This is a legacy post that has been given a facelift. Content has been edited for clarity and readability; additional thoughts are noted in-line. Enjoy!
In late 2013, facing a dearth of brushes and a wedding to pay for, I took advantage of a sale Coastal Scents was running and picked up their Elite Brush set. I’ve been meaning to share since then but lost the unboxing photos I took, so that delayed things.
This 24 piece synthetic brush kit normally retails for $69.95, but I picked it up during something like 50-60% off – all in all I think I spent around $38, shipped. The package, a bubble mailer, came quickly via USPS (shocker, right?). I did notice that the packaging had a peculiar smell, but the contents were unaffected. Inside was this tidy, cute white box that had been protected further by a generous layer of packing paper.
Popping open the box to slide out the contents reveals a black brush roll protected further by cellophane…
There isn’t much to look at, but the front cover of the brush roll has, “Coastal Scents,” inset. Simple isn’t a bad thing, I don’t think. Tools don’t need to be loud.
The thickness of the rolled up, occupied brush roll is about an inch, maybe a little more. Considering its contents, it isn’t too bad for travel if you genuinely need an assortment.
After opening the front to the left, you unfold the right panel twice, revealing the contents. There is a protective fabric flap at the top that is folded down over the bristles to shield them from questionable assailants (and to keep them in their slots).
Flip it up to reveal the bristles and peek at the lightweight bamboo handles.
Contents revealed! The brushes, in order, are as follows (favorites are bolded, least favorites are italicized):
- Flat Buffer
- Tapered Powder
- Angled Blush
- Flat Multipurpose
- Large Shadow
- Pointed Precision
- Doefoot Blender
- Flat Tipped Shadow
- Dome Shadow
- Pointed Blender
- Angled Shadow
- Flat Liner
- Detail Pointed
- Small Shadow
- Fine Liner
- Detail Mini
- Angled Liner
If you’re starting out with nothing, this is a good set to start with. You’ve got your face brushes covered and singles of most of what you could need with eye brushes.
The Elite Flat Buffer is sturdy and the large surface means you can get more done in less time. Performance-wise, it is similar to a Sigma F80; the bristles of the F80 are shorter and denser, but they do apply similarly. I found that this one held up better than my F80; the ferrule on the latter is little loose on the handle-end and shifts a bit. Overall, I prefer the way the Sigma brush applies but again, for the price this is a fair contender.
Want to apply your base shadow or any all-over color really fast? Of course you do. The Elite Large Shadow is awesome for that. Some people are intimidated by large eye brushes; while they aren’t great for detail work, they definitely have a place in this lazy chick’s brush repertoire, and they ought to have a place in any artist or enthusiast’s kit.
I don’t own a MAC 217, but I believe the Elite Blender is similarly shaped. 2018 Update: I did end up coming to own a MAC 217 (before the revision), and now that I own both, I can confirm that the Coastal Scents brush is not as full and awesome, but for the price it is good enough. The synthetic bristles are soft and clean up well. If you’re looking to pad your blending brush collection, this would be a decent choice.
I flat-out don’t like flat foundation brushes. These two Elite flat brushes have been relegated to applying clay masks and other skincare goop (it’s an important job, sure, but I’d rather have had another blending brush or two. They’ve been voted out of the brushroll and live in the bathroom in my skincare drawer.
I’ve been using the Elite Doefoot Blender lately but I just can’t quite figure it out. I’ve been trying to use the, ‘long’ end to do a crease/transition thing, and it works alright but it isn’t exciting. Again, I’d rather have another of their Elite Blender.
I am generally not a fan of angled-ferrule brushes for liner. I know they rock for some people, but I find them unwieldy. I’ve only used the Elite Angled Liner once, but the bristles are crazy frayed. I already didn’t love it, but I couldn’t use it even if I tried with how weird the bristles are acting.
And lastly, not for a specific brush – I prefer a bit more heft to my brushes, particularly face brushes. Handle weight is not necessarily indicative of quality, I’d just like them to feel heavier. It’s a preference thing.
I have had no issues with ferrules, shedding, staining, or weird performance (not paying off color, for example). Most of the brushes can multitask (a requirement of any tool in my opinion) and work well wet or dry. I think if I can only find complaint with four out of 24 brushes, and those complaints are largely preference (as opposed to flaws or quality issues) that it is decent. I’m ultimately satisfied with my purchase.
The Bottom Line
I would recommend this brush set to beginners or to people looking to try a variety of brushes at once or people on a budget BUT not at full price. While I haven’t had any problems with these brushes, they aren’t stunningly badass quality – in short, they’re good, not great. When you consider that no person will find all 24 brushes truly useful and the fact that some of these are most certainly superfluous it just wouldn’t be an outstanding value to everyone at full price.
To anyone else like starting artists who don’t have a monstrous tool budget but need to stock their pro kits? Identify your needs and buy singles. A lot of these brushes are neat, but others are kind of gimmicky; results can be achieved with other brushes that have more uses. If I lost this set and couldn’t replace it with higher-quality tools, I’d do exactly that – buy the singles of the brushes I know I will use…and otherwise save the space.
Overall, from one enthusiast and friend to another, it just doesn’t make sense to pay full price. They go on sale, 30-60% off or more, too often for it to be sensible to pay full price.