The Setting Brush is one of three new Real Techniques tools that were recently launched (together with the Face Expert brush and a fine eyeliner one). This fluffy setting brush might be my favorite of the three, as it's not just good and useful, but also unique enough that I don't have anything similar in my not-so-small brush arsenal.
Real Techniques Setting Brush looks like a supersized domed blending brush. It's not crazy fluffy and long haired like the Hakuhodo G5537 and G5538, and it's packed much more densely. It's also a synthetic brush, and just as suitable for use with cream products as it is with powders. As a matter of fact, after the first round of testing when I tried the Setting Brush with just about every face and finishing product I own, I decided to keep it for use with creams: buffing concealer and blending cream highlighters.
It's the full round shape of the soft Setting Brush that makes it so good at buffing products. It's excellent to use it when going back to clean up under the eyes when it still has some foundation or concealer residue. The tapered head lets you go in and reach under the eyes just as well as the sides of the nose.
As you can see, I compared it with a brush of a similar size and function (though a completely different shape), Shu Uemura 14 (yes, I realize that I have yet to review it, but as is obvious from the photos below, it's rare to catch it clean, so I never got to photograph it). The Shu 14 brush is also used to apply highlighter, concealer or even foundation to small areas. The technique for using it is quite different, though. If you've ever watched YouTube videos by Korean makeup artist Jung Saem Mool, you probably noticed how she applies makeup in small, precise patting motions. It gives a flawless, full coverage finish, different than buffing but no less effective. These photos, I hope, show exactly why both brushes are ideal for different techniques using the same products.
The second comparison is to Sephora #57 Pro Airbrush. The latter has a full round head of dense bristles, but has always annoyed me by being slightly uneven (I understand that it's a quality control issue that only happened with some of the brushes in the series). It also has a little too much give for good buffing action.
The talkon bristles are as soft as expected. I did find a couple of hairs that were too long and oddly placed in the brush, which required microsurgery, but since this is a mass-market item and not a handcrafted brush such issues can happen.
You can see the brush designer, Samantha Chapman (of Pixiwoo fame) demonstrates the use of her setting brush here.
Bottom Line: I could use a second one.
Real Techniques Setting Brush ($8) is available at Ulta. I was sent the product for consideration by the company's PR.