To illustrate my point, I have a very picture heavy post for you. However, it will also let you see a lot of different polishes that I probably haven't really swatched for you before. I randomly chose them from my stash because all brushes are not created equal.
For the most part, I created a swatch on plain white paper with a couple strokes so you can see where the brush marks are, a swatch of just one swipe with the brush so you can see what would cover on your nail and a pic of the brush. I'll make a few comments along the way. Keep in mind, too, that even the best brush won't save a poor formula. Those differences will shine through as well, but I'm not going to talk about them today.
(Wet n Wild - I need a Refresh-mint)
Very long bristles, very short throw. So...the short throw is lending you control. the long thin gathering of bristles is picking up lots of polish. So they balance out, basically. It's not a bad brush. I sometimes get mad at the formula but I don't have much trouble with the brush.
This is Wet N Wild Fantasy Makers Creepy Pumpkin. Halloween polishes are SO MUCH FUN! I love them. And this brush is truly in the spirit because it's HORRIFIC. Yes. I'm yelling a lot. It's just pretty much all bad. The bristles are uneven, the throw is too short for the kind of cap and that fanning thing that's going on is going to get worse, spreading the bristles out against your nail making for some seriously uneven coverage. Still, for a polish as fun as this, you tolerate a lot. And you clean up a lot because you're getting this all over.
See how the brush has collected the polish? That's part of where that pooling is coming from but it's a nice brush with a short but full head of bristles and a nice even edge. I approve!
China Glaze Harvest Moon. Ooo. Halloweeny! OK. Fairly sharp and fairly clean. Not a lot of pooling. On several strokes it evens out nicely. Solid choice. Let's see the brush itself.
This is some pretty solid application from a very inexpensive brand. Fairly even coverate, though you can see some pooling in both samples, but overall, crisp edges. I think the edges and cuticles are the hardest to keep clean and I'm not a big fan of the slop it on and clean it up later idea as acetone or polish remover is hard on your skin. Paint them clean up front and you can be kinder to your hands.
This is closer in color! Very short stem, which I prefer, but this is all up to you. You may find something else works better for you. The brush has a nice fan to it, the edges are reasonably even, and the polish is nicely distributed. This will get you a nice clean job. And the price is certainly right, even if you do wait for quite awhile to receive these.
Rescue Beauty Grunge, the older one. I think they are mainly the same, but just to be clear. I didn't just buy this one on the restock. As expected, very clean, very clear, very little pooling...that's because this is quality all the way. The brush, the formula, it's a dream.
Interestingly enough, as you may have been realizing, I like a short stem with a short bristle. I find it easy to control. This is a very long bristle, obviously. You can see that easily. Once again, the long bristle is balanced with a short stem making your polish stroke short. Which is what I mean when I say "short throw". This is holding the polish nice and evenly and is very crisp on the end. Excellent.
BB Couture Dragon Breath. Wow. OK, this surprised me because I love love love BB Couture, but this was difficult. Look at everything tha tis happening here. Uneven application, pooling, which will flood your cuticles if you're not careful and a little mess off to the upper right. This is a quality polish but I think you'll be doing evening coats with this.
BB Coutures have a rather tall bottle, if you've ever used one. If you'd like to see, click a link on the sidebar because I've reviewed many. Or some, at least. This is nicely balanced. Longer stem due to the tall bottle, but a nice length on the bristles and nicely even on the end. Dragon Breath might not have been a great choice for this because it's a jelly base, which might explain the pooling. I've never had an application problem so I'm chalking this up to that. This is a great brush.
Deborah Lippmann Lara's Theme. This didn't like the paper. I can tell you that clearly. The paper soaked it right up. The brush is excellent so you can put your mess concerns from the left there to rest. Look at the rest of it. Clean, even coverage, the one stroke sample is extremely clean and I wouldn't expect less from this caliber polish.
On to the real topic. Nice application but not really even. If you look at the right side, which is one stroke, it's uneven, thin in some spots, thick in others. You have to handle this when you do your nails so it doesn't look like drunken monkeys did it. As you can see on the more balanced out sample on the left, it does just that beautifully, and it must because "beautiful" isn't a word I would personally apply to this polish.
Don't like it. Don't like it a lot.
The brush though:
Fatty did even out nicely on the left. Nothing you can't handle if you're careful on the one stroke.
Well, thus ends my brush lecture for the day. I hope it was informative. Now when you hear us bloggers bitching about brush quality you will know what that means. I am not in any way suggesting you should or should not buy one polish over another strictly on brush. If you love the color and it makes you happy, just be patient if it has a bad brush, and be prepared to do some clean up to get it right. However, if you're just browsing, maybe this will help you choose a better deal for you and what you like. I think the brush is a part of the company's philosophy about their product. It signifies to me if they understand their customers and their polish. It seems a little thing but it can be the deal between a good mani and a great one.