You’ve likely seen the distinctive Artis brush designs everywhere on social media and the countless sincerest forms of flattery popping up at every price point. Sure, the brushes are beautiful but are they effective? Let’s find out.
For decades, the only innovations penetrating the makeup brush category have been in brush hair composition, as evidenced by MAC’s transition into synthetic fibers, and price point, seen in the continued success of Real Techniques and Moda Brushes. It wasn’t until the introduction of Artis, a collection of luxurious, densely packed, alien shaped brushes rocketed through the YouTube beauty guru community at a speed that forced the beauty industry to think beyond the ferrule.
Eagle-eyed beauty lovers might be able to trace the origin of the “paddle brush” all the way back to MAC Cosmetics, where three modestly-priced versions of Artis brushes are sold: the Oval 6, the Oval 3, and the Linear 1. Matthew Waitesmith, the founder of Artis, was also a senior executive at MAC Cosmetics for over 17 years, and the continued collaboration between both brands underscores their mutual enduring respect.
Somehow I managed to quell my natural curiosity long enough to outlast the YouTube hype wave, but I’ve continued to wonder if these uniquely tooled pieces of metal and hundreds (if not thousands) of fibers could be as effective as the inflated price tag implies. Largely, the answer is yes.
Artis sent over six brushes for my consideration: Linear 1, Oval 6, Oval 4, Oval 3, Circle 1, (also known as the Elite Mirror and the Palm Brush Mini. Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on each brush in order of preference from most loved to least.
Although Artis instructs that the Linear 1 brush can be used for both brows and liner, but I was so impressed by how flawlessly it applied shadow as liner that I never used it for any other purpose.
Before I used the Linear 1, I was never particularly fond of using shadow as liner. I preferred the distinct definition that a liquid, or occasionally gel, liner provides. The combination of the bristle length, density, and stiffness me to create upper or lower lash line liner that still provides while creating the hallmark diffused edges of powder liner.
It’s also fantastic at smudging out kohl liner along the upper lash line more precisely than a pencil brush.
One of the most versatile brushes in the Artis range, the Oval 6 brush can be used for blush, highlighter, concealer, foundation, bronzer, powders, or even skincare application.
Personally, I’ve enjoyed it the most for maximizing the coverage of some of my favorite concealers, like the Makeup Revolution Conceal & Define Concealer or the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. Oddly enough, I have found that it sheers out the Too Faced Born This Way Supercoverage Concealer more that I would prefer.
For me, the Oval 6 is too small for foundation and too large for both blush and highlighter, but that’s simply a matter of personal preference. It’s an interesting tool for powder products, as it does intensify the coverage level, however, that isn’t always something I’m interested in. Although I have many concealer brushes that I love, this one is Queen of my collection.
Similarly to the Oval 6, the Palm Brush Mini has a wide variety of uses. The bristles are also of a similar length and density, although the Palm Brush Mini has more surface area. Even though I am fond of using a beautyblender for foundation application, the Palm Brush Mini has overtaken every foundation brush to become to my favorite.
One word of caution for other long-wear foundation lovers: if you thought getting out of your other brushes was a pain, prepare for an entirely different level of intensity during the cleaning process. Artis does sell a cleaning system and two cleansing pads that become more appealing to me with every wash.
If you have larger hands, I would recommend opting for the larger-sized brush as it often felt like my hands would overwhelm the handle, however, that’s simply a matter of preference.
If you’re fond of doing a one & done shadow look on busy days, the Oval 4 may be a worthy investment. Don’t mistake the brush’s ranking on this list as a missive. The size is a bit large for precise eyeshadow application, however, the bristle density most closely mimics finger application than any other brush I’ve used.
After I purchased the Jaclyn Hill Morphe palette and began to use it, I started to wonder if there was an aspect of the shadows, aside from the color variety, that I was missing. It wasn’t until I applied one of the metallic shades to my lid with this brush that I began to appreciate the full intensity of the pigments.
Artis does mention that this brush can also be used to apply highlighter, but based on the impact it had on Morphe eyeshadows, I’m hesitant to test the result in everyday life.
The Oval 3 is approximately half the size of the O 4 with similar uses and impact. Instead of using it for all over the lid eyeshadow application, I use the Oval 3 to focus color on the outer half to third of my lid.
As an alternative, it would make a wonderful smaller concealer companion to the Oval 6 if that size is too large for your purposes.
It could also be useful for cleaning up lipstick application, but because of the similarity between the brush shape and our fingertips, it may not be the most precise tool for that purpose.
I enjoy the shape and density of the Circle 1 brush, however, it does have the fewest number of uses in my own makeup routine. I don’t have many breakouts (which I attribute my daily reliance on Glow Tonic), so I don’t often have an opportunity to use it to spot conceal.
Most frequently I use it to clean up my lip lines after lipstick application or to clean up under my eyes throughout the day. Because of the bristle density, I find that I don’t often have to use concealer to erase mascara smudges, eyeliner runs, or lipstick outside my lip lines. Even though it isn’t the first brush I would recommend purchasing, I’m happy to have it in my arsenal.