Sparkled Beauty

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Makeup brush recs

Posted by Halifax @ Sparkled Beauty

A few days ago, Emily, one of my readers, posted a question on this blog regarding choosing a makeup brush set. I figure it could be helpful to answer her question in a post, so others might reference as well.

As you probably know already, brushes provides better and precise makeup application, not mentioning sanitary reason for not having to dip your fingers in the pots. The recommendations below are mostly from my personal experience (with links to posts on this blog where I mentioned them), not an exclusive list by any chance. And there is no paid compensation for this post.

1. Quo Cosmetics - Shoppers' house brand.
Quo made good brushes. I had my set about 2 years ago and the brushes were wonderful, soft and effective. Retail price is in medium range, however, Shoppers often has 40% off sale on Quo brushes.

I heard somehow Quo brushes are recently no longer as good as they should be. Please make sure to test them out before buying - the MA normally has a bunch of brushes at her makeup corner.

And right now might be a good time to buy a Quo brush set, as the entire Quo holiday collection is 40% off. The Master Brush set (in the picture, reg. CAD60) is now CAD36, not a bad price.

Based on Shoppers' holiday catalogue, Quo also had a Professinal Backstage Brush set (8 brushes, reg. CAD100), Precious Tools Brush collection (5 brushes, CAD22), came in wrap studded wallets. I personally haven't seen them in stores after New Year, don't know whether Shoppers still have them.

2. elf

elf has been very well known in the beauty industry for the remarkbly cheap but good brushes. Staring out with the regular line ($1/ brush) and now moving up to the Studio line ($3/ brush), the brushes are well loved by whoever tried them. Obviously, cheap price tag doesn't equal crappy quality, in this case.

I'm not kidding. I love all the ones I got. It was a 75% off sale, so my Studio brushes only cost me $.75, which was more than awesome. The Flat top Powder brush is a dream to apply power/ mineral foundation, even blush when I'm lazy. And the eyeshadow C brushes are great to pack in colours on the lids.

The only thing that sucks is elf charges extra $8 for Canadian online orders on top of $7 shipping. But you can find elf in stores now, Zellers and sometimes Winners, save yourself the hefty extra charges.

3. EcoTools.
Again, another well known brand, I guess I wouldn't need to say much. I got my Bamboo 5-piece brush set from the US a while back, but EcoTools is now widely available in Canada - Walmart, Superstore, Winners, etc. We do have to pay more compared to ladies in the US, but at least we have access to them now.

4. Loew-Cornell painting brushes
I don't have a post about these, but they are staples in my routine. I use them everyday. Check out Encore's video to see what I mean.

So head out to Michaels to check them out. They often send out coupons via email (so you have to register online for that) for 40% one item, or sometimes the brushes go on sale. The must-have is the Loew Cornell 3/8" Maxine's Mop brush as eyeshadow brush, dupe of MAC 239 :-)

And last but not least, IMATS is a very good place to shop for brushes. Different brands will be there with every brush they make under the sun, and great "show specials". Even if you have to pay full price there, you already save on shipping while being able to touch and feel the brushes before buying. I found individual brushes for different uses, brush full sets/ travel sets, brush rolls, etc. from Auraline, Crown Brush, Royal Brush. Too many pictures to repost, so check my post (link above) for details.

Other brands that are worth mentioning:
- Sigma - MAC-quality brushes with a fraction of the price
- Lumiere, great Pre-buy brush offers - buying brushes at wholesale price
- Adorned With Grace for MAC 187/ 188 dupes, good quality, better price
- The Body Shop - the brushes are a bit pricey but you can always wait for a 3 for $30 sale, or buy them in a holiday kit
- Annabelle for their Pro makeup brushes
- Sarah Ashton
- Posh brushes, not available around here where I live. Wait for special sales at Rexall to buy :-)
- Gosh brushes. I'm not sure all Shoppers have the brushes, I haven't really looked.
- Joe Fresh (Superstore's home brand)
- Coastal Scent - good brushes but high shipping cost
- Sephora brushes
- Cosco has some brush sets as well
- Sonia Kashuk or Essence of Beauty if you go to the States or have a friend who can do a CP for you, and
- MAC, if you feel like shopping there :-)

If you have other suggestions for Emily, feel free to share. Greatly appreciate it!


  1. Thank you! Great ideas, this is awesome. I can't believe it didn't occur to me to eye up the art store brushes (I'm there all the time anyway as I'm a painter!).

    One thing I would mention about art stores is that Michaels is way overpriced in general. With the 40% off coupons, or if stuff's on sale, it's worth it to shop there, but otherwise a 'real' art supply store (as opposed to a craft supply store) will give you much better prices. The smaller indy art stores are my favourites (there are awesome ones downtown Toronto, as well as in Guelph, Ontario), but larger chains like Curry's are decent, too.

    It's interesting to read that the Quo label has gone downhill. I'd been considering Quo brushes but I will have to take a look at the quality. And check out the EcoTools and ELF brushes as well!

    My last question... I'm not sure what, exactly, I need. My guesses are:
    - a foundation brush
    - a concealer brush
    - a shadow brush
    - an eyeliner brush
    - a lip brush, maybe

    I don't really need to fill in my brows and my mineral blush already has a brush with it. Does that sound like a decent shopping list? Or am I missing some crucial element??

  2. Emily, glad I could help. Do agree with you that pricing Michaels isn't the best, I might have to look around for supply stores.

    What brushes you need depends very much on what makeup routine you have (quick or detailed), what products you use (liquid/ cream/ powder foundation, blush or eyeshadow), etc.

    For me, just for the eyes, I'd need shadow brush, crease brush, blending brush and pencil brush :-)

    And the face, if you're happy with the blush brush and don't use bronzer/ highlighter, you are probably set to go.

  3. Hmm, okay, thanks - that's helpful. Now I have another reason to hang out at the art supply store... like I needed one...! :)