I got my first set of proper makeup brushes in 2016 when my best friends gave me Real Techniques Core Collection for my birthday. It marked the first time I fell in love with this particular brand and I’ve been hoarding their brushes ever since. 90% of my trove of makeup brushes are from Real Techniques and I dare to say that they are one of the best brands for synthetic and cruelty-free makeup brushes. Is it even possible not to talk about Real Techniques when it comes to synthetic makeup brushes? Also, Real Techniques brushes are highly affordable, though the Bold Metal ones are slightly steep, but the rest of their collections are reasonably priced.
Because their brushes are affordable, it was a bit surprising for me to discover that there are counterfeit RT brushes in the market and these brushes are being sold at less than half the price of the authentic ones. I don’t think people should be faking affordable brands, but well… there are tons of RT fake brushes everywhere, not only on eBay or Aliexpress but in offline stores as well and they ALMOST look legit at a glance. The resemblance is uncanny, and it tickled the curious kid inside me, made me want to do a side-by-side comparison to spot the differences between the fake and the real brush and see how well (or how badly) the counterfeit performs.
So, months ago, I went to one of the largest beauty store in my hometown (Malang, Indonesia) that is known for selling a wide range of local and international drugstore beauty brands and they have this “special” corner for cheap brushes and unfamiliar makeup brands that looks unconvincing, and I spotted lots of fake RT brushes on the display. There were sets like Core Collection, Starter Collection, Sam’s Picks and Nic’s Picks, but I didn’t want to have too many fake brushes that I definitely won’t ever use, and since there were only two kinds of single brushes — powder brush and stippling brush — I picked the stippling brush over the powder brush because it’s easier to notice the difference when the brush is used for applying liquid foundation rather than setting powder.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison between the authentic Real Techniques stippling brush (left) and the fake one (right). Note: the real RT stippling brush that I own was from the older version and the fake one mimics the newer version, hence the different color and packaging design.
- The packaging of fake RT brush is more flimsy and not as neatly made as the authentic one.
- The item code of both fake and real brushes are the same, so you can’t rely on these codes and you have to pay a lot more attention to other details.
- The printings on the back of the authentic packaging is vivid and sharp (you can even see strands of Sam’s and Nic’s lashes) while the fake one looks blurry and faded.
- Once the brushes are removed from the packaging, fake RT brush looks legit from afar, but when we observe it closely, we can spot some differences.
- The bristles of fake RT brush is noticeably longer and they also appear to be blacker and slightly more shiny compared to the bristles of original brush. The ferrule part of the fake brush feels sharp and uneven on the edge, while the original one has a smooth and even edge.
- Bristles of fake RT brush are less dense and more flimsy, they don’t stay in shape and are more likely to be “splayed out” when being put down.
- The printed label of fake RT brush is blotchy and chipped away so easily, while the original brush is more neat. I’ve been using my original stippling brush for nearly 2 years — a year longer than the fake one — and the printed parts are still intact.
- The joint between ferrule and rubber part of the fake RT brush is misaligned, while the original brush has a smoother joint.
- Just like the ferrule part, the rubber part of fake RT brush feels more edgy and sharp, while the original one is beveled and polished.
I tested these brushes’ performance using my Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation in the shade Y255.
Here’s the result after a series of tapping and swirling these brushes:
These two brushes do give similar results, probably because the foundation I used was very easy to blend, I realized that I should’ve gone with another foundation that is not as blendable as MUFE. However, the fake brush takes more time to blend things out, because the bristles are more “floppy” and it makes the foundation seemed a little bit streaky at first, but it can be easily overcame with a little more effort. Or maybe not so little, but blending is our cardio, right? :p
And this is how the brushes looked like after one application, the fake brush was really out of shape and most of the longer strands of its bristles clumped together, while the authentic brush stayed in shape.
And that’s my review on these brushes! They actually do give similar airbrush finish, although the bristles of the fake brush are longer than they’re supposed to be, hence it takes more time to blend things out. The fake brush might be an option if you have a really tight budget as it does give you the same result as the original brush. However, I do not recommend any of you to buy counterfeit products because counterfeits won’t last as long. Always keep in mind that good quality comes with a price, and it’s better to invest on quality rather than quantity.
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*I bought my entire trove of Real Techniques brushes and sponges from Sociolla and they offer free shipping cost across Indonesia, and no, this is NOT an advertisement or whatsoever, I’m just a very loyal customer who regularly shops there.*