Monday, March 9th, 2009

8 MAC Face Brushes You Need In Your Arsenal

129 Powder/Blush Brush ($34.00) is your best bet for general blush application. Seriously, I’m constantly reaching for this brush whenever I go to apply colored blush. If you can only afford one face brush, this is the one I recommend getting first, because it can apply blush, highlighters, and do a little bit of buffing in a pinch. It’s thick, dense, and deliciously soft on the skin. (And don’t be fooled by the 129 in the brush sets–it is not at all the same in regards to quality.)

138 Tapered Face Brush ($52.00) is a domed-shaped brush, much more tapered than many powder brushes. It’s excellent for both highlighting, shaping, and contouring the face–whatever tickles your fancy!

165 Tapered Cheek/Highlight Brush ($34.00) is like a thinner, smaller version of the 138, and it’s $18 less–so if you’re on a tight budget, you might think about picking up this one instead. I love, love, LOVE this one for highlighting. The tapered end really makes placement of highlighting powders ridiculously easy.

168 Large Angled Contour Brush ($32.00) is THE brush to have handy if you ever want to sculpt and shape your face. The angled, slightly-fluffy-and-not-overly-dense brush is perfect for making cheekbones pop, jawlines thin instantaneously, and polish the face.

182 Buffer Brush ($45.00) is an essential face brush to have. I love it so much that I have two, because it is so phenomenal and perfect for a variety of jobs. Ultimately, buffer brushes are designed to finish your face, whether it’s blending contouring and blushing colors together, applying loose powder, or just blending all your face products together. You can buff out harsh blushes by moving this brush in small circles, so you can wear Frankly Scarlet blush without fear. I love it to apply foundation personally, as it gives a polished, streak-free result. Worth every single penny.

187 Duo Fibre Brush ($42.00) is a must-have brush if you love mineralize skinfinishes. Yes, it is indeed a fabulous brush for applying those delicious baked goodies MAC puts out from time to time. The way the brush is designed uses a blend of goat and synthetic fibers and it allows for softer, lighter application of product. It’s also known as a stippling brush (for those trying to find a dupe), and it works well with highlighting (if you don’t need so much precision).

188 Small Duo Fibre Face Brush ($34.00) is a smaller version of the 187 Duo Fibre Brush, and it works in similar ways. However, I do find that this brush is not a substitute for the 187, but more like a complement. This brush works best with creamy products, like MAC blushcremes and cream colour bases. In the summer, I love wearing blushcremes layered with a powder blush for more long-wearing color in the hotter months!

195 Concealer Brush ($22.00) recently debuted, and it is superior to the 194 Concealer Brush. It’s a thin, firm bristled brush that holds its shape and easily applies concealing products, but it is also great for dabbing liquid foundations onto the skin (to then be smoothed and spread out using a face brush like the 182, 187, or 190). I find using a concealer brush to apply liquids onto the face helps waste less product than directly applying liquid to a fluffier face brush or sponge.

Honorable Mentions: 109 (great if you do a lot of contouring), 134 (great for loose powder)

What are your must-have face brushes?

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71 thoughts on “8 MAC Face Brushes You Should Have For Faking Flawless Skin

  1. Mine would have to be the 109 and 187. The 109 is FAB for contouring, blush and liquid foundations. I have 168 too but ever since I got the 109, I use the 168 less often for blush.

    • love

      I’m all about the 109 too! Fab Brush, It buffers your foundation out really well, I use it with mineralize finish and build as I go..
      I’ve used it for blushes too, the MA says to add a little and buff it out, so it not heavy. Never thought of contouring and foundation. Thanks for the tip!

    • I only use the 129 for blush, but maybe I’ll have to try the 109!

  2. i actually don’t have any MAC brushes. too expensive for a brush. but i’d love to have one if i had the money :p

    • They are definitely worth the investment if you can make it some day, Katrina :)

      • Haylie

        You should try Sigma brushes. They’re the same quality of mac brushes except they are at a much more affordable price. A lot of youtube gurus prefer them over their mac brushes.

        • I heard the opposite from some bloggers/readers, actually…

        • Melly

          They do have pretty good quality, but I do not prefer them over my MAC brushes. I adore my MAC brushes :)

          • mary

            dont trust youtube gurus. they get paid by sigma to advertise for them so of course they are gonna say the brushes are nice. i’ve heard they shed a lot and are lot more scratchy than mac brushes

            • Ruru

              I’ve tried sigma. Have several brush sets actually. Its not bad. It is simply less denser than Mac. Shape wise, some are extremely similar!

  3. Arika BH

    182, for full coverage. 150, for sheer coverage and my fave for bronzer. 116, best blush brush. 165, so precise at highlighting or contouring. 187. 188. 190, liquid foundation, primer, moisturizer, concealer. BE Maximum Coverage Concealer Brush, A must have for me for concealing! I want the 109 and 195 brush next. Also my MAC store still has 183 brushes so I think I will go pick one up today after classes. MAC brushes are the best. Im trying to not buy so much makeup and invest in brushes.

    • I don’t think I have the 116, so I definitely will check it out next!

      • My-Linh

        I have been using the 116 for blush but recently purchased the 129 SH for traveling. My face is small and I see a huge difference between the two. I definitely can’t use the 129 for blush because it takes over most of one side of my face instead of just my cheek! I definitely just recommend the 116 if you have a small face, otherwise I can see why the 129 is preferred. I guess I’ll be using my 129 SH as a powder brush?

  4. cloudburst

    I love the 165 – I think they should make it a permanent brush!

  5. lisa

    The ones i have for my face are the 187, 190,182,150, and the 168 but i need a good concealer brush. I think im gonna get the 195 soon. Mac brushes may not be cheap but they are well worth it if u want to have a flawless look. Besides they last years anyhow so to me they are a worthwhile investment.

  6. My must-haves include:

    187, 192, 182, 188…I could do without the rest! :D

  7. THANK YOU for this post! I use the 129 and 187 everyday! I sometimes use 129 to apply face powder but I may change that since it’s not really a loose powder brush and I notice that when I do, I’m constantly re-dipping the brush because it doesn’t spread the powder all over as opposed to a 134 brush. And you’re soo right about the 129 from the brush sets, there’s a difference in the quality of those brushes IMO.
    These are the ones I’m going to get when I place my next MAC PRO order: 138 & 182

  8. DaniMae

    My 182 is my life LOL It’s the only face brush I have, it’s all I need. It’s the largest single item make up purchase I’ve ever made, and it’s worth every penny. I use it to apply Studio Stick, Studio Fix Powder, blending blush, and dabbing on Fix+. I sometimes feel guilty about spending too much on one thing, but never this brush!

  9. vicky

    Actually for foundation I mainly use the 168 since it allows a streak-free application and it feels extremely soft on the face:) plus, I prefer white brushes for foundation since it has to be hygenic and a black one is always a littel suspicious to me:)

  10. BaDKiTTy

    I agree on 182, best brush ever. I use it everyday. And of course 168 and 109 are really great brushes also.

  11. hippo

    I don’t really like or use 129. I love 165 for highlither (thanks for the tip Christine!) 136 for powder and off course 187. I never use my concelealer brush – I find fingers work best for me!

  12. haha the only mac brush I own is the 217 and it’s my love! I own brushes mostly from drugstores- e.l.f. to be exact lol. i’m way to stingy to spend $52 on a brush

    • Hey, if your brushes work for you, then it’s all good :D

    • Kelby

      This is why I love EBay. Some of te sellers actually work for Mac and will buy and resell them there because they can actually make some profit compared to their commission. Just be sure to check seller ratings :)

  13. Haydee

    Hmmmm Now I have to get 4 from this list! YAY my 134 made a praise worth mentioning. I so love cleaning that brush as well so soft and easy.

  14. Todd

    Oh dear, I really love all of my face brushes…

    188 – It does foundation, powder, blush, moisturizer, primer… I just, oh God. I can’t run out of uses for it, and it fits in wherever I want it to when I’m doing my face.
    187 – It does all the same things as the 188, but I really like it for powder and bronzer.
    168 – Contouring! I have to have my defined face!

    I just grab these three all the time… I have the 116 which is great, and gets used often, but it’s not entirely necessary when I have those three that cover most of the tasks I need to accomplish. The same goes for my 190 and 129. I honestly use a finger to blend out concealer, and if it’s too heavy in one area, I sheer it out by going over it with the 188.

    I’m surprised I only have three brushes that I consider essential!

  15. victoria

    i just purchased the 165, i thought i didn’t need another contouring brush but i am seriously in love with it. i think mac should make it permanent because i am hoping to get separate one for highlighting and contouring. it’s just so precise without making blush, contour and highlight a big’o mess.

  16. Marcela

    Hey Christine, thanks a lot for this useful post. I’m a bit late on commenting but I’ve been looking for the 134 powder brush in every single MAC store here in Argentina and they don’t seem to have it. What could be a possible dupe for it? Thanks!

  17. Az

    Great post dear :) which one do you think will be better for liquid foundation, 190 or 187?

  18. Yo

    Hi! I’m contemplating on buying a MAC129SH. Does it have the same quality as the regular sized MAC129? I prefer the SH so I can bring it with me everyday.=)

    • Yes, the SH is the same quality. It’s just SE you have to worry about – those are the short handled brushes that come in sets with makeup bags/holders.

  19. Yo

    Thanks Christine for the input! Love your site! It’s one of my top cyber-go-to destinations.=)

  20. Vix

    Loving the post. I definitely need to check out the 138, 165 and 168 brushes though. I agree fully about the 129 and the “skunk” brushes, they’re fabulous.

    I’m ALL about the 109 for foundation application now though… my 187 doesn’t get used AS much as it used to, haha. It’s small enough to get into all the crannies (sides of the nose can be a handfull with a bigger brush) but big enough to get the job done quickly. It gives an awesome buffed finish and I think I need a second one just as a backup when the one I have now is drying from a deep-clean haha.

  21. joyce

    I have all brushes and you can def’ create a flawless face with them. I would also include the 134 brushes, this is most perfect powder brush. I used with loose and pressed powder, it is wonderful with MSF naturals and my Barry M (UK BRAND) pressed bronzer. It pick just the right amount, so you can build coverage. Hence, it’s impossible to have a cakey powdery face.

  22. Christy

    ahhh, I have the 150, 116, 109 and i’m still debating about getting the 138 brush.. and also the 129. I love mac brushes, i know sigma has a new premium brush set but still I still prefer my mac brushes over any other!=)

  23. What’s better for contouring? 109? or 168? And the best for highlighting? Or on that’s best for both.. but if individual brushes work better than I’d prefer that. Sorry if this is confusing!

  24. mary

    mine would be:

    -130 for liquid foundation (works much better than 187 or 109, for me at least)
    -187 for blush (best blush brush i’ve tried. not scratchy like a lot of mac face brushes and it applies such a nice airbrushed blush application)
    -182 for buffing/powder (THE softest mac face brush ever!)
    -165 for highlighting (so precise for highlight and great for contouring. LOVE)

  25. Yomna

    Hi, I am in the middle of picking either MAC 134 VS MAC 150. Which do you think is better for applying bronzer and all over setting powder? Or do you recommend a completly different brush for powder?
    Also I am between the MAC 129 and the MAC 116. Which is better for blush application

    • I prefer the 134, because it’s much softer! :)

      I also like the 116 for the same reason – also seems to be easier to blend with!

      • Yomna

        Thanks for the reply, just one last question. I am looking for a brush to pack on color on the lid but I feel the 239 is too short/small? do you know a tiny bit bigger brush for packing color?
        Thanks so much!

      • Jackie

        Hey Christine! I currently own the 187, 109 and the 182 (HG!). Do you think the best powder brush is the 134 and should I buy it?

  26. Abby

    Hi christine! (:
    I have the SE version of 168 and 187.
    What else do you recommend I get? I don’t use liquid foundations, I only put moisturizer, primer, Mac powder and blush on my face.

  27. Rachel L

    Hi christine,I am pretty new to makeup and I’d like to know if you can actually use a blush brush for a bronzer? I want my bronzer to go really natural, should I stick to the MAC angled one or the MAC brush blush? I am going for Too Faced Chocolate Soleil by the way, I think it looks really natural!

  28. Anne

    Hello, I am pretty new to brushes, actually I am going to buy my first mac brush, and I need one to apply powder on my T-zone mostly. Also I am pretty tight on the budget and I wish I could get a mac brush that would be multitasking as much as possible (bouth for powder and for blush), which brush would you reccomend?