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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sigma Brushes: A Different Perspective

Allow me to begin this review by disclosing that these Sigma brushes, the Face & Eye Kit (USD54), were sent to me for review purposes *Hello FTC*. However, prior to this, I have purchased with my own money 4 other brushes from them since they first launched last year with a lot of fanfare. So, me jumping on the "Review for Free brushes"? Hell, no. In fact, of the 4 I purchased, I sold 2 in my Blog Sale, so I'm going to get down and dirty with this review...Like I always do :P

1) MAC Dupes?
Most YouTube Gurus and Beauty Bloggers have reviewed Sigma brushes by comparing them with their MAC "equivalents". Of the 7 brushes I'll be reviewing, 4 I own MAC versions of. And MAC dupes THEY ARE NOT. And anybody who says THEY ARE IDENTICAL TO MAC are either lying or somehow got different brushes than I did.

2) Consider The Price Point...
In the first place, USD54 for 6 full-sized brushes and a travel-size brush, shoud you EVEN be comparing them to MAC in the first place? Come on, be realistic. For that price, you're probably able to purchase 1 MAC face brush, or barely 2 MAC eye brushes? And now that they've revamped their naming convention, just detach them from MAC, ok?

3) So...All In All...
Be Fair to MAC; Be Fair to Sigma. You get what you pay for. For their prices, Sigma offers quality, solid, well-constructed brushes. They're not el-cheapo brushes which would break if you so much as sneeze at them! Just don't expect MAC per se.

Note: My Sigma brushes are engraved with "Made in PRC" at the handles' tips. MAC's full-sized brushes are hand-made and engraved with "Japan", whilst their special edition brushes are usually machine-made in PRC .

I will be reviewing 7 brushes from the Face & Eye Kit, retailing for USD54. It contains 6 full-sized brushes and a travel-size brush.

Large Powder - F30
Duo Fibre - F50
Buffer - F45
Eye Shading - E55
Pencil - E30
Tapered Blending - E40
Blending - E25

F30 Large Powder (formerly known as SS150) - Very dense with a rounded top. Ideal to apply powder products on face and body. Natural bristles.
I have always used my EcoTools Powder brush with loose powder to set my liquid foundation (an extra step in the morning which I detest, actually). It works well enough in that aspect for me. With the F30, I expected the same, if not better results, from the EcoTools.
I "forgot" to take into account the difference in bristles; EcoTools - 100% synthetic vs Sigma 100% natural. Natural bristles, with its cuticles and "scales" much like our hair, grab a whole lot more product; thus application is a tad heavy for loose powder. However, due to its natural bristles, density and higher bristle-count, it is ideal for bronzers, or a light layer of pressed foundation/mineral powder all over for casual, light coverage days. And the bristles are uber soft - feels heavenly!
5 out of 5

F50 Duo Fiber (formerly known as SS187) - Specially designed to generate an ‘airbrushed’ finish when used to apply liquid foundation. It can also be used to apply blush, highlight shades and loose pigments. Blend of synthetic and natural bristles.
This brush, along with the SS188 (back then), is the first brush I PURCHASED from Sigma when they first launched, AND subsequently SOLD in my Blog Sale. Needless to say, there was a sense of dejavu when I received it, again, along with this kit. I expected an identical brush, and an "identical" brush I did receive. The reason I sold my SS187 (and SS188) was because the synthetic white fibres were stiffer and more sparse than the MAC 187. If anything, it reminds me of a giant Etude House duo fibre which I despise because it causes my cheeks to itch. These stiffer white fibres may be a boon for those who do the whole stippling process with their liquid foundation, but I use my duo fibers for powder products, and powder products only.
Hhhhmmm...I'm not sure if it's all in my head, but the white fibres in this new brush are a little softer and fuller - more tolerable. They're not as scratchy as they used to be, so I can bid the Etude House SAYONARA! Sigma probably received a lot of feedback on it?
3.5 out of 5

F45 (formerly known as SS182) - Ideal to apply mineral foundation, loose or pressed powders. Also great to buff colors and obtain soft, blended look. Natural bristles.
Holy cow! A soft NATURAL-bristle kabuki is so darn difficult to find. I have plenty made of synthetic- bristles (ELF, EDM, EcoTools), but a natural-bristled? Nope. I didn't even bother including my Red Earth and Bobbi Brown in the group photo because I don't use them - like I need a kabuki to scratch and irritate my face? No, thank you. I have super HIGH expectations on this brush, especially since Tiffany said it's softer than the MAC version. O_o
Well, it is definitely softer than my cursed Red Earth and Bobbi Brown. And that is good enough for me, since I don't use it every day. Expect the same difference as the F30. This picks up more product compared to the synthetic ELF, EDM and EcoTools kabukis.
{{Note to ELF QC: 4 Face kabukis of difference shapes & sizes! Amazing!}}
4 out of 5

E30 Pencil (formerly known as SS219) - Precise application of color on the crease, outer corner, and upper and lower lash line. Also ideal to smudge out pencil liner. Natural bristles.
None. The MAC 219 and the MAC 217 are probably the most (IMO!) un-dupeable brushes. Spectacular, they are. My MAC 219 is da bomb.
THIS.IS.A.TOTAL.FAILURE. Not only is it too flimsy and floppy to be called a pencil brush (barely any resistance), it sheds like no tomorrow! It shed from the day I received it and hasn't stopped todate. At this rate, it's going to end up bald! ~_~
0 out of 5 (well, ok, 1.5 out of 5 if you DON'T think of it as a PENCIL brush - more like a TINY SMUDGER/BLENDING brush, but the shedding...uurrghh)

E40 Tapered Blending (formerly known as SS224) - Rounded and tapered top. Specially designed to apply and blend color on the crease. Natural bristles.

None because I love my Revlon Contour Brush just fine (Thanks, Wayne!) I like the ELF USD1 Blending brush too, although it's scratchy...
I dried the brush WITH a Brush Guard (pictured above) and it was still too big for my tiny eyes. What do I do with it now? I dry it WITHOUT a Brush Guard just so it would go more "Afro"/fluffy and use it to set my undereye concealer or highlight small areas of my face (nose bridge, cupids bow, etc). I used to use the EDM Eye Kabuki for that, but it's actually too dense.
4 out of 5 as a mini multi-purpose brush (As an eye brush, gosh! How big do my eyes need to be?)

E55 Shader (formerly known as SS239) - Soft and dense with a rounded finish. Can be used to apply pressed or loose eye shadows and pigments. Ideal to build intense color on the eyelid. Natural bristles.
This, I KNEW, I WOULD LOVE! I sold my MAC 239 because it did its job way TOO WELL LOL It packed on way too much colour! I'm a huge advocate of sponge tips, but when I need a lighter wash of colour from very-pigmented shadows, I turn to eye brushes. My go-to brush when it comes to density, shape and size is the ELF USD1 Shader Brush. The only downside? It's scratchy as hell! I can't use it to blend much without irritating my lids. I also LOVE my (defective) ELF Studio Contour Brush.
{{Note to ELF QC: "Defective" because it's not dome-like nor tapers to a point as it should, but I still LOVE IT to bits!}}
The E55 has usurped the ELF USD1 Shader Brush, making my must-have brushes the E55, the (defective) ELF Studio Contour Brush and the MAC 217. It is dense enough to pick up colour, yet soft enough to blend.
5 of of 5 (YAY!)

E25 Blending (formerly known as SS217) - Oval-shaped brush with gently chiseled sides. Blends and softens the look of powder or cream shadows. Ideal to apply eye shadow primer, base eye shadow colors, and blend harsh lines
Like the E30, none. The MAC 217 and the MAC 219 are probably the most (IMO!) un-dupeable brushes. Spectacular, they are. My MAC 217s are da bomb.
Mine is the travel-sized, maybe the full-sized is denser and better. In terms of shape, it IS quite similar to the MAC 217, but less dense and floppier. Unlike the multi-purpose 217 which does everything under the sun (packs(for me, at least), defines, blends, etc), the E25 can only blend.
3 out of 5

Woah! That was one EPIC review! Did you make it this far? If so, *packs you on the back*!

Thanks for reading!

FTC Disclaimer: The Sigma Face & Eye Kit was sent to me for review purposes on my Blog and/or my YouTube Channel. I was NOT paid to write this post, I am not affiliated in any way with the company, my opinions are my own and always honest.


  1. so.... do u think is worth to pay for sigma? or it is much worth it to pay for MAC brushes?
    lol, I'm still very loving my ecotool brush, except for their useless eye brushes

  2. LOVE YOUR REVIEW! straight to the point and brutally honest! me likes :) and i like how you pointed it out firmly that it's not fair to compare sigma to mac cos they're totally of different quality and price. *pats back your back lol

  3. I'm a total brush noobie and this really really helps!! I trust your reviews because I know you're honest and won't hide anything. Thanks for sharing and doing a comparison!

  4. @ning*star
    MAC 219 & MAC 217 are worth it. MAC 239, well, if u like packing on A LOT... :P But when I write my post on brushes, you'll see a lotta ELF, NYX, Essence Of Beauty, Ecotools :)

    @Ee Von
    Thank kew, thank kew! Which is why this wasn't re-tweeted HAHHA Becoz I wasn't exactly singing praises, was I? But "honesty" they wanted, and "honesty" I gave! Weird... :P Hope it gives people a different perspective ^_^

  5. @Calia Yang
    I'll be doing a brush post soon, and you'll see MAC, Sigma, CS are not all that ends all LOL Cheapies like ELF, NYX, Essence Of Beauty, Ecotools work - it's a matter of how you use them and the products too, actually...If you buy light blushes, why get a duo-fibre!?!?!