I love these brushes! I don't agree with some reviewers that this set has a bunch of great "dupes" tho. Just the opposite, in fact! I really don't want you guys to think you're getting a bunch of dupes if you buy these, because they truly are different than other brushes. I feel that what makes this set so great is exactly that-- they are unique and not duplicates (dupes) of anything! I own several MAC, Sigma, and Real Techniques brushes mainly. I own Sephora & Urban Decay brushes as well. (I also have many DS brushes, like Ecotools, e.l.f., Essence of Beauty, Revlon, etc). So, I have many other high end and low end brushes as a basis for comparison.
The contour brush is nothing like the MAC 109. I don't want people that don't know much about MAC brushes to be confused. It's not similar in application, blending style, shape, density, size, or texture. If you google it and look at pics of both, you'll see they're completely different. Also, the MAC 109 is natural hair, and these brushes are all synthetic fibres. Natural hair brushes apply product completely differently than synthetic hair. For one thing, natural hair tends to pick up much more product than synthetic hair, so synthetic is much better for highly pigmented blushes, such as NARS, or even Wet n Wild. This brush works fine for less pigmented blushes too tho. And cruelty free brushes are always a plus!
The buffing brush is also quite different than the Sigma F80 (which i also love) that it's been compared to alot. It's not nearly as dense, it's slightly softer as well. It will give u a similar finish I suppose, but a more sheer finish, and it also takes less product than with the F80, which soaks up alot more. The buffing brush gives you a phenomenal finish with liquid foundation, and it dries MUCH faster than the Sigma F80, which takes over a day to fully dry after deep cleansing it. I've seen several You Tube videos with people using the buffing brush for powder foundations, LM mineral powder and Bare Minerals, in particular, & it gave a fantastic finish.
These brushes are good for so many different purposes. For example, many reviewers have complained that the "foundation" brush that comes with this set is too small, but these brushes are so multi-purpose--if it doesn't work for foundation, use it for concealer, or a wash of cream or powder e/s all over the lid. There is a bigger foundation brush that comes with the Travel Set tho, if u like paddle style foundation brushes, & a larger angled one sold individually.You will be able to find numerous functions for each of them. I loved realtechniques.com for watching Sam (the creator of the line) demonstrate each of the brushes, and seeing the many different purposes of them. The detailer brush is also great for several things: lips, eyes, spot concealing, etc. I actually have all 3 RT brush sets, and several of their individual brushes, and they are all quite unique and unlike any other brushes I own. I love that Sam didn't try to copy off other brands, but actually designed brushes that are each unique in their own rite, including her eye brushes which I also adore.
I actually love my Real Techniques brushes as much as I love my MAC brushes. Are they as good as MAC brushes? That's like comparing apples and oranges to me, as my MAC brushes are just so utterly different. I do love both *equally* tho, as I said, and these don't shed like my MAC's. I also just got their 3 new brushes: the expert face brush (my new fav foundation brush), fine liner brush (Sam listened to the consumers about her other liner brush being too big, and designed a much smaller one), and setting brush (HG for highlighter!!), and those are fantastic too honestly.
I think it's really awesome that Sam didn't opt for designing a higher end brush line, or even a more expensive drug store line, which imo she easily could have, given her expertise and that she's highly respected in the industry. She made brushes that were easily affordable and accessible to everyone, online, or @ Ulta, Weis and Harris Teeter grocery stores, and Fred Meyer (according to the RT website). I feel that these brushes are great for beginners, or experienced makeup lovers and makeup artists. I am an aspiring makeup artist, and I find these phenomenal. If you are looking for inexpensive, but quality brushes, you can't do better than RT imho. Haha can u tell I'm excited about these brushes? LOL.
If you go to RealTechniques.com, they'll ship to anywhere in the U.S. with free shipping on $50 orders. Or you can order from iherb.com with free shipping on $20 orders, or ulta.com, who also offers free shipping on $25 orders. All the new brushes were sold out on the Ulta website the last time I tried to order from them, so I ended up ordering from iherb.com. I do have a coupon code that iherb.com gave me to share with others and it gives you $5 off your first order if you're a new customer: T I J 9 8 7. Just enter this code @ the checkout to save the $5. Iherb.com does take a bit longer than ulta.com tho, but nothing outrageous or anything, mine took about a week, and Ulta only took a few days.
I almost forgot to mention the case, which I love! Some people have said they don't like it, but u know what it's fantastic for? To dry your brushes upside down! You're always supposed to dry your makeup brushes upside down so that no water drips down into the ferrule, which over time will destroy the glue. But it's hard to stand ur brushes upside down w/out damaging them. You can easily stick your brushes in this stand upside down to dry them. Ok, I didn't intend on writing a book, I'm sorry this is so long. I just get really excited sometimes when I love a product! I'm sure u will love these brushes too :)