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?