Tom Ford's Cream Foundation 02 Brush was the first out of his twelve available brushes that I purchased in October 2011 when the complete Tom Ford Beauty line-up was released. I fell in love with the ultra plush and densely packed brush head, but I was not totally won over because of the weight distribution. The lacquered mahogany brush handle is lightweight and easy to hold, but I initially felt the weight of the handle was lacking in comparison to the substantial weight of this particular brush head. Though I still feel the brush handle could use a touch more weight, that minor detail is no longer an issue because the quality of the Cream Foundation brush is far superior to any other brush that I have subsequently tested. Check out the comparisons after the jump!
In an effort to justify this $72 splurge, I hunted down similar brushes to see how they held up in comparison. I do not personally own the Shu Uemura Natural 18, but it is the most affordable and effective "dupe" for this new benchmark introduced by Tom Ford's Cream Foundation Brush. The Natural 18's bristles are less full and more stiff, but it does performs well. All Shu Uemura and Tom Ford brushes are produced in Japan, but Tom Ford has the factor of more consistent, exceptional quality with its fine goat hair and luxurious gold ferrule. Shu Uemura offers a more diverse brush quality range (and pricing), from standard to Kolinsky.
- NOTE: There are Hakuhodo and Chikuhodo brushes with similar brush heads available. Though I have examined Hakuhodo's extensively at trade shows, I ultimately decided that I prefer the packaging and build of the Tom Ford 02. Chikuhodo's GS10 is reportedly similar (CC: Front Row Beauty).
The CoverFX 160 has a similar shape with more balanced weight distribution, but the goat hair is of inferior quality so I do not recommend it for sensitive skin. It feels coarse -- aka scratchy -- against the face. The MAC 130 was included as an alternative feature of bristle for applying cream foundations, though it is nowhere near as dense as the Tom Ford Cream Foundation Brush. The 130 brush head is significantly smaller, comprised of both natural and synthetic fibers. After experimenting with different brushes, there is no denying the Tom Ford 02 is an investment worth splurging on because of its unique characteristics. There may be affordable alternatives and it may not be perfect for everyone, but this brush is unlike other mainstream tools I have tried.
Though it is called the Cream Foundation because it was developed for use with Tom Ford's Traceless Foundation Stick, I have successfully used it with heavier liquid foundations. I do not wear cream foundations regularly for a multitude of reasons, so the versatility of the 02 brush has been its saving grace. For those wavering between this brush or the Tom Ford synthetic Foundation brush, I do recommend the natural-bristled Cream Foundation brush for its streak-free application and plush feel. Some incredibly soft and fluffy bristles -- as lovely as they feel -- tend to give too much. But the goat hairs on the Tom Ford 02 Brush have the ideal amount of resistance against the skin, allowing for more color concentration and flawless blending. Now below, observe the size comparison of the Tom Ford Cream Foundation Brush with his Cheek Brush. I tend to apply cream cheek colors with my fingertips or an angled synthetic brush, but this brush works just as well! Try it with Tom Ford's Summer Illuminating Cheek Color sticks.
The Tom Ford Cream Foundation brush is luxurious yet highly functional and indeed deserving of every rave review on the web. When used properly, the brush will not leave a single brush stroke on the skin. I like to apply foundation to the face with my fingers first and then take the brush in small clockwise motions across one section of the face at a time. Then I rotate the brush counterclockwise to blend out the remainder of the product, which helps to smooth the look of pores. I highly recommend this brush and application technique to those with open pore concerns as well as to those looking to build coverage.
The white goat bristles may concern some of those who prefer black bristles to prevent staining, but I haven't had any problems removing even the most water-resistant of foundations. I use BeautyBlender's liquid cleanser, just one pump to soak the bristles and then another to remove all traces of foundation. My brush is as soft as the day I pulled it from the box nearly two years ago, and it has yet to shed a single hair. Impressive, right? You can order your own to use and admire at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, or Bloomingdale's.
Bottom Line: After a year of consistently flawless results, I have come to the conclusion that Tom Ford's Cream Foundation Brush is undoubtedly one of the greats and truly worthy of "Holy Grail" status.