I've been using this Oval 8 face brush by Artis for three months now, but it took me ages to actually take the photos. There's this cycle: I use the brush twice, wash it, take two days for it to dry, use again twice, the brush now is dirty and soaked with foundation, wash it, repeat. This should tell you two things. First, I like this brush and find that it performs well. Second, it's not the most practical tool in the world. For many reasons.
Artis brushes and similar ones from other brands (there are some cheap ones on Amazon, as well as a small collection by MAC) have a very dense synthetic head that forms a flat surface. They cover larger areas than any other brushes, which means that you need fewer application motions. You use the brushes lightly, making broader strokes, and never ever apply pressure or buff the makeup on (it'll cause some serious exfoliation and will look uneven and patchy). The learning curve for me was not too steep, but it is a different way of makeup application, and it sometimes go completely against instinct (see buffing your foundation). Done right, your makeup will look smoother than ever and as close to flawless as possible.
The problems start with the fact that not every foundation is suitable for use with this brush. I've tried almost every single one in my arsenal and only the thinnest liquid ones worked for me. Not even silicone/gels looked right. That means that Artis Oval 8 performed well with all the foundations that come in a dropper bottle, as well as other light-as-air formulas like YSL Touche Eclat. sliding the brush over my skin with these foundation (over a primer. always over a primer) created a beautiful even surface. Of course, we're talking about a light coverage foundation, so take this into account.
Another issue: , you know how regular foundation brushes soak up runny liquids? Multiply this by five or more for Artis. The brush is dense like a sponge and acts like one, only more porous. This means that a staggering amount of product is wasted and eventually is washed down the drain. Speaking of washing, Artis offers a brush cleaning pad that uses a special microfiber cloth and their own foam detergent. I haven't tried them, so maybe that's the way to go if you decide to invest in these brushes. I've been washing my Oval 8 with the same cleansers as other brushes: Dr. Bronner, Shea Moisture Black Soap, Shu Uemura Cleansing Oils, and using my trusty Sigma cleansing mat (the one with the suction cups that attaches to the sink). No matter what I do, it takes forever before the brush finally rinses clean, and I always worry that all this washing will result in loosening the glue and the hair.
I have to say that so far my brush hasn't lost a single fiber. It's obviously very well-made and matches the elegance of the design (and of the end result). The box suggest using it powder as well, but there's no way I'm doing that as I prefer the lightest and sheerest touch I get from fluffy powder brushes. I enjoy using Oval 8, since the combination of performance and luxury speaks to me, I just don't think it's the a very practical tool, and that's the bottom line.
The brush I was sent free of charge by Artis is part of the Elite Collection and comes in the smoke finish (Artis just released a 24k Gold range, and there's a different line, the straight-handle Fluenta, that also has an Oval 8 and is more expensive, which is sold at Neiman Marcus. Artis Elite Collection Oval 8 Brush ($65, made in China) is available from Saks, Net-a-Porter, and Anthropologie (what?).