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.

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41 thoughts on “MAC Semi-Precious Brushes: 128, 179, 234, 235 Review

  1. Martine

    Cruella de Vil brushes, lol :-)

  2. I thought it was kind of bizarre to see another 179 as well.

    I am curious to actually get my hands on the other brushes, I think they’d fit well. I use the 227 for my base colour quite regularly, despite its size.. so a slightly smaller one would work just as well.

    The other two.. we shall see. Thanks for your opinions on them. :]

  3. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of traci Traci

    The very first time I saw pictures of these brushes on here, I immediately though I had to have some. After some more reviews coming out, I still wanted to get the eye brushes. I kinda knew that the split fiber concept wasn’t going to really work, I just wanted them because they look so cool. Now I am saving my money and NOT picking up any brushes :) Yay more $$ for the MSFs!

  4. Jennifer

    Dont think i’ll be gettin any of these. They look like nice brushes and something new that i’ve never seen before, but the only thing i see them bein useful for, for me, is bein a dust collector. What i’m really lookin forward to is the rerelease of 226 in aug/spt!! Yay!!

  5. Krista

    I was really excited about these brushes, but the review doesn’t seem like it’s really worth it. True, the split concept seems interesting but it didn’t live up too much to the hype. :(

  6. edelmc

    I think you got it in a nut shell when you said that if you are looking for a particular shape then these are good rather than buying them for the split fibre. i am hoping to get the small eye brush and I like the idea of packing on colour with one side and blending with the other. I want to get the cheek brush due to the nice small size (I currently have a 129) and I would use the synthetic side for application of cream highlighters.
    I use the 182 for buffing on foundation (normally f&b for studio sculpt) – have you tried the new buffer brush when applying foundation and did you find that it gave more coverage for a different finish due to the different hair..ie The 182 tends to blend out the foundation quite a bit giving a light coverage and air brushed finish…maybe the new buffers synthetic hair would result in more coverage?

  7. cherryglass

    Thank you! I find for video reviews are very helpful when it comes to non-swatchable products.

    You’ve piqued my interest with the 235 brush for eye primer or all-over wash using a something like Paint Pots or Chanel’s new pot shadows. I’d like to find something other than a finger for that purpose. I have 227 and it’s rarely used because I don’t like the way it behaves with creamier products. The 235 seems promising!

    • Yep – I could definitely see it working for that purpose – so if one used a lot of cream products more as a wash, it might be worth it!

  8. I think one point of the creation of these brushes is because MAC used to be *THE* brush brand. But now everyone is jumping on the wagon since the beauty industry exploded. They need something their competitors and copycats don’t have. Maybe they hopes split fibre would be the answer to their problems?

    Idk. Either way, I definitely don’t think I’ll get any of these. MAYBE the shader brush. Who knows xP

  9. Piper

    I thought there was a choice between black and white brushes. Darnit.

  10. Thanks for the comparables! made me decide against getting them, you have saved me money! :)

  11. agreen2

    I am so glad I watched this review. I thought I was going to buy all the brushes but after seeing this video, I am not buying any.

  12. Victoria

    I generally like mac brushes but these kind of confuse me with the different sides too since i usually do buffing motions with blush and e/s. I think it would help a lot if mac would demonstrate how they use these brushes and the concept of how these brushes. Thanks so much for the review christine.

  13. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Pawsha Pawsha

    At first I thought I wanted these, but after several reviews and really thinking it through, I see no point. If I want a specific brush to do something MAC already makes that brush and the split thing is just too strange to me. I see the brush hairs not meshing together too well after a few washes and continual use. I’ll pass on these for sure.

  14. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Elizabeth beth maiorana

    Intriguing, but “gimmicky” and unnecessary, as you pointed out, Christine~~ not cheap, either, considering. Thank you for continuing to provide us with such valuable info on Temptalia- your work is so appreciated! xo ;-)

  15. Personally, I have been using the 235 the last few days and I really like it. I like using the synthetic side for laying down a cream shadow or base, and then the natural side to put down powder shadow on my lid and browbone. It replaces having to use 2 different brushes for those purposes. I think the same will work for the cheek brush (synthetic for cream blushes and natural for powder blushes).

  16. Elle

    These totally feel gimmicky to me…and I wasn’t really impressed with the MES either…so my wallet is happy. I have SO many MES and I rarely even reach for them, so I really need to stop buying them. Thanks Christine!

  17. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Kate Kate & Zena

    Those brushes are very gimmicky. What really annoys me is the sides of the 179 and the 234 aren’t equal. If you look at the other brushes, it’s split down the middle, the 179 and 234 have very uneven distribution with the hairs. I think if your going to produce a brush set with dual sides, you should make sure each brush is the same in terms of the whole “duality” thing. I’m nitpicky though.

  18. Those eye brushes are definitely too big for me–sometimes, I feel like my 239 is too large! (I do have larger eyes, but I suppose my eyelids don’t follow suit.)
    “I was like, ‘Are you serious?'” made me lol. They really should be clearer…

  19. Maureen

    I want them because they look so damn cool (and I have kind of a small brush collection), but some of them are so expensive.

  20. holly

    would the 128 work for the chanel soleil de tan? Or would a full synthetic or full natural brush work better?

    • Are you applying it in a small area? It’s a rather small cheek brush, so it works if you are doing small areas or you have smaller cheeks. If you’re doing bronzer more all-over then I like fan brushes (like MAC’s 184) or an angled brush (like MAC’s 168).

  21. Edelmc

    I use the 182 for buffing on foundation (normally f&b for studio sculpt) – have you tried the new buffer brush when applying foundation and did you find that it gave more coverage for a different finish due to the different hair..ie The 182 tends to blend out the foundation quite a bit giving a light coverage and air brushed finish…maybe the new buffers synthetic hair would result in more coverage?

    • It gives about the same coverage for me, honestly. It’s not heavy coverage at all, and it seems to absorb more foundation than I’d like.

  22. Ellen

    Thanks for the great review Christine. I think you just saved me a lot of money! : )
    Question…do you think that one of the brushes would work for under eye concealer and then flip it over for an under eye setting powder? It was hard for me to tell if it is too rounded for that purpose. Thanks!

  23. Thanks again! I love your post!

  24. Olivia

    I am a bit OCD and am upset that there are now two 179 brushes….grrrrr.

  25. kel

    Made in china doesn’t mean it’s bad quality, the kabuki brush from mac is made in china and it’s amazing! I think you already know, i’m really tired of ppl say made in china is crap. makeup forever kabuki is also made in china, as well as many chanel brushes. don’t just put a label on it.

    • I did not say they were poor quality only that they are made from China as many readers were curious – MAC makes the majority, if not all, their full-sized brushes in Japan/France, and in the past, their machine-made brush sets were made in China – which are inferior in quality to their full-sized brushes.

      I stated they were made in China, not that they were lacking in quality in any way. If you read the review, I say nothing about these quality being poor or that it’s bad quality. The point to be made is that these are made in China vs. Japan/France as most MAC brushes are. I think you’re reading more into this than I ever said. I actually said these were quality brushes and the only concern I had was whether or not the split would affect the shape over time.

    • I don’t think Christine was saying that these new brushes are horrible because they’re made in China. I think she was just saying that they’re made in China because she wanted to provide as much information about the brushes as she could.

  26. kel

    I just wanted to add that I’m on your website literally every other day, and I love it! I’m just really bothered. because if it said any other country’s name, you wouldn’t point it out, or anyone.

    • Actually, it’s noteworthy, because the brushes MAC has made in China are their machine-made brush sets, which are known as inferior in quality compared to their full-sized brushes which are typically made in Japan and France. All of the brushes I have from MAC are from Japan/France – I even just checked 30 brushes I have and they’re either Japan or France.

      Additionally, given the amount of fake MAC Products that exist, future readers may use these posts to authenticate brushes they have, and guess what — since the majority of brushes are produced in either Japan or France, and it’s assumed that if it says something else it’s likely to be a fake brush — then it would be good for those people to know that these were made in China and are properly labeled.

  27. Sasha

    Too bad they are made in China, otherwise I would have bought the 234 and 235.

  28. Brianna

    I used to work for MAC and went to MAC Summer Update. The whole point of these brushes was to be able to use creams/liquids with the synthetic side and powders with the natural side (or however you want to use them) but more importantly for the contrasting textures of the Raw Fined trend. You could use the same brush to get more of a matte/natural finish with the natural side and a satin finish with the synthetic side. That said, I would have to play with them more to figure out how much I would like them. The only one I really like the idea of is the #234.

  29. dana

    after looking all the negative feedback for these brushes i was sure not to buy any of these brushes except for 179 but but but when i myself checked in the mac store , i was so glad that i got 234 and 235 . 235 is now one of my best brushes from all cause my eyelid is big and 239 brush is good but when i work with my eyelid it takes time but when i use 235 it just takes littel . and specially 1 brush works for 2 job first for paintpots and then eyeshadow . so atlast i got the brush that i has been waiting for a long long time.

  30. The MUA at MAC showed me how yo use the 179 and I love it! I have been trying forever to successfully contour my face and either I put too much product on and it looks like a dirt smudge, or I use too small a brush and it looks like a line. I have even used all sizes of fiber optics brushes to contour! With this brush, I dip the darker part in the contour shade and follow the cheek contour and it perfectly diffuses the powder and puts it in the right place. I can also add a highlighter to the white bristles and do contour and highlighter all at once. I am super pale (NW15) so I need a soft contour and this brush works great for me. I am debating getting a back up, but it is quite pricey.

    I say try the brushes if you can at a store and see if it works for you personally.

    • Joan

      Just a regular lover of makeup. I received all of the brushes for my birthday on July 7 and LOVE them all. Not only are they esthetically pleasing, but they are quite purposeful…generally, a great addition to my brush collection.

  31. Mireya

    I like #234

  32. xXx Char xXx

    I thought this might be of interest now that a year has passed since I was talked into purchasing the #128 split fibre cheek brush… I’ve hardly ever used it – in fact the only time I reach for it is when I think about it and how I don’t use it. Its a “guilt brush” now… I don’t know… maybe I could use it as a highlighter on the cheekbone. Somehow I just new when I bought this brush it was going to be a regret.  Lesson learned: Don’t get talked into something new just for the sake of it being new!!!