Gucci Westman is a make-up artist with a huge experience in editorial work. She launched her own line of make-up products Westman Atelier. What really caught my attention is her “second-skin” approach to make-up as this is how I like my make-up to be on a daily basis.
I believe she launched her products beginning of 2018. In August 2018 I bought a large selection of Westman Atelier make-up, I bought every single item and have been using them since.
I also recently purchased the 3 brushes in her line; I am pretty sure more will come in the near future. Even though I was happy to purchase them, I wasn’t that excited to get them… I knew they wouldn’t be compatible with my daily make-up routine; these are not the brushes that work the best with the products I use the most.
Before I share my thoughts on these brushes, I have to confess that it feels super weird to write about brands that also create brushes, or “fude”. However, I assure you that I have reviewed these brushes as a customer, not as a competitor. If I offend anyone, this is not intended at all. I believe there is room for all Companies and that we should be able to coexist without drama and always with mutual respect.
Today, I won’t talk a lot about the make-up, I will still share some thoughts, my favorites and some swatches, but I am here for the brushes 🙂 I asked on Instagram if you wanted me to write about these tools and there was a lot of interest! It took a while to write this because I couldn’t really find a place for them in my routine, I struggled. I have very little time to apply my make-up, I tend to grab brushes that work on autopilot mode with my go-to products, and these required a slight change of technique, an adaptation curve if I may say. I will share how when I talk about each brush.
She currently has 3 brushes in her line; I am pretty sure more will come. They are all synthetic and handmade in Kumano, Japan. The handles are shiny black and the ferrule matte black, they feel well-balanced, heavy, and sturdy and they have a beautiful minimalist vibe.
You’ll probably think that these are incredibly expensive for synthetic brushes, indeed they are, but keep in mind that these are handmade and the synthetic fibers cost a lot in Kumano, it shouldn’t, but it does. As a result, these cannot be cheap. You won’t be getting synthetic brushes because they are cheaper, you’ll get them for other reasons.
When Companies first go to Japan to get their make-up brushes produced, most of them either can’t afford the cost, or don’t want to afford the cost so that they get a higher profit. It’s great when you see brands collaborating with Kumano artisans.
These Westman Atelier brushes come packaged in beautiful sturdy cardboard cylinders, white, grey or black. I don’t remember which brush arrived in which cylinder. Since there are custom holes at the bottom of the cylinders I believe the Blender brush arrived in the black one.
The WA Blender costs 125 USD, it’s a round brush bundled with synthetic filaments. Its total length is 13.86 cm, the bristles are 2,6 cm long. It’s flat and its diameter at the surface of the brush is 3.8 cm.
The ferrule width is 2,34 cm, it’s a curved ferrule so this is the width at the base of bristles. It’s very soft, does not poke at all.
It looks like it could perform the same way as the other three synthetic brushes in the picture but I’ll explain the differences that I feel.
When you use any of the other three -the Trish, the Bdellium or the Juvia’s, these feel stiffer, less flexible, the center of these brushes does not move or adapt smoothly to our bone structure when blending. You will notice the highest pressure right in the center of the brush, not distributed across the surface, it causes lack of control while blending but more importantly it may cause the products to move around, blend away and not diffuse evenly. By the time you finished blending the edges, the center may have blended into nothing and disappeared. This may also be the case of the WA Blender but to a much lesser extent since the bristles have more movement, if you need, you can mitigate this issue by adapting the technique; I’ll explain.
You have to play around with the brush and find what technique works the best with the product you are using; it’s important that the products are adapted to your skin type. Sometimes we think that when a brush doesn’t perform well, it’s because of the brush, it’s not always the case, it can be the technique or the product. Try again with another product, then try again a few days later and try with different techniques. I wanted to give up on this brush but I finally found how I could get the best out of this Blender, it took some time but now I can use it and I enjoy it.
With foundation: I don’t like to use this Blender brush with foundation as I lack control and I love smaller foundation brushes, it’s my personal preference. I apply a sheer layer of foundation but I need two layers in smaller areas, I cannot work with the precision and control that I want with the Blender. Also there is no “shield” (longer bristles at the top) that prevents the foundation from sinking into the bristles, the sinking is not too bad but there is waste. Then the washing becomes a bit difficult because the product takes a bit more effort to clean up. I eventually use it for the final buffing if I need to smooth everything out, but I definitely prefer her WA Foundation brush for the foundation application. This brush is really for buffing, blending everything together.
With the blush/contour/highlight sticks: I love to use this brush with her cream sticks but with a different technique than the one Gucci Westman shows on her Instagram videos. Instead of taking the blush stick and applying the product directly onto the cheeks, I pick the product with the brush directly from the stick, then I stipple the brush onto the cheeks. This is the best way I manage an application that doesn’t mess with the foundation underneath and that doesn’t blend away, the end result is stunning.
I don’t like to use my fingertips to blend the product, it works but for me it’s just faster to use the stippling technique with this Blender brush and it’s easy to make sure both cheeks have the same intensity.
With Peau de Pêche Tinted highlighter: If you pick this product up with the brush and swipe it on the skin, it works well, but depending on what products you have already on your skin, this technique may move them, just be gentle and don’t put too much pressure on it. Again, I prefer to stipple the product rather than swiping, you have to try which way is easier for you and works the best.
When I say “stipple”, it’s not in-place stippling but when the brush touches the skin, I move gently a few millimeters, think about the basic stitch on a sewing machine, it’s a bit of a similar idea.
With powder products: It depends what products you are using and what coverage you are looking for. This brush is dense and flat, the application will be heavy and full impact.
If you want to use it with a finishing powder to buff, then it works well. If you want to use it with bronzer, if the bronzer is difficult to pick, then it can be a good match as it won’t pick up too much. If you are using it with a more pigmented product it can end up too opaque and messy and you’ll have to blend a lot to diffuse it.
Compared to other synthetic similar brushes, this brush has one pro that I truly love: the bristles don’t look awfully disgusting after one week of use, well, they look dirty for sure, but not sticky-disgusting. The bristles remain functional even used with a cream product over and over again. If you need, wipe it on a towel and that helps to extend its usability.
I like this brush, I don’t use it that much because it just doesn’t have a big role in my daily routine but it’s much more interesting and nice to use compared to other similar synthetic brushes. The bristles definitely appear more luxurious to look at but also feel softer on the skin.
The WA Powder costs 85$, it measures 15cm in total length, the bristles are 3,7 cm long, the ferrule is 1,85 x 1,2 cm.
There are different type of synthetic filaments in here, some finer than others, it makes this brush soft and fluffy.
If you don’t know what a natural brush feels like, you may wonder if this is natural or synthetic, it’s quite close to the Wayne Goss 25S so if you own that brush, you’ll know how it feels. For me there is no question, I know for sure this is synthetic but I understand why some would not know.
This WA Powder brush splays out nicely, unlike the Tom Ford 06 synthetic. I find the Tom Ford not fitting very well in the Tom Ford range of products, this TF brush is a bit too dense to be their main blush brush, I think something like the WA would have worked better across the TF range -just my thoughts.
Compared to the Wayne Goss synthetic brush 25S, the WA Powder is quite similar to the touch, they feel pretty much the same.
The most similar in terms of shape is the MAC 116. The Linda Hallberg 310 comes close but it’s bigger. The LH feels a little bit fuller which I actually prefer, it delivers a faster application without being too heavy… However, I much prefer the balance and ergonomics of the WA Powder brush.
The blue handle brush on the right is a Hakuhodo brush from a set I purchased on the ANA flight, it’s the most similar natural brush that I have in terms of shape. The WA and this Hakuhodo share the same ferrule size but the Hakuhodo feels firmer and fuller, which makes it better with less pigmented products and also better for buffing. For info, this blue Hakuhodo has the same measurements as the Hakuhodo J110.
With the WA Coup de Soleil bronzer: The WA Powder brush pairs well with the WA Beauty Powder Bronzer because the bronzer is pigmented but it doesn’t pick too much product, you can build the application up, however, I prefer to use the Wayne Goss 25S with this bronzer. I think the bigger candle shape is much more appropriate for bronzer application but it’s just a personal preference.
With highly pigmented blushes: You can use this brush with highly pigmented blushes, it doesn’t pick up too much and applies softly.
With less pigmented products: When paired with sheer products it works too but you may need to build up a bit more, if the products are hard to pick it will be more difficult.
Versus a natural brush: Let’s say you take this WA Powder brush and a similar natural brush and you try to spot the differences in terms of application. The natural brush will be more effortless in every way, it’s easier to pick up the products, easier to control the placement and easier to blend. The synthetic bristles tend to stick more to the skin and drag the product with them while a natural brush will deposit and have a more naturally diffused perimeter as you apply.
I also love to work the products onto the skin and even though this synthetic WA Powder brush can do it, versus a natural brush it won’t do it as well.
This WA Foundation brush costs 80$, its total length is 14.2 cm, the bristles are 3cm long. The ferrule is 2cm x 0.9 cm.
It may be bundled with some of the similar bristles as the other Westman Atelier brushes but the mix is different, these feel like much thicker bristles, more directional, stiff but soft.
When you hold this brush sideways, the tip comes to a narrow point.
These are not the type of brushes that I tend to use, I prefer round foundation brushes. For that reason, this is not something I use unless I don’t have anything else nearby. However, if you like this style, then this brush is going to be good for you, for a flat brush it performs really good, the strength and control that it offers is right where you need it to be. For this category I prefer the Chanel as these bristles have a bit more grip and power on the products but I can achieve the same result with both. I thought the Chanel was discontinued but I can still see on Chanel’s website.
The most similar brush I own is the Juvia’s Place JP004, the bristles look similar from the distance but they aren’t. The Juvia’s brush has a thicker body, I like that but it doesn’t help the brush perform better. The bristles of the Juvia’s are soft but its stiffness causes the application to be streakier versus the other two brushes.
There are ways to mitigate the streakiness: do not overload the brush and pat-diffuse the product without putting too much pressure, also if your skin is overloaded with moisturizer, the excess product will prevent the foundation to blend properly.
This is a nice brush to own also if you apply make-up on others, it allows precision and to work with different type of products, I always like to have one around as I know I will use it with masks, this brush doesn’t tend to absorb the product and you can get more precision vs a round brush.
Unless she recently released something I am not aware of, I own all her items. The Coup de Soleil bronzer, the Peau de Pêche Highlighter and all the sticks.
The Vital Skin foundation stick: It doesn’t work for me at all. I ordered this foundation online, which is a big risk without testing it at all. I bought a very light shade for my skintone (Atelier I), the shade is not a fit (I am NW20). Regardless of the shade, on my very dry skin it catches on all the little patches and I look like a fluffy dirty carpet. Sometimes a foundation that doesn’t work for me still applies well and it’s only after a couple of hours that the dry patches appear but with this one I cannot even get a first nice application. I also tried it as a concealer but it does the same, then I tried several techniques but none were a good fit.
Please keep in mind that I have terrible sensitive dry skin so only a few foundations work on me, it’s actually very surprising when a foundation or a concealer work on my skin so this WA may very well work for you, but I advise you to try it before, especially if you have dry skin.
The 4 stick blushes (cream): My fav is the Petal, your skin but better type of shade, beautiful to give dimension as a neutral blush, it looks stunning. Best technique for me is to load the product directly on the WA Blender brush and stipple it gently.
I usually don’t like to wear cheek cream products on the lips as the comfort is not always ideal, these are better than others for sure, but I still won’t wear them on the lips. There is nothing wrong with them and I am sure they will work just fine, but once applied, they give my lips a velvety/powdery unusual sensation that makes me want to rub them together all the time, not good for my sensitive lips as they tend to get very irritated very easily.
On the cheeks they definitely look gorgeous and feel good, even on my dry skin. This cream texture doesn’t add more stickiness to my face so that’s really nice coming from a cream product. The lasting power is not that incredible on me, I am often touching my face, my daughter is often touching my face, and I wear a lot of moisturizer so it doesn’t make for a nice stable base for the blush but I have other cream products that last longer, when I need something that really stays put I may not use these.
This stick packaging is simple and luxurious but not travel friendly for me as it is very heavy and bulky. If you carry only one that’s ok, but if you carry over 3, it gets heavy. For example, the foundation stick, 1 blush stick, 1 contour stick and the Blender and it’s 245g.
The Biscuit contour stick (cream): Works beautifully, blends well, fantastic neutral shade for any contour area, no issues at all and probably one of the best formulas and contour shade on a stick.
The Lit Up highlight stick (cream): Just like the blushes, I have to place the product on the brush and then stipple. If I apply it straight from the stick and diffuse with the fingertips like Gucci Westman does on her Instagram, this technique does not work very well for me as it tends to move my foundation; I very much prefer the stippling technique with the product previously placed on the brush.
The Coup de Soleil bronzer (powder): It’s truly a beautiful and comfortable matte bronzer. It applies smoothly, no catching on patches, it’s warm but it looks so natural. I don’t like to apply it with the WA Powder brush just because I’d rather use a fluffy round brush but this bronzer is truly gorgeous and one of the best warm bronzers in my entire collection.
The Peau de Pêche Super Loaded Tinted highlighter (cream): We need to pause and give it a standing ovation. This is my holy grail. It looks absolutely fabulous, there is really something happening and my ageing skin loves it. On my skintone (NW20) this is a blush and a highlighter (hence the “Tinted”, it has a base peach color). I stopped buying backups many years ago but for this, I bought 2. I use this product almost every day and when I don’t, it’s because I need to give some love to my other highlighters and use them up, should this even be possible. This Peau de Pêche has good lasting power which is surprising for a product that is not that opaque and bright, but the base color lasts and I can enjoy it for quite a long time.
I take this Peau de Pêche everywhere and I am so happy that it comes in the normal packaging, but I find this compact a bit difficult to open, so be careful and make sure you don’t drop it.
Because I use it so often, I clean it regularly with a sterile wipe and some make-up sanitizer spray, makes me feel a bit better as cream products can gather a lot of fluff or look terrible and discouraging on the pan.
- The Westman Atelier are synthetic brushes, you can use them with liquids, creams and powders.
- You are not getting these brushes to save costs versus natural brushes. You can find synthetic cheaper alternatives but I don’t think they would also be handmade in Kumano. Cheaper brushes may work just as well, at the end it’s a matter of personal preference and taste.
- If you want to start with one brush, I would advise the Blender, but it depends on what brush you would use the most. It’s definitely a splurge but not a waste if you use it and love it.
Regarding the make-up, I would recommend the Peau de Pêche Tinted highlighter, the Petal stick blush if you love neutral blushes, the Coup de Soleil bronzer and then, if you use contour, the Biscuit stick is fantastic.
Availability of her products
On Barneys, Net-A-Porter, Mecca, Westman Atelier websites.
I ordered her products from Barneys and when delivered to Switzerland I have to pay extra fees and duties on arrival.
PS: Net-a-Porter does not require extra fees on arrival in Switzerland.