The Real Girl


My new favorite makeup brush

Danielle Bisbano - Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Quality makeup brushes aren’t cheap. The cost of one brush can range from just a few dollars to as much as $200 or more. As with pretty much anything in this world, you get what you pay for. Thankfully, there is another almost universal truth at play here. If you’re smart about it, you can find great quality brushes for a lot less money. You just have to know where to look.

There was a specific makeup brush mentioned in a makeup newsletter that I subscribe to; the MAC #239 brush. I loved the size and shape of the brush so I thought it would be worth checking out. One Google search later it is clear this particular brush is a fan favorite. But I already have way more brushes than I really need. Could I really justify spending $25 on this one? But I want it. What else is new? Now I’m motivated to try to find a deal. Could there be a doppelganger out there somewhere? Did someone already find it?

Sure enough, somebody did, and you can’t get it at Sephora or Ulta or any makeup store for that matter. This brush is only sold at art and craft stores (or Amazon!) A craft store paint brush that rivals the MAC #239, at a fraction of the price? I’m already sold. I was on my way to the store in less than ten minutes; 40 minutes later walking out with my latest acquisition, and only $2.63 poorer (I had a coupon!).

I don’t remember where I first heard the idea of getting makeup brushes at art stores, I’m just glad that I did. I had never even considered it but when I heard it, it seemed so obvious. To be fair, I must confess that not only do I not own the MAC #239, I have never even used it. Therefore, I cannot actually claim to compare the two. Guess what? Who cares! This brush is awesome.

The Real Girl

How to find your favorite makeup: Part one

Danielle Bisbano - Thursday, August 09, 2012

How many cosmetics brands can you name off the top of your head? You’re already mentally rattling off Maybelline, Cover Girl, L’Oreal. Those are easy! How about a few more? Lancome, Estee Lauder, Clinique? Of course you have heard of them. But what about INGLOT, KohGenDo or Jordana? Maybe not. Why is that? One word: advertising.


Try to flip though a fashion magazine without finding an ad for one or even all of these companies. Most of these brands use mega celebrities to represent their brands. Lancome has Julia Roberts, Kate Winslet and Emma Watson to name a few. Revlon has Emma Stone, Halle Berry and Olivia Wilde and the list could go on and on. These are huge corporations with really big budgets but there are literally hundreds of other brands out there that you have probably never heard of simply because you have never seen an advertisement. Some may be expensive but lots of them are not. This is where some industry-specific tools can really come in handy.


If you are interested in makeup, or obsessed with it like I am, you should know about a few great ways to wade through the endless choices of products and find the ones that are really worth your time and money. The cosmetics industry is a multi-billion dollar business. Don’t be a casualty with an empty wallet and only your makeup graveyard to show for it (you have one and you know it). We’re going to explore three great methods, one at a time, that you can use to make smart decisions about your makeup and skin care purchases.


First, we will consider online reviews. Let’s say you already know the product you are thinking of buying. Google any product name and you will find the vendors that sell it and, likely, a 1-5-star rating. This might be enough to get you started and help you decide if it is still worth looking into. When you see a product on Sephora with a thousand reviews and just about five stars, chances are it is probably pretty good! If that’s enough for you to justify your purchase, you’re all set. If you want more detail or want to learn about great products that you never have even heard of, then Makeup Alley is the place. This is a really helpful site. You can look up just about any product (makeup, skin care, hair care, etc.) and you will get detailed reviews and ratings from real people that have actually used it. One important thing to keep in mind: pay attention to the number of reviews for the item you are researching. An obscure product with just one review and 5-star rating probably won’t hold up against a product with 500 reviews and a 4-star rating. It's a numbers game and this is a place where quantity matters. Makeup Alley is a wonderful resource for learning how products work (and don't work!) in the real world. Valuable details like “this color actually comes out more red than brown” can be your deciding factor when trying to pick out a new lipstick.


In the next article we will explore another tool with valuable insights. Video tutorials.



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