Now, firstly, let's address the most pressing issue with these brushes: the price. The Flat Contour Brush retails for an incredible $65 in Australia. Given you can only purchase them online at the moment, if your order is under $100, you have to pay an additional $5.50 for shipping. I'm sorry, but if I'm paying $70.50 for a single brush, it better be a damn good brush. At that price range, it's competing with established high end brands like Bobbi Brown or NARS. We all know that Australian markup is ridiculous, but this brush ain't cheap in the US or UK either. It's £22 ($42) or $26 USD (about $37 post-tax).
The most jarring aspect of the pricing is comparing the Bold Metals Collection to the original line. Yes, the new brushes are meant to be "super luxe", but at the end of the day, both are made of synthetic bristles. I personally don't feel that much difference in softness between the Flat Contour Brush and any other brush from the original Real Techniques line once it touches my face, though it might not be the best brush to compare as it's very dense, rather than soft and fluffy. Sure, the design of the brushes offers something new, but even then, the elevated price doesn't seem entirely justified. The rose gold is pretty and the handle does feel heftier and properly weighted, but the material and craftsmanship don't scream to me "extremely high quality", especially with a few noticeable nicks and dents on the edges of the handle.
Put it this way. At $37, which is still the cheapest price I could pay for this brush (and I still had to get my friend to buy it online in the States and bring it back to Australia in her luggage), I could buy a Wayne Goss brush (e.g. Brush 14) from Beautylish that's been handcrafted in Japan by artisans using ultra-soft natural hair. Or I could just stick with something like the Expert Face Brush ($9 USD), rather than spending three times the amount for something not vastly superior in craftsmanship, materials or functionality.
Rose gold and contouring brushes ... I'm sensing a trend.
Top to bottom: Real Techniques Flat Contour Brush, Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, Real Techniques Contour Brush, Charlotte Tilbury Powder & Sculpt, Zoeva Face Shape
l-r: Zoeva Face Shape, Charlotte Tilbury Powder & Sculpt, Real Techniques Contour Brush, Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, Real Techniques Flat Contour Brush
Another thing dampening my enthusiasm is I simply did not need this brush in my life. I thought a dedicated contouring brush would be useful, particularly for cream products, but then I had a look at my collection and realised I HAVE BRUSHES FOR THAT ALREADY. And by brushes, I mean four brushes. Minimally.
Sure, the Charlotte Tilbury Powder & Sculpt is really only for powder products, but the rest are synthetic and good for both powder and creams. (Plus, how many cream contouring products do I even own? The answer is a modest two if bronzer is included: 1) Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel and 2) Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow, which is very questionable in terms of suitability for my skin tone and effectiveness.) Basically, any of these brushes could serve the purpose of the Flat Contour Brush. Some I would say are a lot better since the Flat Contour is limited by its blunt rectangular shape and short, dense bristles. It can't gently dust product on and softly blend it out the way the Charlotte Tilbury Powder & Sculpt can. The Flat Contour can really only pick up a small amount of product along the entire surface area of the brush, place it in a line down the face, and then blend it out once the product has been put down.
l-r: Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, Real Techniques Flat Contour Brush
In terms of brush shape, the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush is by far the most similar to the Flat Contour Brush. You definitely don't need both. If anything, I prefer the Expert Face Brush as it's more versatile (excellent for cream blush and liquid foundation), and fluffier and softer, meaning it diffuses product seamlessly with less effort. The Flat Contour Brush is narrower in shape so it allows a more precise placement, but since it's significantly firmer to the touch and the bristles are more tightly packed, it's harder to blend product out. It does pick up and use less product while not sacrificing pigmentation due to the density of bristles preventing excess product from being absorbed.
Overall, I like the Flat Contour Brush, but I'm not in love with it. I find it overpriced for what it is and I already have several brushes that are able to carry out its specific function, so I wouldn't say it's an entirely successful addition to my makeup brush collection. Still, it's nice to look at, does what it promises, and while I may have similar brushes, I can't say I have anything exactly like it.