Sunday, January 8, 2012

Overview: Quo brushes

Quo is the Shoppers Drug Mart 'house' brand, and to my knowledge, this brand is only available at Shoppers Drug Mart stores in Canada.

There are about 25+ brushes available, varying in style and cost. The collection of assorted brushes is made from synthetic or natural fibers. All of my Quo brushes have the traditional silver handle, silver ferrule and white lettering, not to be confused with the newer Quo Professional collection of makeup brushes with the black handles.

My collection of 12 brushes.
Not pictured here: Bronzing Powder Brush.

1. Crease Shadow Brush. 4 stars (* * * *)
The crease shadow brush retails for $13 CDN.
This is one of my most favorite brushes from Quo, hence the reason I own two of them. It's an incredibly soft tapered blending brush made from natural fibers, which is excellent for work in the crease or just blending out any powder product in general. It is my most reached for brush, because it applies and blends my crease shadow colors effortlessly.
I have used this brush for use with cream and liquid products, specifically concealer for undereyes and blemishes; however, I find that since it is made of natural fibers, the longevity and quality of the brush deteriorates with continual use. I found that the one brush I used with cream or liquid products now sheds substantially in comparison to it's sister brush that I use only for powder products, which does not shed at all. I would recommend sticking with powder products, or having two of these brushes on hand - one for use with powders and one for use with creams/liquids, and be prepared for the latter to wear out a lot faster than the former.
Overall, an excellent brush - definitely a must-have!

The top brush (with the pink on the handle) is my 'powder-only' brush,
and the bottom brush is my 'cream-and-liquid-only' brush.
You can see the difference between  them - the top brush is a lot more sculpted and dense,
whereas the bottom brush is more worn, thinner, and less sculpted in shape.

2. Ultra Fine Eye Liner Brush. 4 stars (* * * *)
The ultra fine eye liner brush retails for $13 CDN.
This brush looks a lot like the Quo concealer brush. It is very dense and very stiff. The bristles are made of natural fibers and are densely clustered into a stiff, thin and flat precision brush. The hairs are rounded near the top, coming to (almost) a point.
The brush is great for applying powder and gel/cream liner, and does a very respectable job of making thin or thick lines, depending on the amount of pressure one applies and the way one holds the brush. I would say that this is not THE best liner brush of it's category, as I'm sure there are variations by other brands that produce even smaller and finer brushes, but this brush is great for the price and definitely beneficial to own.
Occasionally, I use this brush as a shader brush - because it works great for applying concentrated shadow under the brow or in the inner corner/tear duct.
Note: this brush is made of natural hairs, so while it works decently with cream and/or gel products, it does not work as effectively as a synthetic brush would, nor does it clean as easily as a synthetic brush would.
Again, not a must-have, but definitely a great bargain for what you're getting and it's very useful to have on hand.

3. Angled Eye Liner Brush. 2 stars (* *)
The angled eye liner brush retails for $13 CDN.
I bought this brush after desiring a new utensil with which to apply my gel eyeliner. It was during this time that angled liner brushes were becoming all the rage, and I thought I'd try my hand at them.
Overall, I don't like this brush at all. The brush is bent at the end, and has a thin cylindrical cluster of bristles at the end - it's this bend in the brush that makes it ideal for applying liner in the inner and outer corners of the eye, with less awkward hand movements. It's made of synthetic fibers which make it excellent for use with cream and liquid products, but instead of being very fine and stiff, this brush is much thicker and fluffier than it should be. Because it is not small or fine enough, it does not create thin precise lines. I find it difficult to control and manoeuvre this brush because of it's size.
I think that if this brush were smaller and more compact, this would be a great brush - especially for the price. The angled shape of the brush allows for easy access to both sides of the eye, as well as making it easy to handle for precision work. However, this brush falls short because of it's design - it's too fluffy, and not small enough for the job. On the upside, this brush has never lost any fibers or bled any dye on me.
I would pass this brush by and find a better alternative elsewhere.

4. Liner/Brow Brush. 3 stars (* * *)
The liner/brow brush retails for $13 CDN.
This brush is your typical angled brush, most commonly used for filling in eyebrows and/or applying eyeliner to the top lashline. As far as angled brushes go, it's pretty standard - not exceptionally special, but not unforgettable either.
The brush, once again, is made of natural fibers, so it works best with powder products. I have used it with cream and gel products, and it held up pretty well, considering. I have had absolutely no trouble with this brush shedding or bleeding dye.
This brush is a little thicker and bigger than the typical angled brush. Depending on what your preference is, this can be a good or bad thing. If you have larger brows that require less precision when filling in, or if you want thicker lines when lining your eyes right off the bat instead of building them up, then this is the brush for you - otherwise, I'd say it's a brush you could get completely out of convenience, over quality or practicality. I feel that, personally, I would prefer a thinner, more streamlined, brush.
Overall, I would say that it's a decent brush, and that if it's the most accessible brush to you, pick it up. Otherwise, I'd find a smaller, thinner brush to do the job.

5. Eye Smudger Brush. 3 stars (* * *)
The eye smudger brush retails for $13 CDN.
I personally never found a use for this brush, and never picked it up until recently, when there was a 20% off sale on Quo brushes at Shopper's Drug Mart. I rarely smudge shadow on my lower lashline, so I didn't really see the purpose in picking up this brush until after I bought it.
This brush is made of natural fibers - the fibers are short and stubby and densely packed for easy blending and smudging. As far as smudger brushes go, this one has slightly longer bristles than others I've come across. In this way, I wouldn't necessarily say that it's 'the best' for smudging product, though it does the job nicely anyways. I have not had problems with shedding or bleeding dye either which is a bonus.
I use this brush to pack shadow on top of eyeliner to set it, and occasionally use the brush to smudge out the liner on my top lash line. And, on those occasions when I don't have a clean brush handy, I even use it as a shader brush for packing color on my lid.
Overall, this brush doesn't get a whole lot of use for me. I find myself grabbing for it a handful of times a month at best. If you're one who likes to smudge out their lash line shadow/pencil, or if you need a very tiny shader brush, this might be worth investing in. Either way, you could probably get away with overlooking it entirely.

6. All Over Shadow Brush. 5 stars (* * * * *)
The all over shadow brush retails for $13 CDN.
This is my other most favorite and most used brush from Quo. It, also, is made of natural fibers. It is a wide-shaped brush with short, condensed, and graduated bristles. This works effortlessly to apply shadow all over - from the lash line to the brow bone, but also works perfectly to blend crease shadows, as well as for apply brow highlighter.
Most commonly, I use this brush for brow highlight/above-the-crease blending. It is especially useful for those very stubborn crease colors which refuse to blend evenly. Because of its condensed and shortened hairs, it picks up enough product for one application, and it's uniform shape allows for precision with applying highlight just beneath the browbone.
I would highly recommend this brush to everyone. It's one of the most inexpensive brushes you can buy from Quo, and its usage can never be exhausted. It does not shed or bleed dye, and dries quickly. An absolute must-have!

7. Crease Blender Brush. 3 stars (* * *)
The crease blender brush retails for $13 CDN.
This brush is made of natural fibers, and mimicks the shape and style of the MAC 219 Pencil brush. Unfortunately, this brush is far from being a true pencil brush. It is very short and somewhat tapers into a point, but it is not small enough in diameter or compact enough for precision blending. I find this brush most useful for applying color to the outer-v and for smudging out liner on the upper lash line. Because of it's sheer size, it's rather abrasive and difficult to manoeuvre around the lower lash line.
I have had no problems with shedding or bleeding of dye with this brush whatsoever.
I wouldn't say that this brush is a must-have, but it's definitely useful for more dramatic and smokey looks. It's more of a personal preference, whether or not you have it.

8. Concealer Brush. 2 stars (* *)
The concealer brush retails for $13 CDN.
This brush is made of natural fibers, but is very tiny. It looks almost identical to the Ultra Fine Eye Liner brush, except that it is more flexible, and has more bristles that are not quite as densely compacted.
As far as concealer brushes go, this one is incredibly strange. It is VERY small. This brush is mostly good at applying concealer to small areas, such as blemishes or around the nose. It is not a very flexible brush, so it is not at all good for blending concealer - this brush is only really good at applying the concealer to a spot, which then needs to be blended out with a brush or one's fingers.
Because it is made of natural fibers, the brush retains a lot of cream or liquid product. It needs to be washed very frequently to cleanse the bristles, especially if you're switching between concealers.
I find this brush almost pointless, because it's so small. You can't blend with it, so you're having to use a second brush or your fingers to smooth the product out. At that rate, I'd rather just use a different brush all together, or just resort to using my fingers. I have found use for it, however, as a small eyeshadow brush. It works great for inner corner work, or applying highlight just underneath the eyebrow.
Also, this brush has shed on me - not crazy amounts or anything, but I have had fibers come loose from the ferrule and deposit themselves on my face after applying my concealer. It hasn't bled when I've washed it.
All in all, if you're looking to use this brush for concealer, I'd stay away. It's definitely not worth the money - you can find better elsewhere.

9. Bronzing Powder Brush. 3 stars (* * *)
The bronzing powder brush retails for $22 CDN.
This brush is a large duo-fiber brush, with black bristles that graduate into white bristles at the top of the brush. It is a tapered brush that flares out to have a flat top. This brush can be used for a variety of things. Primarily, I used it for applying bronzer, blush, or foundation.
As a bronzer/blush brush, this particular version was particularly difficult to work with. Because of it's sheer size, it did not fit into the contours of my face and more than covered my cheek area in product. Quite often when I wanted to use it for bronzer, I had to pinch the bristles together to create a more streamlined brush that deposited the color precisely where I wanted it, and then used the brush as normal to blend the product out. In a pinch, it worked for applying blush too, but it definitely was not my first choice.
As far as this kind of duo-fiber brush goes, it was not very dense either. This made it less ideal for blending powder products because it was so light, it barely pushed the product around in an efficient manner. One would spend twice the time blending that a smaller, more compact brush would have allowed for.
My favorite use for this brush was with foundation. I would apply a blob of liquid foundation to the back of my hand, and then dot my brush in the foundation and place a few blobs of foundation around my face with the brush. I would then use my brush to stipple the foundation around my face and blend it in with circular motions. This gave a very airbrushed appearance to my foundation. Once again, it was great because it was not very dense to get a light application of product, but it wasn't very good for blending in the foundation after stippling it on.
If you're looking for a cost-effective duo-fiber brush like this one, I'd say get it. It's affordable and does the job; however, if you're looking for something a bit smaller and more dense, I'd stay away from this one. It's not very good for precision or blending, but it will work if you're looking for something affordable in a pinch.

No picture available. Sorry :(

10. Face Contour Brush. 4 stars (* * * *)
The face contour brush retails for $15 CDN.
This is another one of my most used brushes. It's a white angled brush made of natural fibers. It is excellent for applying contour powder, bronzer and blush. It's soft and of a decent density, so application of product and blending is done quickly, precisely and efficiently. It's small enough to apply product precisely to the hollows of your cheeks for conoutring, and yet fluffy enough to apply blush to the cheekbones and blending it out.
The only have two complaints with this brush: one is how it tends to splay out if you use it before it's completely finished drying after washing, and two is how after having this brush for two years, it's starting to shed on me. Definitely not a fan of that. However, the brush does clean very nicely and doesn't tend to shed too miserably during cleansing.
Overall, this is a cost-effective version of your standard angled contour brush. There certainly might be better versions of this brush available from other companies, but if you're looking for one that's easy on your wallet, this one does the trick.

My brush is a little dirty from being used earlier in the day,
but it always washes entirely clean.

11. Blush Brush. 1 star (*)
The blush brush retails for $17 CDN.
This is definitely my least favorite brush of the bunch. I bought it this past year, in hopes that I would find my perfect blush brush after having a less than stellar experience with a cheap WalMart blush brush.
At first it appeared to be everything I wanted and more - soft bristles to distribute product evenly, but gathered densely enough to blend powders thoroughly and flawlessly. It has dark natural fibers that are somewhat paddle shaped, with the bristles rounding out at the top. But here comes the horror - it sheds like nobody's biz-nass. No matter how many times I wash it, it leaves TONS of little black hairs all over my face every single time I use it. My husband's constantly picking the fibers off of me after I finish my makeup, despite the fact that I think I got them all of by doing a final sweep over my face with a large fluffy brush that does not shed.
In addition, the first ten times I washed it, it bled dye. The water was constantly a greeny brown color. Not overly desirable when you're putting that thing up against your face every day.
I would not recommend this brush to anyone. I don't know if it was just mine that has the crazy shedding problem, but I wouldn't want anyone to waste their money on this brush only to find out that it did.

12. Precision Foundation Brush. 4 stars (* * * *)
The precision foundation brush retails for $22 CDN.
It is my most recent purchase, and while I don't know that it was necessarily a 'need,' it has quickly found a place in my top 5 Quo brushes.
This brush is made of synthetic fibers, which are densely packed into a graduated point for precision application. Because the brush is synthetic, it works best with cream and/or liquid products, especially foundation and concealer. This brush does not shed or bleed dye, it rinses clean easily but is one of the more slowly drying brushes in my collection because of the densely packed bristles. This brush almost has a 'duo-fiber' look to it, with creamy tan bristles at the bottom fading into a softer gray bristle near the top, or point, of the brush.
I use this brush primarily for concealer and foundation, at the moment. For use with concealer, I apply the product directly to my skin, and then use the tip of the brush to pat and/or blend the concealer into the skin. The synthetic fibers do not absorb a lot of the product, but rather blend it easily into the skin. When using with foundation, I also apply the product directly to the skin, and then use the brush in circular motions to buff the product into my skin. The pointed tip makes it especially easy to reach areas around the nose, eyes, etc. This brush creates a heavier application of foundation, but does not leave streaks, lines or cakiness.
I have used this brush with powder also - mostly to buff powder foundation into the skin, or to set my undereye concealer. It also works well in this method, though I prefer other brushes for these methods.
Overall, if you're looking for a new foundation brush - I would highly recommend you give this a try. It's definitely not for everyone, and it is not a must-have. It's nice to have on hand, but I wouldn't encourage you to jump out your door and pick it up right now.

My Top 5 Must-Haves (in no specific order)
#1. <u>Crease Shadow Brush</u>
#2. <u>All Over Shadow Brush</u>
#3. <u>Ultra Fine Eyeliner Brush</u>
#4. <u>Face Contour Brush</u>
#5. <u>Precision Foundation Brush</u>

Overall, I'd say this is a very respectable line of brushes. Are they the best? No. Are they good quality? Reasonably so. Are they affordable? Yes.

I'd say if you're just starting out in makeup, or if you're looking for some affordable alternatives to expensive MAC or Sephora brushes, there are some really great options available to you from Quo. This is not to say, however, that you can't find cheaper, better quality brushes elsewhere (in fact, some of my most used brushes came from WalMart and were half the price of the Quo brushes).

I really enjoy my Quo brushes, save for the Blush brush and the Angled Eye Liner brush. For me, they were a huge waste of time and money. My expectations were too high, and I'm still on the hunt for better alternatives in that area.

I'd wait to pick up Quo brushes until Shoppers is having a sale. Usually you can find them anywhere between 20% and 40% off, and that's a really great time to buy them.

I hope you found this review/overview helpful and insightful. I sure wish that when I bought my Quo brushes, I had somewhere to look for thoughts on whether or not these brushes were worth purchasing or not - I might have saved myself some money on the few brushes that I hate or never use.

Let me know: have you tried any Quo brushes? Have you found better alternatives? Which one is your favorite??

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