I first heard of ZOEVA in 2013, when YouTubers started talking about the brand. That was the year the company started shipping internationally, having begun operations in Germany in 2008 and spreading slowly into other EU countries by 2009. They are exactly the same age as Sigma Beauty and both companies offer makeup tools at affordable prices, with smaller ranges of colour makeup on the side. Sigma undoubtedly had a head start on the international exposure front (being based in the US and using their affiliate program to spread their ads like wildfire definitely helped), but ZOEVA has come up strong this past year and a half and I have heard only good things about their products so far.
I reviewed the 7-piece Sigma Performance Eyes Kit (here) back in 2012 and gave it pretty good marks. What you’ll notice from that review (as well as this one about the Real Techniques duo fibre brushes) is that I like to go into detail when it comes to brushes. I own over 50 brushes, 20 of which I use regularly, and these ZOEVA brushes have displaced about half of that 20. So, brace yourselves, because these brushes deserve a comprehensive review. It’s going to be photo-heavy and lengthy, but hopefully it will be of help to anyone looking to buy the set or any of these individual brushes.
I was able to grab my ZOEVA Luxe Complete Set (6,274.00 Php regular price) on Luxola when they were having a site-wide 40% off promotion, so I saved quite a bit of money and didn’t have to worry about international shipping. ZOEVA does ship to the Philippines, but I’m not sure how much that might cost in total. Since I bought my set, ZOEVA has sadly become a non-discountable brand on Luxola. That means the brand will no longer be included in site-wide promos unless specified or if there is a ZOEVA-specific promotion going on.
Even without the discount, ZOEVA brush sets are affordable. Individually, the prices range from 371.00 Php to 1,225.00 Php (also rather reasonable). At regular price the 15 pieces in the Luxe Complete Set come out to approximately 420 pesos each which, if I have to spell it out for you, is ridiculously cheap. That’s not even counting the pretty faux leather pouch, which adds such a nice, elegant feel to the kit. Of all the sets they have to offer, I chose the Luxe Complete Set because I thought the ratio of face to eye brushes was perfect and also because the “luxe” sets, while pricier, include the best brushes ZOEVA has to offer. There are 5 face brushes and 10 eye/detail brushes, all of excellent quality. There are some I would probably switch out for different brushes if I could, but I think it is a beautiful set regardless.
There are much smaller sets (like the Bon Voyage), larger pro kits (like the Makeup Artist Zoe bag), and all-vegan sets (Vegan Brush Set) available as well. One set that is comparable to the Luxe Complete Set in number but slightly more affordable is the Complete Set (3,357.50 Php), which also has 15 brushes that are supposedly not “as luxe.” The more expensive ZOEVA brushes seem to be those with white bristles and from what I have been able to observe, they are indeed softer than the black-hair and mixed-hair brushes. If the brushes are not specified as vegan, they are a blend of animal and synthetic hairs.
For my purposes (personal makeup application by a beauty-obsessed blogger), the Luxe Complete Set is perfect. I do want to pick up a few more individual brushes, but I’m in no hurry. Now let’s have a look at the different brushes you get in this awesome set:
Face Brushes. With these five brushes, you can apply foundation, spot-conceal, contour, highlight, and apply blush. It’s the perfect full base set. Of course you don’t have to wear a full base day-to-day. Most girls just need some powder and blush, plus some concealer for the occasional blemish. Still, it’s great to have these on hand for those days when you just want to do that something extra. You could also be the kind of girl who does like to apply heavy makeup from time to time–either way, these five have got you covered.
Before I go into detail about the individual brushes I want to stress that although these are named according to their suggested use, there are no strict rules about how you use a brush. There are brushes that are ideal for certain functions because of their design, but really, you can use them in whatever way suits you.
Luxe Face Definer. A large soft brush with a mildly tapered end, this isn’t meant so much for hard contouring (a-la Kim K.) as it is for softly defining the outer perimeter of the face with bronzer. I do use it to apply blush occasionally though, as it is soft enough and the tip picks up a good amount of powder that can later be blended out with the outer ends of the brush head. Silk Finish. Perfect for buffing in mineral powders. It can also be used with liquid foundations and either way it will leave you with an airbrush-like finish. This is one of the softer buffing brushes I have used and I like that it is small enough to reach into the corners of the face but also large enough so that it doesn’t take ages to buff foundation all over. The slightly tapered top makes it even easier to work with because it’s easy to angle any way you like. The Silk Finish brush can also be used for heavy contouring under the cheekbones. Luxe Cheek Finish. A tad bit small for blush for my personal taste, but it is unbelievably soft and consequently makes applying blush with it a joy. The density of the bristles is also perfect for applying blush. The slightly flattened ferrule gives the brush head a shape that makes applying blush to the cheekbones precise because of the angles you can hold it at. I have also used it for soft-contouring and highlighting. Luxe Highlight. A round-tapered highlighter brush is not something I ever used before. I’m used to flat or fan brushes for highlihter, but I quite like that I can lightly roll this brush onto my cheekbones. As with the other brushes, it’s incredibly soft and it can be used for other purposes, such as a very light contour or precision blush application. Concealer Buffer. This brush is perfect for applying mineral foundation as a concealer. I love how mineral foundations can be built up depending on the brush you use, and using one like this is what will give you full coverage in a specific area. Just buff over the specific area in circular motions and you Eye/Detail Brushes. I love doing eye makeup, so it was important to me that the set I chose would have a good number of eye brushes. These ten (the photo above is missing one of the brushes– the Brow Line–because it was sneakily hiding from me when I took the photo) are a good mix of shapes and sizes and I LOVE that there are FOUR that I can use as blending brushes. Blending is so important, you guys. The one brush I don’t really use is the one I left out of the photo (which sort of explains why I didn’t notice it was missing haha) and you’ll see why later. Luxe Soft Crease. The perfect crease brush. Soft, perfectly tapered, and it picks up just the right amount of product. This and the Crease brush (below) are almost identical in shape and size, but the Luxe Soft Crease loosens up more after a few washes and because the bristles are white, you’ll always know when it is dirty and what eyeshadow you used with it.Crease. Essentially the black version of the Luxe Soft Crease, this brush is (again) the perfect crease brush. The black hairs have held their shape ever so slightly better than the Luxe Soft Crease, so it might be more durable in the long run, but I can’t say yet for sure. They function exactly the same though and you might think that I would be annoyed at having two of (essentially) the same brush, but I do several looks a week so I like that I don’t have to wash the white one right after using it just to do a new look. Luxe Defined Crease. This is definitely not a “definer” brush because the bristles are very loosely packed, but it works nicely for blending out harsh edges. If you have eyeshadows that are so pigmented that they are difficult to use, this brush will keep you from over applying them. I use it a lot more often than I thought I would. Luxe Soft Definer. Slightly flattened in shape and significantly more dense than the crease brushes (but less so than the shader you will see below), this brush is great for lightly buffing eyeshadows onto the mobile lid. Because you’re not packing on the product as you do with flat shaders, the effect will be softer but still buildable (depending on the eyeshadow too of course). I love using this brush with shimmery eyeshadows (both light and dark) because it makes it unbelievably easy to achieve a smokey eye. Luxe Smoky Shader. This is a dupe for the MAC 239, which I used to have but lost. I loved my 239 so much and losing it sucked because it was one pricey little bugger. The Luxe Smokey Shader is just like the 239 which means it is perfect for packing eyeshadow onto the mobile lid. You get more precision with this kind of shape because you can press the product onto the lid by using the flat sides and you can also hold the tip parallel to the lash line or crease and create a smokey line. I use it more for packing on colour. Again, super soft and easy to use. A must-have for anyone. Luxe Petit Crease. Have you ever seen a girl rocking a cut crease look? She probably used something like this brush to achieve that. It’s perfect for the job too, as it’s not scratchy at all but it is stiff and small enough to create that smoky detail in such a small area. I don’t personally do cut crease looks often, but this also fits nicely into the inner corners of the eyes (use a shimmery shadow to make eyes look more open) and can be used to buff eyeshadow into the lower lash line. Luxe Pencil. I use this brush to shade my lower lash line with a matte brown to create the illusion of larger eyes (even more so when coupled with an inner corner highlight). It’s the shorter and thinner version of the Luxe Petit Crease brush. This one wasn’t very soft to begin with but after a couple of washes, it’s matched up with softness of the rest of the set. Wing Liner. Although I rarely ever use a brush of this shape to create a winged eye, I do like it for stamping some black powder eyeshadow into my upper lashline. It’s very thin so it allows me to get extremely close. If you do like this shape for gel liners though, it will serve you well. It cannot be used as an eyebrow powder brush because it’s too thin to pick up the powder, but if you have something like a dip brow (gel) for your brows then this can work with that.Fine Liner. It took me a while to get used to the angle that this is set at, but it really does make it easier to apply eyeliner because your hand doesn’t block your view. The brush hairs on this one are synthetic for sure and they are nice and stiff but not prickly. Brow Line. And finally here’s the brush that sadly got left out of the group shot. I don’t use it often because it’s much too large for the brow area and it’s too thin to pick up powders. I think it’s meant for use with gel products, which I do not use on my brows. I have tried to use it to stamp eyeshadow into my lashline, but again it doesn’t pick up product very well because it’s so thin. I’m struggling to find a use for this and I wish I could have had a lip brush or another shader in its place instead.
The Luxe Complete Set also comes with this pretty faux leather pouch that you can use to hold your brushes when travelling or for anything else, really. While it’s not real leather, it’s definitely does not look or feel cheap.
It’s even fully lined inside, plus there’s an inner pocket. That shade of pink is not my favourite, but at least it’s on the inside so it doesn’t bother me too much. If you buy any of ZOEVA’s rose gold sets the hardware will be rose gold instead of silver, which I think is a really nice touch and shows the brand’s attention to detail. You can also see a peek of the company’s tag line in there: “COLOR. LOVE. MAKEUP.” which you’ll also find printed onto the individual brush handles opposite the brush’s name. I’ve had my Luxe Complete Set for around two months now and I am extremely happy with the quality of the individual brushes (there are some I don’t use much, but not because of any quality issues) and the set in general (such good value). I have actually heard people compare these brushes to Hakuhodo ones. I can’t make a comment on that because I don’t own any Hakuhodo tools, but for several people to mention that means that is an attestation to the quality of these brushes.
The cup you see my brushes in above is where they find their exclusive home on my vanity. I usually put all face brushes together and all eye brushes in another cup, but these ZOEVA babies get special treatment because they’re pretty much all I reach for these days. (There are a few other brushes that never go out of rotation, such as my Sonia Kashuk powder brush and a couple of Shu Uemura ones.)
I hope this was helpful to anyone thinking about picking up some ZOEVA brushes. :) Also curious to know how many brushes other girls use… share it in the comments!