For personal use, I prefer travel brushes because the shorter handles mean better control in application. This year's Laura Mercier Limited Edition Travel Brush Set is almost identical to the one last year. The only difference being the design of the bag's exterior.
If you're thinking about purchasing this, read on as I go through what last year's set looks like. Note that I just took these photos - after a year of use.
The bag is roomier than it looks. All the brushes will fit. You may need to use a brush guard to protect the Finishing brush but everything else will be fine as is. The bag's interior has two side compartments which can store more products than you'd initially think. The mesh bag is removable and kept in place with magnets at the bottom of the bag.
During my last overseas trip, I stored all my cosmetics in this bag - three individual eyeshadows, a lip & blush cream color pot, a travel-sized tube of tinted moisturizer, powder compact and a small mirror. Everything fit well, there was a little bluge but not enough to damage the bag.
This set contains four double-sided brushes and a full sized brush, some are made of synthetic bristles and the others natural. The quality of the mini-brushes are comparable to their full-sized counterparts which is something you don't often find in travel brush sets.
I was blown away by the fact that they included a full-sized Finishing Brush in this set. It's just as soft and firm as MAC's Stippling Brush but with less fall-out. The bristles are a bit longer than MAC but it doesn't make the much of a difference with makeup application. I use this for liquid foundation and cream concealer. I also find that this works when I need to apply a light layer of powder to set my makeup.
Next up, is the mini Secret Camouflage/Camouflage Powder brush. Before owning this set, I already had the full-sized version of both. Initially, I thought that the double-ended brush would be inferior compared to the full-sized one but I was wrong. The quality is excellent - the Secret Camouflage Brush end grabs on to cream products extremely well. The Camouflage Powder end is what I use to set my concealer with just a tiny pat of powder.
The Brow Definer/Brow Grooming brush is my favorite in this set. The Brow Definer's width is approximately 0.65 cm. I've tried brushes that were smaller and bigger - the brush in this set is just the right size as it covers more area but at the same time still allows me to fill in the sparse area of my brows with precise detail. The Brow Grooming tip is very sturdy and I don't need to worry about it snapping off after numerous times of using and washing.
My least favorite duo is the Ponytail/All Over Eye Colour double-brush. That's not to say that these brushes are no good - not the very least! The bristles are so soft that applying product feels quite nice. It's just a matter of preference and figuring out how to get the most out of this duo. The All Over Eye Colour is a little over 1.5 cm which is quite wide for any type of eyeshadow brush. I personally prefer smaller eyeshadow brushes so that it's easier to build color. Since this is huge, I just use this for the base color or for times when I just use one shade of eyeshadow.
The Ponytail Brush is a little too soft for a blending brush which means I spend more time blending compared to when I use a bullet brush. However, this is a great alternative for applying loose powder to set undereye concealer. I actually love using this for that specific purpose.
Lastly, let's take a look at the Smudge/Flat Eye Liner brush. The Smudge tip is what I use when I want to apply a dark eyeshadow shade like Black. Since it's tiny, about 0.5 cm, I can slowly build the color and avoid going overboard. This tip is a bit on the scratchy side so I don't use this to smudge eyeshadow but for heavier products like gel eyeliner, it works great.
The Flat Eye Liner end is the same size as the Brow Definer and this is my brush of choice when it comes to applying my gel eyeliner. MAC's Flat Eyeliner brush is just too wide for me to comfortably maneuver the brush around the shape of my eye. Laura Mercier got it right by making it shorter which means less room for error.
These brushes are so easy to use and convenient that for most of this year, I kept my full-sized brushes and switched to using this set almost on a daily basis. As you can see, after a year of constant use, they are still in pretty good shape which speaks of its excellent quality. I absolutely love this set! As much as I would love to say that this is great for the novice makeup user, I think that those with more experience will appreciate this more.