A tale of two brushes: Sigma F80 and e.l.f. Studio Powder Brush

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I recently wrote about which e.l.f. products I love and that the much touted Studio Powder Brush didn’t make the cut. After all the raves I’d seen and read, I have to say I was really disappointed when I finally used the Studio Powder Brush for myself. 

According to e.l.f., the Studio Powder Brush can be used for blush application but I found it much too big for that purpose. And recently I tried using it with liquid foundation which is a popular application method of many bloggers/vloggers but, unfortunately, it seems to suck up way too much product. Whenever I use it, most of my foundation ends up getting absorbed into the bristles instead of winding up on my face. As a result, I have to use way more product to achieve the same coverage I usually get from using just my fingers or a damp sponge.

I thought “maybe it’s just me” so I cleaned the brush and offered it to my sister to try. As I’ve mentioned before she has super oily skin and prefers mineral powder foundations (Bare Minerals Matte or Everyday Minerals), so I thought she might have a better response to the e.l.f. Studio Powder Brush since her skin and makeup needs are so different from mine. However, after about a week she returned the brush to me. Shock! She said that while she thought the brush was extremely soft, she felt that it wasted too much product, too. Her actual words were “it eats up my foundation.” She’s used to getting medium to full coverage from her mineral foundations but when she used the e.l.f. Studio Powder Brush with them she was only able to achieve sheer-light coverage with the same amount of product.

I have other issues with the e.l.f. Studio Powder Brush as well. I feel like the bristles are a little too long and the brush isn’t dense enough. It always feels a little flimsy and floppy to me when I stipple with it. Also, it’s not a true flat top brush. Mine has a noticeable curve to it which means that, when I stipple with it, only the center bristles actually make contact with my face, and the coverage and finish is less than flawless.

Overall, I haven’t been impressed with the e.l.f. Studio Powder Brush and lost faith in stippling and buffer brushes ever working for me.


Enter the Sigma F80.

I’m subscribed to a zillion You Tubers and if you’re like me and you’ve watched all the Sigma sponsored guru videos you’re probably cynical about the brushes as well. Nowadays anytime I see a Sigma-sponsored video and guru raving about Sigma brushes I just automatically assume the You Tuber is shilling for the company. After awhile all the reviews sound the same, and it’s a little unbelievable that every single one of those people loves the brushes.

However, recently Agnes of Pinkbox Makeup held a giveaway for the Sigma F80 on her blog and I thought, why not? I had nothing to lose. Well, I ended up being one of the winners and she was kind enough to send the brush to me ASAP.

I received the brush in the mail just the other day and, as is my habit with new brushes, I immediately washed it. I didn’t experience any shedding or color bleeding.

Admittedly, my expectations for the F80 were extremely low. Like the e.l.f. Studio Powder Brush, the Sigma F80 contains synthetic bristles; and like the e.l.f. Studio Powder Brush I assumed that the F80 was all hype and no substance. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The F80 is awesomesauce! It’s everything I’ve been looking for in a stippling and buffing brush.

The F80 is wonderfully dense and cut very blunt/flat across the top so the brush hairs make direct contact with my face. Also, the bristles are a perfect length — not too long so it’s flimsy and not too short so it’s stubby — and so incredibly soft. I LOVE it! It doesn’t suck up my foundation into the bristles either.

Agnes also included the informational pamphlet about the Sigma F80 and according to it the F80 features an “exclusive Sigmax filament, specially designed to apply powder and liquid products without absorption into the fibers. The shape, density and height of the filaments were carefully engineered to perfectly buff products onto the skin, resulting in a high definition effect.” Well, there you go, no wonder it doesn’t eat up my foundation. Good stuff.

Look at the ferrule on each brush and notice how much the e.l.f. Studio Powder Brush fans out compared to the Sigma F80. The Studio Powder Brush almost looks like a lady’s A-line skirt. Also notice in the picture on the right how only the very middle bristles on the Studio Powder Brush make contact with the table’s surface; the outermost bristles just hang in the air. Now imagine that the table’s surface is actually your face and you’ll realize why I don’t particularly like this brush for stippling/buffing.

The brush head on the F80 is more compact and tightly packed, and much flatter across the top.

When I’m not using my brushes I keep them stored in their plastic sleeves so they don’t lose their shape. Despite that, look how much my e.l.f. brush splays.

After using the brush myself, I now understand what all the Sigma F80 buzz was about. I think I’ve said before that because of my extremely dry skin type I’m not a fan of buffing. I’ll stipple but I try to avoid buffing because the friction from that action exacerbates (or causes) skin flakes. When I tried buffing with the e.l.f. Studio Powder Brush I noticed flakes. However, with the F80 I’m amazed by how flawless my skin looks. Not only does it provide amazing coverage, but it makes my skin look so much smoother and my humongous pores non-existent. It’s truly a magical brush. I was never a foundation junkie before but I think that’s going to change. This brush has opened up a whole new world for me.

My sister’s been searching for a new brush for her mineral foundation and I’m totally going to recommend the F80 to her. I think she’ll love it as much as I do.

As far as I know the F80 is only available on Sigma’s website and retails for $16. I got mine for free but if I ever lost it I would definitely buy one. I think it’s worth the price tag.

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4 thoughts on “A tale of two brushes: Sigma F80 and e.l.f. Studio Powder Brush

  1. >I totally thought that all the absorption with the ELF brush was just me- soo glad to know it's not! Thanks for this. I'm definitely going to look into the Sigma brush. 🙂

  2. >@StephThe elf brush is a foundation vacuum. And you're very welcome. I definitely think the Sigma brush is worth the investment. @Justine Thanks! Oh, that stinks about the elf. @AyaThanks:) I wasn't interested in Sigma brushes before but after trying out the F80 I'm really interested in checking out their other brushes. I've really been impressed by the F80.

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