#. My introduction to Tom Ford
I first heard about Tom Ford was in Ruth Crilly’s Favorite Makeup Collection video, and this particular part of the video “imprinted” the brand into my memory. She said, “Tom Ford True Coral. As you can see I only ever try to use it from the back so I don’t ruin the Tom Ford imprint on it (6:20).“ It was my first time seeing a lipstick with an engraving and I remember thinking that if I ever did get a Tom Ford lipstick I’d have to remember her tip and use a brush so as not to ruin the engraving. I never actually did end up buying a Tom Ford lipstick as I had no interest in lipstick back then, but it was fascinating seeing someone taking such care not to ruin this beautiful product. So while my first Tom Ford purchase wasn’t a lipstick, the Tom Ford lipstick still managed to be my introduction to the brand.
#. My brush history
In the past 10 years, I’d only accumulated a total of 6 makeup brushes plus a borrowed one.
+ MAC 187 – Recommended to me by a sales associate. Wasn’t terribly impressed especially when I was told to use the same brush for foundation and powder; one after the other. I didn’t like how the powder clumped onto the bristles that were wet with foundation, and found it frustrating that I wanted to buy a separate brush for foundation but was being discouraged to do so.
+ MAC 194 – I’d asked for an eyeshadow brush. Who knows why I was given a concealer brush instead of an actual eyeshadow brush.
+ MAC 231 – Bought with the gel eyeliner.
+ Lancome nameless mini foundation brush – Free from gift bag
+ MAC 318 – Lip brush
+ Body Shop face & body brush – I didn’t like that the handle splayed out into a bizarre cone shape, but it was soft and affordable.
+ No-name blush brush – Borrowed from my mother’s vanity. Poor, rough quality.
The only reason I probably got on for so long with the mediocre brushes that I had, was because I’d had previously had very little interest in makeup. This changed when I started viewing more beauty vlogs on youtube. I’d also finally gotten the hang of making purchases at beauty counters and learned how to walk out with exactly what I wanted. So one day when I was particularly frustrated with the no-name blush brush, I decided it was high time I invested in some decent brushes.
#. Brush Research
Because I had used my first makeup brush for ten years, I knew that whichever brush I bought would probably last me a lifetime. So the first thing I did was search Youtube for the best quality makeup brushes, and I came across a video of Monsiieur Alex’s review of the best & worst high end makeup brushes. Through the recommended videos I went on to see the Tom Ford brush reviews by Wayne Goss, as well as some of his other videos on makeup brushes. I also read a host of brush reviews by other beauty bloggers and vloggers and the brands that continuously came up were Tom Ford, Hakkuhodo, Chikuhodo, Wayne Goss, Real Techniques, SUQQU, Bobbi Brown, Laura Mercier, Shu Uemura, and MAC.
#. No More Mac Brushes
To be honest, it didn’t matter to me that MAC actually had decent brushes. It was of course my own fault that I hadn’t known much anything about brushes before I bought them, but I felt like anyone new to makeup should have been able to walk into a makeup counter and received some solid recommendations. However, I’ve never really gotten the impression that MAC counters were beginner friendly, regardless of city or country, compared to other brands at a similar price point. Besides, I was unimpressed by the way the MAC 187 shed hairs all over my face.
#. Testable In Person
One thing I was certain of, was that I wanted to be able to test the brushes I was going to purchase. I wanted to feel how soft the brushes were, and see how they worked in person. The general consensus between beauty bloggers seemed to be that the best brushes were by Hakkuhodo, Chikuhodo, Tom Ford, Wayne Goss, or SUQQU. At this point I was leaning heavily towards the Tom Ford brushes as they had received glowing reviews by the two makeup artists Wayne Goss and Monsiieur Alex, and I would be able to test them out in person. The other brands were not available in Korea which meant that I wouldn’t be able to test them, and I would have to pay for the exchange rate, credit card fee, and overseas shipping in order to purchase and receive them.
#. Aesthetics & Quality
Aesthetics also came into play. I think most people would agree that visually, Tom Ford brushes are some of the most beautiful brushes on the market. I love that they are simple yet elegant, both in form and color. I don’t think anyone would buy the Tom Ford brushes purely for their softness and functionality. I think that anyone who is looking to purchase Tom Ford brushes is also looking them as a decor. There is something so satisfying about having a brush set sitting on your vanity as opposed to a mish mash jumble of different brushes. Some don’t like the idea of white brushes for fear of them looking dirty, but I thought it would be a good reminder and incentive to clean them regularly. I currently only use my brushes for powder and I’ve been really enjoying seeing the actual color of my products on my brushes. The brushes did fluff out a little bit after a wash, but nothing extreme. While they didn’t clean up to a pure white after use, they came close enough. The photos below are how they look while in use, not washed. So they actually look rather pretty in fawn and pale peach while in use.
#. The Price
Most people seem to get hung up on the price of the Tom Ford brushes. I think it really depends more on your perspective and your spending philosophy. I have a tendency to buy things and use them for a very long time. Having a track record for using my brushes for 10 years made me confident that these brushes would last me for decades. The idea is that I am investing in these brushes as cosmetics will eventually run out or expire, but quality brushes will last a lifetime. These will stay safely on my vanity so I won’t lose them or damage them by carrying them around. I think it’s also about personal preference on what type of beauty products and services you like to use your money on. For example, many of my friends get their nails or brows done on a regular basis. This adds up to quite a bit of money over time, and I prefer to save that money for something that will last and do my own nails and brows at home. To put things in perspective, the price of getting your nails and toenails done will get you a Tom Ford brush in Korea. So you could spend that money on nails that will last 2-4 weeks, or you could spend it on a brush that will last at least ten years.
#. Happy Birthday
One thing contributing to my first purchase last year was my 29th birthday. There’s something special about your 29th birthday. It’s the last birthday of your 20s and no matter how wonderful the 30s are, you’ll never be able to go back to your carefree 20s. It makes it sort of a melancholy birthday, but at the same time one that makes you want to pull together a bucket list and experience everything before you hit 30. In any case, it’s also around the age where you start stocking up on anti-aging products so I figured it would be nice to have brushes that didn’t irritate the skin.
no.02 Cream Foundation Brush & no.06 Cheek Brush (unwashed)
no.15 Definer Brush & no.11 Eye Shadow Brush & no.13 Eye Shadow Blend Brush (unwashed)
#. 3rd week impressions
I’ve had these brushes for three weeks now and I absolutely love them. They’re so soft and it’s wonderful having tools that actually let me create the effect that I want. The brushes are incredibly dense and make all my previous brushes feel sparse in comparison. With my previous brushes, I’d have to dig into my powders to get enough product on my brushes, but with the Tom Ford brushes all I have to do is gently touch a powder and I’ve got a good amount of product on my brush. I eventually went back to Tom Ford and picked up the blending brush as well. I actually did consider just getting the MAC 217, but at this point I was so happy with the Tom Ford brushes that I didn’t want to go back to the MAC brushes. I’d never been entirely happy with my MAC brushes in the past, where as every single time I’ve used the Tom Ford brushes it’s just been the most luxurious experience.
#. 5 month impressions
The brushes have shed less than 5 hairs during the past 5 months which I personally think is pretty impressive considering how much the MAC shed. I actually took the no.11 shadow brush back to Tom Ford the next day because there was a course hair somewhere in the middle of the brush that prickled my eyelid every now and then. They were kind enough to exchange it for a new brush and I found no problem with the new one. This is probably another reason to buy a brush at the counter rather than online. The brushes are still soft and a joy to use. I’ve been using the cream foundation brush with sculpting powder as I use an air cushion rather than a liquid foundation. The size is perfect for the hollows of my cheek and blends beautifully. The brushes do pick up a lot of powder but I actually prefer it that way. I hate having to dig for powders and it’s time-consuming if the brush doesn’t pick up a good amount with the first sweep. I have no regrets over any of the brushes and use every single one except perhaps the no.15 definer brush every time I do my make up. I still find the no.15 useful but I only use it if I’m going in and doing detailed work. If I’m in a rush in the morning I’ll skip it.
#. 1 year+ impressions
I went ahead and picked up the no.14 brush for more detailed eyeshadow work. I find that it’s really useful for adding color with more precision as it’s not as large as the no.11 brush. So I use the no.11 brush for laying on the base colors, then use the no.14 for adding secondary colors to the outer corners of the eyelid. I find myself using the no.15 on a daily bases as well, as I’ve found that it’s the perfect brush for using dark eyeshadow to blend out the edges of my eyeliner.
#. 4 year impressions
I first wrote this post in 2016. I still love these brushes and they are in pristine condition. However, I was really upset to learn that Tom Ford has discontinued these beautiful brushes, only to replace them with synthetic ones. To add insult to injury, they have not been reduced in price. Some people applaud the change as being cruelty-free, but to my knowledge, the goat hair brushes created by artisans in Japan at this level were already cruelty-free. Also, considering the abysmal magnitude of the microplastic pollution problem worldwide, and how we humans as well as all animals are literally consuming microplastics on a daily basis (horrifying, is it not?), synthetic (i.e. plastic) brushes are now the farthest thing from cruelty-free. Because no where in my book is feeding the entire animal population micro plastics to be considered cruelty-free.
I now regret not having collected the entire collection before they switched to synthetic. I consider myself fortunate to have collected as many as I did before they switched, because apparently they switched to synthetic in 2017 which is only a year after my purchase. The awful thing is, this seems to be a trend. Tom Ford is not the only beauty company to have switched their brush lines to synthetic. However, I am severely disappointed that of all people, Tom Ford, who seems to pride himself with beautiful and high quality products (albeit with high prices), would allow his brushes to be created with plastic. I wonder if it is because the company wants to increase it’s profit margins or if it’s because the resources are running out, causing problems in production. It saddens me to see more and more products being manufactured cheaply and haphazardly. I refuse to buy any of the new synthetic Tom Ford brushes. Although I prefer the aesthetic look of the Tom Ford brushes, I can never justify spending that much on a synthetic brush when I already know the quality of the natural goat hair Japanese brushes. Considering there are still brands that create high quality, natural Japanese brushes, I can no longer recommend the new Tom Ford brushes.
Don’t feel like you have to go out and buy a complete set. That would be a waste of money and a big hit to the bank. Either save up for the brushes you want, or buy one or two at a time. I would recommend getting the no.13 blending brush first if you don’t have a blending brush already. Usually eye shadow palettes come with a flat eye shadow brush that you can use for laying color, but they won’t come with a blending brush so that would be what I would go for first. If you prefer to have your blush very faint and hardly showing, then you probably will find the no. 06 frustrating as it picks up color fairly well. So I would test it out in person (ask if you can try it yourself rather than having them demonstrate for you) before picking it up. I personally like to have a natural wash of color that is visible but not clown-like and like how much powder the brush picks up. If you use a sculpting powder then the no. 02 is a perfect match.
Your turn ♥ What are your investment pieces? Do you prefer spending money on services or on investment pieces?