Thursday, June 23, 2011

Laura Mercier Fan Brush

The allure of fan  brushes is quite obvious. It starts with the cute shape and continues with these brushes looking so interesting and professional standing in one's brush holder. Purchasing your first fan brush somehow feels like you've taken a step from being a brush newbie to a serious user. It feels good no matter if it's a cheap one from the drugstore or this pretty brush by Laura Mercier, or if you really know what to do with brush (or not).

Fan brushes are mostly used to perform three tasks: light application of cheek color (blush or bronzer one finds too heavy otherwise), light distribution of loose powder and/or cleaning fallout (usually from eye makeup). I'm not a big fan of the glorified broom approach. I find that it only works with some products and not with others, too often leaving me with dark smudges all over the place. I prefer a careful use of makeup remover wipe- a light touch with the corner of the sheet does the trick for me (besides, it's so much better to begin your makeup routine with the messy stuff, clean up and then do the rest of the face).

This leaves us with the first two options: loose powder and cheek color. Laura Mercier designed her fan brush specifically to be used with the Invisible Loose Setting Powder. Thus: supposedly a one product unitasker. Whatever. Laura Mercier's fan brush can do a lot more than that. This is a duo-fiber brush (long white synthetic hair mixed with shorter black natural ones). Just like other duo-fiber brushes work, swiping the brush carefully across the pan means it picks up less product while diffusing it throughout its width. So, yes,  both a light application of pigment or setting powder can be achieved this way.

The Laura Mercier fan brush is thicker and denser than average- both the ones from Smashbox and Sephora Platinum are flimsy in comparison and feel less sturdy. The Sephora Platinum #43 is seriously inferior. It's scratchy and prone to splaying, despite a lot of effort (I dry and keep it in its original plastic cover, trying to make it retain the original shape). Smashbox #22 is better-made but still too flimsy to do a good job with pigmented products. My personal preference is actually the humongous Louise Young LY20 Super Fan Brush that really diffuses color and creates a natural look, but if you're not comfortable with something this big, the Laura Mercier is an excellent option, as it's also good with setting powder.

Bottom Line: if you're only going to get one fan brush, this is the one.

Laura Mercier Fan Brush ($30) is available at the counters, Sephora and

All photos are mine.


  1. Hi Gaia,

    you mush have a crystal ball, otherwise, how do you know I am looking for a fan brush? :) I can always count on you on makeup brushes reviews. Thanks.


  2. I agree 100% with your post. I received a mini LM fan brush as part of a GWP and I liked it so much I ordered the full size. It's like a little fan of eyelashes, so soft.

  3. Oh my, I'm not hardcore enough yet to own a fan brush! I agree that they would awfully pretty in my brush jar though. The idea makes sense too, there are applications where I want light diffuse pigment, that I don't have a perfect brush for. Thanks for the review, I will definitely check one of these out next time I'm browsing the cosmetics aisle,

  4. Perfect post! I've wanted to add a fan brush to my collection for ages and have never known where to start. Thanks!

  5. Oh, how I love a good fan brush! Because my complexion is fair, it enables me to wear cheek colors that I would not be able to pull off otherwise. For example, thanks to my fan brush, I can easily wear intense or bright colors like Chanel's Fuchsia Tweed, Edward Bess' Moroccan Rose, or Lancôme's Mandarin Sky. A fan brush is also good for applying powder highlighters and luminizers when what you are going for is a subtle radiance rather than obvious shine. I also have an ancient teeny-tiny "pro" fan brush from MAC that is intended for lightly applying mascara to the lower lashes. I've never found anything else quite like it. Yes, indeed, how I love a good fan brush :-)

  6. Thanks for this post.
    I would love to have a fan brush.
    I like the idea of the subtlety of
    application that is possible.

    So, thanks for letting us know what you think of the brushes that you have tried!

  7. Gaia-upon reading your various brush reviews, I've realized there's a serious gap in my brush collection. All the years I've had/used brushes, a fan has never been in the collection. I must remedy that.

  8. Daisy, I'm happy to be of help! Have fun getting your brush.

  9. ZP, it is very soft. I wonder why so few companies know how to make a good fan brush.

  10. Dovey, it's probably not an absolute must have, but once you get used to having one you wonder what took you so long.

  11. C., 9 out of 10 times Laura Mercier is a very good place to start.

  12. Eileen, I never used an eyelash fan brush. I think Paula Dorf has one (or had, it's probably discontinued), but since I rarely apply mascara on my lower lashes I doubt I actually need it.

  13. Sunnlitt, it's my pleasure. Nothing thrills me more than hearing my reviews either saved someone money or helped them find true love.

  14. Elizabeth, have fun shopping ;)

    your enabler.

  15. Gaia,
    Have you tried the J4004 Fan Brush from Hakuhodo?
    thanks for your input!

    1. Hi, I'm not Gaia, and I can't hold a candle to her thorough brush reviews, but I have the J004 and it is very very nice. Because the natural goat tips are uncut, they are extremely soft, perfect for picking up super-pigmented blushes, like NARS Desire, Chanel Rouge, MAC Love Thing, Laura Mercier City Pink, and Rouge Bunny Rouge Florita. The brush is just as good at applying highlighter so it looks like your skin. And because it's goat, I can also use it with cream and liquid products—something I would probably never do with squirrel.

      The J004 isn't as thick as the LM brush, especially at the base, but it's the same width, a little over 1.25". It washes so easily and dries completely within a few hours.

      I love my LM Fan Brush—it was the first fan brush I owned where I truly got it, but since the J004 arrived, I haven't used anything else, not even my normal blush brushes. ♥♥

      Gaia, if you haven't bought it yet, I bet you'd really like it.


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