Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Some Retractable Brushes...

The last few months have had me off on day trips north and south, which means two or three hour rides at a time and ridiculously long days. As part of my preparation for these long trips, I've been trying to beef up the touch-up kit in my purse with the most essential things, including a good, retractable all-around powder brush.

What I wanted of the brush was very straightforward. Good quality (little to no shedding), not heavy, retractable and with a cover. Although I wasn't particular about the actual shape of the brush, I had hoped for something with a hefty amount of actual hairs that I can use with pressed powder, blush and bronzer.

I'll be showing you four brushes in this post. Three of them have man-made hairs, two of them are from the brand Too Faced and they range in price from $18-39. The first brush is the Sephora Collection Hot Hues Retractable Kabuki Brush, $18, which was the first brush that I tried for this experiment. I regret not having done this post sooner because this brush is now sold out online. If you like it, perhaps a store or two will still have it in stock. It came in three colors: pink, blue and the one I have here, orange.

After a few washings, I'm happy to report that with this perky orange brush, I've had no troubles with dye-transfer, shedding or foul smells. The brush looks like new and performs as it did the first day. Each one is not even three inches long when lidded, making it the most compact of the bunch I went through. The hairs are also the shortest. However, for something so tiny, it's still a very dense brush that I've happily used for powder touch ups. I'm not sold on it for more precise application and would probably not recommend it for blush or bronzer use but for midday shine removal, it's a nifty pick.

The Sephora Collection Hot Hues Retractable Brush was featured in at least three magazines over the last few months. Priced as such, it's no surprise that stocks went fast. Sephora also had a number of coupons out since April. With a pile of these by the checkout area, it's easy to grab one and add to your purchase, especially knowing that you won't even be paying full price. Plus, the colors are attractive. It makes you happy to just pick it up.

Next, I purchased the Guerlain Terracotta Retractable Kabuki Brush, $39, with the Light Sheer Bronzing Powder in Sun Blondes. I really haven't had much luck with Guerlain brushes but this was new so I thought it might work out fine. It comes in a matte black case with the Guerlain logo on top and the word Terracotta all around the lid. It also says Guerlain in gold letters at the bottom of the brush.

Unfortunately, this sleek black case easily gets ruined and Guerlain did not package it with a pouch. One day in my purse and it looked like it had been to war. There were scratches all over the casing. It looked terrible. I don't even know what scratched it. It's not like I keep paper clips or other sharp objects in my bag. The $18 Sephora brush didn't have this problem. So I guess it's the matte of the casing that's coming off. It must be paint.

The Guerlain Terracotta Retractable Kabuki Brush has dense, natural bristles. It's not super soft against the skin but it picks up a good amount of product. If you want heavy application, this is the brush to go with. But whatever the hairs are made of really stinks. The brush reeks and the smell does not go away even after many washings. What's more, it blackens the rinse water with every washing. This dye-transfer continued for so long that I finally decided that I needed to get my money back for this horrible brush.

Off I went to Sephora to grab the also new Too Faced Retractable Bronze-buki Brush, $34. This is the largest of the four brushes I have here. It has a dense brush base and longer, crimped bristles to pick up powder. The shorter bristles are meant for buffing to an airbrushed finish.

Too Faced Retractable Bronze-buki Brush

I thought that it might be useful to compare the new Bronze-buki with the ever-popular Too Faced Retractable Kabuki Brush, $32. I'll say off the bat that they are completely different from one another. While they both come in a shiny pink metal casing, they have no other similarities. The Bronze-buki is about 4 inches long with the lid (about a quarter of an inch less without the lid) and over an inch in diameter. The other brush just made it to three inches without the lid and is about an inch in diameter. Said like that, it doesn't seem much but in a tiny purse, it's a lot. Weight-wise, they are both light.

Bronze-buki on left, Too Faced Retractable Kabuki on right

Too Faced Retractable Kabuki Brush

The two brush heads are shaped differently. While both have very soft hairs, the Bronze-buki has a duo-fiber feel. There are short and long bristles and the top is flat. The regular Kabuki has a rounded head. This makes a difference in the way they pick up powder and in the way that you can use each brush to apply it. I don't think that one is necessarily better than the other in this respect although as I use the brushes, I think that I am beginning to like the Bronze-buki one better. That said, both are nice and dense and neither of them really shed. Maybe one or two hairs at the onset and that was it.

Too Faced Retractable Kabuki Brush box

Overall, I'm most pleased with the Too Faced retractable brushes. Generally, I find retractables to be a pain to wash but I do have to wash them from time to time so I like to have two to rotate between. I usually go with the Too Faced ones. Only if I needed something truly tiny do I ever bring the Sephora one but it's nice to have the option.

I've always been interested in the Hourglass Retractable Foundation Brush and the brand's other brushes but I've had the pleasure of owning only their Finishing Brush, which I highly recommend. Other options you may want to have a look at that don't use animal hairs include the EcoTools Recycled Retractable Kabuki Brush and The Body Shop Retractable Blusher Brush.


  1. Which of these would you reccomend most? I can't afford both

    1. Of the two retractable from Too Faced, I find that I use the Bronze-buki more. If you want a denser brush to deposit more powder with each use, then you will like the original Too Faced Retractable better. The bronze-buki has a duo-fiber feel which seems to me, works great for last minute touch ups and buffing in.

  2. Wow! Your Retractable Blush Brush is absolutely amazing! I'm planning to buy one for my collection. Thank you for sharing this anyways. I really had a great time browsing your blog. Like you one of my addiction is to collect makeup brush set. Thank you! If you have some free time, feel free to visit my friend's online shop here: