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Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Ford Hello! Tom Ford 13 Eye Shadow Blend Brush Review and Comparison

After two rants and a ramble (my entry for longest-winded meh review in the history of beauty blogging), an all-out rave!

Tom Ford 13 Eye Shadow Blend Brush

I bought Tom Ford's #13 Eyeshadow Blend Brush (£42) during the Look Good Feel Better event at Harvey Nichols last November, and it's shown up in my end of the week "to be washed" brush pile every week since then. Because it is the perfect blender brush. End of.


Okay, not really....of course I'm going to drivel on a bit lot more.

Firstly, I bought this because I noticed a distinct gap in my brush collection -- a good selection of small blenders and a sufficiency of large ones (considering how small my eyes are), and one lonely Suqqu Eyeshadow M brush in between -- which is so dense it is really more of a laydown-brush-that-doesn't-leave-harsh-edges than a blender per se....
eyeshadow brushes comparison Small: NARS #12, Kevyn Aucoin Small Round-Tip Eyeshadow Brush, Suqqu Eyeshadow S, Chikuhodo Artist Red 10-1 Medium: Suqqu Eyeshadow M Large: Suqqu Eyeshadow L, Stila #9
fun with font sizes
Small: NARS #12, Kevyn Aucoin Small Round-Tip Eyeshadow Brush, Suqqu Eyeshadow S, Chikuhodo Artist Red 10-1
Medium: Suqqu Eyeshadow M
Large: Suqqu Eyeshadow L, Stila #9 (old, blue squirrel version)

Besides, what to do when I want to blend out what I've laid down with another colour? Or if I need a totally clean brush to grade out a bold/bright shade or to pull out the pigment into a different shape?

Before acquiring the Tom Ford #13, I would reach for one of my selection of medium-sized brushes which are often marketed as 'blenders' but which I actually find better suited to other jobs:
Concealer: Illamasqua Blending Brush 1, MAC 286, Real Techniques Base Shadow Brush (from the Starter Set)
Cream/Liquid Eyeshadow: MAC 217
Laydown/Stronger Crease: Suqqu M
Outer V/Softer Crease: Hakuhodo G515
All of these work just about adequately for blending, but none of them particularly excels. (From MAC, the 224 is a better blending brush than the 217 in terms of density/shape, but it's far too scratchy for my tastes.)


After much pleasurable research, in search of the ideal combination of fluff and bounce in a tapered head and round ferrule, I asked some US friends to help me acquire the Paula Dorf Perfect Sheer Crease Brush (top, $30) and Trish McEvoy #29 Tapered Blending Brush (bottom, $32) against which to pit the Tom Ford #13 (middle).
Paula Dorf Perfect Sheer Crease Brush,  Trish McEvoy #29 Tapered Blending Brush, Tom Ford 13 Eye Shadow Blend Brush comparison

This turned out to be a contest between the Paula Dorf and Tom Ford offerings, as I found the Trish McEvoy #29 hairs too coarse (patchy eyeshadow appearance sadface) and scratchy (actual physical pain rly dnw) to be usable -- my guess is that it is made from horse hair, as the components of their brushes are apparently shrouded in multiple-attempts-to-contact-the-company-failed mystery :P Tom Ford #13 and Paula Dorf Sheer Crease are both goat hair brushes.


Heads
These go neatly from the least tapered (Paula Dorf) to most (Trish McEvoy); notice also how 'contained' and tight the hairs on the Tom Ford brush look in comparison to those on the others, despite its longer head; all three brushes have round ferrules which are pretty similar in size, which also flags up this difference -- the Tom Ford brush has about twice the number of hairs as the Trish McEvoy one packed into the same space.
Paula Dorf Perfect Sheer Crease Brush,  Trish McEvoy #29 Tapered Blending Brush, Tom Ford 13 Eye Shadow Blend Brush


Tips
The greater density of the Tom Ford brush is even clearer at a head-on angle -- not only does it contain more hairs, but the hairs are more uniform in length -- most of the brush's core hairs are the full length, and there is gentle tapering only at the very outer ring. This also means that the Tom Ford brush keeps its shape better (the hairs 'support' each other) and offers better resistance.
Paula Dorf Perfect Sheer Crease Brush,  Trish McEvoy #29 Tapered Blending Brush, Tom Ford 13 Eye Shadow Blend Brush


This greater density and resistance adds up to more versatility, and that is why I prefer the Tom Ford over the Paula Dorf (though I'm also very glad to have the latter too). The Paula Dorf Sheer Crease, while equally soft, really only works to soften harsh edges and sheer out pigment -- those traditional 'blending' tasks. The Tom Ford Blend Brush can do these things too, but it also moves pigment around more efficiently (without creating uneven patches or 'skip' marks) -- literally making eyeshadow go further -- enabling me to make many more shapes. [For examples, compare the looks I've posted from November 2012 onwards with the earlier ones -- more variety in blended shapes, no?]

As always, your priorities may vary. I think many would prefer the Paula Dorf brush -- those with a tendency to heavy handedness or those who just prefer soft looks, those who often experience problems with overblending into invisibility or muddiness.... The Sheer Crease brush makes it a snap to create a very polished 'well-blended' look with a few traditional windshield wiper motions. The Tom Ford Blend Brush requires a lighter hand, and a bit more experimentation with which edge of the brush you use, and at what angle; it can be more versatile, but it also requires more work.

Pics to supplement the THOUSANDS OF WORDS, anyone? Adding the Suqqu Eyeshadow M brush and MAC 217 to the mix. Swatch subject is Fyrinnae Daemon's Tail pressed eyeshadow, which I chose precisely because it tends to go annoyingly patchy upon blending.
Paula Dorf Perfect Sheer Crease Brush,  Trish McEvoy #29 Tapered Blending Brush, Tom Ford 13 Eye Shadow Blend Brush, MAC 217, Suqqu Eyeshadow M brush comparison

One dab with the tip, held at at 90º to skin:
Notice how even the Tom Ford circle's edges are -- almost rivalling Suqqu's, albeit softer and less dense. Paula Dorf's brush tip has a smaller circumference and softer edges still, while MAC's is similar, although in oval. Trish McEvoy's is the smallest, sheerest and least even circle.

Pigment packed onto brushes then swept on twice, back and forth:
Paula Dorf Perfect Sheer Crease Brush,  Trish McEvoy #29 Tapered Blending Brush, Tom Ford 13 Eye Shadow Blend Brush, MAC 217, Suqqu Eyeshadow M brush comparison
Suqqu M's perfection as laydown brush should be clear from this -- intense pigmentation, evenly distributed, no harsh edges.
The Tom Ford almost rivals it [though comparing grey squirrel with goat is highly unscientific :P], showing a little patchiness in the middle of the swatch and looking a little wobbly on the edges; it is testament to this brush's impressive control and smooth distribution of pigment, even for a problematic formula, despite its longer hair length.
When I use the MAC 217 for creams I employ circular patting and buffing motions, rather than this kind of sweeping -- this lacklustre swatch shows why it fails for me as blender.
Paula Dorf Sheer Crease's softness and more diffuse hair makes it impractical as a laydown/wash brush, but the soft-yet-even edges of this stripe (sheerer but less wobbly than Tom Ford's) suggest how well it works as a pure blender.
Oy, Trish. I'll let the shameful swatch speak for itself.

46 comments:

  1. Whoaaa I'm glad to hear you're finally in love with something Tom Ford! I need a new blending brush, and I'd definitely love to put this on my wish list. For the moment I'm looking at the LMdB one.

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    1. :D It does show you that I will keep going back to a line stubbornly and repeatedly, lol

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  2. Whoa this brush sounds great! I actually DON'T have many blending brushes, and none of them are the perfect size, although I do have a Lancome one that it SUPER close to perfect! :)

    xo
    aly

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    1. I know what you mean! I was actually surprised how long I'd gone without really feeling the lack. But now I couldn't live without it <---- you know what I mean

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  3. Kate this is the most amazing and detailed post! The swatches really do tell the tale (or is it tail?!)!!!
    <33
    I love the TF blending brush too!! I actually think it's worth that price, at least the US price.

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    1. Hail, queen of goats... wait, that came out funny.
      At the US price, I might be able to justify a backup ;)

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    2. I'm going to the US soon, if you fancy a backup... :)

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    3. Nicole, did Kate call me a hairy smelly animal?

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  4. wow this is a unique brush comparison! Thanks for the review! :D

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  5. Great.... Something else to order. You're killing me. Great comparisons! xo

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  6. marvellous post. glad to hear TF rivals so many of the other good ones you already have!

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  7. Marvelous review!! Incredibly helpful. I've been eyeing TF blushes for a while now and only got the shade and illuminating brush so far. Wish list #13 goes.

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    1. that brush looks amazing too! Sadly(!) I am satisfied with my face brushes ;)

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  8. I was the one who said 'I won't buy any TF brushes, not worth it' ok, so after trying those out (um, yes, I said that *before* I haven't tried any *scratches head*), I was blown away by how good they actually are. I am really impressed. glad you like it as well. Mac brushes seems to go downhill, the quality is getting worse every year and it is always nice to have a variation of brushes (not only suqqu, chiku and haku, lol) / Claire

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    1. <3 lol but TF is technically Haku, so does that make things better or worse? Our brush collections are so dependent on Kumano, lol We really need to make a roadtrip/pilgrimage some day.

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  9. Well, that's 3 brushes onto my wishlist.
    Obviously everyone wants the Suqqu M; and the PD would get a lot of use, I'm sure. (My 217 always ends up pressed into duty as a blender, but I similarly prefer it for other tasks).

    I was turned off from the Tom Ford brushes early on because of how they felt on my skin when I let a TF$ SA make me over. I'm gradually realizing that it wasn't the brushes, it was her heavy hand, and gusto for buffing on my sensitive skin. Also, yuck, but her brushes probably needed a good wash.

    Haku S146 is my favorite medium blender right now. It's too soft (not dense enough? it has reasonable bounce/resilience!) to provide real intensity as a laydown brush or really push and pull pigment around, but its super soft blue squirrel hair and tapered tip make it both a wonderful and precise blender, and good for more detail work like darkening the outer corner, working in the crease, on the lashline, or under the lower lashes.

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    1. D: unclean goats

      The S146 like all Haku blue squirrel brushes, was unusably soft for me but I'm glad your doe-eyed peepers can benefit :) Your uses for it seem similar to mine for a smaller *soft* pencil like the Chiku 10-1 or Suqqu S. I am playing around with their J146 though (hardier goatier cousin) and appreciate the shape; it's much less dense than the TF though.

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  10. The review I've been waiting for! \o/
    Thank you for your exhaustive and thorough testing- you are ze best!
    Sounds like I should finally take the plunge...that is, unless the Haku J5522 is just as good at $20?

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    1. AAAARGH. Every time I think I'm done with Hakuhodo there's ONE lingering brush that makes me wonder... not enough to justify the shipping £, and yet....

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  11. You make me want to have them ALL. I love blending brushes, but now I want TM blending brush for some reason. Do you happen to have the cream foundation brush? Btw...I just reviewed and swatched the TM stick foundation for you, so check out my new post :)

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    1. eeeep!

      I don't have any other TF brushes because they are just TOO expensive for me to justify when I have others that work for whatever job D: Really want to try the tiny doefot eyeshadow one though.

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  12. Great review - I'll definitely check it out when next in the store. I do love my edward bess luxury eyebrush for blending though!

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    1. ah, see the EB luxury brush broke my heart it was so horrible to/for me. I'd read somewhere there are new (scratchy, splay-prone) and old (good) versions of that and suspect I may have had the new kind.

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  13. This is such an amazing in depth post Kate! Looks like I have to get the Tom Ford brush because it sounds amazing! The Paula Dorf one gets a lot of love too but it's not available here at all.

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    1. It took me years to finally acquire the Paula Dorf (I'd wanted it since Lisa E's video) but it was absolutely worth it! :(

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    2. Hello, sorry to crash this thread, but I was wondering if you could possibly tell us how you got the Paula Dorf Sheer Crease Brush? I tried ordering from dermstore.com but they don't ship Paula Dorf internationally- grrr! Then again... a Tom Ford splurge sounds very appealing! Thanks for such in-depth posts!

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    3. I'm afraid I have American makeuppy friends, Catriona -- one of them bought the brush for me.

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  14. Thanks for such detailed review Kate. I have the TF13 as well and love it for my eyeshape which is very similar to yours. I also just recently acquired the Suqqu M and have also been using it for laydown - there is seriously some kind of magic in this brush because it makes application so nice and effortless! So now I am absolutely convinced that Suqqu brushes are worth the (crazy) price. Am currently eyeing the Suqqu L but was hoping to get your thoughts on it given our similar eye shape. I've read a few other blogs who have mentioned that it might be a little too big. Thanks : )

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    1. Hello, eye twin! :)
      I am very fond of the Suqqu L but it is substantially different from the M (or S). Excellent at doing a totally even wash or sheer laydown used on its side; at a 90 degree angle it's a good soft blender (similar to the PD in function but larger and oval shaped, so blends better ALONG lines or edges); at 45 degrees and with a very light hand it works well for more precise blending / softening one shade into another, even on small eyes.
      I think a lot of the complaints may be due to people going in with a heavy hand sweeping back and forth across the entire eye, assuming it is too soft for anything -- you can definitely overblend with this if you do that.

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  15. Noooooo! I don't want to lem this! XP

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  16. I've been a silent reader, but I have to say that this is an absolutely fantastic review. In depth, well compared, very informative, and well thought out. Fan-friggin-tastic!! Makes me want the Suqqu brushes more, and look at the Tom Ford brush twice. Well done, Kate :-)

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    1. Thank you so much for the comment :)

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  17. This post actually makes me want to get the Paula Dorf, thank you for your in depth reviews.

    By the way, the text doesn't seem like an endless wall, I breeze through your longer reviews and find your writing really engaging!

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    1. Sorry if that came off weird, I just really love your blog.

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    2. No worries! It was a lovely and exactly the right thing to say :D

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  18. Ooh, that Tom Ford brush looks lovely! I love how you did the comparison - very helpful. xxx :)

    http://beauty-and-the-best.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Thank you :D Some things are a pain in the arse to show through pics. I wish you could all come over and just play with it -- it'd take 5 seconds to get what took a long post.

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  19. Woohoo! Yay MUS approved! I love this brush and have 2 now! LOL. I keep one in a pro kit. Great as usual dear! :)

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    1. ahaha, I was going to say! Only 2?! :D

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  21. I I would love to have it if the price is not that high for a goat brush…

    I have to go for the inferior choice Paula Dorf one instead.

    Your illustration photos really enhance my understanding of blending! Most only show by a final look…Od which I donˊt have the expertise to understand.

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    1. It is shockingly expensive for a goat brush! I wonder if the Hakuhodo J5522 is a dupe as some claim....

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  22. Kate, sorry if this has been asked already but how do you find the TF in terms of softness? I just received mine and it's not as soft as I expected.
    xxkarima

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    1. It's perfectly soft as in not-remotely-scratchy. Not at all soft in the floppy (heh) lack-of-resistance sense. :*

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  23. What a fantastic review! I can't thank you enough for being so precise and competent. There really aren't as good blog around as yours, most of them are just adverts for companies, but yours has a truly professional edge to it.

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