When it comes to makeup I’m a big fan of finger application: undereye concealer dabbed on with the ring finger, cream blush tapped onto the apples of cheeks, berry stain pressed into the centre of lips. But then I started applying makeup on my commute to work – bumpy Northern line, tight on space, dubious hygiene standards – and a few key tools quickly became indispensable. And if there’s one thing you can’t just smear on your face it’s bronzer – that is if you’re looking to achieve the Riviera look rather than the Tough Mudder look. So when self-image specialist and makeup artist Camilla Collins introduced me to Nadine Oei founder of vegan and cruelty-free make-up brush brand Loella Cosmetics, I was excited to expand my beauty tool arsenal. I discovered brushes I’d never tried before – yes even after 15 years in the beauty industry – and developed an oddly addictive habit of stroking the softest brushes I’ve ever come across.
London-based Loella Cosmetics is known for its high quality makeup brushes at affordable prices, but most notably for its colourful collections, from fiery red-tipped brushes to mermaid aqua hues – perfect Instagram fodder. And for those of you still applying makeup on your commute (or indeed still commuting), your makeup tools won’t go unnoticed. In contrast the brushes I’m reviewing here project a much more serious look, and with good reason: the Femme Fatale collection was developed in partnership with makeup artist Sarah Exley, Head of Makeup at X-Factor and Love Island. With 12 brushes in the range this takes me to the next level up in terms of professional makeup application – probably more like 10 levels up considering I only use 2 brushes on a daily basis: my trusty multi-purpose buff brush, and a blush brush if I’m not dabbing cream blusher with my fingers. This kit reflects Sarah’s years of experience in the TV industry, designed for precise application and a professional result. So what do they each do?
I start with the Dazzling Brows Dee, a small brow brush that works colour into eyebrows and evenly distributes it, softening hard pencil strokes for a gentler result. This little tool is a keeper for me, as using an eyebrow pencil can result in quite a severe look.
Next step is foundation, or in my case mostly just Clinique’s tinted moisturiser which I paint on with Fancy Foundation Fai brush. This one feels a little too firm for me and requires quite a lot of brushstrokes to achieve a seamless result, so I’ll be sticking to my Clinique Buff Brush.
I usually work my tinted moisturiser up to below my lash line and blend in with the buff brush – yes it really does do everything – but admittedly I do manage a more precise application with Dreamy Eyed Dermot, the under eye blending brush.
Coming onto blush, the Glowed-Up Gemma is perfectly shaped to follow the curves of your cheeks and I pick up the Killer Contour Kirsty, a domed contour brush to tap on highlighter on the tops of cheeks. I’m doubtful that I’m using these brushes in the exact way they were intended but as a near-novice in the makeup brush department I’m up for a little experimenting.
I confess to not finding a use for the Precise Powder Pauline, a precision powder brush that may be handy for applying concealer – I’ll have to revisit that one. And although the Straight Nosed Susan is a cleverly shaped brush to fit the sides of the nose, that felt like a step too far for me and threw up images of the contoured-within-an-inch-of-their-lives Kardashians or Barbie lookalike YouTubers. I’m also aware that realistically I would not be anywhere close to achieving a Kardashian look, even if I tried.
The Bronzed Beauty Bella however… what a beautifully big fluffy bronzer brush! This is the one that has me stroking it across my face, with or without powder, just for the comforting and soothing feeling of these ultra-soft bristles on skin.
The kit contains three eye makeup brushes: the Zig Zag Zoila for precise application along the lashline, the Angled Angel Anna to work eyeshadow into the sockets, and the Smoke Show Sally, a short stubby brush to smudge shadow and eye pencil across lids for a messy smokey eye. The eyeliner brush I only ever use when creating an aubergine smokey eye with Burberry’s beautiful Complete Eye Palette in Plum Pink, and that is certainly not my everyday look, so it’ll be part of my ‘going out out’ beauty toolkit.
Phew nearly there! I finish off with Lip Loving Lysette, a firm squared lip brush that delivered varying results depending on the product I used: my densely pigmented fuchsia lipstick I think works best applied straight from the bullet, as the brush doesn’t deliver the colour intensity I’m after, but with softer shades and textures the result is perfect: a defined lip without looking overdone.
Do I need 12 makeup brushes on a daily basis? No. But there’s a reason this is dubbed the professional collection. The ones that I reach out for on a regular basis and work to achieve an everyday look are easy to use and quick to apply makeup with: the undereye brush, the cheek contour brush, the bronzer brush. The ones that require more dedicated time and a steady hand take my makeup to the next level for a more precise look: the precision powder brush, eyeliner brush and that nose contour brush! Whichever look I go for I always appreciate the incredible softness of each brush and its bespoke made-to-measure shape.
12 brushes RRP £65.00
Features gifted products