Sunday, March 8th, 2009

7 MAC Eye Brushes You Need In Your Arsenal

204 Lash Brush ($11.00) is perfect for grooming brows, grabbing mascara, and combing out lashes. It’s sturdier than disposal wands to boot!

208 Angled Brow Brush ($19.50) is my go-to brush for all my eyelining needs. It doesn’t matter that it’s labeled as a “brow brush,” because it’s excellent for thin, precise lining. It’s angled and stiff enough to use for upper lash lining and tightlining. Everyone raves about the 266, but I prefer this over the 266 when lining my upper lash line! (If you have the 263, it should be just about as good–though it’s $20).

219 Pencil Brush ($23.00) is a must-have if like to smudge your eyeshadow or wear eyeshadow as liner. It applies and deposits color easily on the lower lash line, but it can also smudge or smoke out liner (with or without shadow) in just a few seconds.

224 Tapered Blending Brush ($28.00) makes crease-work a breeze. Blend out harsh lines with a soft, wispy motion with this fluffy, blending brush. Add ultra-rich, pigmented shadows in smoother, subtler layers–and never worry about going too heavy. (By the by, the limited edition 226 is even better, but the 224 will do if you can’t get your hands on the 226.) I find the 226/224 works better for me than the 217 (too fluffy).

239 Eye Shader Brush ($24.50) should be the first eye brush you purchase. It is beyond phenomenal, and if you really want to, this is one brush that can do it all. It is up to the challenge of replacing every single other eye brush you own. Soft to the touch with a nice density of bristles, it’s has enough fluff to easily pick up eyeshadow color, but enough density to pack on the color on the lid. The size is ideal for applying eyeshadow from the lid to the crease to the lower lash line. In fact, you may want to think about owning multiple 239s. (I have five–yes, five!)

249 Large Shader Brush ($27.00) is the best brush for applying creamy products to your eyes. I am always using this whenever I’m applying paints, paint pots, fluidlines, etc. as a base. It’s flat, firm, and holds its shape while still picking up plenty of product. What I love is it picks up product, and it doesn’t all get stuck in the bristles.

266 Small Angle Brush ($19.50) is an oft-raved about brush, usually when speaking about fluidline and lining, but it is also excellent for filling in brows. It’s thicker than both the 208 and 263 (my choices for lining), but if you’re going for thicker liner, this will definitely be a must-have. Talk about making cat-eyes easier!

* Please note that these are my picks for essential brushes based on my experience, brushes not included may be valuable, but they are not brushes I find myself using often enough to call them essential.

What eye brushes would you deem as your essential set?

Discussion and debate are highly encouraged, and we expect community members to participate respectfully. When asking a question, please check the FAQ section (above) for information about purchasing, price, dupes, and the like. If you have general feedback or need technical support, please contact us.

Comments that include advertisements, self-promotion, insults, etc. may be in violation of our comment policy and subject to deletion. Please see our comment policy for more information.

105 thoughts on “7 MAC Eye Brushes You Must-Have for Eye Makeup

  1. Great idea for a post!

  2. K

    Isn’t the 217 brush missing? lol That brush is just so magical!

      • Sarah

        I don’t like it either! My makeup-addict friends all rant and rave about “the 217″, but I find myself almost NEVER reaching for it. I bought it for my crease, but I find myself reaching for my 224 every time. It is so much easier to work with!

      • Yumiko

        Same! The 217 was one of my first ever MAC eye brushes but I never warmed up to it. 224 all the way, baby!

  3. dieu

    I can’t believe u didn’t mention the 217..that brush is amazing if u have that u don’t need the 224 IMO

  4. Macaddict

    MY HG for eyes that I MUST & DO use every day are:
    – #239 (I own 3 of them and use them all daily and wish I could have 6 more! It’s so versatile a brush that really I use it for all kinds of e/s coverage, such as blending, lining, stifling, smoking…)
    – #266 (also use for filling eyebrows and lining. It’s wunderful!)
    – #219 (as well, but mostly to open up the inner corner with white or highlighting colors)
    – #272 (it’s good for both powders & creams. I use for cream shadows and for powder underneath my brows to accentuate my eyebrow shape, as well as to apply a creamy primer such as Too Faced or paint pots).

  5. victoria

    i’m one of the odd ones that can get the 239 to work for me that’s why i remember thinking you must be really good at blending for not using the 217 much. i love brushes, they are so important and once i tried the full size, i never turned back.

  6. liz

    love this post!

    any plans on posting essentials for other brushes, or has that post already been done?

    ie cheek, foundation, etc.

  7. Whitnee

    The 208 is $19.50.

  8. 239, 222, 219, 217, 242, 231,208
    these days i am liking the 226 (new brush frm BBR)

  9. lina

    i love the 217!!

  10. Rachael

    Thanx for this. I also love the 217 and the 226!

  11. S.

    C. Im still getting up the nerve to use my MAC brushes which I have invested a lot LOL 266 is the only one Im missing from this set. I ve also started experimenting with my other brushes. I am so loving the 134 BEST powered brush in my opinion but I ve only gotten some samples at MAC but I am so in love with this brush, so soft.

  12. Monica

    I think I’m the only one who doesn’t own/want the 217…its too big for my eyespace. I’m in love with the 226 though…fits perfectly in my crease and is awesome for blending. I bought that not even knowing it was new with BBR…just thought it was convient, lol.

  13. Balqis

    I use 213,214,223,226 …..LOVE THE 214 & 226!!!! AWESOME!!!the hype about it is truuuuuu

  14. Shanel

    my must’haves are…
    217 -great for blending!
    239 -great for packing color on lid.
    224 -also great for smoked out looks/blending.
    231- great getting that defined/packed color in the crease.
    219 -great for under waterline/smoked out liner/crease.
    266-great for fluidliner and powder for brows.

  15. Todd

    239, 217, 226, 219, 266 — All I really need. It is literally a perfect set of brushes.

  16. Grace

    That’s interesting….I find my 224 is WAY too fluffy for me. Like it is humongous compared to my 217, which is why I have 3 of the 217s!! I love them!

  17. Liya

    Love this post … But I have to add the #217 & #222

  18. Joanna

    I would definitely add the 217 to the must-have list :) I have 2 that I use everyday, for applying concealer and also for eyeshadow.
    My other must-haves are the 239, 181 for blushes and MSFs, and 188 for liquid foundation.

  19. chrissy

    thank you so much for this post!

  20. Mine would be the 217 (I have 2 of them), and the 227.

  21. Arika BH

    No matter what, I need the 266 brush for my brows, and 210 for my dramatic winged liner! 239. 224. 217. 222. 227.

  22. Nicole

    As someone who is just venturing into the world of eye makeup with both feet I absolutely love the information that you provide on here. Thanks

  23. bCreative

    Ok you’ve sold me on getting the 239 and 219

  24. Saira

    I love posts like these! I think my must-haves are:

    239 – amazing for packing on colour easily and evenly. I love the fact that the colour goes on really dense with this brush and makes it really easy to apply. I’d agree with others that the 239 is also a great all-rounder which you can use for packing on colour, crease, highlight, inner corner.

    219 – I got this a wee while ago and love this brush. It’s great for putting precise colour in the outer v, defining the crease, inner corners, lining the lower eyelashes.

    272 – I got this very recently and think it is one of my must-have brushes now. It’s quite similar to the 239 but it’s angled and a great all-rounder. It’s great for packing on colour and defining the crease smoothly and evenly – I think it’s especially good if you have smaller eyelids. You can also use it for highlighting, inner corners, blending, pretty much anything.

  25. My fav eye brushes are:

    252 – perfect for great applications
    205 – my mascara brush for hot lashes
    219 – another crease fav! 😀
    222 – my choice for the crease
    242 – perfect for Paints and Paint Pots
    263 – sooo much better than the 266 which has scratchy fibres

  26. Actually the 213 fluff brush is my favorite.

  27. DaniMae

    On daily basis, I use: 239, 217 (2), 219, and 208.

  28. margot

    every day use :

    239 (I have three 239, and thinking of getting another XD)
    214 (I love it to smudge liner)
    226 (my 217 has never been used since 226 has appeared in my life)
    208 for liner too, I find it … nicer XD

    there you go

  29. Yaya

    I only have a couple (non-brand name) brushes that I got in sets because I cannot bring myself to buy something from an animal source, like the MAC brushes. I haven’t researched it enough to know how the animals are treated throughout this process.

  30. Rachel

    Where’s the 242? It’s perfect for bathing the eyelids with dark or bright eye shadow, cos the colour goes on soft!

  31. Mikki

    Still don’t have a MAC eye brush yet, I guess I start off with the 239 someday.

  32. Emm

    I have the 239 and I don’t like it. But I do have the Loew-Cornell(craftstore) Maxine’s Mop 3/8 which I heard is a good 239 dupe and I like it better as well as it’s much cheaper. $9 I think.. so

  33. Bettina

    I guess I will have to grab some brushes on my next run to MAC or the enxt time I have that much money on hand. I really need good brushes. BTW this post also made me laugh because it sounds like you are all speaking in code..226 this..217 that….239 239 we need a 239 over here. LOL Just thought I’d share that. :)

  34. ice

    my must-haves are 239, 224 and 219…I checked out 217 but I guess it’s just too big for my eyes…i love all of them! i rarely line my eyes coz it’s just a big headache for me so I didnt bother getting the liner brush…lining them most of the time ruins my masterpiece:((…but I do have 2 MUFE liner brushes which I use when I’m in the mood to practice my eyelining skills:)

    I use 239 to put e/s on the lid, 219 to put shadows on my lower lashline, and to deepen the color on my crease(I have Asian eyes, the size of 219 is perfect for my small crease) and the 224 to blend the colors esp on the crease…

  35. forevercailen

    omg i love the 222! ITS AWESOME for smaller eyes i recommend the 239! of course and i wouldnt choose the 217 only if you have bigger eyes and have lots of lid space!

    my must haves:
    224 ( blender brush )
    eeee! they are so amazinng!

  36. seattle

    what an amazing blog you’ve got here! i feel like a kid in a candy store. i am filled with ooohs and ahhhs. i am a newbie to the smokey eye look. love the look but i can’t afford to buy all the brushes right now. if i were to get just one to start out with for now, which would you recommend for the smokey eye? i have all sonia kashuk brushes and they work ok for me.

  37. Scarie

    I love the 217 so so so much. I use it every single day I apply make up. I use it for eyeshadow application, blending etc. I bought the 226 and I”m so happy with it. I really want a 208. I bought a 239 and I find it awful( I bought it on ebay and half thinking it’s fake but need to go to MAC and check that out). the seller had a god rep though….. I have a fantastic angle liner by an Irish brand, fuschia ( I don’t like Fuschia ‘s makeup but their brushes are so so good , only slightly cheaper than MAC though

  38. Kelsey Mac

    um i would say the 209 brush is an essential, it is the best for gel liner and i believe everyone should have one! But, the list u have going is ideal, so great job:)

  39. krizia

    hey… I just got the 224 into a MAC set… the only difference between this and the original is the handle size right? There’s no difference in the brush itself?

    • The brushes in the sets are machine-made, and the brushes you’d buy alone are handmade. The quality is less in a brush from a set than one alone, but they’re not terrible — there are just differences to them in terms of quality. The brush head is the same size and shape otherwise!

  40. Sheri

    Perfect!! Thanks……….

  41. Sarah C

    217 All the way! I can’t believe it’s not included in this list!

  42. mary

    the 217 is amazing! it was my first ever mac brush and that was over 10 years ago. i still have it and it is as perfect as ever. love it so much. i bought the 224 and i found it too fluffy to actually apply color and it was really scratchy on my lids so i exchanged it and instead got another 217. so i use one for my crease and one for blending.

    the funny thing is because mac brushes are hand made no two are exactly the same. maybe u didnt get a good one christine? cause from the two i have one is very flat and the other is very fluffy. mite be worth checking it out again next time ur at mac

  43. mary

    ok i seriously seriously think that the 249 should be taken out and the 217 included in this list. the 217 is a must have brush and is widely loved and used by many. anyone looking to start a collection needs that brush. it was the first brush i ever bought when i was starting out and that was over 10 years ago and i use it to this day and love as much as i did then. please include that brush in your collection

  44. Christine, I need help! What brush is better for blending -the 224 or 217? And I have small-medium eyes if that helps. Thank you!

  45. Alexa

    I am just getting into the mac world, and becoming an addict! Lol I want everything! Anyway…I was wondering what brushes would be good for my small eyes. I use the sigma blending brush for my crease but its a little too fluffy. The only mac brush I have is the 219 which I love :) should I get the 239 or the 217? I am looking for a brush that I can start off with and use for a lot of things. Thank u :) by the way christine I love your blog! 😀

  46. laden

    I got my first full size brushes yesterday.

    219 224 239 252 and already had 266 :) I asked for 249 but mua said they dont have it so I bought 252 instead. thanks for the recommendations.

  47. Lauren

    Thanks to this I just bought my first MAC eye brushes. I purchased the 208, 224, and 239. YAY

  48. Abby

    Hi Christine! (:
    among Mac 266, 263 and 208, which one is the best and the most useful for fluidline application?

    • I prefer the 263 – you get a thinner line.

      • Abby

        I have the SE version of the Mac 212, 209, 275, 219, 217 and 252. And I also have Sephora’s version of Mac 214 and 195. And I have UD’s 24/7 brush.

        I want to start investing in the FS version of Mac eye brushes.
        what are your recommendations since I already have the above?
        thanks in advance, Christine, I adore you! (:

        • I would grab full sizes of brushes you already love and use ALL the time, honestly! My personal favorite eye brush is the 239, though :)

          • Abby

            So I should just get the 239?

            what do you use your 212, 275, 217, 252 and 214 for?
            Do you use it often or just once in while?

            • I rarely use any of those brushes – the 217 is one a lot of people use, but I don’t usually use it myself :)

            • Abby

              In my country, the 263 is not available, I just checked. So what brush would be the best to apply eyeliner using fluidline?

              And about the 239 brush, is it good for applying MAC pigments as well as eyeshadows?
              Since I have some other SE mac brushes, do you think the 239 will be good enough?