On Painter's Brushes - Yes, Use Them!
When I first started getting into makeup, my mind was a weird mess of cheap and elitist. On one hand, I wanted to go through all the drugstores and dig for that golden needle in the haystack of skincare and color cosmetics. On the other hand, I went straight to MAC in terms of tools, the elites in my mind then.
I used to scoff at gurus, even legit makeup artists, whenever they'd recommend non-makeup brushes, such as paintbrushes, to be used for the face. I only did this internally, of course. I'm not that weird, warfreak, know-it-all audience member who keeps trying to trip up a demoing MUA. I'd just sit, smile and nod but deep inside, I'd be offended at the thought that I can't afford to invest in good makeup brushes. I don't know why I was having one-sided internal arguments with makeup artists, I was so weird, I swear!
I guess I had this mentality of knowing chemicals well and not thinking much of formulations, but I was quite dumb with brush craftsmanship so I went straight to thinking that the expensive ones would always be the best...
Anyway, over time I was encouraged in makeup school to get really creative. You need to improvise when you've forgotten tools, can't afford better ones or need to modify techniques to unique models. It's not always about showing off the best brands, because your walking advert is the face you made. If the face is not perfect, nobody is going to line up for your MACs and Chanels. And in the end, it's not always the branded products that are going to get you those picture-perfect shots.
My absolute favorite alternative brush is this one that I use as a concealer brush. It is a cheapo acrylic paint brush I got in a bookstore for about KRW 1000 (~PHP 40). At first, I was meant to use it for creative concepts or body painting, but once I touched the tip, I knew it would be fantastic for concealing under the eyes.
The main winning point for me is how easy it is to clean. It's even easier to clean than eye brushes that I've only used with powder!
But to really appreciate how nice it is, I'd like to compare it with a former holy grail, the MAC 195. (Note: I cannot believe I don't have a review for the 195!)
Firstly, price. Last I checked, the MAC 195's SRP is PHP 1450. But let's leave that point quickly because I don't mind paying a premium for premium things anyway.
What I really liked about MAC 195 is the finger mimicry. It has the perfect point to get into the inner corner of my eye, from the eyeline until the edge of my dark circle. I also think it has enough thickness and tension to resemble the ring finger. It was HG up until a year or so ago, when I discovered the Zoeva 142 Concealer Buffer (reviewed here as part of a set.)
As I put Zoeva 142 in MAC 195's place, I didn't realize that it was because I was instinctively favoring a rounded buffing brush over a synthetic mini paddle. Why would I go that way? MAC 195 has such a difficult time with thicker products.
As an alternate, I've moved on to using this square tip acrylic brush. It has a dramatic taper, which means it's has a lot of give on the tip. This forces me to use minimal product (yes, even thick creams) and allows me to swish back and forth easily, thus blending a really thin layer. Building up thin layers under the eye is so important because the skin there is so thin and moves a lot, so it's highly prone to creasing.
The MAC 195 was too stiff for that. It was designed for flat-use, as you can see on my eyebag photo. This design forced me to pat caked-on layers of product instead of thin layers. Not saying it's useless, but it's just better of for lighter, liquidy concealers, which I don't use anyway.
I'm thinking other good paintbrushes to try are: a fan brush for powder fallout, a thicker acrylic paddle for the face, and a smaller acrylic square for push eye lining. I'm still on the fence for horse hair watercolor brushes as alternate eyeshadow brushes because to be honest, I haven't seen much choices with good shapes and I doubt they can rival what I already have.
If anyone has other tips and recommendations, let me know!