Monday, September 24th, 2012

MAC 163 Flat Top Contour Brush
MAC 163 Flat Top Contour Brush

Defined Contouring Made Easy with the 163

MAC 163 Flat Top Contour Brush ($35.00) is a new and limited edition brush designed to be used with MAC’s Pro Sculpting Creams, but they are noted as a multi-purpose brush, so they can be used however you find it works.  The brush is not MAC’s softest face brush, but I wouldn’t describe it as scratchy.  I think the blunt edge gives it a harsher feel against the skin, but when I run it back and forth against my face or arm, it feels fine.  It’s tightly packed with bristles, making it a very dense brush.

It was good for placing the Pro Sculpting Creams on the face, but it wasn’t so good at blending them out. I needed to use my fingertips or another brush to do that.  I think this brush is fairly purpose-specific, and as a result, it’s not a must-have brush for everyone.  It may work well in professional kits or for anyone who does more intense, dramatic contouring.  I did not like this for foundation, blush, or powder products in general.  It worked best with liquids and creams, mostly for initial application.  It had a tendency to drag products in noticeable streaks when used to blend.

Again, this is a brush that seemed to be more of a one trick pony than a great workhorse of a brush.  It’s great if what you’re looking for is a way to apply cream/liquid products in defined lines. There’s also a Sonia Kashuk brush that’s supposed to be a dupe, but I only just bought mine so I can’t weigh in quite yet!

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Thursday, May 17th, 2012

MAC 167SH Face Blender Brush

MAC 167SH Face Blender Brush

MAC 167SH Face Blender Brush ($34.00) is a limited edition face brush that’s made out of white goat hair. The brush head is about an inch and a half long and an inch or so at its widest point (which is at the top). It has a softly domed-shaped brush head with densely packed bristles with some give, but not so much that it’s floppy. It actually reminded me of a longer, not quite as dense or as stiff, 182, which is MAC’s buffer brush. This works in a similar fashion, but it can also apply and deposit color more accurately than if you were to use the buffer brush. The bristles are very soft to the touch and against the skin.

This brush would also work nicely for applying all-over powders to the face, because it picks up product easily but applies everything with a feathery touch.  It can also blend out any harsh edges or lines from other products without much work.  Due to the overall soft, airy feel of this brush, it is a great tool for soft powders, as it does not disturb the surface as much so it creates less powdery excess.  I really liked this brush, though I personally prefer longer-handled brushes.  It’s incredibly soft against the skin, and it’s not as specialized as some of the more recent brush releases–I love that it will be a multi-tasking tool to add to my collection.

As far as I know, MAC continues to make their full-sized brushes by hand, and “SH” stands for short-handled, as compared with “SE,” which indicates special edition–those are the kind of brushes that are mass-produced by machines for the Nordstrom and holiday brush sets.  I have been told on several occasions that SH brushes are manufactured just like full-sized brushes, because they’re the same thing–just a shorter handle.  This brush was manufactured in China, but this information seems to only be on the plastic sleeve it arrives in, so the handle doesn’t indicate the country of origin. I know there are a lot of fake MAC brushes out there, so I wanted to be sure to include that piece of information.

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Thursday, October 6th, 2011

MAC 193 Angled Foundation Brush

I’m still testing the Matchmaster foundation, but in the meanwhile, I do like the new and permanent MAC 193 Angled Foundation Brush ($32.00) that was released alongside the foundation. It’s firm and densely-packed, and the angled edge makes it easy to maneuver around noses and underneath eyes. I like it better than the 190, which I find too flat.

This brush is smaller, though, so it may take a little longer to apply foundation to the face entirely. The bigger concern is the size of it and the size of the area you’re attempting to cover may make it easier to get product towards the edge of the ferrule–and it is much harder to clean this area. It will give a slightly streaky look if you just pull it across the plane of your face, you will see lines. I use a lighter hand and brush it back and forth, and I find the finish and overall look to be blended and seamless.

It’s great for those with smaller faces or would prefer something more precise for around the nose, underneath the eyes, as well as the temples. The density makes it a good brush for liquid and cream formulas.  The bristles are soft and pliable but not floppy or fluffy.  It holds its shape well after washing.

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Monday, August 22nd, 2011

MAC 211 Pointed Liner Brush

MAC 211 Pointed Liner Brush

MAC 211 Pointed Liner Brush ($18.00) is a precision synthetic brush with an extra-fine point.  It is much more pointed at the end compared to the 209, which is long and skinny but doesn’t taper much at the end.  The 211 is also firmer and denser, so it has less bend and give compared to the 209, so it should work better for lining.  It is wider at the base than the 209, which means how thick or thin your line is will depend also on your application and technique.

It is definitely one of the smallest brushes from MAC, as it is shorter than the 208 and a little taller than the 231.  It’s just over 6mm in height and 3mm at its widest point (the base), while the narrowest point is about 1mm.  I can’t speak on how well it holds up, as I have only had it a day or so.  It seems sturdy from touching and feeling it – the ferrule is tightly crimped around the handle.  The 211 does not have a country printed on its handle, but the sleeve it comes in when you purchase it states it was “Assembled in U.S.A.” (The 226 from this collection is “Made in France” in comparison.)

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Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

MAC Semi-Precious Brushes: 128, 179, 234, 235 Review

Above is a video review and comparison of the upcoming Semi-Precious brushes. I thought that a video would better illustrate size and how they stack up (both in size and shape) to existing brushes.

My overall take on these brushes is that they’re nice but unnecessary. The split effect is unusual but doesn’t seem to be all that useful. I don’t think that these were meant to be gimmicky, but after using them, that’s how the split fibre technique seems.   If you’re expecting one of these brushes to revolutionize your makeup routine, you may be disappointed.  If you’re looking for a particular size/shape and one of these matches that, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  You won’t enjoy much of the split effect if you tend to use the point or edge of your brush, rather than the side.

They feel well-constructed from me, but I can’t vouch for longevity, given I have only had these for a few days.  The ferrules seem sturdy and tight around the bristles.  I had some bristles splayed around the edges of the 179, but the other three brushes were fine.  I did not experience any bleeding dye or post-wash smells.  All four brushes felt exceptionally soft, and none of them felt scratchy during application.  On the handles, all four have “China” imprinted, compared to Japan or France for many (if not all) of the permanent brushes.

I see the 234 being the most popular of the bunch, just because it shares a lot of similarities with the 217, which is one of the more popular brushes.  The 128 is a good size to add to one’s stash of cheek brushes, but it doesn’t replace anything I already have (and I don’t see myself reaching for it).   I am curious to see if that will cause each side to separate a little over time.  Right now, the split is really seamless.

These seem more like specialty brushes, which mean that they function but for particular purposes.  I see them less as becoming a new staple brush in your collection as something you buy with an exact purpose in mind.  MAC has other brushes with well-defined purposes in their permanent line-up, so I would think of these in a similar way.   One doesn’t need every brush MAC makes, but you might find a certain brush more useful than another based on what your needs are.

  • 128 Split Fibre Cheek Brush is a nice brush for smaller cheeks, though it feels a little too dense to apply blush as well as I like the application from the 116. It is very similar in size to the 109 and even to an extent, the shape, but obviously flattened. It’s a densely-packed brush.
  • 179 Angled Split Fibre Buffer Brush is incredibly soft and moves well across the skin. It also feels huge when I use it. I’m not sure just how much utility there is here, compared to a normal buffing brush. I did notice more-than-expected splaying of bristles around the edges after two washes.
  • 234 Split Fibre Eye Blending Brush seems to be the most useful of the four brushes. I could see using both sides separately but with the same color–say picking up the product with the natural side and then blending with the synthetic side. It is reminiscent of the 217 but not quite as fluffy or as rounded.
  • 235 Split Fibre All Over Eye Brush is like the 214 and 239 had an over-sized baby. Personally, I find the brush too big to be of much use for my eye area. I wouldn’t say I have particularly small eyes (I wouldn’t say I have large ones, either!). It could work well for applying a wash of a single color; perhaps laying down a cream eyeshadow with one side and blending the edges with the other.

To view still photos of these brushes, please see this post.

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Urban Decay Good Karma Face Brushes
Urban Decay Good Karma Face Brushes

Urban Decay Good Karma Face Brushes

Urban Decay Good Karma Brushes ($32.00 to $39.00) are eco- and vegan-friendly brushes, which have bristles made out of recycled PET bottles and gunmetal handles made out of recycled aluminum.

  • Finishing Brush ($39.00) is a long, flared, flat-edged brush. It looks like a stippling brush, but the bristles were the same length. I felt like this brush was a little too long; it’s very dense, which is nice, but the length makes it a little too springy and floppy.
  • Blush Brush ($32.00) is an oval-shaped, angled brush. It is a bit too wide to be used easily for contouring, but it works well for blush. It is dense and soft.
  • Powder Brush ($36.00) flares outwards with a very subtly dome shaped edge. It has enough fluffiness to work well with powder but enough density that the product doesn’t get trapped within the bristles.  Though it works well as an all-over powder brush, it is quite large, so I did find it took some practice to maneuver around nooks and crannies (like the area around the nose).

Even though the outer packaging is made out of recycled egg cartons, I’m just not sure why it is necessary to have such oversized packaging for a brush few are going to actually keep in it.  Aside from that, I have no complaints regarding the actual packaging of the brushes.  The gunmetal handles look sleek, have a nice weight to them (not too heavy, not too light), and the shininess doesn’t take to fingerprints well.

final thoughts: The brushes themselves are all very soft and not at all scratchy, but I do find the length of both the Finishing and Powder Brushes to be on the long side, which makes me feel like I have less control over the tool.  I didn’t notice any difference applying finishing powder with the actual Finishing Brush over the Powder Brush, though — even though the former is supposed to be better at that particular task.

where to buy:

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