Having good makeup brushes and tools is important, but unfortunately cosmetics often come with cruddy and difficult to use makeup brushes, and good ones are expensive. But there are some cheaper options out there. One of those is Essence of Beauty. The Essence of Beauty line of makeup brushes is carried in CVS drugstores and is a an excellent value.
I purchased several different Essence of Beauty makeup brushes, a soft kabuki brush, an angled blush brush, two eyeshadow brushes, a foundation brush, a concealer brush, and a couple of sponge tip smudgers for eyeliner. The brushes ranged in price from about $4 for the smudgers to $10 each for the blush brush and kabuki.
Essence of Beauty brushes are attractive, with blond wood handles and black trim. The bristles are of OK quality that, in light of the cheap price, I assume are synthetic . Like many new brushes, particularly cheaper ones, the brushes lost a few bristles when first used. But after a couple of uses, no more fell out and all was fine.
All but the kabuki brush provided decent application. I honestly could not tell a difference between the cheaper blush brush and my expensive one from M.A.C. The eyeshadow brushes were fine. I like my M.A.C eye shadow brushes there better, but at a $25-$30 difference or so in price, I don't know that I would repurchase many of those over the cheaper Essence of Beauty makeup brushes. I particularly liked the eyeshadow crease brush, which has nice compact bristles that taper to a slightly pointed and rounded center. I did notice that a good liner brush seems to be lacking from the collection, but it would be hard for anyone to beat my M.A.C. favorite there anyway. (Update, Essence of Beauty now has a good press liner: Essence of Beauty Eyeliner Brush)
The foundation brush and concealer brush were also quite serviceable. I don't tend to use either often, so having inexpensive ones is fine with me. The makeup smudgers also worked as expected, although I prefer to use a brush with thicker, compact bristles for that instead of a sponge tip brush.
The one Essence of Beauty brush that I was not entirely pleased was with the kabuki brush. This was a particularly soft brush that also lost more hair over a longer period of time than the others. I prefer a bit of stiffness in a kabuki and this one was so soft that it really was only useful to me as an over all light powder brush. So in the areas of kabuki brushes, I definitely prefer other brands, including the Bareminerals brushes.
On the whole, the Essence of Beauty line has some good value makeup brushes. This can be a happy medium if you dislike the brushes included with many cosmetics, yet do not want to pay a small fortune for top of the line brushes. Another inexpensive line is the Sonia Kashuk line from Target. That line has a similar selection of brushes, but I feel that those tend to lose bristles more easily.