October 11, 2011

Top 5 Make-Up Brushes

I have always maintained that the secret to good make-up is the right tools. Well, tools and practice, practice, practice!

One of the questions I've been asked a lot, both in real life and since joining the online beauty community, has been about the brushes I use and what ones I couldn't live without. Now, it's no secret that I love MAC and I have a rather large collection so, inevitably, the brushes I have the most of are MAC.

That being said, I have tried many other brush brands and, for the most part, MAC always comes out on top. You really get what you pay for in terms of quality, softness and ability to do the job they are intended for. Read on to see what five make-up brushes I think everyone should have in their collection.

Sigma F80 Flat Top Kabuki: This is the only non-MAC brush I am including in here. Now, I haven't tried any other Sigma brushes but, from what I hear they are comparable to MAC and at half the price. However, I can confirm this stumpy, dense brush blows all MAC brushes out of the water when used for liquid foundation.

I have the famous MAC 187, the traditional MAC 129 and even the teeny tiny MAC 130, all of which are touted by various online gurus to be the best foundation brushes. However, the F80 triumphs over all of these on so many levels. It is densely packed, as in it is stiff and there is very little give in the shape of the brush head. This makes it perfect for buffing foundation into the skin as most of the product remains on top of the bristles and is easily moved across the skin, creating a flawless and airbrushed effect.

MAC 217: This brush is constantly raved about as one of the premier eye make-up brushes out there. It is a tapered crease brush and, while fluffy, deposits colour evenly and densely in the crease and outer corner of the eye. This is the only brush I can use to create the perfect outer V and gradient-effect in the crease and I own two of it, with plans to invest in a third! In fact, I would go so far as to say that, if you were on a desert island and could only have one make-up brush (after all of the essentials had been taken care of, of course!) you could live with just this eye brush as it can be used for a wash of colour across the lid and, as I said, defining the crease in various ways.

MAC 182: A somewhat underrated brush, the MAC 182 is a dense yet fluffy kabuki brush that is, effectively, the powder-friendly equivalent of the aforementioned Sigma F80. I use this brush on a daily basis with my MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural powder as it gives flawless, light coverage which is just enough for me at 7am on the way out to work!

At €50, the 182 is a huge investment for one piece of kit but, it is the face brush I couldn't live without. I also use it to buff out any harsh contouring lines, overzealous blush application and even buff in small, tight circles along my jawline when wearing foundation to ensure that there are no unsightly lines between the slap and my neck!

MAC 252: The little sister to this brush gets a lot of lovin' online while the 252 rarely gets a look-in. However, I find the 242 is far too small and too thin to effectively pack a lot of colour onto my lids and requires multiple layers of shadow to build-up any kind of good pigmentation. This is where the 252 steps up the plate and really comes into its own. It is an absolute genius at quickly and neatly depositing colour onto the lids. You have ultimate control of the brush as it isn't at all fluffy Between this, the 217 and the next brush I'm going to talk about, you can easily create a professional, flawless eye look in next to no time at all.

Right: MAC 252 vs MAC 242

MAC 227:  Again, this is a rather underrated brush, rarely mentioned in the beauty blogosphere. Granted, it looks a bit oddly shaped and a bit cumbersome for use as an eye brush but, it is the most transformative brush I have ever used. It is the perfect shape to highlight the brow bone and its fluffy yet dense nature means that you get a light, natural highlight. Best of all though, it almost acts as an eraser for any mishaps you have with your eyeshadow and lightly blends out the edges for you if blending isn't your strong suit! I also get use out of this brush when packing colour right up to the brow bone, blending out my filled-in eyebrows for a more natural effect and even highlighting my cheek bones in a pinch!

Looking back at this list of brushes, there is a bit of a trend with underrated, under-talked about brushes. Just goes to show the the cult favourites aren't always the best!

What are your must-have brushes?

Brushes Image Source


  1. Luckily I have brushes similar to all of these except the sigma one (which has been on my wishlist for ages!) and the mac 217 which I think I'll now have to invest in.

  2. I love the f80 as well, best brush of Sigma :) and I need a 217!

  3. Interesting post; since I got my 217 I'm actually a bit underwhelmed with it as I find it very stiff! Hoping that it gives a bit with time. I also love the F80, couldn't live without it! (OK, I probably could. But it would be a miserable existence!) x

  4. Love these types of posts, maybe you could do a top 5 series?
    I already declared my eternal love&devotion to my f80, i just ordered another one :D

  5. I have both the Sigma F80 and the MAC 187 and I agree with you, I prefer the Sigma brush, for the same reasons: stiffer, keeps its shape more easily, etc.

    I am still trying to find my favourite eye brush.

    Thanks for your tips!

  6. Oh I neded this in my life. I have 2 brushes that I use on a regular basis, my blusher brush and my kabuki brush for my bronzer. I also have a No 7 eye brush roll that I've started to use a little. Could you girls possibly do a bumper post on all the brushes you have and how you use them - i'm just so clueless and really need help.

    Steph xxx


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