Real Techniques Review: Affordable Makeup Brushes from Youtube Beauty Gurus

It took me 29 years before I realized how important makeup brushes are to the entire cosmetic-applying experience. Since I reference my obsession with YouTube in every single post these days, I’ll dive right in and tell you that I’ve fallen in love with a brand of makeup brushes and they were created by a pair of sisters from the UK who rule the YouTube beauty universe.

I know them as Pixiwoo, but their names are Sam and Nic Chapman and they’ve designed the affordable makeup brushes sold by Real Techniques.

sam and nic chapman of real techniques

Two sisters that grew up to become two fabulous makeup artists and, subsequently, affordable beauty pioneers. I love their realistic attitude towards makeup and their love of a good drugstore beauty haul. The latter was partially responsible for their decision to make Real Techniques affordable for everyone.

Real Techniques Buffing Brush with Ulta's Contour Palette

I have always been a fan of using your hands to apply everything from foundation to eyeshadow, and I still am for a lot of situations. For instance, if I’m in a car, there’s no way I’m hauling a bunch of brushes with me in order to be able to perfect my rear view mirror eyeshadow. That’s just the way life is. But when I’m at home, when I actually have the foresight to ration off some time for putting makeup on, I want good brushes or forget it.

I remember the first time I saw a MAC brush. My friend had just talked us into getting our faces did by the makeup artists on duty, and Becky fell so deeply in love with her Robin’s Egg blue eyeshadow that she had to have it, and along with it came the liner brush they used to apply it – $23. 

Sorry, but I can think of 5 makeup brushes that I would trade one of my cats for (never, I’m so sorry I even joked about that, Trudy) and there’s no way in hell I’m paying two steakhouse burgers for each one of them.

Real Techniques Makeup Brushes

(All but one piece of) My Real Techniques collection. From left to right:

Real Techniques Complexion Sponge

Purple Handles: Starter Set

Pixel-Point Eyeliner Brush
Brow Brush
Base Shadow Brush
Deluxe Crease Brush
Accent Brush*

Bold Metals Angled Liner Brush

Gold Handles: Core Collection

Buffing Brush
Contour Brush
Foundation Brush
Detailer Brush

*Missing in this photo, but visible in the case photos below! It escaped for a short period of time.

Real Techniques Makeup Brushes 2 - 34

Real Techniques Makeup Brushes - 44For the ultra pro, Real Techniques came out with a higher-end metal set called Real Techniques Bold Metals. Not only are these brushes gorgeous, but they also have a heft to them that gives you that tingly “I won’t have to buy another one of these for a long, long time” feeling that high quality products sends rushing for your veins.

I only have a lip brush from Bold Metals and if we’re being real, I’m so scared to use it. You gotta understand – it’s gorgeous. Tall, silver, with bright white bristles… Honestly stunning. Oh, and that reminds me of another bonus of the Bold Metals collection: their handles are square.

That means, when you set them down on a table top between uses, they’re not going to roll off and onto the spot on the floor where your cat was just bathing. You know what I’m talking about, makeup brushes are naturally attracted to the grossest thing within falling distance.

I am a simple and broke girl, though, and since the Bold Metals collection is a bit more expensive than the originals, I stick to my round, robust beauties for a cheaper price. No shame, and no hard feelings either because these brushes are definitely legit.

After all, Real Techniques makeup brushes were made by makeup artists, so functionality is a major consideration in both the design of the brushes, and the design of the really nice case that comes with each set.

Real Techniques Makeup Brushes - 10

The cases are special and highly clever in the sense that they are sort of three cases in one. You can close them vertically for travel and when you need them, open the case fully and bend the top half backwards where you’ll find a convenient bungee cord to make it into a standing brush holder. Genius!

Real Techniques Makeup Brushes 2 - 66Next, we need to address the issue (that’s not the right word) of the Real Techniques complexion sponge. There are lots and lots of sponges that attempt to recreate the groundbreaking popularity of the famous BeautyBlender sponge (which I, for the record, have never tried) and I have tested quite a few.

This sponge has kind of a weird shape, like an egg that got sliced up like Lucy Liu’s character in kill bill. There’s one wide, circular plane which creates a precise edge along one side – great for getting up close to your eyes and around your nose, etc.


I am not kidding when I say that the Real Techniques complexion sponge is the softest, most effective blending sponge I have used. Ironically, I can’t compare it to the BeautyBlender directly, but I can tell you that it was very soft, easy to clean, retained water but not in a bad way, and blended the crap out of my contour and foundation. Bless.

All of my Real Techniques tools and makeup brushes came from Ulta, and each and every one of them was on sale when I bought it. It’s a frequent occurence!

In fact, as we speak, Ulta is having a Buy 2, Get 1 Free sale on all Real Techniques products!

Here are the prices of these Real Techniques sets and brushes at Ulta right now:

Starter Set 5 pc. (Purple Set, Eye Brushes), $17.99
Core Collection 4 pc. (Gold Handles, Face Brushes), $17.99
Complextion Sponge, $6.99, or 2 sponges, $10.99

That being said, the cheapest place to buy Real Techniques is almost always at Amazon.

This is important because it’s a major price difference!

Starter Set 5 pc. at Target: $11.99
Starter Set 5 pc. at Walgreens: $12.89
Starter Set 5 pc. at Amazon: $11.39

Core Collection 4 pc. at Target: $12.39
Core Collection 4 pc. at Walgreens: $12.89
Core Collection 4 pc. at Amazon: $12.25 

Complexion Sponge 1 pc. at Target: $4.99
Complexion Sponge 1 pc. at Walgreens: $4.99
Complexion Sponge 1 pc. at Amazon: $7.99 (Whaaaa?)

So if you have a gift card, go to thy source, but if you’re spending your own hard-earned cash, choose your location wisely! And please don’t limit yourself to just the sets that I’ve acquired. Each brush can be bought separately and there are tons of tools and brushes that aren’t offered in sets but belong in your kit.

Do you use Real Techniques? What’s your favorite brush or set?


Probably watching Netflix.