From left to right: Blending Brush 1, Highlighter Blush, Blusher Brush 2, Blending Brush 2.
This is the only post on Illamasqua where i did not buy anything myself (or nick it off my girlfriend :P), 3 of them were a prize from the Illamasqua competition i came 2nd in and the other (Blending Brush 1) was a present. At first when i recieved the 3 that were my prize i was a bit disappointed as, if i had had the choice, i would not have picked any of the 3 but i decided to keep them and now i'm really happy i did. Illamasqua brushes are all synthetic and so cruelty free, which is wonderful. So far, having used them for several months but, very shamefully, only washed them once i have not noticed any shedding whatsoever. The brushes are very, very soft and dense, firm but not stiff. The brushes range in price from £18 to £35 which, i think (though may be wrong) is normal for a high end brand.
Packaging wise these come simply in the little 'jacket' you see in the photo. It's 'frosted' looking with black writing. Inside some of the brushes were protected by little plastic tube things over the bristles. One thing i didn't like is that once you took this protective covers off you cannot put them back on again as it's impossible to get them back on over the bristles (they just splay and refuse to go in) and you can't pull them up over the bottom as part of the handle is too wide. But this isn't really too much of a bother because, personally, i probably wouldn't remember to put them back on every time. The brushes themselves aren't particularly exciting looking but are attractive and classic looking, with black bristles and shiny black handles which are light but somehow feel 'right' in my hand.
The Blending Brush 1 is probably the most used of the brushes, but i am terrible at blending so i can't really use it to it's full potential. However i really like it, it's very soft but i can control it easily and it's the perfect size to blend out my socket line. The Blending Brush 2 is the least used because, frankly, i'm not sure what to do with it. It's basically the same as number 1 but just slightly bigger, so it's not really big enough for blending out concealer or blush but then i wouldn't use it for my eye shadows because i have number 1 for that. Any thoughts anyone? The Highlighter Brush is like a larger, slightly more domed version of the blending brushes. It works excellently for applying both cream and powder highlighters lightly and evenly and is also great for blending the edges of blusher or getting face products into the nooks and crannies of my face, like around the nose (thanks for the tip Jenn!). Finally Blusher Brush number 2 is one of my favourites, it's a quite thick brush with a softly angled top and i fnd it perfect for getting under my cheekbones to contour my cheeks. It's also wonderful at applying blush in one sweep from cheek to hairline and highlighter too.
I don't own any other high-end brushes (apart from one Lancome lip brush that i nicked off Claire) so i can't compare them to Mac or anything, but i'll briefly compare them to my ELF brushes (the majority of my brushes are ELF studio, i'm going to post a review of these bad boys soon). I adore my ELF brushes, which are absolutely fantastic value (all £3.50 apart from the Kabuki brush which is a fiver) they are also all synthetic and cruelty free. The ELF brushes are actually very similar in quality to the Illamasqua, they are soft and shed rarely. However they are not as soft as the Illamasqua and are a bit less firm causing them to 'splay' more and making them slightly less easy to control. I don't have any ELF brushes that are for the same purpose as the Illamasqua ones so it's hard to really compare them.
So would i buy more? Well if i had the money to be buying high-end brushes i would definately buy more of these. The ones i got as a prize i never would have chosen myself and yet i now wouldn't want to be without them, so i'd love to try some of the ones i actually would have picked. They are amazing quality in my opinion and knowing they are all cruelty free pleases me immensely. I wouldn't call them overpriced but they certainly aren't cheap and i couldn't afford more at the moment. I really like the way they look, though i'd also like some more gaudy over-the-top brushes too.