In May, I investigated whether quality eyeshadow brushes packed on eyeshadow better than their cheapo counterparts. I found that there was a huge difference in the amount of shadow different brushes could apply.
In response to this post, reader Anna asked, "Given that eyeshadow isn't a question of how-much-do-i-stick-on-there but is usually kind of complex and blendy, and that presumably you could just stick on more stuff with the cheapo brushes, maybe you could do a head to head... test of brushes on each eye?"
Given the huge differences between different brushes, there was no way that I could conduct this test blind (which she had originally requested). So, as much as this will make any psychologists in my readership cringe, I just sort of did my best not to be terribly biased. Terrible methods, sorry. C'est la vie. Fund me and I'll do a much better job, I promise.
I used my Urban Decay Ammo Eyeshadow Palette in the shades Polyester Bride, Grifter, Last Call, and Oil Slick to create my look. On one side, I used my MAC 239 and 217, which are the two brushes I use every day for eyeshadow. On the other side, I used the ELF Studio Eyeshadow "C" Brush and the (misleadingly named) ELF Studio Contour Brush. That means I had one "pack on the shadow" brush and one "fluffy blending your crease the fuck out" brush for each eye.
To my delight, I found that I was able to product comparable results using either set of brushes.
Although the two eyes appear quite similar, there is one stark, visible difference between the two. If you can't see it, I have marked it for you in the picture below.
The fallout from the ELF brush was dramatic in comparison to the fallout from the MAC brush.
I marked the glitter that was evident in the picture using the dark spots, but obviously there was substantially more glitter that actually made its way onto my face. For you, wonderful readers, I counted every single piece of microglitter that was out of place (meaning under my eye, but not counting the part under my eye where I actually put eyeshadow, like, on purpose). Under the eye where I used MAC, there were 31 glitter particles. Under the eye where I used ELF, there were 86.
We can test whether this number is statistically significant using a Chi-square test, which is a test designed to compare actual and expected values. Given that there were a total of 117 glitter McGlittersons that were strewn across my cheeks, if there were no difference between the two brushes' tendency towards fallout, we would expect that there would be equal amounts of glitter, 58.5, on each cheek.
My Chi-square test confirmed that the difference between these two eyes was, in fact, (VERY) statistically significant, c2(1, N = 117) = 25.85, p < 0.0001. A p-value of 0.05 is generally considered to be the threshold for statistical significance. Based on this, I feel comfortable concluding that ELF brushes produce significantly more eyeshadow fallout than MAC brushes.
I also noticed another important difference between these two brush brands: the amount of time it took to apply my eyeshadow seemed dramatically longer for the ELF brushes. However, since this was an unexpected observation, I didn't time the amount of time it took to apply shadow to either eye. Thus, you can all look forward to a part three where I will investigate whether high-quality brushes decrease the amount of time that it takes to apply eyeshadow.