Review – Affordable Makeup Brushes by CALA

CALA Brushes

Good quality, affordable makeup brushes are a scarce commodity in South Africa.  There are a lot of cheap makeup brushes available here, but that’s just my point – they’re cheap and nasty.  I couple of years ago when I really started getting into makeup, I was faced with a big decision:  MAC or Sigma?  As you may very well know, MAC makeup brushes are very expensive and sometimes the quality is average.  I wanted to invest in amazing quality makeup brushes, and saved up my pennies to buy my very first MAC brush (which was a MAC 217).  I was happy with the brush and then decided to add the MAC 150 to my Christmas wish list.  Bad idea, because after a couple of months using (and washing) the brush, I was very disappointed in the amount of brush shedding, plus the bristles started to get rough and scratchy.  It still pains me thinking about it to this day, because that brush had a hefty price tag!  It definitely wasn’t due to the brush cleanser I was using because I was using the MAC Brush Cleanser, plus the Beautyblender cleanser.  I then decided to place an order online for a couple of Sigma Beauty brushes (it was a good couple of years ago, so I had to place my order online and had to have it shipped to SA).  I was a lot happier with my Sigma brushes and slowly but surely started building up a makeup brush collection.

My point of that long intro is the following:  Expensive doesn’t always mean quality.  Afrikaners have a saying:  “Goedkoop is partykeer duur koop.”  It basically means sometimes you get what you pay for, you could spend a smaller amount of money on something that is bad quality, and you’ll end up having to spend even more money purchasing an item that is a bit more expensive but will last you for a longer period of time.

The operative word there, though, is ‘sometimes’.  In this case, CALA brushes are super affordable (I bought mine at Dis-Chem) AND the quality is great!  I bought my first CALA brushes (2 of them) a few months ago and enjoyed using them so much, I decided to go back and purchase a couple more (I picked up 3 additional eye brushes and 2 face brushes).

I’ll start off by saying every single one of these brushes are extremely soft on the face and eyes, even after a couple of ‘brush baths’ using combinations of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, the blendercleanser or the MAC Brush Cleanser.  I actually can’t get over how soft the bristles of these brushes are (I’m typing this while stroking my cheek with the Deluxe Powder 301 brush).  The ferrules on all of the brushes I own hug the brush handle very tightly and I can’t image them loosening or detaching at all (unless you leave your brushes lying in water, which by the way, you should never EVER do).

I’ll give you a run-down of all the brushes currently in my CALA brush collection.  The two-tone brushes (called the Studio Master range) are synthetic and cruelty-free brushes, and the brushes from the CALA Lily collection are natural hair makeup brushes.  Synthetic brushes can be used for liquid, cream or powder makeup as they do not tend to absorb liquid / cream products.  Natural hair makeup brushes, should only be used with powder products as they do tend to absorb a certain amount of liquid.  However, there are no ‘rules’ when it comes to makeup…only guidelines, so do what makes you happy!

CALA Deluxe Powder Brush

CALA Deluxe Powder Brush (301) – R 99,95 – This soft and fluffy brush is perfect for applying powder all over the face, or bronzing up the perimeters of the face.  I find it’s big enough to apply a face powder over the entirety of the face in a couple of swoops, but is small enough to function really well as a bronzing brush too.

CALA Angled Contour Brush 1

CALA Angled Contour (302) – R 69,95 – The PERFECT contour brush in my opinion!  It is soft, fluffy, angled and flattened so you can use this one brush to lay down the initial contour shade, plus use it to blend it out as well.  Seriously, guys, if there’s 1 brush I suggest you check out – it’s this one.  If you feel the bristles are a bit too fluffy to create a sharp contour, then just pinch the brush between your thumb & index finger to make it a little more dense.  I’ve used this brush to contour with both cream and powder products and it works great with both.

CALA Angled Contour Brush 2

Some of you guys have asked me to do a ‘How I Contour & Highlight’ video, and I’ll hopefully have that video up for you soon.  In the meantime, I loaded a new video up on my YouTube channel just last night, you can check it out here.

CALA Blending Brush

CALA Blending Brush (311) – R 29,95 – I really love how all the synthetic eye brushes are the same price, I know it sounds very arb…but I just thought I’d mention it nonetheless.  Perfect for blending out powder eyeshadows in the crease or even my under eye concealer, this brush is so soft and fluffy it might make you over blend because it feels SO nice on the eye area.

I’m at it again…stroking my face with these brushes whilst typing my blog post.

CALA Large Shading Brush

CALA Large Shading Brush (312) – R 29,95 – I have applied cream and liquid eyeshadow primers, powder eyeshadows and even my under eye concealer using this nifty little brush and have found it works really well with all of them, thanks to the synthetic bristles.  The size of this brush is probably the size of my index finger nail, so it makes applying an eyeshadow to the lid really quick and easy.

CALA Eyeshadow Brush Small

CALA Eyeshadow Brush (313) – R 29,95 – A little smaller than the above mentioned eyeshadow brush, which makes it perfect for packing on a darker eyeshadow colour in the outer V-area of the lid.  I also use this brush to run (and blend) an eyeshadow on the lower lash line.  I imagine it will also make for a brilliant brow and inner corner highlight brush as it is nice and small.  Because it is smaller than the ‘Large Shading Brush’ it is also denser.

CALA Shading Brush

CALA Shading Brush (505) – R 39,95 – This brush is very dense and I use it to apply eyeshadows that tend to have a bit of fall-out because it holds onto the shadows really, really well.  Also, because it is so dense, it really packs on the colour – so if you are looking for a brush that will make your eyeshadows pop (without having to reapply layer after layer), this is it!  See this brush in action here.

CALA Eyeshadow Brush

CALA Eyeshadow Brush (506) – R 49,95 – Probably the softest natural bristle eyeshadow brush in my whole brush collection!  I love that this brush is so multi-functional – I can use it as a shader brush to apply a wash of colour on the lids, or I can softly blend out any eyeshadow in the crease, outer V-area or even lower lash line.  It’s fluffy (but not as fluffy as a normal blending brush), so it softens the edges of any eye look really nicely.

So, those are all the CALA brushes I own at the moment.  These brushes are available at Dis-Chem stores but I have noticed that not all Dis-Chem stores stock all of the brushes.

Also, I am not saying these brushes will not shed at some stage of their little brush lives (all brushes get old and start to shed) but for the price, these brushes really are amazing quality.

Unfortunately the CALA brush collection is quite small (I think Dis-Chem sells 12 – 15 different brushes), some of you might think that it is a decent amount of makeup brushes but for someone like me (who obviously has a hoarding problem), I’d like to see a wider variety.  I will still keep purchasing Sigma brushes here as well because they are always coming out with new & innovative brushes.  It’s a vicious circle, ladies, the more makeup brushes you have…the more you want to own!

If you have tried any of the other CALA brushes, and there has been 1 or 2 that you really loved, let me know in the comments section below – I’d love to check them out.



  1. 9 October 2014 / 14:23

    MUST get some of those eye brushes, they look great!

    • 10 October 2014 / 16:01

      They are amazing – so soft, I just love them! 🙂

  2. 9 October 2014 / 14:53

    Such a great post Luzanne! Love affordable make up brushes! Going to research to see if they are cruelty free 🙂

    ps: Amazing photos!

    • 10 October 2014 / 16:00

      Thank you, Cass! 🙂 The Studio Master range is cruelty free – great news! xox

  3. shannon
    9 October 2014 / 15:09

    Thanks for this! I have been searching fpr good brushes and cant bare spending the amount of money that mac are. Do you by any chance know which dischems have the best range (cape town) thank you so much

    • 10 October 2014 / 15:46

      I have no idea, Shannon – I’ll try to find out for you from Dis-Chem and will comment back here when I’ve received feedback from them. You can always also tweet them to ask (if you’re on Twitter) – if you do, tag me in the tweet so that I can follow up with them on Twitter. 🙂

  4. Tiffany
    9 October 2014 / 15:29

    Loved this blog post, Luzanne! So detailed and beautiful!

    Popping into our local dischem after work to see what I can find!


    • 10 October 2014 / 15:46

      Aaaah, thank you so much! I hope you found some lovely brushes to add to your collection, Tiffany. 🙂

  5. Odette
    9 October 2014 / 16:24

    Thank you for always writing such fab blog posts! ♥

    • 10 October 2014 / 15:49

      It’s a pleasure, Odette. 🙂 x

  6. farzana
    9 October 2014 / 16:47

    Best beauty blog in South Africa! You are just getting better and better, Luzanne!!!! Didn’t think it was possible, since your blog posts were already so amazing! 😀

    • 10 October 2014 / 15:49

      You are so kind, Farzana!! You make me shy… *blush*

  7. Geraldine
    9 October 2014 / 18:39

    I purchased the double-ended blush and contour brush on Monday and I absolutely love it! Need to get some eye brushes asap. Thank you for an amazing blog- everything is so bright and cherry- it makes me happy:)

    • 10 October 2014 / 15:50

      I haven’t seen that double-ended blush brush as yet, but will definitely check it out next time I’m at Dis-Chem if they have it in stock.

      Thank you for being so sweet, Geraldine. 🙂

  8. barbara
    9 October 2014 / 19:12

    Thank you for informing us of these affordable brushes, Luzanne. Heading for Dischem this weekend to see which of these are available at my local store. Keen on the contour brush, face brush, large shader brush and the blender brush.


    • 10 October 2014 / 15:51

      Happy shopping, Barbara! 😀 The brushes are SOOOO soft, you’re going to love them!

  9. Melissa ❀
    9 October 2014 / 21:21

    Oooh never seen this brand at Dischem before. Ill most defs be on the lookout for these brushes next time Im at the shops.

    Thanks, Luzanne.

    • 10 October 2014 / 15:52

      Definitely check them out, they’re amazing quality for the price!

      Thanks for reading & commenting, Melissa. 🙂

  10. Zee Mohlapi
    9 October 2014 / 21:59

    I went to Dischem today straight after work and picked up 3 of the brushes.

    I’m going to apply my makeup with them tomo morning.

    You are right, tho, they are so soft… I think Im going to luv them!


    • 10 October 2014 / 15:52

      Oh wow! I hope you love your new brushes, Zee, although I’m pretty sure you will! 😉

  11. 10 October 2014 / 08:45

    I purchased the Cala Kabuki brush and use it to apply my setting powder. I totally agree it it so soft against my skin and a steal for just R69

    • 10 October 2014 / 15:53

      Will definitely check out the kabuki brush next time – if it’s as soft as the others, I’m going to love it. 🙂 R 69,00 is such a great price for a kabuki brush too!

  12. 10 October 2014 / 10:08

    I’ve always been wary of picking up brushes from the Cala line in case they are scratchy. The samples at my local dis-chem are so scratchy! But I think the next time I pop in, I’ll take a chance.

    • 10 October 2014 / 15:55

      Oh no! Fortunately I didn’t feel the sample brushes, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have discovered these beauties!

      If you’re worries about scratchy brushes, start out by purchasing one of the Studio Master brushes (the two-toned brushes)…none of them are even remotely scratchy on the skin. 🙂

  13. 10 October 2014 / 10:51

    Such good prices wow!! I am so lazy when it comes to using the correct brushes etc but have promised myself to start a proper collection. I usually just get whatever looks useful and then forgetting about them.

    XoXo One Stiletto At a Time

    • 10 October 2014 / 15:56

      I know, right!? I couldn’t believe the prices of the brushes, especially the eye makeup brushes!

      You’ll be a brush hoarder in no time at all, Abby! Haha! 😉

  14. Lulu
    10 October 2014 / 13:08

    I agree with Farzana, your beauty blog is tops! I could do with new brushes so I’ll be visiting Dischem soon. Your photos and descriptions are great!

    • 10 October 2014 / 15:56

      Thank you so much, Lulu!

      Let me know if you love your new brushes. 🙂

  15. Hasmitha
    10 October 2014 / 14:19

    I like the photos 🙂 I have the fine liner brush for about a year and it works like a bomb with gel. Great post, I have made a list.

    • 10 October 2014 / 15:57

      Ooooh will definitely be checking out the liner brush then! Thanks for the recommendation, Hasmitha! 🙂

  16. Hanneri
    10 October 2014 / 18:42

    What a great review! I think I need them all 😉

  17. Natalie
    11 October 2014 / 16:06


    I bought four of these brushes 2 weeks ago and I love them.


  18. Simone
    13 October 2014 / 09:33

    Been looking for affordable brushes and then you post this! Yay! Will definitely be getting some of these. Hopefully Dischem in PE has.

    I am off to CT next month so if I don’t find in PE I will try to track them down there. Also headed to a Lush when in CT for that mask you blogged about (Mask of Magnimity?).

    Seriously LOVE your blog Luzanne!

  19. Alicia
    15 October 2014 / 16:27

    Thanks for this!! been eyeing them for a while but was worried about the quality!

    I have tried the fan brush though and its been awesome.

  20. Sheniz
    12 November 2014 / 22:11

    You should try the blush brush. It’s amazing at picking up powder blushes in only two light sweeps and only needs a light application!
    Thank you for this review though. Definitely about to splurge on these instead of MAC brushes 🙂

    • 17 November 2014 / 16:37

      Thanks, Sheniz! Will definitely check it out next time I’m at Dis-Chem. 🙂

      And you’re welcome – it’s always nice to find more affordable alternatives.

  21. Nirana Krishna
    18 November 2014 / 10:12

    I have never been so eager to visit Dis-Chem than I am right now. I have to get the Cala Delux Powder Brush. <3

    • 18 November 2014 / 19:27

      Haha!! Loved this comment, Nirana! 🙂 x

  22. kate
    20 November 2014 / 22:44

    discovered these today and then discovered your blog tonight. love the eyeshadow brush. i need to replace my 217, but cant get it over my heart to pay so much for it.
    you should also check out queensparks range, aura. im very happy with the 2 brushes i bought. and they’ve been washed a few times with no shedding and so so so soft.

    • 21 November 2014 / 08:51

      Thank you for popping by the blog, Kate – I really appreciate it! 🙂

      The MAC 217 brush is very pricey, and I think this CALA blending brush does a really decent job of blending eyeshadows but I wouldn’t call it a dupe for the 217 brush. I actually didn’t even know the Aura range at Queenspark included brushes, I’ll definitely go take a look next time I’m at the shops. Thanks for the recommendation, Kate! 🙂

  23. Nirana Krishna
    22 November 2014 / 09:46

    I Purchased the Cala Deluxe Powder Brush and I’m really happy with it. I still cant get over how incredibly soft the brush is. Way better than the MAC 129. Thanks Luzanna for this awesome and informative blog 🙂

    • 25 November 2014 / 09:36

      You are VERY welcome, Nirana. 🙂 I received your email and will reply to it tonight. These CALA brushes are so soft, I’m really impressed with their quality. I’ve washed my brushes quite a few times already and haven’t had any issues with shedding.

  24. Monika
    4 March 2015 / 23:53

    Hi Luzanne,

    Thank you for you insight about these brushes, I just purchased a few.

    I was wondering, did you get the deluxe powder and blush brush at dischem also? Not only did my dischem not have them but their website also doesn’t show these two toned brushes.

    All the best!!

    • 5 March 2015 / 08:22

      Hi Monika, I purchased all the brushes at Dis-Chem. I usually don’t see all the brushes stocked at all the Dis-Chem stores (the full range) but most of the larger stores will have all of these brushes. 🙂 I wouldn’t recommend the natural hair brushes (the ones that are not two-toned) as they can sometimes feel a bit scratchy on the skin.

  25. Mithi
    22 July 2015 / 14:57

    Hi Luzanne,

    Thank you kindly for this wonderful review. You couldn’t be more right, it is so difficult to find affordable brushes (I know I am a good few months late, but just started researching affordable brushes).
    I have recently started following your blog and simply love it.
    thank you!

  26. Lindyll
    8 October 2015 / 11:41

    Wow! What a great review, thank you for this!!!! You saved me!!! 🙂 PS: luuurv your nail color 🙂

  27. 7 November 2015 / 15:24

    I bought a CALA crease brush today (I’ve been in desperate need of an affordable fluffy brush). I was really excited about my new find and tried it out once I got home. After testing it out, it was safe to say I was very happy with its performance. That’s when I noticed all the shedding, so I tested it out again. The brush I have sheds like crazy. It makes me so sad because I like it so much. Fingers crossed it stops shedding from here on out.

    • 8 November 2015 / 22:22

      That’s so strange – I’ve had my CALA brushes for a year now and I haven’t had any issues with them shedding hair (I’ve washed all of them quite a few times already). Do you have the synthetic duofibre brush or the natural hair brush?

  28. Samantha
    19 November 2015 / 07:52

    Hi Luzanne. I am desperately lusting after the MAC 217 blending brush, but the cost is just way out of my reach. Would you honestly say that these brushes would work as an alternative? I know that there is nothing like the real deal, but I’m tempted. I sometimes wonder if by the time you’ve purchased a bunch of cheap brushes, you should have just dug deep and got the real thing in the first place. Is the MAC 217 really worth the hype? Thanks!

  29. Helen
    29 November 2015 / 14:22

    I would like to order these brushes. Can this be done online?

  30. Wendy
    1 January 2017 / 20:07

    Hi Luzanne

    I know I’m responding to a very old post but could you perhaps do a review on the beautique range brushes found at edgars stores.

    I see the price is very affordable, in the same price range as the CALA bruses & a huge variaty available too.

    • 8 January 2017 / 12:21

      Hi Wendy! Thanks for taking the time to comment – I’ll definitely check them out and do a review for you. 🙂

  31. Lavondré Van Eden
    21 March 2017 / 20:48

    Hey everybody I am new or not really new but wonna go deep into makeup… Been looking up on brushes… Was online clicks has a wide range of NYX BRUSHES… DISCHEM HAS ALSO A WIDE RANGE OF THESE CALA BRUSHES AND ONLINE EDGARS ONLY HAS LIKE 14… Cala at Dischem have way more cheapies… And Samantha Sigma brushes are very similar too mac… I have so much makeup palettes lol i just need the right tools so i can begin… Have a splended night everyone….

  32. Lavondré Van Eden
    23 March 2017 / 08:50

    Hey sooooo my Cala Brushes is on there way to me from Dis-Chem….. Can’t wait to try them out…. Don’t you perhaps know where I would find the L’oreal nfallible beauty blender…

    • 26 March 2017 / 18:52

      Hi there, Lavondré – really happy to hear you invested in some CALA brushes, you’re going to love them! The L’Oreal sponges are unfortunately not available in South Africa. 🙁 I wish they were!!

  33. Jaxx
    11 April 2018 / 12:30

    Thank you for this review! Which of these are comparable to mac 217 or sigma 25?

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