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!

See more photos!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

39 thoughts on “MAC 163 Flat Top Contour Brush Review & Photos

  1. Mimi E. Stanford

    I agree w/ you that its awesome for placing the Sculpting Cream on the face. I used a MAC 109 to blend the product out though.

    I do like this brush for applying highlight on top of the cheekbones. It picks up very little product and diffuses well!

  2. ellen

    hate that they several diffrent places that they make thier brushes and that it seems toeffect the quality

    • ellen

      ***** i hate that mac makes brushes in several diffrent places which seems to effect the quality***** srry totaly was not paying attention when i wrote the first 1

  3. Caty

    I love this brush. It’s definitely got one specific purpose and people who aren’t makeup artists or who don’t do dramatic makeup may not get much use out of it. What I like to do is use a MAC 109 brush (soft, short, dense powder/blush brush) to buff the sculpting cream into the hollow of my cheekbone, and then go back in with the 163 brush and pat/tap the sculpting cream in a more defined line on top of where I just buffed it in. It’s a very dramatic contour that would be great for halloween or theatrical makeup, especially using one of the cooler-toned sculpting creams.

    • Sarah

      i’m professional (editorial) makeup artist, and i never find any tool for contouring better than my fingers. i use this method on runways or shoots and works the best!!

  4. Brittany

    If you really wanted this brush but didn’t care if it was MAC then Sonia Kashuk has one that looks really similar.

  5. JoAnn

    I went to the MAC counter to get one of the new sculpting creams, and the SA applied the cream for me to help decide on a color match.

    I had mentioned that I thought I might be interested in the brush, too, and she used it to apply the cream under my cheekbones. When I noticed that the SA was only using the brush to press the color into the area under my cheekbones and then blending with a fluffy brush I realized that purchasing this brush was totally not necessary for me.

    I find that the small brushes that come in benefit’s boxed blushes could serve that same purpose to place a contour color if I’m just going to use a fluffy brush to blend!

    • Mariella

      Joann, that’s what I use those flat Benefit blush brushes for also. Mind you, I don’t often contour – it’s just not a great look on me – but when I do, those brushes are great (which is good since they’re less than great for applying the blushes they come with).

  6. Kathleen

    I love this brush! But blending it out takes time and occasionally leaves streak marks, as you’ve noted. It’s find for me as when I’m using the sculpting creams I don’t wear foundation underneath so I can use the brush heavily to blend. I like it mainly so I don’t have to stick my fingers in or cream up my angled contour brush, which I prefer to use with powder.

  7. xamyx

    Why would any brand make a *brush* LE? That is really lame…

  8. Thanks a lot for your review, I was looking forward to it. I initally wanted that brush since I’m a contouring addict and I must have around 10 different brushes for that. However, I watched Dustin Hunter review about this brush and got totally dissapointed of the brush. Now that I read your review I’m completely sure I don’t need this brush. Hope you have a great day!!!

    • I didn’t have Dusty’s glue smell/soap never coming out of it problem. I used baby shampoo to wash mine, though.

      • The soap never coming out wasn’t a big issue for me, since I own Shiseido foundation brush, I’ve found a way to get soap out. I use baby shampoo too to wash brushes :)

        What really dissapointed me was that it only works to place the product and not really blend it, and only for cream contours. For that purpose, I already have Royal & Lagnickel C240, which can also work wonders for foundation.

        Maybe I had too high expectations for Mac 163, since I hoped it could be the replacement of my Chanel #5 brush (former euro version), which works incredible well for cream and powder and does precise placing.

        • I’m not familiar with the Chanel #5 brush, but overall, the brush is just too specific to be a must-have for most. MAC has such a huge range of brushes that they have plenty of more focused/specific brushes – and I find I rarely use them!

      • I didn’t have that issue either…I used Sonia Kashuk brush and sponge cleaner and did not have a problem cleaning it (other than the extra attention I tend to have to spend on any dense brush I own). And I definitely didn’t experience any glue smell.

      • Ruca

        Mine smelled fine out of the box, too. So did another MUA friend’s 163. Neither of us have had issues cleaning our brushes. That gasoline smell he experienced… maybe it was a fluke?

  9. That brush looks positively scary to me as I’m picturing it coming towards my face. It looks rather unwieldy too in its overall size!!. It looks like something I could seriously use in my studio though ;P

  10. Monica

    Dusty Hunter has a very comprehensive (and very entertaining)video review on this brush, which I would check out before purchasing this!

  11. I have the Sonia Kashuk Contour Brush, which is completely the same in my opinion, but of course much-much cheaper and not limited. For somebody who is not using that kind of a brush everyday and not a makeup artist, I think the SK is better.

    • xamyx

      I’ve had my eye on the SK one for a while, so I’ll likely end up going with that. Not only is it less expensive, I don’t have to rush out to buy it, or chase it down (since it isn’t LE). I don’t have any MAC brushes, but I have *several* SK brushes, and I honestly love them all.

    • Barbie

      I need to buy more of her brushes. i love her brush sets and her bent eyeliner brush

      • xamyx

        I love the angled eyeliner brush as well, but my absolute favorite is the domed foundation brush, which I currently use to apply both cream and powder contour shades, which is why I’ve been hesitating on buying her version of this one.

  12. Angiretro

    Can you recommend me a cheaper but quality blush brush? Thank you! :)

  13. Sarah


    • They always make these LE brushes Made in China….What do you expect from MAC ??? Paying for the advertising to this. Get a Sonia Kushik brush. At least a better quality brush even if it is Made in China.

      • Ruca

        Actually, of my 20 something MAC brushes, only 2 or 3 are from China (the now permanent 286 duo fiber is from China), and then the rest are 50% from Japan, 50% from France. Many of my LE brushes are from France, including the 215 that was released with this one. It appears to be the brushes of synthetic fibers which are made in China.

        • To clarify, I am referring to the mini- LE brush sets being made in China. My 226 is made in France.

          • Ruca

            Fair enough–thank you, Stacey. The SEs and SHs are machine made, unlike most of MAC’s brushes, which are hand rolled. My 226 is marked “France” as well. I actually got curious exactly how many of mine are from where, and it’s not 50/50 between Japan and France… only 6 of mine are from France (some of which are 8 years old), my 211 is not marked, the 286 & 163 are both from China, and the vast majority are all made in Japan.

            I wonder if this means all the pastel colored SE/SH sets that are coming out with the 2012 Holiday Collection are going to be made in China, too? That’s sad if they are, since the blue set is re-releasing that 226!

      • Sarah

        All my MAC brushes are made in Japan or France.. i never had any MAC brush made in China!!!

  14. Kate & Zena

    Is it just me or is that brush cut unevenly?

    A straight edge brush can’t be cut unevenly, sorry.

  15. kisha

    I’ve had my SK dupe brush since last spring after Destiney on YT raved on em! definitely PERFECT to contour for a dramatic line and i honestly would’nt pay the MAC price for this brush esp if its not dual function. The SK one is $10 i think or less.

  16. Michelle

    35 bucks for a brush made in China????Pass…

  17. Arianna

    that looks weird, stiff and painful to use on clients.

  18. Angie

    Can you recommend me a cheaper but quality blush brush???

  19. When I saw the photo of the brush my mind immediately jumped to the Sonia Kashuk brush that to me looks exactly the same and came out earlier this year if I’m not mistaken. As some of the commenters has said, it’s much cheaper and isn’t LE. The SK version is actually pretty good quality and the brush hair is soft and does it’s job pretty well. I’d definitely go with the SK brush if you really need a brush of this kind. :)