Nars Kabuki Ita Brush and AliExpress Dupe

Finally, the post that many of you requested when I received my AliExpress order back in March. Here’s the comparison between the Nars Kabuki Ita Brush and the cheaper knock-off alternative. 😉
• Nars Kabuki Ita Brush – C$70 (Sephora) Note: I paid around C$60 for mine about 5 years ago – shocking to see how the price has jumped.
• “Professionals Brand Kabuki Ita No 21 makeup brush” – C$2.74 (AliExpress)

(can you tell which one is which from the photo above?)

The answer: the top one is the AliExpress one, and the bottom one is the Nars!

Let me start off this comparison by saying that I’m not a big fan of Nars brushes in general. I find the goat hairs they use to be really scratchy – don’t just take my word for it, I encourage you to test out a Nars brush at the counter and don’t just touch it with your hands, test it on your face – it’s downright rough. I also  find their brushes to shed excessively. I understand that they will shed due to the natural hairs but the brushes seem to continue to shed even after years of use and multiple washings.

Yes, this is the real Nars brush – can you see how wiry the hairs are?

And here’s the thing, the Nars Ita brush is made in China!  How do they justify charging that much for a brush made with cheap labour, and what I consider to be inferior materials? Do you know how this brush is made? I inspected it closely and it’s essentially a bunch of black dyed goat hairs bundled together with what appears to be duct tape at the base, then sandwiched between a plastic handle, and a polyester cording is woven through to secure the bristles to the handle. o_O I guess that’s what they call an artisan brush these days.

Now, onto the AliExpress brush. Please note: I bought this brush knowing full well that it wasn’t the real Nars brush. I got it to see how a $2.74 brush would compare to the $70 one. Those of you who are thinking they can get a “deal” on the real thing from AliExpress – they’re all fakes on that site!

On the surface, the AliExpress brush looks identical to the Nars brush – the handles look so similar that when I first received it, I put a hair elastic around the Nars one so I wouldn’t confuse the two.  Now that I’ve used both and inspected them closely, I can tell the minute differences straight away.

Firstly, the AliExpress version has a faintly stamped code on the back:

Secondly, the hairs are shorter and very bluntly cut on the AliExpress one compared to Nars:

The wrapping of the bristles are neater and looks more secure on the Nars:

The Nars brush has more hairs (thicker profile) and more spread out bristles compared to the AliExpress brush:

However, there are many similarities – the hairs between the two feel exactly the same – that same course black goat hair. The cording used to stitch the handle also appear the same.  And the handles of both feel exactly the same with the same Nars logo – and it has that rubbery finish that is typical of Nars packaging (which attracts fingerprints like crazy!)
I hardly ever reach for my Nars Ita brush anymore, I much prefer my Anna Sui Face Brush (C$48) for contouring – it provides a much better diffusion of colour compared to the blunt lines of the Nars Ita brush. I never want to look like I’ve got 2 stripes down my cheeks, contouring should be so subtle that it’s not detectable when talking someone face to face. I suppose it’s a different story if you’re doing it for Instagram or for photography – but I live in the real world and I see poorly blended contours on a daily basis! 😮 #endrant
The Anna Sui Face Brush is wider, fuller and the bristles more evenly distributed:
And the hairs are much MUCH softer compared to the Nars or AliExpress!
Here are swatches of the deepest shade (lower right corner) of the NYX Highlight & Contour Pro Palette using the 3 brushes mentioned:

PS. I will be doing a review and swatches of the NYX palette soon, I promise!

I hope the diffusion of the colour is apparent in these swatches:
The Anna Sui Face Brush deposited the powder much more evenly and softly than either the Nars or the AliExpress brush.  The Nars one does diffuse the colour but I found it deposited the colour unevenly.  The AliExpress was the most narrow and deposited the heaviest swatch.  But honestly, you’re better off buying the $2.74 knock-off brush than paying 25x more for the real thing since I cannot in good conscience recommend the Nars brush. 😛  Actually, go get the Anna Sui instead!
Are you still thinking of getting the Nars Kabuki Ita brush?  Would you get the cheaper alternative? What’s your favourite brush for contouring?

64 thoughts on “Nars Kabuki Ita Brush and AliExpress Dupe

    1. It is pretty crazy that they sell it with the Nars logo on it! I could understand if the handle was blank but everything else the same. I guess Nars really has no way to go after these people.
      Thanks for linking your blog – will check it out! 🙂


  1. That blows my mind too. That’s how so many people end up getting ripped off!

    I use the real techniques contour brush and like it just fine, but I wish it was more tapered. For a softer and more diffused contour I just use a small blush brush

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah if someone is selling the Nars brush for less than $5 claiming it’s real – RUN. There’ no such thing as a deal that’s too good to be true.
      I haven’t tried the Real Techniques contour brush – I bet it’s super soft! Yes, I often use a small rounded brush to contour too – works well for my temples and hair line areas!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve seen nothing but bad reviews of the Ita brush. I don’t get why some love it. Felt so scratchy to me. I like the brush that came with my Lorac contour palette. It’s soft and works well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh I just looked up that Lorac brush – looks good! Reminds me of the Illamasqua one which I also have:

      It gives a nice precise contour but blends out nicely!
      Glad I’m not alone in thinking how rough the Nars brush is – ick.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I’m not sure the legality of the vendors on AliExpress using the Nars logo but I guess Nars doesn’t have any recourse? I just want people to know that those brushes aren’t REAL! (and the real Nars brush isn’t that great anyway…)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Didn’t realize the AliExpress version was an actual knockoff! At first I thought you Photoshopped the NARS logo onto both brushes to make a point, and I wondered, “Gee, wouldn’t it be easier to just remove the logo?” XD

    The price of the NARS brush is ridiculous compared with the make of the AliExpress brush. Wow. And yeah, prices going up like crazy. Guess they just don’t want us to buy anything, anymore!


    1. On the seller’s page, the Nars logo looks like it’s half photoshopped OUT:

      It does make me wonder if those handles came from the same factory as rejects?
      Nars is really pricing me out of consideration of the brand. I’ve been wanting to try more things from them like foundation and lipsticks but I just don’t put Nars on the same level as Chanel / YSL and the prices aren’t getting too far off!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Finally this post is up! and oh, I guess you need to add Elf contour brush on your collection. hehe
    Love all the details as usual. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

          1. Haah.. I only apply foundation at home and the rest work on my desk..hehe that’s why I love travel sizes products, super easy to carry around.😍😄


    1. Yup, I have the godawful Yachiyo too. Ugh I was so caught up in the hype! It is the flimsiest, scratchies, most useless thing ever! I was actually looking through my stash for it and I can’t find it. I think it’s hiding in fear because I’m going to snap it in half! 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, that brush looks horrible, and you have two of them now! Lol. How could Nars charge so much money for a flimsy brush like that?! And I thought they were cruelty free? The Anna Sui brush looks divine though 😍.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, I was thinking, what the heck am I going to do with 2 of these brushes now? 😛 They’ll probably get purged! Anna Sui brushes are so underrated – I think because the handles are plastic and they look so childish – but they’re really good quality!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Not sure what qualifies as cruelty free anymore when it comes to items made in China. I know they mandate testing if sold there but if made there and not sold there it’s ok. I dunno!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I just never thought using goat hair would be a good for a makeup brush. Has Nars seen goat hair?! Very coarse and wiry 😖. Plus, shame on them for stating they are cruelty free if they are using animal hair for their brushes. No bueno.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Yey! 🙆 I think I guessed it right for your twitter pic.

    NARS is psychotic to think that a horror contruction like that (+made in China) is worth the money!!! Totally agree with your review. Fab detail reviee. Their rubber + powder attracting packaging bothers me a lot 😅 looks fab only if I don’t touch it 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I want to learn all there is to know about how brushes are made! I’ve been watching some videos online – very interesting. Just makes me appreciate the mass produced vs the artisanal brushes.
      Yeah the rubbery finish also doesn’t fare well over time. I have some older Smashbox compacts and the rubbery finish feels gummy now.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. When I first heard about the hype surrounding the Ita brush, I went to the store to feel it and was flabbergasted that people were willing to pay that much for a brush that is So. Scratchy. I have also wondered how a brush that shape could possibly blend the contour colour out instead of leaving a brown stripe on your face – I guess the answer is that it can’t! 😛
    It’s crazy how much these two look alike (hehe I thought the top one was the NARS and the bottom one was the Ita!) If they look and generally perform the same, why not just cheap out and get the AliExpress one?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you didn’t succumb to the Nars Ita hype! I also own the Nars Yachiyo – this POS:

      Yes, I was one of those suckers! 😦
      And for sure, if anyone is hellbent on getting this style of brush, go for the knock off, honestly!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t bother with Nars brushes anymore. Such a shame. I think Anna Sui brushes are so underrated! I know it’s slightly more difficult to get but I think they’re worth seeking out!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love the Anna Sui brush I got from you, I always forget to use it though because it’s so much shorter than all my other brushes it gets lost in the pot in the middle. When I cleaned my brushes yesterday, I actually pulled it out and left it on the side to get used more frequently.

    I’ve been waiting for this and I think I am going to get the dupe as an alternative for down the nose, I don’t do it very frequently but it looks nice and precise for the odd occassion where I feel like it!

    I’ve never seen the ITA brush side on before, I presumed the whole thing was encased in plastic. Seems super lazy for such an expensive brush, and the Duct tape idea sounds terrible given it’s not really protected. If my dogs got hold of that they’d manage to pull the tape off in seconds!

    That Illamasqua brush you listed looks interesting too, how does that compare size wise to these?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yes, this style of brush would be great for shading down the nose. I don’t contour my nose so I didn’t think of that – great point you make!
      You’d have way more than 1 chewed up brush on your hands if your pups ever got into your makeup! 😮
      It’s it shocking how flimsy the construction of the brush is though… it’s like some kid decided to make a homemade brush. I’m glad you like the Anna Sui brush! I’ve been trying to spread the word! 😛
      The Illamasqua brush is not as wide side to side if I recall. but it is fatter, and the bristle length is much shorter / blunt. I’ll take a photo of it beside the other brushes when I do my review of the NYX palette!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh dear, what a rubbishy brush!

    In the picture with the three brushes it’s so obvious the Anna Sui brush is soft, full and fluffy – while Nars and FakeNars look they’re having a very bad hair day. 😀

    I only use synthetic brushes now (I could trace one of my sudden angioedema outbursts to a brush with animal bristles), and I’m very happy with them – especially with the cheap ones. No shedding after the first wash, they’re always soft, they remain ‘in shape’, they’re easy to clean with shampoo (fluffy face brushes) or anti-bacterial hand soap (eyeshadow brushes) – and they blend my make-up perfectly.

    I so know what you mean about seeing poorly blended contours (well, poorly blended make-up in general) on a daily basis – streaks, patches, orange faces and white necks, unblended blush that’s applied to the wrong part of the face, unblended eyeshadows…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I never thought about developing an allergy to animal hairs – I guess that does make sense! I have a love / hate relationship with synthetic brushes. For me, they don’t blend powders as well as natural hairs. I think they’re good for liquids and creams but not so much for powders.
      I currently have 2 key makeup faux pas: badly blended contour (or orange contours) and the black marker eyebrows. UGH.

      Liked by 1 person

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