Tom Ford Deluxe 5-piece Brush Set Review (and a few comparisons with Hakuhodo and MAC)

I thought all hope was lost purchasing this Tom Ford Deluxe 5-piece Brush Set (I think it was a limited edition release last Fall), but persistence and patience prevailed! I watched the Neiman Marcus website like a hawk, and it became in stock! I snatched it up fast, and my wallet said goodbye to $365.

A couple of things (for anyone still pining to buy this set):

1) Don't fret - there's no real discount or savings by buying this set. $365 is the cost of the five brushes together, and you're only getting the case for free (which is a "soft-sided portfolio" according to the website description. It kind of feels like thin neoprene). 

2) You can always buy the exact 5 brushes in the set. There are no special edition brushes in the set or anything.

3) If you're persistent enough, I think Saks and NM gets them in stock every now and then. That's how I bought mine.

With that being said, I do very much like this 5-piece set. I did end up with two duplicate brushes (because I already bought 4 of their brushes - see my blog post on my Tom Ford Beauty Collection here). I previously bought the Cheek Brush (06) - $75, Cream Foundation Brush (02) - $70, Eyeshadow Brush (11) - $55, and Eyeshadow Blend Brush (13) - $55. 

The TF Deluxe 5-piece Brush Set came with the (GIANT) Bronzer brush (05) - $110, Cheek Brush (06) - $75, Shade and Illuminate Brush (04) - $70, Eyeshadow Brush (11) - $55, and Eyeshadow Contour Brush (12) - $55. So, I have doubles now of the Cheek Brush (06) and the Eyeshadow Brush (11), both of which I really enjoy using and love having a second brush.

My favorites from the bunch are the Tom Ford Cheek Brush and the Cream Foundation Brush - AMAZING! The Cheek brush applies color so effortlessly and precisely, and it blends it out beautifully. The Cream Foundation Brush makes buffing cream foundation into the skin a joy - crazy, I know! 

I'm still on the fence about the Shade and Illuminate Brush. I definitely find it unique, but I also find that I need two brushes to contour using it. Yes, it applies a contour with great precision (esp using its intended Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate cream product), but then I need to buff it out. I've tried with the Shade and Illuminate Brush, but why wouldn't I just use a more appropriate brush to buff out the contour? So, that brush is still on the fence for me. I appreciate its precision, but I still need another brush to contour.

All the brushes clean easily and return to their pristine white hairs. I've left the Cream Foundation brush used (with Tom Ford's Traceless Stick Foundation product on it) for almost a week and it cleaned effortlessly. They do fluff up and sometimes splay a little after drying, but nothing alarming.

Anyway, on to the pictures! 

Tom Ford Deluxe 5-piece Brush Set

The case is described on the website as a soft-sided portfolio - whatever that means, but it feels a little like thin neoprene on the outside (sturdy enough feeling).

It can hold 7 smaller brushes (like eye brushes) on the left and 5 larger brushes on the right.

All the brushes come with brush guards - nice!
 From left to right: Bronzer brush (05) - $110, Cheek Brush (06) - $75, Shade and Illuminate Brush (04) - $70, Eyeshadow Brush (11) - $55, and Eyeshadow Contour Brush (12) - $55

And without their guards :).
From left to right: Bronzer brush (05) - $110, Cheek Brush (06) - $75, Shade and Illuminate Brush (04) - $70, Eyeshadow Brush (11) - $55, and Eyeshadow Contour Brush (12) - $55

A quick note about the brushes:

1) Yes, they do splay a little (especially getting them out of the brush guards), but don't fear - these brushes are so soft and dense, it does not interfere with the brush shape or function at all. It's just visually alarming at first.

2) Yes, they do shed a little :( ... but, again, it's so soft and dense, a little shedding isn't too worrisome.

3) After cleaning and washing them, they do fluff up a little. I actually found this to be a good thing with some of the brushes - see below for Eyeshadow Blend brush.

4) Yes, even with all that - they are AWESOME!! :) :) :)

The brush handles have both the Tom Ford logo and the number.

And all in the case they go (even with the brush guards)!

A quick comparison on some of the obvious look alikes. I think the Tom Ford Eyeshadow Blend brush looks like the MAC 217 (Blending Brush) or Hakuhodo J5523. Upon first use, I actually found the Tom Ford Eyeshadow Blend brush to be way more precise than the MAC 217, and maybe a little less "blend-y" than I had hoped. Fortunately, after cleaning and washing it, it fluffed up a little and is now both precise and "blend-y" as hoped :). I think both the Hakuhodo and Tom Ford brushes are similar (I've heard that Hakuhodo actually manufactures the Tom Ford brushes) and softer than my MAC 217 brushes. 

To note, I took pictures with both of my MAC 217 brushes (newer/1 month and older/4-5 yrs) because the newer one seems to be fluffier than the older one, and I'm not sure if that's because it's new or if they actually modified the shape some in the last few years. Anyway, I find the MAC 217 brushes very functional, but I do find them a bit scratchy or wiry (both new and old) at times when blending. The Hakuhodo and Tom Ford and always soft and a pleasure to use.

Otherwise, the hairs are all white and about the same length. The MAC 217 is $23, while the Tom Ford Eyeshadow Blend Brush is $55.

Another thing to notice, the MAC 217 ($23) and Hakuhodo brushes are slightly pinched at the ferrel, but the Tom Ford is not. Functionally, they all work about the same, but the as stated before, I actually find the TF brush a little more precise with product placement.

From left to right: NEW MAC 217, Old MAC 217, Hakuhodo J5523 (from the Limited Edition Winter 2013 set), Tom Ford Eyeshadow Brush (11) - $55

 From left to right: NEW MAC 217, Old MAC 217, Hakuhodo J5523 (from the Limited Edition Winter 2013 set), Tom Ford Eyeshadow Brush (11) - $55

 From left to right: NEW MAC 217, Old MAC 217, Hakuhodo J5523 (from the Limited Edition Winter 2013 set), Tom Ford Eyeshadow Brush (11) - $55

 From top to bottom: Tom Ford Eyeshadow Brush (11) - $55, Hakuhodo J5523 (from the Limited Edition Winter 2013 set), Old MAC 217, NEW MAC 217

As for brush handle lengths, obviously Hakuhodo is the shortest handle - perhaps a reflection on the Japanese customer base. The Tom Ford brush handle appears to be a little longer than MAC, but barely so.

So, one thing the TF Eyeshadow Blend brush doesn't do for me is the job that my MAC 224 (Tapered Blending Brush $31) does. The MAC 224 does the best job of doing a final blending of my eyeshadow looks - especially the outer edges of smokey eye looks. So, I'll use the TF Blend Brush to initiate the blending, but I'll always use my MAC 224 as my tride and true to finish out the blending.

From left to right: MAC 224, Tom Ford Blend Brush, Hakuhodo J5523

 From top to bottom: Hakuhodo J5523, Tom Ford Blend Brush, MAC 224

And finally, I think the Tom Ford Eyeshadow brush can be a little intimidating for those of us with smaller, hooded lids, but I was pleasantly surprised to use it pretty easily. It does apply slightly above my crease, but I like that. Otherwise, for those of you who want a smaller, more precise brush - I'd look at the Tom Ford Eyeshadow Contour brush. It's smaller and denser like the MAC 239 (Eye Shading Brush - $25), but it's got a slight angle on it. I think this angle is slightly more useful for contouring those with larger eye spaces, but I do love the angle for smudging out eyeshadow on the upper and lower lashes - very smoke and sultry looks. Like the MAC 239, it can pack on color to the lids, but it is slightly smaller - which might be great for those with hooded or smaller eyes.

I think both the Tom Ford Eyeshadow and Eyeshadow Contour brushes are great, but for those on a budget, I would say that the MAC 239 brush is a decent hybrid of the two TF brushes. If you have larger eyelid space, though, the TF Eyeshadow brush may be a lot more useful. For us small lids, the MAC 239 works fine as both a shadow packer and (flipped to it's side edge) lash smudger.

From left to right: Tom Ford Eyeshadow Contour Brush, MAC 239, Tom Ford Eyeshadow Brush

 Left: Tom Ford Eyeshadow Contour Brush
Right: MAC 239
Top to Bottom: Tom Ford Eyeshadow Brush, MAC 239, Tom Ford Eyeshadow Contour Brush

So, if you have the money to splurge, I don't think you'll be disappointed by the Tom Ford brushes one bit! They're soft, dense, and precise. I definitely recommend the Cheek and Cream Foundation brushes, and if you want softer brushes for the delicate eye area, you can't go wrong with his Eyeshadow, Contour, and Blend brushes. For those on a budget, I still think MAC brushes are very functional and still some of my go to brushes - esp. the MAC 224.

I'm still interested to buy the infamous Suqqu brushes, but I want to enjoy my TF brushes for a while. I hear the Suqqu brushes are much softer (how that's possible, I don't know), but softer isn't always better. I think it provides a different effect - e.g., I've heard the cheek brush give a softer flush of blush color (perhaps more in line with the Asian beauty aesthetic). Tom Ford is an American brand with bold colors, and it doesn't surprise me that his brushes apply precise and strong colors to the face. So, I think both the TF and Suqqu brushes could live happily together because they apply product differently (at least from what I understand). I'll keep you guys posted if/when I buy some Suqqu brushes. Till then, TF brushes are my new LOVE <3.

**Disclaimer: I purchased all items with my own money. All opinions are my own and not sponsored.

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