In case you've been living under a rock, Sam from Pixiwoo has a brush range called Real Techniques out. (Nicola didn't get involved as she was pregnant at the time when they were developing the line.) Previously only available online, you can now pick the range up at Boots which is fantastic because if your Boots doesn’t carry them, they should be able to order them in for you. The range consists of three Core Sets and several single brushes. I’ve got one single and two of the sets to show you today. All the brushes are hand-cut synthetic (taklon) bristles and are so are 100% cruelty free, hooray!
Put the kettle on now, because this is a long post!
-your base/flawless Core Collection ($18/£21.99)
What a cute little brush! It's a smallish dome shaped brush, so it fits nicely under the cheekbone. It's great for blending out a cream product as the brush keeps its shape enough to really work the product, as well as being synthetic and not soaking up the product. It works equally well with powder too. I used it for highlighting a models skin last week, and it's a nice size for the top of the cheekbones and down the centre of the nose. I also then used it to work foundation in to certain areas. I really like this brush and can see myself getting a lot of use out of it. I thought it would be too small to apply blush initially, but as long as you’re not using a really pigmented colour, it’s actually okay, it’ll just take a little more time to blend out than with a larger blush brush.
Alright. I'm going to get a bit misty eyed here because this brush is excellent. It's a small-ish, soft dome shaped kabuki-style brush and the idea is that you - obviously - buff your foundation into the skin with it. I don't know where this brush has been all my life, I really don't. It makes light work of Revlon Colorstay, which can be a bit of a tricky bugger and effortlessly gets cream foundations right into the skin. It's just fab and I'm really annoyed they don't sell it separately. (Apparently, the new Expert Face brush only differs in that “It is a narrower shape and available as a single rather than in a set,” according to Sam in a YT comment, so it might be worth looking out for that one instead.) I much prefer it to my ELF Studio Powder brush (flat top kabuki-style brush with a long handle) as it doesn’t give such heavy coverage, and being slightly rounded rather than cut flat across, it works better with the contours of the face. I also found it easier to wash than the ELF Studio! Personally I find this way too dense to apply blush with, but that’s down to preference I suppose. Love, love, love this brush.
Pointed Foundation Brush
Compared to the ELF Studio Angled Foundation Brush (which I think is quite small actually!)
This foundation brush is tiny! While I don't use this type of brush for foundation often (not on myself anyway) the small size is actually quite good if you're using a foundation that sets quickly and that you would apply in 'sections' anyway. It's not going to do your whole face quickly (although it's not so small it's a massive ordeal!) but it's great for getting in around the nose, under the eyes and between the brows, either for concealing or where other, larger paddle-type foundation brushes can be a bit too large. Because this is synthetic, it plays well with cream and liquid products so I’ll be playing with it for highlighting, etc.
You may not know it, but I have a bit of a fetish for tiny detail brushes like this one. I love that they can be used for spot concealer, lipstick (both of which the RT website recommends you do) highlighting the cupids bow, smudgy liner, and applying colour to the inner corner of the eye and the lower lashline, which is what I mostly use them for. There's not much to say about this particular brush other than it does all those things very well. It's not what I'd buy the collection for though, obviously, and ELF studio has similar ones if you want to buy one singly – or any lip brush to be honest! - but it's a nice, really really useful addition to the set.
Overall, a great set. You can highlight, contour, conceal, apply foundation and blush/bronzer with all these brushes. The Buffing Brush is the star of the show with the Contour brush a close contender. Each brush, if you don’t include the case, works out to about £5.49 each which is awesome! I’d pay £21.99 for the buffing brush to be honest! It’s a shame there’s not really a star blush brush here, but it's sold as a base kit, I suppose, so I can’t grumble!
- your eyes/enhanced Starter Set ($18/£21.99)
Deluxe Crease Brush
Deluxe Crease Brush compared with Revlon Crease brush.
This is a monster of a crease brush! It's not the sort of brush I normally use for my crease - I prefer a fluffier brush like a MAC 224 - but if you've got more space than I have you might really like it. Where this brush really shines - and if you watch Pixiwoo at all you'll know what's coming - is for concealing under the eyes. I hate wearing concealer under my eyes for a variety of reasons, but this makes application effortless and look really nicely blended and natural. It's soft and gentle for the under-eye area, but robust enough to blend your product out and really fits in the under-eye area nicely. I really like it for applying a highlight on the brow bone as well. Sell this one on it's own please, Sam!
Base Shadow Brush
Compared to my (bedraggled) MAC 217
To me, this is the RT answer to a MAC 217. It's not quite as full as the 217 perhaps, but it's got a pretty similar shape. I've never been particularly enamoured with the 217 personally, although I use it on models a lot more than I would on myself. I prefer the 217 for laying down colours as I find it grabs the product more, but much like the 217 this is still great for a wash of colour on the lid and for blending colour in the crease. If you want to pack colour on, reach for a different brush. Really like this one so far and am keen to play with it more. Again, I think this one would sell really well on it's own.
Pixel Point Eyeliner Brush
Compared to MAC 209
Trying to get a decent line with the Pixel Point Liner brush
I... don't understand this brush. I've never seen a liner brush like it! It's enormous! I was expecting it to be very flimsy, but it's actually pretty good at keeping it's shape. I much prefer to build my liner up rather than apply a fat line right away and I getting a thin line with this is.... tricky. I'm going to play with it for lining the waterline and see what I can use it for lip-wise. The way the brush is constructed is odd and I’m worried that the brush will get damaged as it looks like water could easily get into the ferrule. I know that’s silly but when I look at it, you can see where the bristles all come out of a hole in the ferrule rather than it being pinched around the bristles. Very unusual! It's a bit of a bizarre inclusion in the kit in my opinion and is the “let down” of the five. Don’t get me wrong, the quality is fine and it’s soft and picks up product nicely and what not, but whoever thought this was an awesome idea must have had a bit of a brain fart as to me, ‘pixel point’ suggest a fine line. Oh well. Real Techniques are releasing a fine liner brush that’s going to be sold separately, however, so I’ll probably end up checking that out! If you’re after a budget fine liner brush in the meantime, head to the art store!
Accent brush compared with Elf Small Smudge Brush (sorry it’s grubby, I just used it!)
Compared with the Detailer brush.
See above re: Detailer Brush. I don't think you can have enough of these types of brushes! This is nice and small and I’ve been using it to put gel liner on my waterline and colour on the inner corner which is what I love it for most! You could use this for lips easily because of the size, but I prefer a pointier lip brush personally. Cute brush, happy this was in the set.
This is a nice brush, but personally it's a bit too thick for me to use as a brow brush - if you wanted a really fine tail you might struggle with this brush. I guess that's all down to preference. I've been using it on the lower lashline and I really like it for that, it’s not too stiff for that area, but when I used it for my brows I had to do the tail with the Pixel Point liner brush. Again, I do like my skinny brows on me, so that’s just a personal preference.
While all the brushes are great quality, I don't think this set is as well-rounded as the Core collection. I wish that the liner brush had been replaced with a regular flat eyeshadow brush - the domed shadow brush that's in the travel essentials kit maybe, or the shading brush which is available separately. Then you could pack colour on, do a wash/blend, do detail and do your brows with the whole kit (and just rely on liquid liner :P) The Deluxe Crease Brush gets the pat on the back for this set, its certaily the star. The kit is fantastic value and each brush works out about £4.40 each even if you don’t figure the case in, which is frankly insane.
-Blush Brush ($9/£9.99)
I utterly adore this brush! I've been wanting an big egg shaped blush/powder brush for a long time. This is so, so soft! Now, for a blush brush it does look enormous and I've seen a lot of people moaning that it's too big for a blush brush. It can be daunting when you first go to use it, but really, the tapered shape is perfect for creating a nice, soft-focus look. Basically, the whole of this brush isn’t necessarily going to touch your face, and because it’s lovely and soft you won’t pick up too much product if you’re using a pressed blusher. Because it's tapered, it's also a great powder brush as it can fit in all the nooks and crannies of your face, like under your eyes.
Unlike the brushes that come in sets, the single brushes have a wide bottom (ha!) and can stand up on their own. I was initially worried that it wouldn't fit in my brush belt, but it does! With that in mind, Sam has said that they weren't made for professional use (even though a lot of MUAs love them!) but it would have been a bit annoying! I’m going to try the stippling brush next out of the single brushes, although the foldable kabuki has me really intrigued!
- The Cases
Case with the top folded over and stood up.
Case laid flat, with extra brushes on the left hand side.
The cases themselves are really interesting. They're light and slim and when you open each one out, you can bend back the top half and tighten a little toggle to create a stand for your brushes. Obviously these are fantastic for travelling, and providing they're slim you can pop a few other brushes in there as well as there is elastic on the other half of the case too. The ‘slots’ on the other side are a bit wider, however, so I’d pop any slimmer ones in with one of the brushes in the set. I think I'll mostly use the cases for separating dirty brushes from clean ones after a job or shoot and the brushes will continue to live in my normal brush holder. The set brushes fit perfectly in the case, but if you have some really long-handled brushes, they’re not going to fit quite as well.
It's innovative and a great idea, but in practice there's a few issues. The RT brushes are rubberized at the bottom and this makes it a little hard to pull the brushes out - you need two hands. Not a big deal, but you can't just pluck a brush right out – before I put them in my regular brush holder and just laid the case down flat as it was easier to get them out. The cases seal well at the side with a velcro clasp, and the brushes are held in well so they won't escape, but I would prefer that they zipped up all the way round so you can just pop the case in your bag without worrying about handbag detritus getting on your brushes! The material of the outside case itself is a sort of shiny canvas material - the type that looks like it will catch easily and pill up. Again, not a big deal but if you're a neat freak it might bother you. All in all, I do like the cases however. They’re slim and light and your brushes aren’t going anywhere.
Summary and bits ‘n’ bobs:
Length compared to a MAC 217. Most of the brushes are slightly on the shorter side handle-wise.
Text on all of the brushes. On the purple ones, the brush is a darker purple, on the pink handled ones, it’s a darker pink.
I know people will moan about the pricing as the States get these much cheaper than we do in the UK, but I think Real Techniques is American company even though Sam isn’t! I saw this in a YouTube comment and not for the life of me can’t find where it is! However, even if it’s not, these are still awesome value if you’re getting the sets. The only brushes I can think of that are comparable at that price are some of the Crown brushes, perhaps? I like the few Crown brushes that I have but they’re just not comparable. The quality blows them out of the water. They’re on par with MAC in my opinion, and I love my MAC brushes. For cheaper face brushes, I really, really like the ELF Studio and while those are cheaper if you want to buy singles, Real Techniques singles are still pretty darn accessibly priced! Around the £10 mark for a good face brush is very reasonable in my opinion.
So overall, these brushes are fantastic. The quality is great, and there is everything you need to create a look across the range. The kits I have are great value, the cases are a good idea and a great size for travel. The brushes look good and feel light and easy to use. I’ve experienced no shedding from any of them (I’ve only washed them all once or twice each, however). They’re cruelty free and are all lovely and soft and feel good on the skin. I do wish that certain brushes were available separately and that a couple of the brushes in the eye kit were different but basically I’m really, really pleased with them and can’t recommend them enough. I’ll be purchasing more in time, I can assure you! I don’t think they’re great budget brushes, I just think they’re great brushes full stop.