Note: I live in SW Florida. At the time of me posting this, Hurricane Irma has not yet hit. Please keep Florida in your prayers. Thank you and stay safe! ❤
There’s nothing about cosmetics that gets me more excited than brushes and this year there have been so many amazing innovations! I discussed the Moschino + Sephora Brush Set in my previous post but the Real Techniques B01 Soft Powder Bleu Powder Brush deserves to be praised.
What Makes It Unique
Filaments in a natural hair brush have lined/flaked surfaces which gives powder products more areas to stick to, the way Pantene loves to illustrate in their ads.
Because synthetic bristles are whole and smooth they rely on the tip surface and the binding agents within powders itself to latch onto the brush before being dispersed on the face.
RT claims that their patent pending “FauxBleu” technology is what causes the brush to perform as well as blue squirrel hair. I don’t know what the “FauxBleu” process entails but I suspect they’ve found a way to alter the strand surface and/or create faux cuticles. This brush feels right up there with my finest natural hair brushes, and that’s saying quite a lot considering 4/5 were handmade (not machine cut) in Japan.
From left to right: RT B01 (synthetic), Smashbox Face and Cheek 02 (goat), Hakuhodo 5521 (blue squirrel/goat mix), Wayne Goss The Air-Brush (blue squirrel), Wayne Goss 06 (blue squirrel), and the Chikuhodo Z-3 Contour Brush
The Real Techniques brush performs exactly like my squirrel brushes but it’s not quite as soft. It falls somewhere between squirrel and high quality goat hair, which is still an impressive feat.
Blue Squirrel is among the rarest of the squirrel brushes (and of natural fiber in general). Because the bristles are so difficult to acquire, the pricing of genuine blue squirrel brushes that are the size of my RT brush begin at $80. I was drawn to the Powder Bleu collection precisely because a natural version is so far out of my price range. Having an amazing dupe at $21 was quite the deal but how does it compare to other individually priced brushes? Below is a compilation of some popular non-squirrel brushes of a similar shape.
Green X’s = Higher in price. Yellow Check Marks = Same price or lower.
I’d ask myself, “Are the less expensive brushes the same quality, better quality, or are they functional enough that finding a better brush isn’t necessary? Are the more expensive brushes better or worse? Are brushes in general worth spending those prices?”
Recommended and Preferred Uses
RT states that this “combination of soft, long tapered + unique wavy bristles” makes it great for applying bronzers, highlighters, and powder foundations. I don’t wear bronzer and I rarely wear powder foundations since I haven’t found a brand which makes my exact shade. I could use the brush with highlighters but because of its size I prefer using it as a setting/finishing brush. I use it to quickly set my concealer with the tapered tip, although I have to be careful not to poke my eye, and for setting powder all over the face. It doesn’t move around my makeup, I get an even application, it grabs onto product well, and because it’s large I can finish quicker. The rounder portion is great for sweeping softly across my face but I can pick up different amounts on the various sides of the brush.
Cleaning and Durability
I’ve been using it for nearly three months now and haven’t noticed any shedding or bleeding dye. I’ve been cleaning it with the beauty blender solid although my normal method is to mix a gentle shampoo or soap with a little facial oil and rinse it out thoroughly. I then squeeze out the excess water, lay them flat, or hang them upside down in my brush drying tree. It dries fast and has held its shape well so far.
Because of the creation of this line, I will no longer purchase natural hair brushes (regardless of whether they claim to be humanely gathered or not).
The remaining items in the collection are a Kabuki brush ($25), Complexion brush ($21), Finishing brush ($21), Shadow Brush ($13), and Powder Puff ($10). I would absolutely love to complete my collection but I don’t think that will happen. They are fairly priced (with the exception of the finishing brush) but based on their described uses on the website, I have plenty of those types of brushes. If the Powder Bleu Collection ever goes on sale, I know I wouldn’t be able to resist buying them. I did get 10% off my purchase for signing up to the email list but the shadow brush was sold out at the time of my purchase. US shipping is free for $40+ orders on the brand website and it is currently only available there and Boots. I asked RT on their Instagram if they would release them to Ulta but it was implied that they don’t plan on it. At least not anytime soon.
UPDATE: As of December 8th, 2017 the full Powder Bleu collection is available in a bundle called Glam Girl for $80. Having purchased and seen the 02, 03, and 04, I still think the 01 is best brush to start out with if you’re looking to try just one product from the collection.
2021 UPDATE: Although this brush line is discontinued, I’ve seen many posts on social media still to this day discussing these brushes fondly and wishing they were still around. I wanted to update that a few years ago I did end up completing my collection when I somehow managed to get the final brush at TJMaxx.
I also want to clarify that since declaring, “I will no longer be purchasing natural hair brushes,” it was under the assumption that the Powder Bleu Collection would expand and I would get all my favorite brush shapes in this synthetic version and of this quality. Unfortunately, that did not happen as the line was discontinued and I have since begun to use natural hair brushes almost exclusively. It’s wild how much preferences can change over time!