Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

MAC Making Pretty Brush Set
MAC Making Pretty Brush Set

Do You Remember the MAC 136?

MAC Making Pretty Brush Set ($100.00) contains one face brush and one eyeshadow brush.  Both brush handles are covered in faux shagreen with rose gold-tinted metal.

136 is a face brush that can be used for “sculpting, blending, and highlighting.” The 136 has been discontinued for some time now, but the last price I remember it being was $62. It was the most expensive brush at the time (I think it may still be, other than any couture-handled brush). I also remember it being one of the softest brushes I had ever laid across my skin. It still is one incredibly soft brush. It’s domed but flat; it’s like the 150 was flattened (and conditioned about 500 times). The 134 is the most comparable brush in MAC’s existing range, though it is fluffier and larger overall. I like the 136 for light powder application, blending, and dusting finishing powders on.

282 is an “all over eye shader brush for building and blending intense color.” I know that the SE version of this is included in past brush kits MAC has released, but I don’t know if it was ever released as a full-sized, standalone brush. It’s a wide, squat dome-shaped eye brush. It seemed well-cut and soft when I played around with it on my eyes and face. It’s bigger than the 214, smaller than the 227 and 235. Since I couldn’t find this as a full-sized, standalone brush, I’m only able to estimate the value, which I’d put at $30. The brush head is on the larger side, so it would work better on those with a lot of lid space, or anyone who tends to apply a single wash of color. I have the 214, 227, and 235 but rarely use them. You might consider using the 282 for detailed work on the face, like contouring the nose.

All in all, that means that the brushes together are worth $92 (though if the 136 was available now, it would be pricier than $62, given the rate of MAC’s price increases), plus there’s a case to carry both brushes in. I think the case is a little flimsy, and it didn’t stay open well, yet the magnet on the bow (that keeps it closed) was very weak, so for the most part, the case was half-closed.Who knew that the brush set would be the most normally-priced of the collection?

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Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Karl Lagerfeld for shu uemura Mini Brush Set
Karl Lagerfeld for shu uemura Mini Brush Set

A Travel Set of Exquisitely Soft Brushes

Karl Lagerfeld for shu uemura Mini Brush Set ($69.00) includes a silver brush case that includes four short-handled brushes. The largest is the cheek brush, which is made out of pony/squirrel hair. Then, there are two eyeshadow brushes, one is made out of nylon and the other out of sable. The last brush is a lip or eyeliner brush, which is made out of sable. The four brushes were made in Japan.

I’ve been using these brushes for a couple of days, and for a travel set, they’re really quite nice. The blush brush is dense and soft against the skin; it doesn’t feel scratchy at all. It does a nice job of both applying and blending out cheek color. The nylon eyeshadow brush works well for cream eyeshadows, while the sable eyeshadow brush is better for applying powder products. I thought the latter brush was a little large and would have preferred a squatter brush. I used the smallest brush for both applying lip color as well as applying shu’s Painting Liner, and it worked nicely for both applications. I liked it a bit more for lining around the eye, just because it felt a smidgen too small against my lips (but would be nice for someone with thinner lips).

All four brushes have been washed twice now, and I haven’t had any problem with dye bleeding, funny smells, or the like.  The blush brush hasn’t had any shedding problems either.  As far as the bag goes, it will get the job done; I think it’s a little thin overall.  I liked the way each brush had its own pocket, and there’s enough room in it to stick a couple more brushes in there if you want (or a few other products).

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Monday, September 24th, 2012

MAC 215 Medium Shader Brush
MAC 215 Medium Shader Brush

Congratulations 214 and 227! It’s a Boy 215!

MAC 215 Medium Shader Brush ($25.00) is a new, limited edition (I believe, at least) brush designed to be used for shaping and defining the eye with both powder and cream eyeshadows. It has natural bristles. This brush is like a bigger 214, or a stumpy version of the 227. The 215 is wide, dome-shaped brush that’s packed with bristles. For me, it felt a little rough on the eye. It was less rough when I used powder eyeshadows than when I used cream eyeshadows, which seemed to emphasize the pointy, blunt edges of the bristles.

This brush is a larger eye brush, so if you have a smaller eye area or smaller lids, you may find it too large to use often. It’s a bit large against my eye lids, but I like it for applying one-and-done eyeshadows–which are more or less a wash of color on the lid.  It picks up pigment easily and deposits it well without it getting lost within the bristles.  For more multi-colored looks, it’s too big for me.  It’s softer than the 214 but not as soft as the 227.  The 227 also blends more readily, but this is easier to blend with than the 214.

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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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