I've said it before and I'll say it again: the tools you use to apply your makeup are just as important as the makeup itself. Every product behaves differently, so one foundation might look great when it's applied with a sponge, but look awful when you use a brush. And hell, sometimes you don't even need a tool! Every time I hear a makeup artist tell me to apply a product using my fingers, I breathe a huge sigh of relief. Good thing I spent $20 on that Beauty Blender. Though finding what works perfectly for your skin and your tools can be a lengthy process, it's kind of fun!
But it mostly sucks.
I was a brush guy for the longest time, but sometime within the last year, I switched to the Beauty Blender and I never looked back. Well, I kind of looked back. I still love my brushes but I think I can finally say that I prefer the Blender over them, especially in the summer months where I'm trying to get lighter coverage. But it looks like I haven't stepped off the brush train just yet. Have you guys heard of Artis brushes?
They're the oval shaped ones that kind of look like spoons, with the dense, dome-shaped bristles on the other end. They're also the ones where the full set retails at like $500. Stay with me, this isn't going where you think it's going (so put away your pitchforks).
You wanna know who really piqued my interested about Artis? My personal trainer — LOL. Oh my god, I can't believe I just admitted to you guys that I have a trainer. Embarrassing. Yeah. — But, there I was lifting weights or whatever, and he asked me if I had ever worked with them. I told him I hadn't, that I was sort of over brushes, and that the price point just wasn't all that attractive. I realized that they were a product that I didn't really need at a price that was more than I'd want to spend, and that was the precise moment I knew I had to have them.
Artis sent me a few, and I fell in love with one of them. I'd also been seeing a couple of dupes around the internet, so I called in one of those, too, to do a little compare and contrast, and see if Artis was really worth all that money or if the magic was in the brush concept itself.
Speaking of comparing, let's do a little before/after. Here's a picture of the ghoul that lives in my apartment.
The foundation I'm using today is the new Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation SPF 15 which I haven't really formed an opinion on yet. I didn't think that I liked it but now I think I do. STAY TUNED. First, we're going to use the Artis Oval 6 Brush:
I primed my face as usual, dotted the foundation around my face, and got to blending.
I had Artis shoot me the Oval 6 brush because in my opinion, it's the most versatile of the collection. It's big enough to work foundation around your whole face but small enough to get in under your eyes and the grooves of your nose. The larger brushes are a little too big to do that (again, in my opinion).
The brush is so incredibly soft that when you feel it, you know you're holding something special. When you run your fingers across the dense, tightly packed bristles, they feel like suede. When you put your thumb on top of the bristles and press straight down, it feels like a sponge. The bristles don't give and bend under the pressure of your thumb, they resist it and bounce it back like a cushion.
These brushes are best used in medium to long strokes, almost like you're wiping the product across your face, rather than brushing it on little by little with short strokes.
The thing that's insane and almost infuriating about these brushes is that the minute you use them, you see what all the hype is about. All you need is one pass over you forehead or cheeks and boom, the product is perfectly applied, evenly distributed, streak-free, looking amazing. I thought to myself, "Shit, these do really work."
Artis brushes cut down on your getting ready time by giving you a flawless finish faster than any tool I've used before. Sometimes it's great to take your time blending and getting everything perfect, but other times it's just nice to get it done and be out the door.
I'm all about the finished product.
Here's where I stand on the brush and the price: You don't need the whole set. If you want the whole set, great! Go wild. But I realize that dropping $355-$495 isn't doable (or even a good idea) for everyone. That's a car payment. I would absolutely tell you that, if you wear makeup every day, to find one or two brushes out of the line that you think will work for you — Oval 6! — and feel confident investing in them.
The second brush we've got is the O! WOW Brush by Cailyn (though even more affordable with just a quick Google search, but don't tell them I told you.)
The brushes look very similar, but the differences are in the brush head itself. The biggest difference right off the bat, before even touching it, is that this brush head has a pointed tip instead of being a regular oval.
The Artis oval gets in all the grooves of the face just fine, but I did prefer Cailyn's pointed tip when I was going in around the inner corners of my eyes and the sides of my nose. It made it a bit easier to work the product into those areas specifically and see how the makeup was applying as it was happening. This wasn't a deal breaker, but I did like the shape.
Also! The Cailyn brush comes with a little cap you can pop on the head of your brush if you want to travel with it, without worrying about damaging the bristles. I love this little perk. I don't know if I'd call these dome brushes less durable than my regular brushes, but I don't get the feeling that they'd travel well all on their own.
Now for the most important part: the brush itself. The bristles definitely feel different than the Artis brush. The Cailyn bristles are a hair shorter than the Artis brush, and just a bit more coarse. The brush is still soft and feels comfortable on the face, but where the Artis brushes were soft and velvety, Cailyn's are fuzzy. I realize the difference between those two things is minimal, but the difference is noticeable.
The O! WOW Brush applies foundation without much incident. It's superior to the typical makeup brush, but doesn't cover quite as well or quite as quickly as the Artis. There were times when I had my face almost covered, and the brush would actually start to remove or thin out the foundation that I'd already applied.
It's not abnormal to have a place on your face that doesn't hold makeup well, and mine is my nose. The O! Wow had as much trouble getting (and keeping) my nose covered and even, without moving the product around, as any other brush would, which was a problem I didn't have with the Artis Oval 6.
This is the finished product using the Cailyn brush. I love how my foundation looks just as much the previous end result, though the journey there was a bit different.
When it comes down to it, they're both great brushes that I would recommend, but there's a reason why the Artis brushes are the OG. The small differences are what put it on another level.
Would I still recommend Cailyn's O! WOW Brush? Yes! If $55 is a little steep for you, Cailyn's dome brush is a great place to start and see if this brush style is for you, without parting with a bunch of money for a top of the line brush that you're not sure you're going to love. It's definitely a different experience than your normal brush or blender, and worth checking out if you're curious. PLUS: The cap makes it more portable, which really is a selling point for me. It's almost summer and I'm going to be traveling!
Have you used the Artis brushes or any similar brush? What do you think? How do you apply your makeup? Tell me below!
Tynan is comparing brushes on Twitter @TynanBuck.