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.
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. 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:
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?