger brush end and some of the photos online don’t really show the sizes off very well if they’re not next to something else for scale.
I thought I’d do a comparison to some of the others I have in my brush collection, I think the ones I have put them next to are similar and most are fairly recognisable from other reviews. It just gives an idea of the brush size and the fluffiness really.
The Elf brush is less soft but fluffier and the EcoTools one is probably the closest of the two to the No7 though the No7 is a bit denser and softer against my skin.
The Elf foundation brush is a lot finer than the No7 one, it’s about half the thickness, and the So Eco brush is probably the closest, though it’s a bit more flexible I’d say they both seem very close to each other in the way they work.
There’s quite a range here because it seems like eyeshadow brushes are so different, I’d say the closest to the No7 s the EcoTools one, none of my other eyeshadow brushes have the same feeling, they’re all fluffier and closer to the smudger brush. The smudger brush is smaller than the others but feeling wise I’d say the Real Techniques eyeshadow shading brush is the closest. I’m not actually 100% sure that this is the eyeshadow brush from EcoTools, I have three brushes that look pretty much the same and I know one is definitely a concealer brush and one is an eyeshadow one, I have no idea what the third is but I couldn’t tell any difference between the three, apart from a bit of a size difference.
I don’t have a lip brush to compare it to, I do have a few of the travel brushes from EcoTools that seem a similar size but they’re just minis designed for concealer or eyeshadows. I think I might get some lip brushes in the future as it’d be good to have one ones for similar colours, sort of have one for reds, one for pinks and one for more coral colours so they’re less likely to end up with colours mixing by mistake. Especially as these products are so gunky that they’ll need to be washed regularly. Are there any fairly cheap lip brushes that are good quality you guys would recommend?
Overall I’m very impressed with these and would definitely recommend them if you’re looking for a brush in this price range. It is more than I’d normally pay for a brush but I think they’re worth it even at full price. They often have offers on No7 in Boots so it might be worth waiting for one of them if you’re thinking of getting brushes and they also have a few sets which include the full sized brushes, either on their own or with makeup, and would bring the cost down per brush quite a bit. I haven’t tried the travel sized ones and haven’t seen them in store to know how they compare to the full sized as I know some companies seem to change the quality when it comes to the smaller ones so I can’t recommend them, though if they’re the same quality then I’d definitely consider them in the future.