For the most part, I’m of the “you get what you pay for” school of thought and barring very few exceptions, that rule almost always applies to my makeup brushes. For me, it’s about investing in top quality tools since they’re going to get quite a bit of mileage and I expect them to last; picking up a lower grade product that will disintegrate after one washing just won’t do (plus I hate the thought of throwing money away). Which brings me to these NARS Artistry Face & Eye Makeup Brushes: form, function, and fabulosity … or pretty much what you’d expect from a world renown makeup artist and photographer.
Reflecting the packaging aesthetic of the brand, the brushes are black matte along the handles finished with a pop of red at the end, a nod to Asian influences that so inspire François Nars. They are also etched with the NARS name and bear the brush number discreetly on one side as well. For reference, all the brushes below are shown in numerical order — only because I’m OCD about details like that ∗shrugs∗
#10 Powder Brush (CAN $64.00) | Said to ‘blend, buff, and diffuse loose powder for a lustrous finish’, this is a long double-domed brush head that’s tapered near the handle and has a slight flare at the top. As far as powder brushes go, I’m not fully on board with this one and it’s the only disappointment of the bunch. In theory, this all should have worked but the reality is that while the brush head is well-sized and shows good flexibility, the bristles are quite rough to to the touch and therefore does not provide the seamless buffing I’d have liked to see. The first few washings also displayed shedding, although that’s not the case any more but still … some re-tooling needs to be done here. For now (and because I hate waste) I use this brush to apply shimmery body powder along the décolleté or shin bones, and that’s working just fine.
#12 Cream Blending Brush (CAN $35.00) | Designed for ‘effortless blending of concealer around the eyes and other cream products’, this brush leans on the larger end of the concealer brush spectrum and has a nicely rounded head of dense nylon bristles. The feel is quite soft and gentle along the skin and I’ve also enjoy using this brush for blending in cream contour products to start with before blending them out — really helps with precisely laying down the colour. As far as using this with cream eyeshadows, the large head means you can’t really go in for detail work but it’s wonderful for laying down a single wash of colour.
#20 Blush Brush (CAN $54.00) | Made with 80% AAA goat hair and 20% pony, this brush is said to ‘deposit, blend & diffuse pigment perfectly’. I say it’s the sleeper hit of the entire group. To paraphrase Goldilocks, it’s neither too long, too short, too thin, or too thin but just right. Perfect, in fact. The bristles are exceptionally soft and have an excellent balance of being dense enough to not overly splay along the skin, yet with enough flexibility for easy-peasy application. I personally love that this brush head is small enough to help provide precise product placement but also fluffy enough to give a seamless buffing.
#40 Eye Shadow Brush (CAN $40.00) | Made of top-tier sable, this brush is meant to ‘provide a masterful sweep of all-over colour’. So I don’t know that I’d use masterful to describe using this brush, but I like the sound of that just the same. In truth, this is such a versatile brush to have in your arsenal; it’s excellent for laying down eyeshadow quickly and when you want to cover a larger area (such as the entire lid) in one shot, plus it can also be turned and used along its side for blending or crease work — albeit not for those times you’re wanting precision. The bristles will fluff out a bit with several washings, but the softness stays the same.
#41 Diffusing Brush (CAN $40.00) | Made with ultrafine pony hair, this brush is ‘a must-have for blending and creating a smoky eye, or applying a light veil of colour’. Significantly larger — both in terms of width and general size — than the #40 Eye Shadow Brush, this is also denser and feels more compact along the skin. Exactly as the description states, I gravitate to this brush when working with shimmery eyeshadows, as it does an excellent job of laying down colour, as long as it’s patted onto the skin and not swished around. The softly rounded head also works great along the crease for buffing out any demarcation lines between shades and is truly effective for a fab smoky eye. Bonus: I also run it along the lower lash line when looking to give my look a bit more ‘smudge factor’.
#42 Blending Eyeshadow Brush (CAN $40.00) | Created to ‘apply high shimmer shadows and blend effortlessly for a soft-focus effect’, this brush is one of my go-to’s for blending. Made with 80% AAA goat hair & 20% pony hair, the bristles are long and splay nicely during application — especially useful if you’re a little heavy-handed and want to ensure your eyeshadow looks diffused and perfectly blended, as opposed to concentrated all in one spot. In my opinion, this brush is a definite must-have in anyone’s collection (I currently have two and am thinking about getting more).
#43 Wide Contour Eyeshadow Brush (CAN $40.00) | Similar in scope to the #42 Blending Eyeshadow Brush, this is apparently the ‘go-to artist essential that does it all: tap, blend or sweep shadow with ease’. Also made with 80% AAA goat hair and 20% pony hair, there’s somewhat of a learning curve in using this brush; the angled head leans towards the wide side but comes to a rounded taper at the top, making it easy to use along the crease line but with the option of using the flatter portion for application & blending. I like how it fits along the outer corner of my eye and that there’s a soft/firm density to the bristles to really help work product into the area.
#47 Angled Eyeliner Brush (CAN $35.00) | If you don’t already something similar, then you NEED to get on board with this brush. Designed for ‘impeccable glide when applying liquid and cream textures along the lash line’, is only the beginning; this brush made with a blend of nylon and ox bristles is also excellent for use with powder eyeshadows and can also be used to execute a precise cut-crease, or even work as an eyebrow brush. The flattened angle holds its shape regardless of how many times it’s washed or texture it’s used with and has become one of my staples in my application. In fact, I have two of them now.
#48 Brow Defining Brush (CAN $35.00) | Said to help ‘define, fill and shape sparse brows’, this is like the mini version of the #47 Angled Eyeliner Brush, and has similar uses as well. Made with firm badger bristles, it helps to give a realistic ‘hair effect’ when applying product to brows, as its sharp edges really do work well at giving shape and definition to brows as well.
EDIT: this brush is currently shown as unavailable on the NARS website and as ‘out of stock’ at Sephora, although it is available at The Bay.
With a brush collection as large as mine, many brands get lost in the shuffle and the ones that becomes my go-to faves, reach that status for a reason: because they’re amazing and give consistently great results. NARS may very well be a brand known for their colour cosmetics, but trust a makeup artist to give equal attention to the tools used as well. Of the group here (there are several more brushes in the collection, along with those patterned on traditional Japanese design), time and again the ones I reach for the most are: Blush Brush, Blending Eyeshadow Brush, Angled Eyeliner Brush and the Diffusing Brush, with honourable mention going to the Wide Contour Eyeshadow Brush. That said, I do believe it’s time for me to look into a few others from the range because another mantra of mine? You can never have too many makeup brushes. It’s about having options, baby.
Media samples kindly provided, all opinions are my own