Thursday, October 25, 2012

Let's talk about the humble brush

Brushes. You probably don't think a lot about them, but they can make or break your mani. There are a lot of different kinds and they may be affecting the polish you like, love and hate without your really thinking about them

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.

First up the infamous Wet n Wild brush. Undoubtedly one of the most hated brushes in polishdom, it's wide, it's full, it's thick. As you can see, it's also not consistently shaped or cohesive. However...see below and I'll show you what I DO like about it.

It covers. You can see where on the left little sample, those stray bristles have caused a problem. Grrrr. Nothing like being meticulous in your application to have it wrecked by a bad brush. The right sample is one stroke, though. It's even, it's not pooling or flooding. Plus, it's going to cover your whole nail unless you have man hands.
(Wet n Wild - I need a Refresh-mint)

I somehow managed not to take a sample swatch of this one, which probably won't matter much as this will show you what you need to know. This is Sinful. I love Sinful polishes, they're a nice cheap fix with a lot of fun colors. These brushes, however, I think are a nightmare. They drive me bonkers. First up, see how thin it is? Plus it's not even across the ends. And they're long. Meaning difficult to control. I prefer a shorter bristle myself. However, for the BOGO sales getting 2 polishes for $1.50 or whatever ridiculously low price, I will occasionally deal. What this brush is going to get you is pretty uneven coverage and a lot of going back to the bottle. (Cloud 9)

Chanel Delight. OK. VERY expensive polish. if they weren't so gorgeous I'd never bother because I think the price tag is ridic, but we bite because honestly, as I've said many times before, Chanel has the hot colors. These aren't bad brushes, but see what's happening? Some flooding on the one swipe right side there, and some messiness on the multi swipe sample.

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.

OK. Once again I forgot the paper swatch. Why did I post it anyway, you ask? Why not just make a new swatch? Because I threw most of these in a box when I was done and I'm too lazy to make the mess necessary to find them again. Sorry. I'm a lazy blogger.

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.

Zoya Rica. Nice brushes. When you even this out you get the layering on the left. One stroke gets you some pooling, as you can see on the right. Zoya is a vegan brand and I find they are always runnier. This could be the result of just a thinner formula. See how crisp the edges are around the outside of both swatches, though? With a little care, this will get you nice neat cuticles.

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.

Nice crisp edge, the brush is picking up a nice amount of polish and it's sitting evenly throughout the bristles. The brush is full but not overwhelming and the strands are not too long. Easy to control. Very nice.

Catherine Arley 806. Which looks NOTHING like this in real life. I thought this was another polish and one I couldn't imagine I had bought, actually. Please don't look at the color!
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.

Perfection. Nice short stem, perfectly stacked bristles, polish is flawlessly distributed, the edge is very clean. Ideal, in my opinion. This is subjective, keep that in mind, but this is as close to perfection as it gets. (But there is a brush I like better in the fleet!)

butterLONDON Gobsmacked. I love butters. And look at how clean this is. This is a black jelly glitter (It's reviewed here) and I love it. Clean everywhere. Because this is a glitter, it will take a bit of evening out, I probably should have chosen a different polish, but this also shows what a good brush can do for a tough polish. It's reasonably even. And all these larger samples are about what you would apply to your nail in one coat so this is what you could expect to see.

The brush itself is very short in the stem. The bristles are almost half of the brush. This works well with this glitter because it allows you to pick up more polish. There is some fan to it and the edge is very clean. A very good brush. I like butter's brushes a lot.

Illamasqua Stance. Yum. Illamasqua's have a tall bottle as well, so you can expect a taller stem. Do I know it's called a stem? It probably isn't but it seems to fit, so forgive me. Look at clean this is. A little pool where the brush touches the paper but this is a liquid. It's going to pool at some point if the formula is just right. Sharp clean lines, excellent.

REALLY long bristles! But very clean and very tightly packed. This is partly where you get that clean application. Also, you might notice the edge here has a little curve to it. This helps out at the cuticle line because when you apply the brush, it's going to fan in a little slight curve. It's a nice touch and I like it. I hate getting those square brush strokes at the cuticles that you then have to clean up because you were watching Big Bang and not your nails while you were painting. (Bazinga!) That little curve helps alleviate that some.

A-England Perceval. Gorge. This is a super brush. It's my fave in the group. It really is. This is so clean, so even...yes, there is some pooling in the larger sample but that can be evened out. I honestly just sort of slapped these on because the color and formula weren't what I wanted to show you. Look at the other sample. That's gorgeous. Even, clean..and it helps that the formula is excellent.

Perfect. Absolutely perfect. Not a bristle out of placethe color is perfectly even from handle to tip, love the slight curvature to the end, the brush is thick and dense but not ridiculous. It's ideal. This is definitely my favorite to use. I just find them the best.

What an awful picture. I apologize, I don't know why it's so yellow and not accurate to color at all. This is Essence Chic Reloaded. It's a $.99 polish so it's hard to find fault with it, but it's not the most even coverage. You can see it builds up nicely on the left and the right isn't a disaster. It's a bit streaky but's a bargain. I can put up with some of this for a bargain. And the colors wear well. I have one on my toes.

The brush itself is a much higher quality version of the Wet N Wild wide brush. One of the things that's weird about this is that it's such a wide brush and the bottles are so little that it's strange to use. But the bristles are even, nicely packed, very dense and they hold polish like no one's business. Overall, if you're going for a less expensive polish find, these aren't bad to use and I recommend these brushes over the WnW ones. It's easy to see here, it's just a much more nicely made brush. It's a little short, though. I know generally I like that, but a little more stem wouldn't be out of the order. I understand why it's so short, the bottles are minis, but it is sometimes hard to see your nail! I know that sounds odd, but give it a shot. You'll probably see what I mean.

Color Club Sky High. Such a pretty polish but boy did it pool. The brushes aren't bad and this is a thinner formula, but that stroke there on the right, if it's on your nail you're going to have to deal with that. Here's what the brush looks like:

Not terrible, pretty clean, but I think the longer bristles want to fan out too much and they're not holding the polish evenly. Not a train wreck but it could be better. These go for a primo price in retail outlets around here so I want a little better, but it's workable. Not bad.

Orly Buried Alive. What made me buy this? It looks like poo. **shakes head at self** I hope it was on sale.
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:
Is pretty good. You can see some uneven bristles at the end, a few guys there are wanting to stand out, but it's nothing you can't handle. It's holding the polish well, is longer but easy enough to control and it did even the polish out. Solid choice from a fun brand. I like Orly a lot.

Be fair here. This is a matte so it's not going to apply like a regular polish finish. Period. It's just not. So don't be freaked out by the streaks. It was probably trying to go dry already. This is ManGlaze Fatty's Got More Blood. Application on a matte can be tricky, in my opinion. They dry super fast and in that process, while you're trying to fix uneven application, they can drag. Not a good time. Usually worth it. But challenging.
Fatty did even out nicely on the left. Nothing you can't handle if you're careful on the one stroke.

The brush. Nice and short, bristles on the shorter side, but full. Even..not flawless, but pretty good. It's holding the polish well and it has some fullness. Pretty solid choice. Because the formula on these is so thick a shorter bristled brush lends some much needed muscle. Good stuff.

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.

Happy Talons!

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