I recently put in an order with COASTALSCENTS.COM and while I am always skeptical about super inexpensive brushes, I decided I could afford to take a leap of faith on a few items I was curious about…

As always, the brushes came packaged adorably in a drawstring organza bag (colors vary in my experience but this time it was black)  and delicately wrapped in pink tissue paper with a seal to keep everything nice and neat….)

I always enjoy attention to small details that really make getting a package feel more like getting a present;) I was given a small sample of loose shadow which was a nice and generous touch.  Shipping was also super fast and who doesn’t love that? 😉

Ok, so here are my thoughts on the few I received:

BIONIC FLAT TOP BUFFER BRUSH     $13.95     (see link for photo and more information)

The softness of this brush is pretty surprising, but yet it still has a density that makes it perfect for everything from buffing foundations in or applying bronzer or mineral foundations. This is a must-have for any makeup junkie on a budget who desires an excellent quality multi-tasking brush. I am adding a few of these onto my next order as they will now be a staple in my professional kit;) VERY happy with this purchase and even happier with the price! After all, it works as well as my SMASHBOX #19 and I paid over $50 USD for that brush. You do the math! As a side note, I do recommend the   BRUSH GUARDS to keep this brush in the best shape possible. They are a must for those who desire to get the most of their brush investment;)


DESTINY BLENDER BRUSH     $2.49     ( see link for photo and more info)

Another shocker, this little gem is under $3 USD but performs as well ( if not better) than my MAC 222 and MAC 224 brush. I liken the shape to that of the MAC 226 that sometimes appears in limited edition collections as it is very tapered and yet, dense and soft enough to give a beautiful and easy blend. Shorter than the MAC brushes but not so short that they are difficult to control. I think this is a perfect blender to keep on hand ( I will be ordering a few more…) and excellent for a travel brush set. Fast becoming one of my favorites!


DIVINE LARGE/MEDIUM EYE SHADOW BRUSH     $2.49     (see link for photo and more info)

I love these brushes. The large is great for applying a base color all over the eye or even the highlight. The medium is perfect for lid color or highlight. Dense enough to pack on color if desired , yet soft enough to deliver a sheer wash when using a gentle hand. Again..smaller than the high end counterparts, but affordable, workable and definite basics for any makeup junkie to have in their stash. The price is nice too! Check out both sizes…at $2.49 each, you can’t afford NOT to;)


BLACK POINTED CREASE BRUSH     $2.95     (see link for photo and more info)

Not my favorite pointed brush ever, but no major complaints. While the tip isn’t the most slender and perfect of pointed crease brushes, this can be worked with in my opinion. I find the tip to be soft enough to not irritate the delicate areas around eyes, but the base of the hair is dense enough to be able to smudge kohl liners into the lashline with ease.


So there you have it. A few good quality, basic makeup brushes without breaking the piggy bank. I plan to keep these handy on my personal makeup table and order a few for my professional kit as well. Great for traveling as well due to the convenient size and affordable price.  In fact, here is an adorable little bag that would be perfect to hold them all…


COASTALSCENTS.COM has so many hidden treasures from cosmetics to moisturizers. I have always been pleased with my purchases and the service at COASTALSCENTS.COM and highly recommend them to beginners and professionals.

As an addition, the already low prices are going even lower on certain items for the Holiday season so check them out!

More reviews coming soon on products from Estee Lauder, MAC, Too Faced, Sephora, Urban Decay, Coastal Scents, Face Atelier and MORE!  Stay updated and be sure to visit:


and become a fan for more information and giveaway opportunities!


I often get questions about brushes when I talk to women about makeup. What kind do they need? What is each used for? And honestly, there is never a perfect answer that fits all.  Much depends on what makeup you use, what effect you want and what your budget is. In this post, I will share some of my favorite brushes which also happen to be multi-use brushes…see a connection? I will also list some suggestions for affordable alternatives to the most popular brushes.

Home made makeup brush cleansers

FLAT TOP BRONZER/BUFFER ( kabuki-style )  -It has many names but is fairly distinct with it’s densely packed hair. While it can be used for bronzer, mineral foundations and powders, it is also commonly used for buffing in liquid foundation. Yes! Liquid! I first blend in my foundation with my fingers, and then buff it to a soft, streak-free finish. A favorite among some Makeup Artists is the SMASHBOX #19 Brush at a whopping $52 USD price tag. A budget option is the Coastal Scents  KABUKI ON A STICK for a reasonable $5.95 USD. 

ANGLE BRUSH – I LOVE these brushes! I use them for everything! Well….almost. They are great for filling in brows with brow powder, lining eyes with powder or cream liners, creating precise lip lines and drawing a sharp crease with eye shadows. They are also great for  just under the brow bone when you want a thin, clean highlight. I swear by mine which is a MAC 266 and costs about $19.50 USD, but for those on a budget, REXART offers a Loew Cornell brush called the  1/4″ Angular Rose Shader for about $3 USD.

STIPPLING/DUO FIBRE – A synthetic/real hair  brush with black hair and white tips (nicknamed a  “skunk”) this brush is good for stippling on liquid foundations but is also commonly used to dust on powder products including blush and bronzer. MAC makes a brush called the 187 Duo Fibre Face Brush for a hefty $42 USD, but Sigma Makeup offers a similar brush, also called a 187 Duo Fibre Brush for an affordable $16 USD.

FLUFFY BLENDER BRUSH – So yes, this brush can be used for applying eye shadow and blending it, but it can also be used to buff in concealer under eyes and to set it with powder. I have also been known to use this brush to apply a hint of highlighter on the top of cheekbones and/or above the outer corner of the brow, down the nose and above the cupids bow. MACs 224 brush is $28 USD, but an alternative is the REVLON contour shadow brush for about  $6.99 USD.

Fan brushes can be used for everything from powders, blushes and bronzers to highlighting and sweeping away fallout from dark shadows. Some fine tip eyeliner brushes can be used as lip lining brushes too. Concealer brushes are great for applying eye primer and cream shadows…the list goes on an on;)

* When using brushes for multiple things during the same application, it is good to have a bottle of brush cleaner handy. I like Sephora daily brush cleanser as it spot cleans well, is easy to use and dries quickly. It is also anti-bacterial and comes in 2 sizes ranging from $6 USD to $14 USD. 

Daily Brush Cleaner To Go

Now, I tend to use most of my brushes in many different ways, but these are just some ideas to help out a few folks interested in making the most of their investment into makeup brushes. As many of you know, there are no hard and fast rules for how to apply anything anymore, or with what tools. Many adapt to what we have and if we only had Qtips and Cotton balls we would adjust…BUT, having a handful of multi-tasking tools sure helps. Feel free to share your multiple uses for your brushes, or ask questions in the comments section below;)

More information on brushes, a list of my must-have daily brushes, brush maintenance, etc coming soon. Stay tuned by subscribing here for updates or visit me at FACEBOOK.

A short time ago, I posted a review on a small set of Sigma Brushes (link in sidebar to the right->)

Even after expressing some concerns, I decided to give them another shot. I have since purchased a full set (w/brushroll since they claimed at that time to not have sets without, yet do sell the brush roll separate).

Now as you can imagine, a MUA is often asked to make product recommendations which I take very seriously. After all, my reputation is affected by what I tell people they should buy and if it turns out to be bad quality, inconsistent in any way or the company has bad service then I get a phone call. Such is the case with SIGMA.

I will explain.

I recently recommended the SIGMA set to a young lady who was interested in becoming a MUA. She needed a variety of brushes and I felt that based on her budget, timeline and need for a fair quality that SIGMA would be a convenient option as a starter set. I told her where to go and how much they were with shipping (based on the order I just recently made.) I then got a call later in the day saying they price was off. Way off. So, I checked the site and she was right.

I was surprised since I am on the SIGMA mailing list and did not get an update about any price change, and it is not mentioned on the site either. I apologized and offered to pay the difference, but she decided to move on. I have since offered her my own set of SIGMA brushes to make up for any confusion based on my recommendation.

Now, quite a bit of traffic has come into this blog lately in search of SIGMA brush reviews and information, so thought I would add a quick update and some personal thoughts/experience here for those interested in making a first time purchase as well as existing customers, like myself.

SIGMA has in fact increased the price on the full brush set (that includes the brush roll) to $89.00 USD. While still a bargain, a $10.00 price increase since mid-July (when I purchased at $79.00 USD) does seem a bit steep. Especially for Makeup Artists and Kit builders who buy more than once or purchase several sets.

It also explains the recent push in “freebies’ being sent out for Youtube Gurus to give away. While clearly a re-promotion strategy for the price hike, it doesn’t change the fact that it is still a $10.00 increase with no change in product being evident or explained:(

At a time when the economy suffers and consumers are seeking alternatives and consistency, I found this to be a brave move. Personally, I would be concerned with existing customer retention, but I suppose from the profit side of things, mass marketing does have it’s benefits.

I can see it both ways, but as a non biased consumer/reviewer who actually paid for my brushes, I can’t help but wonder if the price increase is subsidizing the many hundreds of dollars worth of Free items SIGMA has been giving away to Youtube Gurus (Tiffany D, EmilyNoelle, Ren Ren, Lollipop26 as examples) for personal use/review promotion, gifts to family/friends and contest prizes.

It also becomes a concern as to the validity of reviews on products that are free. I mean, personally, I like free things and mostly because they are free. If you make no effort or investment, how can you really be truly unbiased in a review? I am sure it is possible, but to many it will seem suspect.

For those still ‘on the fence’ and checking out non-biased fellow consumer information, I will be reviewing the Full Set of SIGMA brushes with roll (pictured below) by the end of the week. Photos and comparisons will be included.

I also have upcoming reviews for some SEPHORA brushes , SONIA KASHUK brushes, LOEW CORNELL brushes a few of my new MAC brushes and more. The prices of these brushes seem to be consistent and since I now need to replace one whole set, I’m sure I will have a lot to share;)

Check back for updates, send questions/concerns and have a great week;)

Kristine Marie

PS. I located another SIGMA brush review in which the customer paid $64 USD for her full set without brushroll in late July, and they are now listed at $69 USD. Just an FYI.

I must admit. I am a bit of a snob when it comes to certain things and I have rarely found brushes that meet my demands the way MAC or SIGMA or other quality brushes do…but I TRY to keep an open mind.

Sure, I was hesitant to order brushes from ELF ( eyeslipsface.com) because of the low cost. Now, when I say low, I am not kidding. Almost all products from ELF are one dollar. Yes, $1 USD

My teens are always asking about ELF since it is so affordable to them, so while stocking up on some other basics ( ie; blotting papers, clear lipgloss, handheld mirrors to give to my teens as free gifts etc..) I decided I would pay a few extra bucks and test drive a few ELF brushes. Keep in mind, I did not purchase the STUDIO collection brushes which cost a bit more, but the basic brushes that are only $1 USD.

The brushes I chose to try were:

Flat Eyeliner Brush – It’s ok. Pretty stiff with no give at ALL. Maybe with a few more washings it will soften a little and my teenager can get some use of it.  I am hopeful, but not holding my breath. 

2 Blending Eye Brushes – Totally misrepresented. These brushes look NOTHING like the fluffy brushes on the ELF website. They look like a larger version of a crease brush. Dense and not the best for a soft blend due to the way it is more tapered than flared.  Oh, and did I mention both of them were broken? The top comes right off at the ferrule. 

Eyeshadow Brush – Brush intact, but hairs not as clean looking and neat as the representation on the ELF site. More fluffy than dense. It applies color, but so does my finger. I can’t say much more for this brush. Just disappointing overall.

Defining Eye Brush – I found this one at my local dollar type store. Brush intact so far, and this one actually isn’t terrible. I may let my teenager keep this one. She doesn’t seem to notice the brush quality the same way I do nor does she need professional quality brushes to do makeup on other people like I do.

Brow Brush and Comb – Broken at the ferrule. Do these people know what GLUE is?

Now I KNOW what some people are thinking….

“Why complain about something that only costs $1?”  

Well, thats easy. If it will not be used, then it is actually a total of $6 USD not including shipping costs and tax , not to mention if this happened to me everytime I put faith in what a website advertises it would end up costing me hundreds. If it is broken, not what I saw on the website or doesn’t function then it isn’t worth a penny, nor a dollar. Luckily this experience has kept me from placing another order from ELF until the matter is dealt with and made me a bit more skeptical about the overall quality of other products. 

Now, what I will say is that if you are on a super duper tight budget and want to give them a whirl for your personal makeup application, go for it. Buy some Superglue as well, just in case. But, for my standard and the standard of clients, I will not be budget conscience when my job , reputation and end result relies on quality. 

I will be contacting ELF cosmetics and telling them what I think and hoping they do the right thing by refunding my few dollars, or at least crediting me for my next order of blotting sheets and clear lip gloss. I suppose you can’t mess those up no matter how cheap they are;)

Kristine Marie

Always on the hunt to stay updated on what is out there, I decided about 2 months ago to finally make a small investment in the SIGMA makeup brushes.  I am often asked to make affordable recommendations on brush sets and this was one of the sets I had not yet tried. (More to come on others later)

Since the full set  (12 in total) was not available and hasn’t been for some time,  I settled for purchasing the FACE & EYE brush set for $49 USD just so I could test the overall quality.

It consists of 6 brushes in total. They are:

SS-150 Large fluffy face brush – for all over face powder products or blusher/bronzers

SS-187 A Stippling brush excellent for liquid foundation application and can also be used for blush or powder face products

SS-239 is an all purpose dense eyeshadow brush but works especially well for packing on color to the lid

 SS-219 is a pencil shaped eyeshadow brush that can be used for defining that Outer “V” shape, packing color into the crease, lining the lashlines and smudging eyeliners. 

SS-224 Is a fluffy blending brush perfect for light application of color to the crease as well as blending and contouring of some areas.

ss-182 Kabuki brush is a multi-purpose brush that can be used for mineral foundations, any type of face powders and as an all over blending brush.

Now, I found the idea of naming their brushes after the MAC brushes rather un-original, but for the sake of recognition and marketing I am sure they  ( SIGMA) thought the idea was perfect. Personally, I wouldn’t like it if someone took my idea for profit;( 

As far as the quality of the product ( what realllllly matters) I have personally found them to be quite comparable to the MAC brushes they are named for. I have used them quite a bit recently to really break them in and washed them a few times ( I use SOFTSOAP moisturizing handsoap) and they have not shed or bled color in the least. The hair used is very soft and claimed to be natural bristles (meaning real hair and not synthetic).

What I do not like about them is that the handles seem to be thicker…not that it is a big deal but when you wear a brush belt or have a brush holder, it is a pain when your brushes wont fit. The larger of the brushes (ss150, 187) stretch my brushbelt and brushroll and wear them down faster. 

In defense of SIGMA, they do have their OWN brushroll, and one even comes with a full set  but if they were going to copy the MAC name and capitalize off of remaking their brushes, why not make them fit the MAC brushrolls and belts too? Just one of those little things I suppose.

So, all in all, they do the job and in comparison to MAC prices, they fit into the budget for most. If you are a beginner  and need a starter set or seasoned makeup junkie and need a backup set , these brushes (so far) are more than worth the investment.

Kristine Marie

To the folks at SIGMA MAKEUP, please be more consistent about your stock. While the price may be nice, the wait is enough to make the eye wander;) Especially for those of us with a continuous need for brushes.  Also, the inconsistencies  are enough to make some question your business ethic. For example – I find it odd that the full set is available when you opt to pay more for the one with the brushroll, but is “out of stock” when you opt for the less expensive set that doesn’t have the brushroll. So, the question is – Do you have the full brush sets or not?

**Please see updated SIGMA info on price increase in the sidebar—->)

~ Makeup Brushes ~

July 7, 2009

In the world of makeup, how you apply your makeup and what tools you use is just as important as the quality of the makeup you buy. After all, even the finest cosmetics won’t achieve the best look if not applied properly and with the proper tools. The right brushes can make or break a desired look.

Brush how-to’s are one of the many things I go over in my makeup lessons to offer the best understanding of this process. During those lessons, I am often asked to make recommendations of what kinds of brushes to buy, and where to buy them.

While there are a great many quality brushes out there, Brush *sets* are becoming ever popular as they are an easy way to “one stop shop” and get everything you need in a convenient time saving way. Affordable and quality brush sets are out there, but so are scams, so best to do your research before a serious investment.

My current favorites are the MAC brushes as well as BOBBI BROWN brushes and I will NOT be reviewing them since I like every last one and am never disappointed. That’s my review. Expensive to some, but can’t go wrong. Just my opinion.

Keep your eyes open for my upcoming reviews about more affordable brushes and sets in the near future and for more information on my private makeup lessons for individuals or groups, feel free to leave a comment in the box and I will get back to you. 

Stay tuned and subscribe for email notification when the blog is updated!

Kristine Marie