I find BE's face brushes to be mostly scratchy and unpleasant. They shed a lot or the bristles break off no matter how well I try to take care of them. I've also found most synthetic brushes to be far too soft and unable to give me the coverage I want. So I'm always on the lookout for something softer that has natural hair. For me, Cover FX brushes are the very best natural hair brushes out there right now.
I have had the Cover FX 160 brush for about a year, and though it took some time to decide to set aside money for it, I recently acquired the 190 brush. Both are made from extremely soft, white goat hair. The white goat hair can be a little hard to get used to because it appears to absorb a good deal of the foundation. However, after washing the brushes a few times, I realized that they absorbed no more than any other natural hair brush I own. The white bristles just makes it look like a lot more. I cannot emphasize enough how soft and luxurious these brushes feel against my skin.
The 160 brush is intended for cream foundation according to Sephora.com, but it's equally good for mineral foundation. The brush head is oval shaped, which may or may not make a difference to you. The bristles are so compact that you can get really great, full coverage over your trouble spots. For me, this brush makes it that much easier to hide the red blotches on the the lower left side of my face. The brush did shed a bit when I first got it, but it stopped after a few months of use. It seems that how much yours may shed depends on luck. Some people have bad brushes, some people have good ones. Lucky for all of us, Sephora has a very generous return policy.
If you don't want to spend the money on this, or prefer synthetic bristles, a good alternative is the Chubby Blender from Kileng. The closest brush BE has to this is the Handy Buki.
The 190 brush is most similar to the Full Flawless Face brush from BE. Both give medium coverage. The 190 is more oval shaped, and the bristles are very slightly more compact than the Full Flawless. The hair on my Full Flawless Face brush gets scratchy and unpleasant when it's dirty, which makes for an extremely itchy buffing experience. If the same happens to you, switch to the 190! The 190 stays soft even when it's dirty. I found myself changing the way I pick up minerals when I use the 190. Instead of swirling into the minerals I tap out, I pounce the brush into the minerals. Swirling seems to make the minerals sink so far into the bristles that buffing takes twice as long. I have not found a soft, synthetic alternative to this brush yet.
Unfortunately, it looks like Sephora may stop carrying the 190. I don't know where Cover FX will distribute it if that's the case or if they are discontinuing the brush as well. If you want it, hurry!
When I apply foundation, I will go over my entire face with the 190 brush first. Then I will cover any redness I have using the 160. Last, I spot conceal with whatever concealer brush I have lying around. To protect the bristles, I swirl in a plastic dish from Kileng instead of in the lids of the mineral jars
Cost: Cover FX 160 - $38; Cover FX 190 - $49; Handy Buki - $20; Full Flawless - $28; Chubby Blender - $13.50.
I don't like paying for scratchy brushes. The only time I get new Bare Escentuals brushes is when they come in kits and I don't even open half of them. The other half get opened and used only occasionally. It does take time to save money for luxuries like brushes, but brushes are an investment of sorts. If you take care of them, they will last years. Cover FX brushes, while more expensive, are the kind of brushes I'm willing to invest in. They are well made, soft, and should last a while. It's not worth paying less for scratchy brushes.
As a side note, if you have bad acne or any sort of rosacea, I would suggest avoiding Bare Escentuals brushes like the plague. It's better to get something soft so that you won't irritate your skin. Whether you use natural or synthetic hair brushes is completely up to you.