Brief Impressions – Sigma Bare, Dare, and Flare Palettes

Recently I’ve been ranting a lot about Sigma. I’m sorry if that seems obnoxious or too repetitive to some of you, but I just have some major issues with this company. But, I was interested in seeing what they would be doing with their booth at IMATS. As far as I know it’s their first time at IMATS (right??). I know it’s their first one at IMATS LA… anyone know if they’ve been at the past shows in other locations?

Anyway. The booth really wasn’t that exciting. They weren’t selling anything – just had some samples of their products out to look at, and information about their affiliate program (eyeroll). I guess Tiffany D was doing some makeovers or demos or something but I wasn’t there when she was (which is unfortunate because I think Tiffany is lovely and would have liked to meet her).

Towards the end of the show, I finally made my way over to the Sigma booth to check out the eye palettes. I swatched some of the colors, and I wanted to give you my brief impression of the palettes from playing with them at the show. I didn’t talk to anyone at the Sigma booth and frankly I felt awkward being there because the girls were all too busy taking pictures with the bronzed hunk from the South Seas Skincare booth instead of, you know, talking to me. No, seriously. I mean you’d think they’d want to talk to someone wearing a press badge? So I didn’t stay in the booth very long because I was annoyed.

I tried to be as unbiased as possible even though I don’t care for them overall as a company. I actually like some of the shades quite a bit. I was surprised to see that the majority of them have very nice pigmentation. Here are the quick swatches I was able to get:

Please note that you can click that image to make it larger. I felt like these swatches were a pretty good cross section of colors from all three of the palettes. That deep dark black is from the Bare palette. I believe it’s called Shine, and it has glitter in it. That shadow was actually really lovely with excellent pigmentation. A truly good black is often hard to come by from budget brands so I was happy about that.
The brighter colors (the lime green, the teal, and the purple under the teal) are all from the Flare palette, and I liked those, too. Their names are Oversee (teal), Define (lime) and Allure (purple). The orange (Grasp from the Dare palette) was also pretty pigmented. Some of the lighter, more matte colors can barely be seen on my hand and would need a lot more packing on to get much impact on someone of my skintone and shade, but I think it could be done. 
As you can see, some of the more matte colors don’t have quite as much impact. But matte colors are tricky and often don’t swatch well. Without playing them more like actually using them in an eye look I couldn’t say for certain if they were much good. 
Overall I’d say if you usually use drugstore shadows you probably will be happy as a clam with these. They’re on par with brands like NYX, in my opinion. For $35 you get the shadows and one double-ended brush, which is a decent deal. However if you’re used to using products from higher end makeup brands you will probably find these lacking. They take a little more finessing to get high performance out of (stickier bases, maybe even a colored base to get more impact). If you’re a pro or a product snob (hey I say that with love!) go ahead and skip these.

Makeup Break-Up: Sigma Brushes

The Honeymoon Phase

We had some good times. When I first got my Sigma brushes, I loved them. I started out by purchasing the dupes of the MAC 165 and 138 (just called F165 and F138 – not sure their new names?). They were great and I loved them! Then I received the face & eye kit from Sigma to review. I told you all about it. I was a huge fan. I completely stand by that review because it is precisely how I felt about those brushes at the time. My opinion of them has since changed. 
The First Red Flag

Some time after my initial review, I also did an overview of my face brushes. At that point, my F30 powder brush was shedding regularly, but I was putting up with it. The F45 buffer and F50 were still going strong and working well for my purposes. My eye brushes from Sigma were still holding up just fine as well. So because one brush was giving me problems, I wasn’t willing to throw up my hands with Sigma all together yet. It could’ve just been that one brush was slightly defective.
More Flags, Lingering Denial

I hope you all saw my review update on Sigma brushes from the end of May, where I let you all know that my F50 and F45 had begun to shed as well. It was at that point that I got in touch with Sigma and let them know about the issues my brushes were having. They sent replacements free of charge, which is really nice of them and I very much appreciate that! Their customer service is fantastic, I will always give them that. But… that doesn’t change the fact that 3 of the 6 brushes in the kit were inferior and breaking down without much stress on them. So far so good with the new face brushes.
The Last Straw

I have a MAC 224 brush that I absolutely adore. That style of fluffy brush is good for blending shadow, contouring the nose, highlighting, and I also love it for applying and blending concealer. The point being, I use the brush a lot. So when I got the E40 blending brush I knew it would fit right in to my makeup arsenal. Except now it sheds like an absolute bitch. The hairs it’s shedding are tiny, too– about the same length as an eyebrow hair or shorter. And okay, picking a hair out of your foundation or blush is one thing, but I do not tolerate stuff shedding in my eyes. And it was many hairs. 
I was thinking to myself, okay, these are supposed to be professional quality brushes. What is professional about having to pick hairs out of anything?! What working MUA has time to deal with that bull while working on a model or client? I’ve used my Sigma brushes on clients before, before they started dying on me (the brushes, not the clients, thankfully) and I would have been really upset if they’d shed all over someone else. That’s when I got angry at the brushes. 
I threw my E40 in the trash. I won’t need to replace it because I have the MAC 224 and a couple of Stila #9 brushes. Now I’m just annoyed. I don’t like something that calls itself professional quality when clearly experience tells me it’s not. I don’t like feeling like an idiot for raving about something that later turned out to be inferior. I take my reviewing very seriously and now I feel dumb even though I couldn’t have known it would go like this. Even though the replacement brushes have been performing fine, the experience has left a bad taste in my mouth. I do not plan on adding to my Sigma brushes at all, and finding replacements for the ones I have as soon as possible because I don’t want to use products from a company that makes me feel dumb. 
Moving On

I’ve mentioned MAC and Stila brushes in this post as alternatives to Sigma, but let me also recommend some other great brushes. 
Crown – I’m sure you’ve heard of Crown, but they’re an inexpensive, oft-raved about company that I’ve never had any problems with at all. The brushes from Crown I have live up to their raves.
ELF Studio – For only $3, the flat topped powder brush is ridiculous. As in, incredibly awesome. I still use it on the daily.
Morphé – I believe the owner of Morphé is related to the owner of Crown? That’s what I heard. Anyway, these brushes are also really fabulous. I have several eye brushes from them.
Royal & Langnickel – Talk about luxe. Even their travel brushes feel like luxuries!
Edited to Add: I thought I should also mention a couple of things:

– Sigma did reach out to me via Twitter & Email to see if they could replace the brushes I’m having problems with. Nice of them to offer but I won’t be taking them up on it.

– The older brushes I have, the ones that had MAC numbers, are still holding up great and working just fine. 

Review Update – Sigma Brushes

Back in November I reviewed the Sigma Face & Eye Kit. If you missed that review, check it out. I have an update of sorts on the kit and it’s very important that you read it!

Just to re-cap, the brushes pictured above are the ones I received. Since my review, I’ve been using the brushes as normal. I’m not a full time MUA so these didn’t get worked super hard or anything, but they began to shed. It’s like it started all at once a few months after my review. I noticed it first with the powder brush (F30). As of when I reviewed it, I’d had it several months and it had not shed at all. Suddenly it seemed it started to shed with startling regularity. Every time I used it I had to pick a few hairs off my face. By this time, I estimate the brush to have been used approximately 8 to 9 months (I was using these for a while before I reviewed them, remember). 
Similar to the F30, my F45 buffer exhibited similar “symptoms”. It went from not shedding at all to shedding every time I used it. I’m not rough on my brushes, and I wash them regularly with an actual brush cleaner (Parian Spirit). 
And then, the last straw. My F50 duo fibre brush also started shedding. What. The. Hell? Something had to be done. I emailed Sigma. I was pleasantly surprised that their customer service responded right away. They sent me replacements, no questions asked. So far, so good. I have been using the replacement brushes without incident. I guess it’ll be a few months to see if this repeats itself. I really have no explanation for why the first set of face brushes started to shed.
I’m sure a lot of you out there have tried Sigma brushes. Did this happen to you? I want to know! 

My Face Brushes – An Overview

Above you can see all of my face brushes (with the exception of my kabuki, which I only just now realized isn’t in the photo…erg.). They are DIRTY. I washed them after taking this picture, which you can click to view full sized to see the horror. But since I’m nosy and I like to know what other people use, here’s what I use. These are brushes that I use pretty much all the time. Maybe not all in one day, but you know. Often. :)
I’ll start from the left and work my way over.
Sigma F30 Large Powder – This brush is okay. I was in love when I first got it and reviewed it. I still think it’s great for its purpose, and quite soft, but it sheds a couple of hairs every time I use it and that’s annoying. I still use it and put up with it though, because it’s the biggest floofiest (technical terminology there!) brush I own. I use it for stuff like finishing powder, and bronzer. 
Crown Brush S205 Pointed Blush – This brush was pointed out to me (no pun intended lol) by my good friend Sam, who said I needed it because it provides the greatest blush application ever. Well! With high praise like that, how could I tell her no? So I picked it up when she and I visited The Makeup Show LA last year. And she’s pretty correct. It’s a great brush. It’s perfect for applying blush directly to the apples of your cheeks. It’s quite dense though so I only use it with my sheerer blushes (otherwise I apply way too much). I got this right around the time I acquired MAC Ripe Peach blush ombre, and it’s great for applying that. 
Walmart HD Foundation Brush – Walmart has these generic brush sets that are just called HD brushes. I have no clue who makes them and for whatever reason they are not on the Walmart website. Anyway, I was able to swap for a set of them that included this little foundation brush. I don’t use traditional foundation brushes very often but when I do, I grab for this one. I kinda like that these brushes are black with silvertone ferrules like MAC brushes because they blend in with my MAC stash quite well. I’m weird like that.
ELF Studio Powder Brush – How many times have I raved about this brush here? If you don’t own one yet stop what you’re doing, open another tab in your browser, and get thee to the ELF website! For $3, this brush is amazing. For $10, it’d still be amazing. It’s so soft, so dense, and just perfect for buffing on powders. I’ve also used it with liquid foundation and it’s so flawless! You know it’s gotta be good if I’ve been raving about it for, oh, over a year.
Crown Brush C428 Duo Fiber Crease – Yes crease, as in eye brush. This brush is way too big for me to use on my eyes, but it makes a fine highlighter brush for applying highlighter to the tops of my cheekbones, brow bones, and even the cupid’s bow or down the bridge of my nose. 
Crown Brush C427 Duo Fiber Blush – I thought this brush would be more similar to the MAC 131, but they are different brushes. The 131 is a lot more tapered. This one kinda splays out (although it is still a rounded top brush). It’s still pretty nice for a softly diffused application of blush, especially super pigmented ones like from Illamasqua. 
Sigma SS138 (now F25 Tapered Face) – This is a dupe of the discontinued/LE (can’t remember which) MAC 138. It’s huge, it’s soft, it’s tapered. I have no idea why I got it, lol. I just said hey– I don’t have that shape in my stash! I need it! I use it for applying my Purely Cosmetics Diamond Perfect Finish powder. I may actually eventually just switch to using only this brush and ditch my Sigma F30 because of its unfortunate shedding problem. This brush can do all the same things and it doesn’t shed. 
Walmart HD Angled Cheek – Here’s another star from that Walmart brush set– the angled cheek brush. This is my brush of choice for contouring. Ignore the fact that it’s pink right now; I used it for blush when I was doing my makeup after the gym because I’d forgotten to bring a blush brush. Oops! This brush is very dense and fluffy, making it ideal for contouring the cheeks, forehead, and jawline, because it lays color down and then blends it out really well.
Sigma SS165 (now F35 Tapered Highlighter) – Another brush I bought because it was a dupe of a discontinued MAC brush. This brush is great for highlighting, or sometimes I use it for bronzer, or finishing powders. I don’t reach for it that often, but it’s a useful little brush when I need it. If you apply powder under your eyes to set concealer, this brush is great for that. 
Sigma F50 Duo Fiber – This brush is meant to dupe the beloved MAC 187. It’s less dense than the MAC brush so if you are looking for a brush to stipple foundation with, you might want to go for the MAC even though it costs significantly more (sorry!). I only use this for blush though because 9 times outta 10 I use my fingers or a sponge to apply foundation, and for that it’s decent. It’s a little large for my cheeks so I have to be careful not to get blush all over my face. I tend to use it more with those really natural, almost all-over face colors just to compensate for that. It has never shed on me, which is a huge plus. If you want me to try it out with liquid foundation just for giggles, let me know and I’d gladly do that and report back. 
Flirt Powder Brush – Oh Flirt powder brush. This is actually my second one of this brush. The first one fell apart and I swapped for another one. It was my first duo fiber brush and really opened up a door (or is it a pandora’s box?) into the wide world of blush for me. It’s way too “floppy” to use for foundation, but for blushes or loose powder this brush is fine, and has a lot of sentimental value for me. I won’t get rid of it unless this one also falls apart!
(not pictured) Sigma F45 Buffer – Once I discovered flat top brushes I all but abandoned my kabukis as far as foundation application goes. However, this little guy is really great for blending. It sheds a tiny bit every once and a while, but it’s tolerable. It’s not the softest brush I’ve ever felt but it’s not scratchy either. It’s like my little Shetland pony in a stable of workhorse brushes. 
Brushes mentioned in this post can be found at:
Walmart (in-store only, apparently!)
Crown Brush (or these are also available from Coastal Scents – same exact brushes)
Kohls (Flirt)
Worth noting about my brush stash is the fact that I do not use any of these brushes for a specific reason except that it’s a great brush for what I use it for. If the Sigma dupes of MAC brushes were crap I’d tell you. Crown Brushes are incredibly inexpensive, but they’re very high quality. Same with the Walmart brushes! And you know the Flirt brush is more because of sentimentality than anything else. I didn’t particularly set out to have only budget brushes, but these brushes work well for my purposes so I haven’t (yet) felt the need to “upgrade” any of them (with the possible exception of the powder brush). 
I hope this post was informative and if you liked it let me know. I plan on doing another one for my eye brushes soon if you guys liked my overview of my face brushes. 
Also, tell me about what brushes are your favorites! I always get great recommendations from you.

Sigma Makeup Face & Eyes Kit Review

This review is long overdue. I’ve been using my Sigma brushes like crazy ever since I got them. I already had a couple Sigma brushes that I was completely gaga for when I was sent this kit for review, so please don’t think I’m saying I love them because I got them from Sigma. People have actually asked me that when I mention I like Sigma brushes. Honestly, I find it kinda rude and insulting that they’d even ask that. :( 
A lot of people ask if they’re “worth it”. Absolutely 100% yes I think they are worth the money. I use these brushes alongside high end brushes from MAC and Laura Mercier and the quality is comparable. It might seem like a lot of money to spend on brushes, but these are great brushes. Sigma brushes used to have numbers that matched similar MAC brushes, but they have re-vamped the line and now they have E brushes (eyes), F brushes (face), and one L brush (lips). I really like this particular kit because the assortment you get is, for me anyway, very functional. There’s nothing here I don’t use on a regular basis. The Face & Eyes Kit costs $54 from All of the brushes in Sigma’s Face & Eye Kit can be purchased “a la carte” as well, but since the brushes in the kit are a $78 value purchased separately, this kit is a great deal!
Face Brushes

F45 Buffer – This buffer brush (or kabuki as some people call them) is really fabulous. It’s quite fluffy and dense. Sigma suggests using this to apply minerals or to buff and blend out colors. I use it for the latter. It really is a great brush to blend out blush, or even foundation just to get everything really even and flawless. The quality of the brush is very good too. I think it has maybe shed a single hair if that. There’s nothing more annoying than a buffer brush that sheds like crazy because then you’re picking little hairs off of your face. And if you miss one, well uh, you look like you missed a spot shaving your chin or something. Awkward! I also hate when buffer brushes are too scratchy. It’s one thing to have flawlessly blended makeup, but if it irritates the hell out of your skin while doing it, that’s pretty useless. This one feels soft and smooth. It’s a very good density too. Not so dense that it’s impossible to clean, but it’s not too floppy either. If you’ve ever tried the ELF studio kabuki brushes, they’re much floppier than this one. The buffer brush is made with natural bristles and is $19.00 purchased individually.
F30 Large Powder – I wasn’t expecting to love this brush as much as I do. It’s huge. When they say large powder they MEAN it! It has a rounded top. This brush is fluffy and dense but not as much as the buffer brush. Before I got the F30 I did not use this type of brush very much. However, now I find myself reaching for this all the time! I use it to apply my color-correcting powder (ELF Complexion Perfection), my finishing powder (Purely Cosmetics Diamond Perfect Finish), and even bronzer and/or contouring. For bronzer I used to use an angled brush but I actually get a much more natural look with this powder brush. It has never shed a single solitary hair, and that impresses me because it gets a lot of use! The handle is thicker than some of my other brushes, but I don’t really have any positive or negative feelings about that. It feels sturdy and well made when I use it, not cheap with a wiggly ferrule or anything like that. I love how soft the brush is too. The large powder brush is made with natural bristles. $16.00 purchased individually. 
F50 Duo Fibre – Duo fibre or stippling brushes are a pale girl’s best friend. They are ideal for applying those really pigmented blushes without making you look like a clown. Many people also use them to apply liquid foundation, which is the primary function of this brush. It’s quite large, comparable to the MAC 187 brush, but honestly I think the Sigma is softer and more pleasant to use. Like the F30 brush it has a thick handle that feels substantial in the hand when you’re using it, and also doesn’t shed. I haven’t used it for applying foundation because I really prefer using a sponge for liquid foundation to any other method, but it’s fantastic for blush! I use it when I’m using something like Rock & Republic blush because those are crazy pigmented. The F50 Duo Fibre brush is made with a blend of natural and synthetic bristles. $16.00 purchased individually.
Eye Brushes
$9 each purchased individually.

E30 Pencil – This brush is comparable to MAC’s 219, which is oh just one of my favorite brushes of all time. So now I have 2 brushes like that. Hooray! I love the pencil brushes for crease work. They are also good for the inner corners of your eyes. Honestly I don’t think there’s any difference between this brush and MAC’s, and I use them completely interchangeably on myself and others. Sigma suggests you could use the E30 for smudging out liner or for emphasizing your outer V, which I definitely use it for as well. The E30 pencil brush is made with natural bristles.
E55 Eye Shading – This short shader brush is ideal for work on the lids of your eyes. They pack on color like a champ. Works for pressed or loose shadows, but I have more experience with using it for pressed shadows since they are primarily what I use. Good for intensifying and layering color! The construction is very nice, and over all this is a solid basic that would be useful to anyone’s brush kit. This brush has natural bristles.
E40 Tapered Blending – I feel like I have a billion blending brushes like this. It’s similar to the MAC 224, Stila #9, and several others. Oddly enough I started using this to blend concealer. I have seen a few other bloggers/youtubers do this and decided to try it. I really like the effect. It gives concealer a very natural finish, much moreso than with traditional concealer brushes. While not terribly unique, the E40 or a brush like it is a necessity in a brush kit, so I think it works well as a part of the Face & Eyes Kit. The tapered blending brush is made with natural bristles. 
If you’re interested in buying Sigma brushes, I’d really love it if you’d use my Sigma affiliate link. I get a commission on sales using that link, and proceeds help me with the costs of running the blog and supporting myself since I do not have a job right now. :\
Product sample provided for editorial purposes.

Sigma Makeup 12 Piece Professional Brush Set

Makeup is expensive enough, but makeup applicators and brushes can be downright ridiculous in price. If it’s not within your budget to have a full set of high-priced brushes just to put on powder and a bit of eyeshadow, you might want to have a look at Sigma, who make professional standard brushes at very reasonable prices compared to other high-end brands. I think there’s something to be said for each of the sets that Sigma offers, but the one that really caught my eye is this complete kit of professional brushes. With a price of $69 at for 12 brushes… it’s really hard to find a deal like that if the quality of your makeup brushes is important to you.

The set includes five brushes for the face and seven brushes for eye makeup.

In the kit you’ll find:

  • A large powder brush made of natural bristles
  • A foundation brush for liquid of cream foundation made of synthetic bristles.
  • A large duo fiber brush designed to create an airbrushed finish when used with liquid foundation made of natural bristles
  • A large angled brush to apply blush or contours is made of natural bristles
  • A concealer brush with a rounded, tampered flat shape makes this brush ideal to conceal the under eye area is made of synthetic bristles
  • A small angled brush for applying highlight shades under eyebrow is made of natural bristles
  • An angled eyeliner brush for applying gel eyeliner or cream eyeliner is made of synthetic bristles
  • A large shader brush with a flat shape for applying cream formulas and eyeshadow primers is made of natural bristles
  • A pencil synthetic brush suitable for precise and firm strokes
  • A blending brush for applying and blending color on the crease
  • A liner brush with an extra-fine tip synthetic brush for a firm even stroke
  • A medium shader brush for applying loose shadow and pigments made of natural bristles

These would make a great Mother’s Day gift, as well!

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