Friday, November 7, 2014

Surratt Artistique Brush Launch and Medium Smokey Eye Brush Review

Fellow beauty bloggers, do you know these posts where you want to publish just the photos and let them speak for themselves? Yeah, it's one of those - but on the other hand, it's make-up brushes, and I have a lot to say. Last week I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Surratt Beauty Artistique Brush Collection, sold exclusively at Barneys New York in the US. Belly from Wondegondigo invited me to tag along (check out her photos and first impressions here) and I couldn't be happier, both to spend time in her company and to stroke some ridiculously luxurious brushes.
Currently, the Artistique Brush Collection includes 12 brushes: 4 face brushes in grey/blue squirrel hair, 3 smokey eye brushes made with the same hair type, 3 flat shader eye brushes in Canadian squirrel, and two concealer brushes in Kolinsky (displayed from the bottom to the top in the photo). All brushes are handmade in Kumano, Japan from the finest, carefully selected materials and take about 60 different steps and a week to create - the Surratt brushes had been in development for five years, right from the brand's conception. In the display case, you can see that the matte, all black handles and ferrules are the exact same length on each brush and feature a beautiful green and purple duochrome ombre design. Troy Surratt also told us about his plans to expand the range to include more brushes: there's a foundation duo fiber buffing brush, a thicker badger hair brow brush, and a retractable spoolie brush in the works.
Troy's assistant, Nathaniel, presenting the Surratt Face Brush, $230.

Surratt make-up brushes are definitely an investment: the jewel of the collection, the Face Brush, retails for $230, and the brand is also working on an even larger soft powder brush that will retail for about $380. The price range is definitely comparable to that of Suqqu, and when Belly asked Troy how he would explain the uncommonly high cost of these brushes to an American consumer, he replied it's all down to the incredibly high quality of his collection: with proper care the brushes should last a lifetime, and he even described his Face Brush as an 'heirloom'.
L-R: Face Brush $230, Sculpting Brush, a mix of blue squirrel and goat hair $90, Highlight Brush $115, Cheek Brush $115
If you ask me about my thoughts on the price of the Surrat brush line, I definitely think you don't absolutely need very expensive brushes to apply make-up beautifully. However, if you perceive your beauty routine as a relaxing, sensual ritual and are completely beauty obsessed like I am, these brushes are certainly a fantastic addition to your collection - I'm already planning more purchases in the future. Another point to note is that if you have access to the Barneys beauty floor, this is the single Japanese-made brush range on the US market that you can physically touch and play with, bar some Hakuhodo appearances at IMATS or other make-up trade shows.
The pom-pom shaped cheek brush in my hand for size reference; it's quite small and dense to allow for a precise blush application and blending
After much oohing and aahing, I've decided to purchase one of the most unique brushes in the Artistique Collection, the Medium Smokey Eye Brush, $65. Each brush comes in a beautiful French-made cardboard box with a sliding top and velvet padding inside - I made a comment that the box is seriously too beautiful to part with and Nathaniel suggested reusing it as a pencil case, which I thought was a fantastic idea.
As you can see, the Medium Smokey Eye Brush has a long tapered brush head, quite a bit larger than my standard crease/ blending brushes, shown below for comparison. I've only ever tried one other tapered blending brush, the LE MAC 226, but the two are nothing alike: the MAC was much smaller, with shorter, denser and firmer bristles, and the only thing it worked reasonably well for was cut crease looks - however, the bristles were so scratchy that I decided to purge it. The three Smokey Eye brush sizes in the Surratt line ensure that everyone can find a good brush to work in their different lid spaces.
L-R: bdellium Tools no. 776, Hakuhodo J 5533, Wayne Goss no. 06, Surratt Medium Smokey Eye
The soft, floppy bristles of the Medium Smokey Eye take some getting used to, especially if you normally use shorter and more resistant blending brushes. However, I'm happy to report that the brush works beautifully to bring subtle definition to the eye. Troy recommended to use the brush by swirling its tapered tip in the eyeshadow and then applying the powder in the crease with a back and forth motion, letting the longest bristles deposit the color, while the shorter bristles on the sides do all the blending for you. He also suggested the brush can be used flat on its side to blend the eyeshadow from the outer corner in. I've been using a combination of both of these techniques and I find they work very well for quickly diffusing pigments in the socket.

There is however a downside to such a large and soft brush head; the Surratt Medium Smokey Eye does not allow for a lot of control, so if you like applying very dark shades in the outer V, I'd suggest using a separate brush for the placement and then maybe finishing the blend with the Medium Smokey. That's true however of most of my standard blending brushes as well.
Overall, I'm quite ecstatic with my new brush acquisiton: I'll try to spare you my exclamations of the 'Oh, but it's so, so soft!' variety, but yes, they're there every time I reach for the Medium Smokey Eye Brush. The attention to detail on these brushes is unmatched, and on top of being very useful tools (or extensions of the artist's hands, as Troy prefers to put it), they're also beautiful objects.
If you have a Surratt counter near you, I urge you to check out the Artistique Brush Collection, if only for the sensory experience (but if you don't have a counter nearby, the brushes are also now available online). I had a lot of fun at the launch and it was a great pleasure to be able to talk freely about make-up brushes, shopping for Japanese cosmetics and the product development process with both Troy himself (a fellow beauty geek by all means) and Nathaniel. Thank you for spending so much of your time explaining everything to us! It's rare these days to find such a down to earth, knowledgeable, passionate face behind the brand.

Have you tried anything from Surratt Beauty? What's currently at the top of your make-up brush wishlist (because I just assume everyone needs to have one)?


  1. Oh this post is total brush p0rn! I have a couple of crease brushes that MIGHT be similar, but I don't think they'd be the same thing at all. I'm actually pretty happy with my current brush collection. Before I figure out a way to store my brushes intelligently, I'm trying not to get more. However, this is not to say if you let me loose at a Surratt counter now, I'll end up empty-handed!

  2. Wow these look incredible! I will not be making an order, but I love brushes, and these are exquisite! x

  3. Such huge lemmings! However, knowing my own eye shape, longer flexible brushes like this won't work for me. I've tried quite a few eye brushes with different shapes, and for Asian eyes like mine, those with shorter hairs work better - more control so it doesn't look as messy :-)

  4. Ohhh my. Those brushes look (and sound) exquisite -- even the packaging looks lovely!

    But OUCH, that price tag. I won't even spend $230 on an entire brush set, much less a single face brush!

  5. That brush is truly exquisite. I'm with you, Monika, I'd probably pick up this Medium Smoky Eye brush.. maybe try out the cheek brush as well as the size looks quite small. And your pictures, wonderful pictures!!! Thanks for sharing this.