Sunday, February 15, 2015

Inexpensive & Effective: Zoeva Make-up Brushes Review

When I first started seeing Zoeva's brushes on a multitude of YouTube channels, I immediately assumed it was another make-up brush company just like Sigma. Sigma, when it first started, became popular for making inexpensive dupes of MAC brushes right down to the same numbering system, then affiliated half of available beauty gurus, got greedy due to the success it's been having, and gradually increased their prices. I wouldn't even mind all that if the quality of their brushes was any good - but it's not, and I also have no patience for gimmicky products like a brush-cleaning oven mitt. So, by the same token, I had absolutely zero interest in trying Zoeva brushes.
But then I watched Lauren's overview of Zoeva brushes that she ordered and paid for herself, and she was very satisfied with the quality and performance even compared to brands like Hakuhodo. And then I started watching a Polish beauty channel where Zoeva's brushes were reviewed in detail and used regularly for a variety of looks. Those two things, combined with Zoeva's reasonable pricing and a wide variety of brush shapes and types available, made me finally pull the trigger and order five different brushes to try for myself.
Zoeva is a German cosmetics and brush company; currently their products are only available for US folks via Zoeva's own website. The biggest downside of ordering from Germany is that Zoeva charges a flat shipping fee of $16. That's quite steep if you just want to try a couple brushes; you could of course convince a friend to place an order with you and divide the cost that way, but it's a bit of a pain. Good news is that my package was dispatched very quickly and arrived in New York about a week later. More good news is that if you're in Europe, not only are Zoeva's own shipping fees much lower, but they also distribute their brushes through a lot of domestic online stores - for example, Zoeva's retailers in Poland charge about $3 for the shipping. You do have to pay VAT though, unlike us here in the US.
The brushes came packaged in a (slightly ripped) cardboard box with a company logo, padded with some additional tissue inside. Each brush has its own ziplock pouch, and the bristles are further secured with a little plastic sleeve. You could absolutely reuse that paraphernalia for travel, the pouches especially seem very sturdy and useful - I thought it was a nice touch.
I orderded two face brushes and three eye brushes. Let's start with the face: I got the 105 Luxe Highlight ($15.50) and the 109 Luxe Face Paint ($15.50). Both of these brushes are a blend of natural (I'm thinking goat) and synthetic hairs, and the bristles are very fine and soft, with a comparable feel to my goat-bristled Hakuhodos but perhaps a touch more springy/ resistant. I was actually hoping to use the Luxe Highlight for both highlighting and setting with powder on smaller areas of the face, but the more elongated and slightly tapered shape is definitely better suited for highlighting or contouring (I use the more domed Real Techniques contour brush for setting). I like that the brush head is on the smaller side, so that I can highlight only the specific areas that I want targeted.
I don't have another brush even remotely similar to the 109 Luxe Face Paint, which is the reason I was particularly excited to play around with it for contouring my face. It's a flat brush with a blunt edge, and the bristles form an oval shape when you look at the brush in profile. I suppose it's very similar to the popular NARS Ita brush, or the new Real Techniques Bold Metals 301 Flat Contour, although significantly cheaper than both of those. I also decided to get Zoeva's version because I'd heard that the NARS bristles are a bit scratchy, while the RT is a bit too dense and stubby and not flexible enough to allow for blending. The Zoeva Face Paint doesn't poke my sensitive skin and allows for both precise placement of a contouring powder directly under the cheekbone as well as some light blending, especially when you turn the brush vertically. If you like very subtle and diffused contour or have a larger face, it may not be your favorite - but I've really been enjoying mine.
Onto the eye brushes: whenever I order brushes from a new to me company, I can't resist purchasing their version of a staple crease/ blending brush (a MAC 217 dupe, if you will), which in Zoeva's case is the 227 Luxe Soft Definer ($9.50). Again, this is a natural and synthetic hair mix, and the design is a bit different than my favorite Bdellium Tools 776: the bristles are slightly longer and fan out more, giving it more of a paddle shape. Functionally though, it performs exactly like the 776, and it's great for both placing shadow in the crease and blending it out. In comparison, the Wayne Goss 06 is more pinched and flat, while the Sigma E25 has a rounder shade and unsurprisingly, a lot scratchier bristles.
I also purchased another crease brush, the 231 Luxe Petit Crease ($9.50). At the time I was placing my order, I didn't realize this brush was a Zoeva fan favorite, but I can definitely see why: the natural bristles are soft but resistant and cut with great precision, with all the hairs perfectly aligned and coming to a point. I find the Luxe Petit Crease to be an incredibly versatile brush as well: it could be used for precise placement in the crease, or as a softer pencil brush, or for placing and blending out inner corner and under the brow highlight (which is what I've been using it for). It's more flexible and tapered than the Bdellium Tools 781, and longer and slightly bigger than my trusty Posh (sic!) Crease brush (I believe Essence of Beauty makes a brush duo that comes with a similar brush).
Lastly, I also needed a new angled eyeliner brush, so I ordered the 317 Wing Liner ($8.50). It doesn't specify on the Zoeva's website, but I believe this a syntethic brush, with a small head and a very fine edge, allowing for precise lining of the upper lashline and drawing cat eye flicks with both powder and cream/gel products. In comparison, my beloved but discontinued EcoTools brush has a thicker edge, so it's better suited for brows rather than eyeliner. I'm still playing around with the Wing Liner, but so far it's been great - it really makes eyeliner work a lot easier.
I have already cleaned my Zoeva brushes a couple times both with soap and water as well as MAC Brush Cleanser, and they wash up beautifully with no shedding or staining of the white bristles (in fact, the bristles look cleaner and whiter than my Hakuhodo goats). I've dried them mostly using the Brush Guards, and they keep their shapes well between washing - no problems there at all. All of the ferrules fit very tight and snug on the handles, and so far I haven't experienced any issues with the letters rubbing off the handles (hello, Wayne Goss 06!).

As you can probably tell, I'm very happy with my purchase, and I enjoy using all of the Zoeva brushes I ordered. They are without a doubt better quality than the Sigma brushes I own, or even than my thus far unparalleled affordable favorite, the Bdellium Tools. I also think Zoeva has an edge over many other brush companies due to the variety of interesting brush shapes they have on offer, and they continue to further expand their brush line (for example, they now also offer many of their brushes in vegan bristles). I will definitely try to get my hands on some more of their brushes, maybe by requesting a couple from my mom in Poland for a birthday or Christmas gift - I'd rather not pay $16 in shipping again if I can avoid it ;) Have you tried Zoeva make-up brushes? Which ones do you reach for the most often?

21 comments:

  1. Cannot be happier that you put this review up! I have been contemplating getting a few from their line for the longest time but its so hard to find a genuine good review (read unpaid) to get myself to place an order! Especially when its coming from across the other end of the world! he he! I am pleased to announce that its going to happen! lol! I am going to place an order and the eye brushes have caught my fancy along with the face paint number!

    Also I am curious about the 110 face shape brush. Its rounded and people seem to like it for blending concealer which I am all about! :-)

    TheConscienceFund

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  2. Nearly all of my brushes are from Zoeva. I've bought them 2010 and most of them feel like new. I love their Crease, Soft Definer (227) and Blending (225) brush. The only one I would not recommend is the Fine Liner (315). I've destroyed mine after one year only by using it with Bobbi Brown Gel Eyeliner >.< The brush is not made for thicker gel eyeliners. I still don't know why they increased their prices. I've bought 5 (!!) brushes for 30€ or something, today I could only buy 3. I'm thinking about buying a blush brush and the wing liner.

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  3. i've found bdellium consistently scratchy :( i wish they weren't and i'm wondering if i just keep getting bad ones b/c i know a lot of ppl like them so i'm not sure why my experience hasn't quite been the same but then again, it's not like i'm not allowed to dislike them (wow..triple negative)
    i agree with your thoughts on sigma. since i live in canada when i hear about new brush brands or brands that aren't available in stores, i stop paying attention b/c procuring them would just be too hard. and sigma did increase their prices..
    but these look promising for sure...maybe an independant retailer will start stocking these for canada. i know a few places that do that for sigma

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  4. Hm...I'm actually put off by Zoeva with similar raising prices as Sigma. They were a lot cheaper on the beginning. You'll see in the future...But if you say quality is great - never say never ;D Plus, rose gold finish looks really lovely.

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  5. as someone who has yet to get into more luxurious brush brands, this is really appealing! The shipping is high, but still significantly lower than some other European companies! Definitely interested now!

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  6. I've got the rose gold collection from Zoeva. The quality is amazing and they are so affordable. Best 60 euros ever spent.

    I did a post about Urban Decay Naked vs. Too Faced Chocolate bar, here it is: http://charlinehasablog.blogspot.com/2015/02/too-faced-chocolate-bar-vs-urban-decay.html

    Love, Charline
    xx

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  7. LOLOL I love my brush cleaning oven mitt!!!! I'm not even remotely into Sigma, but have loved the mitt since I first tried it...and am still trying to figure out why people love to hate on it so much...maybe it's misplaced hatred or animosity toward the Sigma brand itself??? Anyway. Don't care what people say, I stand by my mitt :-)

    It's great to know the Zoeva brushes are good! I've only ever seen them on blogs and youtube, and like Sigma that immediately has turned me off them despite the positive reviews. Like all the Michael Todd products that get pushed. No thanks. That said...I've been seeing more and more positive reviews of Zoeva from bloggers that have paid for the brushes themselves, so that definitely paints things in a more positive light. What are your fav brushes of the bunch you ordered??

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  8. I LOOOOOVE Zoeva's brushes! I think their quality/price ratio is almost unbeatable nowadays. Plus they are constantly adding new brushes or collections. The rose gold ones are really catching my eyes!

    I got a synthetic brush kit from Sigma long ago, and it was a total let-down. Some of the brushes are usable, but most of them are way too stiff for my liking. The pencil brush almost doesn't even bend, lol.

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  9. 'In comparison, my beloved but discontinued EcoTools brush has a thicker edge, so it's better suited for brows rather than eyeliner.' - The Zoeva is even better for cat eyes than the Ecotools? You have pushed me over the edge! And call it shallow, but for brushes in the same price bracket as Real Techniques and EcoTools, these look a notch or two classier.

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  10. I love Zoeva brushes! I got one of their sets last year, and that's pretty much all I use now. I wish shipping wasn't this much though—I don't feel like ordering a few brushes and paying this much for shipping, and I don't need another full set. Lucky you for being able to get them through your mom :)

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  11. You can buy zoeva brushes from beautybay with free shipping if you order over $20 - I'm based in NZ and got mine from there rather than pay $16 on the zoeva site. They do the same deal for the US and most other countries.

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    1. It may have changed, but at the time I was purchasing my brushes, Zoeva was not available for delivery to the United States on the Beautybay website. If that has changed since, I'd be over the moon! Thanks for sharing :)

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  12. Thanks so much for the detailed review- I was just looking at Zoeva from beautybay.com and will definitely pick up some of these. Out of curiousity- what do you like to use for setting makeup on small areas?

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    1. I use the Real Techniques domed contour brush from their face kit, I believe. Although recently I've seen that Lisa Eldridge uses the Zoeva highlight brush for setting powder as well, so I may try that again!

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    2. That contour brush works great but RT's Setting Brush is a must have if you want to highlight with precision.

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  13. The honesty and happiness in this review is making me pull the trigger as well. :D Thank you for such detailed post.

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  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  15. So much information, thank you so much! I'll be publishing a wish list post tomorrow, would you mind if I tagged your review in it so my followers can have a read?x

    www.worldofgem.wordpress.com

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  16. I've heard so much great things about these makeup brushes and your post is great ..Thanks for sharing!


    http://blushies.com/

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  17. Wooww glad too see your review about this brush. Sigma and zoeva, which one better for you?
    Im in indonesia and there's no sigma oe zoeva store, so i cant compare both. :)

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