New brushes at the drugstore

I have been hiding at home writing my thesis and as soon as I resurface I find that one of my favorite super affordable drugstrore brands released a full new range of makeup brushes. I am talking about the Essence Make Me Pretty Limited Edition. A full collection of 9 bright colored brushes, a brush cleanser and a brush holder. I couldn’t pass the opportunity and picked up 6 brushes and the brush holder and want to share my first impressions with you, in case you still want to pick them up.

On the occasional adventure when I have to do someone else’s makeup, I have really been missing a good brush holder, since I usually have to bring my own plastic cups to put the brushes in. I am so happy to have found one at the drugstore without having to order expensive ones online. The Essence Make Me Pretty Brush Holder is PVC-covered cardboard in a bright teal color that is just adorable! It feels sturdy and fits at least 12 small brushes, maybe a bit less if you add the thicker face ones. It was just what I needed and for just 4.60€ you cannot really go wrong.

Let’s talk about the brushes. They are all made from synthetic bristles and at first impression feel very soft, well cut and well balanced. They don’t feel “cheap” but also nothing special. As a comparison, I would say they are definitely under the quality of Zoeva brushes but on the same level as E.l.f. ones. They come in the cutest packaging, with bright colors and inspirational quotes on the envelopes they come in.
First let’s look at the smaller brushes. I picked up the Precise eyeshadow brush is a very pointy and stiff brush. I was expecting it to be fluffy once out of the packaging but it retains the very pointy shape. I was quite puzzled by how to use it, since the bristles are too long for a pencil brush, but I finally decide to use it to try a cut crease for the first time and it worked quite nicely to keep the crease clean and precise. I have more experimenting to do, but it is a thumbs up for me. The one I was the most excited about was the Eyeshadow Blender Brush, which has flat and short britles and looks so much like the Zoeva Smudger brush that I’ve been eyeing lately. This is perfect to smudge and blend liner and shadows under the eye, thanks to the right stiffness of the bristles. Best one of the collection. Finally I got the Lip Brush, because one can never have enough lip brushes, especially in this season of dark vampy lips (and my obsession with them). The precisely cut bristles make it great to contour the lips. I have nothing bad to say about it, it’s a very valid purchase.

There are three face brushes in the collection, all catered to powder products. The Powder and Highlighter Brush is a big fluffy brush with a flat profile and fanned out bristles. It is perfect to pick up a small amount of powder and cover quickly the large areas of the face. For highlighter I find it slightly too big for my (non existent) cheekbones and I will keep using my Real Techniques fan brush or setting brush. The beautiful mint/turquoise brush is the Bronzer Brush. This is a round dense brush that is way to stiff to apply bronzer in my opinion. It reminds me a bit of the Real Techniques Buffing brush, so I am waiting to try it with a cream product. Now the one I am most excited about is the Blush Brush, with its slanted cut and dense bristles, I found it perfect to apply and blend my contour

There are a few other bits that I didn’t pick up (yet?) which include the Multi use eyeshadow brush, a multi-brush type of contraption that reminded me too much of some markers I had as a kid (?), the Eyebrow Comb, with spoolie and plastic comb )which I´m not a fan of’, the Concealer Brush and the Liquid Brush Cleanser, which I´ll take a closer look to in my next trip to Kruidvat.

I find the brushes to be the same quality as the ones from the permanent collection, of which I am quite fond. In fact I have at least Essence 7 eye brushes in my daily stash. All the brushes range in price from 1.90 to 3.50€, with the brush holder being the most expensive item at 4.60€. I definitely recommend checking this limited edition out if you’re in the market for some affordable makeup brushes, because there are some gems in the collection, especially the Eyeshadow Blender, Lip and Blush brushes. They are available at your local drugstore that carries Essence, which is Kruidvat in The Netherlands.

Have you spotted this new limited edition from Essence? Which brushes strike you the most?
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Brush Cleansing Tips and Essentials

makeup brush cleansing cleanser tree drying
A weekend of parties and dinners comes with a whole lot of makeup brushes to clean so while I was busy scrubbing I thought I would share my brush cleansing tips and essentials. To be honest with you, cleaning brushes is an activity I despise and do not look forward to, as I think most lazy people with an extensive brush collection, as I am. However, it is of the utmost importance to take care of your brushes and clean them regularly. They are in contact with your face and can be breeding ground for bacteria that eventually can cause clogging of pores or even pink eye. Not pretty. So clean our brushes we must.
A photo posted by Alice’s Madness (@alicemadness87) on

Now there are two ways I like to clean my brushes: spot and deep cleansing. Spot cleansing is a quicker way to disinfect and clean the brushes using an alcohol based cleanser. My cleanser of choice is the HEMA Brush Cleanser, which I decant in a little spray bottle for convenience. This is the only affordable brush cleanser I found that does its job and has a pleasant smell. Whatever cleanser you choose to use, you should spot clean your brushes at least every week, even though I do it additionally every time I do a more dramatic smokey look, to have my eye brushed clean for the next day’s makeup. This type of cleanse however doesn’t get all the cream products out of the brushes and  for that once a month I give them a deeper cleanse, sort of a shampoo. This involves getting under the tap with warm water and a specific product (I use the E.l.f. Brush Shampoo) or baby shampoo, and swirl the brushes on a brush egg or on your hand until the water runs clean. This takes a good chunk of time and a Sunday evening job for me, but this really gets the brushes clean and taken care of.

brush cleansing tips tricks essentials tree drying washing

Independently of how you wash your brushes, it is extremely important to keep moisture and liquids away from the attachment of the bristles to avoid shedding. This is also true while the brushes are drying, and for this the best method I found is using a Brush Tree. I have recently purchased mine from Aliexpress and loved it so much that I am now waiting for my second one to come in the mail. They are small, easy to store and fit brushes of all shapes and sizes, including the thick handle Real Techniques ones. You just set the brushes to dry upside down and the shafts will be safe, the bristles will keep their shape and they will dry faster than when they’re lying on a towel. You can find them for any price from 5 to 20 euros depending on the seller. I highly recommend these.

So here are my tips and essentials to clean and bacteria free makeup brushes.
Do you have your own secret to taking care of your brushes? If so, leave a comment down below, I’d love to learn more!


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New Real Techniques Sculpting Set: all the brushes you need to contour and highlight

Happy Monday beauties, welcome back to the blog. Today I have to show you the newly released Real Techniques Collector’s Edition Sculpting Set.

I have been terrible at getting stuff done last week and it resulted (among other things) in only one post. Sigh. I should really get on top of things and plan my blog posts better, writing more in the weekends. As we all know, life just gets in the way sometimes. The house is finally pretty much done and now I’m on to the final rush to get all my experiments done at work before writing the PhD thesis. Cross your fingers for me that I can get everything done in time!Life aside, let’s talk beauty.

Contouring has been all the rage in the beauty industry lately with brands launching contouring kits left and right. However, there aren’t many options regarding contouring brushes at the drugstore. Of course you can splurge on the infamous NARS Ita brush, but for those of us with a lower budget, it was about time we got a nice complete kit to do all our shading. So a warm welcome to the Real Techniques Sculpting Kit.  This is a limited edition set that comes in an exclusive shiny pink design and contains three brushes, two in the permanent range and one exclusive cut. 

The first brush is the Sculpting Brush, newly released in the permanent line and gives the name to this limited edition set. The main idea is to use this dense angled brush to carve out your cheekbones and temples, aided by the soft bristles to achieve a natural blended contour with little effort. As soon as I got it I noticed how similar it looks and feels to the Cheek Brush from the Nick’s Picks set so I decided to take a closer look. They are both denser than the average powder brush and feel very similar, but the Sculpting brush has shorter bristles and a more angled cut, whereas the Cheek brush has a longer and rounder cut. You can apply a lot of product with these brushes if you are not careful, but if used with a light hand, the lighter bristles do a great job at distributing and blending and each one has the appropriate shape for its function. Up to now I have been using the Contouring brush from the Real Techniques Core Collection but that is quite small and takes some work, whereas this new cut make contouring much faster. I have become quite a fan.

The other brush already present in the permanent line is the Setting brush, available to be purchased individually. This small fluffy brush is perfect to set your under eye concealer with powder and apply highlighter precisely, which is how I’ve been using the one I already have. This might not be a new addition to my collection, but it’s always handy to have more multitasking brushes like this one. 

Finally the set exclusive is the Fan brush, which got me really excited because I didn’t have one in my collection. This cut is perfect to apply a light layer of highlighter, or contour your nose very precisely, or swipe away eyeshadow fall out from underneath your eyes. The bristles are extremely soft and it is a real pleasure to swipe over the skin.
I knew I couldn’t resist this when I saw the sneak peaks of this set, because I was already thinking of buying the Sculpting brush alone, released a few weeks earlier. The value is definitely higher when buying this set, which retails for 20$. The sculpting and setting brushes bought individually would cut you back of 18$ alone, so you pretty much get the fan brush for only 2$.
As I type this the Collector’s Edition Scultping Set is sold out on but should still be available in physical and online stores who have stocked up. If you can get your hands on it, I really recommend it, otherwise you can always get the two brushes from the permanent line.
Did you manage to snitch this set up? Are you interested in any of these?
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