Tricksome: MAC Masterclass Brushes Review

posted on: September 13, 2014

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As with many tools, brushes in general receive less attention than the results of their usage. Brushes have been used since prehistoric times to apply pigment to walls, faces, bodies, and more, but very little history remains about the evolution of their materials. They are truly the invisible workmen of art and colour. It has been hypothesised that the very first brushes, used to paint onto cave walls, were sticks with frayed ends, or bundles of leaves, or wood shavings, but this is information pieced together. It is known that Ancient Egyptians used papyrus reeds with crushed ends for their hieroglyphics, but precious little knowledge exists about other cultures.

We do know that gradually over time, animal hair was introduced, mainly for paint and art, gradually making its way into the application of cosmetics. Before then, pigment was applied to the face with all number of implements, such as a hare’s foot for rouge (yes an actual foot of a actual hare), pieces of fabric or kidskin, or a stick for kohl. In 1785, a guild for brush-makers was set up in London, by which time the industry was highly respected, with long years of training, and sought-after artisans. Although the bulk of the brushes made were for artists (as they still are now), animal hair brushes rapidly became the norm for cosmetics, with camel hair, sable, or mink the most popular choices. And further East in Japan, Kabuki brushes, with their dense smooth bristles and short handles, were introduced as the perfect tools for applying the thick makeup of the actors of Kabuki theatre.

In the mid-19th century, the invention of metal ferrules (the bit below the bristles) allowed the creation of many new shapes and types of brushes, which had always been round until then. Similarly, synthetic bristles were introduced in the early 20th century, allowing for longer, hardier, and more hygienic brushes.

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We have now reached the age when brushes are considered one of the most important components of making up. (Having said that, some of the brushes I have seen in my friends’ makeup bags make me want to weep. 12 years is too long to still be using a brush, Sara.) To the extent that I am seriously considering spending £65 on a super special foundation brush that promises me the world.

We can also find superb brushes for very little. The brushes from Real Techniques are simply incredible, and are super affordable, at about a third of the price of “luxury” brands.

The rate of invention in brushes and tools is amusing to watch. Every week, there is a new “tapered” shape, or a new sponge that has a special “pore structure” that is launched by someone. In general, I absolutely love these launches. The market is so thick with brushes now that they much be pretty special to attract attention.

Which brings us to these new brushes from MAC Masterclass.

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There have been many reviews about these brushes. There is no denying it – they are different. The toothbrush-shape is new, and utterly unlike anything else out there. And thus it has attracted a lot of attention.

I have been dying to get my hands on them for a long time, as a result. I finally found them a couple of weeks ago (launches like this, which are a little under the radar, usually come quite slowly to Hong Kong, most unfairly), and have been trying them ever since.

Now guys, I know that you know that I don’t really put bad reviews up here, as, really, what’s the point? I would rather tell you about cool and good things than rubbish ones. However, I feel that these brushes need special attention.

I really really really wanted them to work. It makes so much sense, doesn’t it? Putting an eyeliner on sideways, instead of vertically. Finally, you can see while you are applying! And after all, they are from MAC, which usually doesn’t place a foot wrong with their brushes. When I first used them, I thought they were ok, but I just needed to practise.

Well, dear reader, I have practised. And practised. And I can now say, hand on heart, that these are rubbish. Patchy, scratchy, and cumbersome, they just don’t work. I have practised on myself, and on other people ad nauseam, and no matter how I use them, I need to blend and re-apply with another brush afterwards.

However, I must applaud MAC for coming up with them. One more step in the evolution of makeup tools. Rather like the amphibious bicycle of 1932 – a good idea, but rather pointless.

Clever Clever: Suqqu Concealer

posted on: September 11, 2014

CM Suqqu Concealer 1

I recently came across a rather odd little concealer – Suqqu Stick Concealer in White. It is a pure white, pretty opaque formula, which at first seems completely strange and confusing. Who wants to put pure white on your skin? But I’ve decided and am thus proclaiming that it is actually the most nifty thing in my makeup drawer.

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Suqqu claim that it is a “light-reflecting base”, which doesn’t really do an adequate job of explaining what it can do. I use it as a colour adjuster, especially for using concealer on necks, which always have a paler skin tone than the face, or under my eyes if my regular concealer is too dark. You can also think of it as an undercover highlighter, using it wherever you would a Touche Éclat, to bring lightness. So, under the eyes, in the smile lines, down the bridge of the nose, and on the top of the cheekbones. Follow it with your normal makeup and it actually works better than the Touche Éclat, because it is matte, its effect is more subtle and lasts longer.

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There is also a third use for it – the formula is very matte, and fairly dry, but stays very smooth on the skin. Used underneath any concealer, especially on blemishes or discolouration, it neutralises and brings down the colour before you cover it, like placing a transparency filter over it, and the dry formula holds the concealer to last even longer. Brilliant.

Suqqu is available in Selfridges in London, or on Amazon.

Shade of the Moment: Burberry Earthy Glow

posted on: August 25, 2014

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I’ve always been a blush person. Eyeliner, concealer and blush have always been top of the list. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some mornings when it all seems a bit much.

Step in my new discovery. Burberry Light Glow in No.7 Earthy Glow is an all-in-one contour and blush* that makes you look like you are cheekbone-rich as well as healthy and energetic, which is, after all the whole point.

The matte, grey-based mauve brown is also remarkably flattering on many skin tones, as it is neutral enough that it avoids any orange-ness or muddiness. The powder is super fine, as with all of Burberry (can you tell I’m a big fan?), and you only need a little bit, well-blended, to look done.

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*I understand that saying “sometimes blush is a bit much” then saying “so here’s another one” might seem nonsensical. But what I mean is that sometimes a bright pink or peach cheek is a bit much, and this Earthy Glow achieves the healthy glow while being super subtle and subliminal. And that makes sense in my head.

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Alternative Eyeliners

posted on: August 22, 2014

There is a saying doing the rounds of the internet: “Never ask a girl with winged eyeliner why she is late.” So so true. Getting a cat-eye right is a completely under-appreciated effort. If everyone put in the level of skill and practice that is needed for a “casual” flick to other endeavours, we could all build computers in our spare time by now. Never mind. The creative minds behind [...]

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Engagement Cupcakes

Summer, and Misc.

posted on: August 22, 2014

So Many Apologies, dear people. I am completely aware that I have been completely absent, and I cannot tell you how ashamed I am. We were in Shanghai, staying in an uber-chic converted factory aka hotel, and I was [...]

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Review: Lierac Diopticerne Teinté

posted on: June 30, 2014

I feel like I did you a disservice last week. I simply casually mentioned, in my post about the best pharmacie in Paris, that the Lierac Diopticerne Teinté Dark Circle Correcting Cream Eye Contour was good. As in, a good product to buy. Which is basically like saying that the baguettes in Paris are just ok, and the Turing test is just, you know, a doddle. [...]

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