Brush Wars: Sigma F80 vs. Real Techniques Expert Face

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Foundation buffing brushes are just one of the newer makeup phenomena that make a huge difference in my general makeup application. A far cry from the more traditional painting brushes, these new generation brushes are geared towards working the product into the skin for a more natural look, as opposed to simply painting it on. I've found that even with a heavier foundation (like my beloved Revlon ColorStay), the finished product looks more like my skin, and not like makeup--not to mention all the product it saves you.

The Sigma F80 Flat Top Kabuki was the first buffing brush I've tried, but I had a few minor issues with it that I had hoped would be resolved with the Real Techniques Expert Face. They both do what they're supposed to, but I definitely have a clear favorite of the two!


Yes, they are dirty.

Sigma F80: I first praised this brush in this post, and while I still love it, there are some things about it that I wish were different--well, just one thing. I know a lot of people think the bristles of this brush are perfect, but it's not their quality that bothers me, it's the length. Each brush hair is long enough to sort of fan out a little bit when you buff--it's like when you try and scrub one specific tooth with your toothbrush and the bristles splay around and are too long to do the proper job. Obviously I don't blend in my foundation with the same vigor I brush my teeth with, but as well as this works, I just want the bristles to be shorter. Shorter brush bristles would mean more control, and perhaps an even more sheered out foundation application. 


Left: F80 ($16), Right: Expert Face ($10)

Enter the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush: This brush is quite a bit smaller, so naturally the buffing becomes more precise (this is also great for cream blushes and bronzers). It makes quick work of blending in haphazardly dotted on foundation, and is just as easy to use as the Sigma. The bristles are quite a bit shorter, so I really feel like I can work it into my skin, but something is just off here. The foundation gets blended, of course, but I get the sensation that this brush simply spreads the product around instead of working it into my skin. It feels very surface-level, whereas the Sigma F80 really gets it into your pores. Alternatively, you can think of it as the F80 works the foundation into the skin, and the Real Techniques works the foundation onto the skin. That might sound ridiculous, but the difference in feeling is even more obvious when I do a side by side comparison (one brush for each side of my face). The finished result doesn't look heavy or anything, but it also doesn't look quite as natural as the effect the F80 produces. The difference isn't huge, so I could still be happy with using this day-to-day, if it wasn't for the surface feeling. 

I love the Real Techniques powder and blush brushes (post), and this is still a good one (especially for contouring with cream bronzer!), but there are simply better options for applying foundation, and the Sigma F80 is one of them.

Sigma might not be as accessible as Real Techniques, but I say pay the extra $6 and shipping cost and spring for the F80. Your foundation will look more natural, not to mention how sturdy and high quality the brushes feel. 

I also know Sigma has a newer, more extensive range of foundation-blending kabuki brushes, so tell me if I need to try those too!

Hope you're well!

P.S. I'm trying to write shorter, more to-the-point posts to keep with my regular blogging schedule. How'd I do today?

8 comments :

  1. Your writing is superb, whether long or brief. Writers with great style and substance are too often passed over for those with edgy mass-appeal but no sense of grammar or taste. I'll take one of the former over 1,000 of the latter. Here's to you, young woman.

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    1. Thank you so much! That's one of the best comments I've ever received!

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  2. Which one would work better for applying liquid foundation to dry skin?

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    1. I don't really think skin type is an issue here, so I would stick to the Sigma F80 as it's definitely the better brush between the two. But if you're especially worried about your dry skin, heavy-looking foundation might be a concern for you, and the Sigma creates a more natural look than the Real Techniques.

      Hope that helps!

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  3. Loved your review! I have the real techniques, but really wanted to try the f80. I received it today and can't wait to try it!

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  4. You should have posted the side by side face comparison :(

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    1. I was just looking at this post and thinking the wording sounded off! Honestly, I don't think there's a camera on earth that would pick up the difference between the two sides of my face. My skin tends to be sort of anti-makeup in that it can look makeup heavy very quickly, which is why I can see the difference.

      I meant that when I use one brush on one half of my face and the other brush on the other half, I can really feel the difference in how the foundations get blended. In terms of how it looks, yes I do think the F80 gets the makeup looking more natural, but I don't think it's a significant difference and I definitely don't think even the most high-tech camera could pick it up.

      Hope that helps!

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