There was a time back in the day when e.l.f. brushes were all the rage in terms of affordable, lower end, drugstore brushes. I know I really loved their Studio Blush Brush and still get a lot of use out of the Studio Small Studio Brush to this day. However, it’s been years since the e.l.f. brush hype has died down and I honestly think the quality/quality control of their Studio brushes has really declined over the years. For example, I know that the Studio Blush Brush that e.l.f. sells in stores nowadays is a lot less dense than the original first generation Studio Blush Brush they used to sell. Over the years, other brands like Real Techniques came along and surpassed e.l.f.. So when I saw that e.l.f. had come out with some new brushes in a higher price range ($6 versus $3 for the Studio brushes or $1 for their Essential brushes) I was intrigued but had very low expectations. I think these new $6 brushes have been around since the beginning of this year but I only spotted them recently at my local CVS. The two brushes that interested me most and that I purchased were the Ultimate Blending Brush and the Beautifully Bare Blending Brush.
The Ultimate Blending Brush is designed to be a multi-tasker that’s supposedly good for foundation as well as bronzer and blush and I have to agree for the most part. The brush has a nice density to it and is extremely soft. I’ve used it for powder blush and bronzer so far and it does a fantastic job with both. It’s a great size for blush, neither too small nor too big but a good in between. It’s not oversized like the Real Techniques Blush Brush which in my opinion is better suited for all over bronzing or powdering rather than as a dedicated blush brush.
If you like to bronze all over the face, the Ultimate Blending Brush may be a bit small for you but I personally only bronze along the tops of my cheeks, so I like the control over placement it gives me.
I’ve also tried this brush with foundations and although it works well with liquid foundation, I don’t like it quite as much for that task as the Up & Up Complexion Brush. The Ultimate Blending Brush isn’t nearly as dense as the Up & Up brush and I feel like it absorbs more product into its bristles. I do, however, love the Ultimate Blending Brush for powder foundation application and it really reminds me of the larger end of the dual-sided IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection Brush and the Real Techniques Buffing Brush except with slightly shorter bristles. The e.l.f. brush is just as soft as those two brushes and has a similar rounded shape but the shorter bristles means the brush splays outwards less when you hold the brush against the skin, so it doesn’t feel as floppy and offers more control and placement precision. I mainly stipple rather than buff with my brushes, so I like the control the e.l.f. brush gives me.
When I saw the e.l.f. Beautifully Bare Blending Brush I had my doubts. Looking at it in the packaging I expected the brown bristles to be scratchy like e.l.f.’s brown bristled $1 brushes but the reality couldn’t be any more different. This brush is super soft, as soft as the Ultimate Blending Brush or any Real Techniques or ecotools brush out there.
I purchased the Beautifully Bare Blending Brush because it looked like it could be a dupe for the Sephora Pro Full Coverage Airbrush #53 which costs $38. I’ve been curious about that particular Sephora brush for awhile because I’ve never seen a brush shaped like that but I wasn’t willing to spend so much for it. In terms of size and shape the e.l.f. brush looks very comparable.
I’ve tried the e.l.f. brush so far with my liquid and powder foundations and it works fine but I still prefer the more traditional round shape foundation brushes. The oval shape helps apply foundation into the nooks and crannies, like around the inner corners of the eyes and nostrils, more easily than a regular round foundation brush but I find the longer shape of the Beautifully Bare Blending Brush a little awkward to use. Maybe I just need more practice with it but I find myself using this brush more for bronzer application or for quickly running over my face to soften any harshness when I accidentally overapply blush. It’s great for those jobs.
The Up & Up Complexion Brush is my favorite brush for applying liquid foundations. I love it more than the Sigma F80, Sigma F82, Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, Real Techniques Buffing Brush and IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection brush. It’s extremely dense but not to the point of stiffness like the F80 and F82, so there’s a tiny bit of give to it but it’s much more dense than the Real Techniques brushes so it doesn’t absorb as much foundation up into its bristles.
The e.l.f. Ultimate Blending Brush is probably most comparable to the Real Techniques Buffing Brush and IT Cosmetics brush in terms of shape and density but the e.l.f brush has slightly shorter bristles that splay outwards less when pressure is put on the brush. As a result, I find it offers more control and that’s why I prefer the e.l.f. brush over the IT Cosmetics brush (my previous favorite) for powder foundation.
For all over buffing of harsh edges or bronzing, the ecotools Domed Bronzer Brush is great but for more precise placement of bronzer I’ve been reaching for the e.l.f. Ultimate Blending Brush.
For anyone with smaller cheeks, the ecotools Precision Blush Brush is a fantastic drugstore option. It’s soft, dense and a much better choice than my old favorite, the e.l.f. Studio Blush Brush. As mentioned earlier, the Blush Brush that e.l.f. sells these days is a lot less dense than the first generation version.
Besides the ecotools Precision Blush Brush, the e.l.f Ultimate Blending Brush is another great cheap option for blush. It’s larger than the ecotools brush but not huge. It’s dense but not overly so, so it doesn’t pack on powder blush too heavily to the point that I look like I was slapped. The e.l.f. brush picks up and packs on product well and it’s easy to blend with it.
The e.l.f. Beautifully Bare Blending Brush and ecotools Precision Blush Brush have similar oval shapes but the e.l.f. brush is much longer. I know there are some people that like to sweep blush along their entire cheekbones but I generally prefer to keep blush centered mostly on the apples of my cheeks. The e.l.f. brush is a bit too big for my purposes but for those who prefer an oval blush brush and like to wear their brush over a larger area, the e.l.f. brush may be a great option especially if you already like and use the ecotools brush.
Overall, I’m very impressed with both of these e.l.f. brushes and if their other new $6 brushes are of the same quality I’ll be a happy camper. Among their older brushes, the only other $6 brush I’ve tried before is the e.lf. Studio Kabuki Face Brush that’s been around for years and which I thought was pretty scratchy compared to the ecotools Domed Bronzer Brush. These new $6 brushes seem to be a huge upgrade over their old Studio brushes.
I plan on getting two more of the Ultimate Blending Brushes soon: one dedicated to bronzer application and the other for blush. The Ultimate Blending Brush I have currently will be used solely for powder foundation.