Make Up For Ever #222 Sponge Applicator
Make Up For Ever #222 Sponge Applicator ($13.00) is a sponge-tipped applicator on a long, wooden (beech) handle. The sponge-tip is 12mm tall, 9mm wide, and 5mm thick. It’s attached to a black knob that has a thin (about 3-4mm wide) plastic piece that has a lot of flexibility, so you can bend the applicator as needed to maneuver around during application. Sponge-tip applicators are good for picking any powder product that is prone to fall out, crumbling, or when you need to really pack on a color; like a white eyeshadow base, sponge-tip applicators can really pack on a product. It is also a useful applicator for smudging eyeliner or eyeshadow underneath or on the lash line.
The sponge really doesn’t feel too different than a mutltitude of sponge-tip applicators that get included in various kits and palettes; yes, the sponge seemed more resilient and durable, as I can try to remove it and it doesn’t instantly rip as cheaper ones do, and it isn’t scratchy. I’ve scratched at it, and it hasn’t shown any signs of wearing, scratching, tearing, or even bits of the sponge flaking off. I’m not sure it would hold up to prolonged or sustained use. Given that Make Up For Ever sells refills (6 for $9) for it, I would expect breakdowns over time. It’s definitely made out of a thicker, more pliable, and sturdier material than the average applicator you’d find in a cheaper palette. If you like handles or have larger hands/longer fingers like me, the long handle could be very helpful. Otherwise, you may find simply buying a 50-pack of disposable sponge applicators for $5-10 is a better option (or merely gathering all the ones you inevitably own–this is what I do; I keep all the random sponge-tip applicators I’ve had in palettes in a plastic cup).
I was most worried about the very itsy bit of glue that connects the actual sponge-tip to the black knob getting broken down over time or while cleaning, you might accidentally tug too much and rip the very bottom of the sponge (where it’s glued) from the knob. For review purposes, I just went ahead and lightly pulled at the bottom, freeing it from the knob, and yes, it will be prone to slipping and pulling off–just patting and lightly blending powder eyeshadow on the lid or smudging eyeliner on the lower lash line didn’t see any slippage, so it will depend on the use.
#272 Eyelash Brush ($12.00) is described as a “spiral brush used to style eyebrows and correct their shape, as well as separate lashes before or after application.” It is a mascara spoolie, so it is good for all things brow and lash. It’s 25mm tall, 7mm wide, and 7mm thick. There is a thin metal wire that extends out of the metal ferrule. Like the #222, you can acquire disposable spoolie wands in bulk and at a low price point (like 50 for $5-10). The difference is that this isn’t designed to be disposable but reusable.
This brush is comparable to MAC #204 ($15.00), which tapers slightly more towards the top so it is narrower overall. This is actually a brush I keep as part of my daily arsenal, as I use it to brush brows and blend out harsh lines when I’ve filled in my brows with powder. I’ve used it for lashes, too, but it’s nowhere near as effective as a metal lash comb for separation. When it comes to lashes, it is best if the mascara is still wet, otherwise it doesn’t do much once mascara has dried on lashes. The same is true for Make Up For Ever’s #272. It works well to comb through brows as well as to diffuse, blend, and even out color from filling in brows. It could also be used to apply mascara, colored mascara, mixing with a product to apply color to the lashes (like a DIY colored mascara), applying brow gel, and so forth.
The #272 can be a total pain to clean, though, which is another reason why I don’t love it with mascara. I highly recommend cleaning it nearly immediately after using with any liquid product like mascara to avoid difficult clean up (everything just hardens and sticks to the interior wire).
Both of these brushes are useful, and I like them, but whether it’s worth investing in one rather than disposable varieties is ultimately something that is going to depend more on how you use it. The #272 is the kind of brush that I do, personally, find necessary, and I can’t vouch for the durability of Make Up For Ever’s (but it’s on my calendar to revisit all my Artisan Brush reviews a year from now to check in), I can vouch for the MAC #204, which seems very similar in length, shape, feel. The biggest difference is that MAC’s ferrule is crimped towards the top, while Make Up For Ever’s #272 is round.
Make Up For Ever #146 Flat Blush Brush
Make Up For Ever #146 Flat Blush Brush ($37.00) is described as a “medium, trapezoid-shaped brush” that is designed to be used with loose and press powders. By its name, one would expect primarily using this with blush, as it is designed for buildable coverage. Make Up For Ever also recommends using it for face painting. The brush head is 26mm tall, 33mm wide (at the top, which is widest point), and 10mm thick with a pinched ferrule. It has a total length of 7.25 inches/18 centimeters. The brush’s shape is flat, almost a square but slightly flared outwards–like a trapezoid, but it is a squatter one than I envision with just the word “trapezoid.” It had soft bristles at the tips, and the bristles length-wise were fairly soft but you could “feel” the individual bristles slightly (they didn’t blend together as seamlessly).
I think the shape is somewhat large for a blush applicator, and it’s definitely best for just initially applying color to the cheek and less useful for blending or diffusing blush color. It splays out unevenly, is an odd mix of stiff and springy that never quite blends or applies the way you’d expect. It just seems to make applying blush harder than it is with other blush brushes (with more typical brush heads). I just received another blush brush from the range late last week, so I’m testing that one as well to see if that works better for blush application. I can see the flatter shape working better for face painting, though, and to that end, it was nice for applying liquid primer or moisturizer (I tried with Illamasqua’s Hydra Veil).
There’s something about this brush that felt off, because no matter how many washes (I’ve washed it a dozen times now with four different cleansers), it always feel a somewhat oily or greasy. I can press the brushes together, and it molds that way until I squish the brushes in another way. As of now, this is the only Make Up For Ever brush that I’m having this issue with, so it might be a one-off or more specific to the flatter brush shapes. I just received a few other face brushes, so I’ll have a better idea of the context of this issue in a couple of weeks.
MAC x Antonio Lopez 129SE Brush
MAC x Antonio Lopez 129SE Powder/Blush Brush ($38.50) is a special edition of the 129 brush, and here, it has a shorter handle. I actually found the shape different, as it is a much longer brush head than the full-sized 129. Where the full-sized 129 has a domed, rounded edge, this special-edition brush doesn’t really flare out that much. (See the 129 here.) Looking back on some of the 129SEs I’ve reviewed, they all seem to be slightly different. This version of the 129SE also comes with a vinyl, zippered pouch that fits just the brush or else one or two lipglosses.
MAC’s 129 brush is not one of its best brushes, as it tends to be scratchy and sometimes prone to shedding (can vary from brush to brush). The 129SE released in this collection is worse, as it was even scratchier, and then the shape was less useful for applying blush. If you’re looking for a blush brush, the 129 would not get my recommendation (I prefer MAC’s 116 over the 129, if you’re looking to stay within MAC’s range).
MAC x Antonio Lopez Mirror
MAC x Antonio Lopez Mirror ($25.00) is a limited edition square-shaped mirror with black, velveteen-like backing and along the sides and edges, and then a slightly raised, hard plastic illustrated drawing. The mirror is 3 inches by 3 inches. It’s held closed by a moderately strong magnet. The mirror underneath the lid is a regular mirror, and the mirror on the bottom is magnifying. If you’re a big fan of Antonio Lopez or enjoy the illustration, you may like the mirror.
From a functionality standpoint, I think the velveteen is a lint-magnet, so I can’t see tossing this into a bottomless bag as a great idea. If it had its own pocket, it should hold up all right. I’m just worried that it’s not a great mirror as far as practicality goes. One to sit on your vanity? Sure. Toted around with you? I’m not convinced it would withstand that kind of abuse.
MAC x Antonio Lopez Tote
MAC x Antonio Lopez Tote ($55.00) is a limited edition, mega-sized tote bag exclusive to maccosmetics.com. The collection has a release date of September 12th, but as far as online goes–you never know; it could be up to a week earlier. The tote is made similarly to the makeup bag, only it is much larger and in a tote shape. The front of the tote has a satin-like material with the illustration, while the back of the tote is a black velveteen-like material. Inside, it is lined with thin black material (not vinyl). It’s 15 inches wide, 16.5 inches tall, and it doesn’t have much of a bottom, so there’s no official thickness. It does tend to shape itself based on what you put in it, but I would have preferred to see an actual bottom of a few inches so that bag would maintain its tote-like form. Unless you’re just putting in a binder or laptop, it will bulge.
MAC x Antonio Lopez Makeup Bag
MAC x Antonio Lopez Makeup Bag ($40.00) is a limited edition makeup bag that will be available exclusively to MAC stores beginning on September 12th. It’s 8.5 inches wide, 5.5 inches tall, and 1.5 inches thick. The front half has a satin-like material, while the back half has a velveteen feel. Inside, it’s a thinner black material (I’m not sure what it is, but it didn’t seem water-repellant at the very least–definitely not something like vinyl). It has a zipper opening, and one thing I noticed was that the zipper doesn’t actually extend for the entire width of the bag; it’s slightly shorter. I don’t know if I would use this for makeup, due to the types of materials used here, so I might keep tools or small accessories for traveling in this, rather than anything that might stain or spill.