Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Sigma Makeup Brushes vs. MAC Brushes

Make sure you check out my standalone review for Sigma Brushes, which considers them on their merit and by themselves, not as an alternative to MAC specifically.

Q. Are they on the same level as MAC? Or are they a more affordable alternative, but not as good?

The majority of brushes are not on the same level as MAC, and there are some subtle differences that translate in application that makes me think Sigma really would be better off having their own numbering system and designing original brushes and improving upon their existing designs or similar-to-MAC brushes. Though the numbering system has made me hesitant to review Sigma since I first heard of the brand (because I don’t like copycats, diversion, knockoffs, etc.), I think they could do just as well without the MAC numbers. I think it automatically invites very tight, very critical comparisons between the two brands.

Sigma Makeup brushes are definitely a more affordable alternative to MAC brushes or any other high-end brushes. They are good, but not always great and sometimes just so-so. Like all brush ranges, not all brushes are made equal. Some brushes aren’t as soft, others not as useful. I have all of the currently available MAC brushes, and there are certainly brushes that I have no use for and some that I don’t love or even like. To expect every Sigma Makeup Brush to be outstanding or to surpass MAC or other high-end brands is a very tough expectation to meet.

I think if you go in with “this is an affordable alternative” rather than “this is exactly the same or better” mindset, you won’t be disappointed. (Of course, also make sure you’ve read my thoughts on the brushes themselves, because some might still disappoint you–e.g. 187!)

See brush-by-brush comparisons, photos, and more Q&A…

All photos show Sigma Makeup Brushes brand new–they have not been washed or used, they’re right out of the package, so my MAC brushes may look dirtier (I swear I cleaned them all, but I think I might have forgotten one or two) and some of my white-bristled brushes I’ve never been able to turn 100% perfectly white again. This post focuses exclusively on how Sigma brushes stack up to MAC brushes, because this is the most common question I’ve seen asked.

Q. How do they compare to MAC brushes of the same number? (e.g. quality of the handle, hair, shedding, similarity to, worse/better)

First, one common denominator: nearly all of the Sigma Makeup brushes are heavier (the handle being heavier) and thicker/larger in diameter in comparison to MAC brushes. Most of the Sigma Makeup Brushes are also longer.


MAC 109 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS109 Brush


MAC 109 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS109 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS109 Brush / MAC 109 Brush


MAC 109 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS109 Brush (Handle thickness comparison)

SS109 vs. MAC 109: The MAC 109 is denser, softer, and the brush-head itself is about 2mm longer. I found the SS109 to be fluffier and not as densely packed as the MAC brush; the shape itself is a little more domed and not as flat. My MAC 109 doesn’t shed very much (maybe one bristle for every 2-3 uses), but I do have some trouble with my SS109 shedding. The SS109 splays out more, while the MAC 109 is rounded and tapers in.


MAC 150 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS150 Brush


MAC 150 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS150 Brush (Handle thickness comparison)


MAC 150 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS150 Brush


MAC 150 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS150 Brush (Length comparison–MAC is 5-6mm longer)

SS150 vs. MAC 150: The MAC 150 is more domed and tapered inward, while the SS150 flares out more and then has a wide dome shape. The SS150 has the same softness (which, by the way, the MAC 150 isn’t ultra soft, it’s soft but could be softer) as the MAC 150, but the SS150 differs greatly in its shape and density. I think the SS150 is more similar to MAC’s 134 (even though Sigma also offers the SS134). The SS150 is flatter and denser, not as fluffy as the MAC 150. The SS150 sheds like nobody’s business, while my MAC 150 doesn’t shed much at all. The SS150 is also the smelliest, most troublesome brush out of all the Sigma brushes I’ve tried–it sheds, smells, and bleeds. The weight difference between these two also feels the largest–the SS150 is distinctly heavier than the MAC brush, even though it’s shorter.


MAC 168 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS168 Brush


MAC 168 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS168 Brush

SS168 vs. MAC 168: The MAC 168 is tighter, more compact, and it retains its shape a lot better than the SS168, which was splayed when I first opened it and still splays out even when I re-shape it after washing. The SS168 is fluffier and better for diffusing a blush than it is for cotouring, just because I find the lack of firmness makes it more difficult to contour the hollows of my cheeks. (Please keep in mind that I’ve had my 168 forever, and I didn’t always know how to clean them, so mine is a little discolored–it does start off white!)


Sigma Makeup SS182 Brush / MAC 182 Brush


MAC 182 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS182 Brush

SS182 vs. MAC 182: My MAC 182 is a Couture 182, which means it has a square handle and is thusly not *exactly* the same as the permanent MAC 182. (And yes, I still own TWO of the Couture 182s, and I love them dearly!) These two are almost equally soft. I’d say the MAC brush is just slightly softer against the skin, but it’s really close. The SS182 does a really good job replicating the feel and density of the MAC 182. The MAC 182 sheds less than my SS182, but neither sheds much at all. The SS182 smells after washing, though, and my MAC 182 always just smells like whatever I washed it in (baby shampoo).


Sigma Makeup SS187 Brush / MAC 187 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS187 Brush / MAC 187 Brush


MAC 187 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS187 Brush


MAC 187 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS187 Brush (Handle size/length comparison)

SS187 vs. MAC 187: I found that the differences between these two were more pronounced than in many of the other comparisons. The MAC 187 is significantly softer and it is much more dense. It also holds its shape better and has enough firmness/density so you can use it for stippling. The SS187 feels a little fluffy and floppy in comparison. The SS187 is nearly an inch longer and significantly heavier with a thicker handle.


MAC 188 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS188 Brush


MAC 188 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS188 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS188 Brush / MAC 188 Brush

SS188 vs. MAC 188: Like the previous comparison between SS187 and MAC 187, the SS188 is just not as dense or firm as the MAC 188. The 188 is tighter, thinner, and doesn’t flare out like the SS188. The SS188 brush-head is about 1-2mm longer in length.


MAC 190 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS190 Brush


MAC 190 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS190 Brush

SS190 vs. MAC 190: These two are very, very similar. The MAC 190 is a little softer, but otherwise the two brushes are identical.


MAC 194 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS194 Brush

SS194 vs. MAC 194: I don’t think these brushes are comparable. The MAC 194 is thinner, skinnier, and longer. They’re two totally different brushes. The SS194 is considerably longer than MAC 194.


MAC 209 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS209 Brush


MAC 209 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS209 Brush

SS209 vs. MAC 209: The MAC brush is skinnier overall, but it’s also more straight/narrow and comes to a point, but it’s not as tapered as the SS209, which almost bulges at the bottom and middle before it comes to a thin point. The SS209 is also a good deal longer and the handle thicker than the MAC 209.


MAC 219 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS219 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS219 Brush / MAC 219 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS219 Brush / MAC 219 Brush

SS219 vs. MAC 219: The photos do a really good job showing just how different these two brushes are. The SS19 is a fluffy, dome-shaped crease brush, whereas the MAC 219 is more penci-shaped, more pointed and less domed, and it is much tighter/compact and not nearly as fluffy. I find that both are good to have on hand, but the SS219 is not like the MAC 219. Just think of them as two different brushes entirely! The SS219 is also over an inch longer than the MAC 219.


MAC 224 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS224 Brush


MAC 224 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS224 Brush


MAC 224 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS224 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS224 Brush / MAC 224 Brush

SS224 vs. MAC 224: The SS224 is about 10mm longer than the MAC 224, even though the MAC 224 brush-head is 3-4mm longer than the SS224. Much like the 219 comparison, there are enough differences between these two brushes that make them less than identical. The MAC 224 is longer, skinnier, and not as dense–it’s very soft and floppy in a sense. The SS224 is shorter with more of a domed shape rather than a tapered edge like the MAC 224. The SS224′s shorter brush-head allows you to have more control over it.


MAC 239 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS239 Brush


MAC 239 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS239 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS239 Brush / MAC 239 Brush

SS239 vs. MAC 239: One of the most noticeable differences is the fact that the MAC 239 is white-haired, while the SS239 is brown. The MAC 239 is much, much better than the SS239 at picking up, packing on, and blending eyeshadow. The SS239 is larger, denser, and stubbier in comparison to the MAC 239. The SS239 actually reminds me of an old, long-discontinued Benefit eyeshadow brush I used to use. These just aren’t very comparable to me–it doesn’t mean the SS239 is bad, it’s decent, but it’s not the same as the MAC 239.


MAC 266 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS266 Brush


MAC 266 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS266 Brush


MAC 266 Brush / Sigma Makeup SS266 Brush

SS266 vs. MAC 266: Even though the angle of the MAC 266 looks much more severe than the SS266, they are actually the same. (Maybe your eyes are better than mine and didn’t think that, but I put them side by side, and the angle continues perfectly.) As you can see, the SS266 is skinnier and a smidgen shorter. The SS266 is also just under an inch longer than the MAC 266 with a thicker handle–I like my eyeliner brushes on the shorter side for more control but that’s a personal preference.


Sigma SS275 Brush / MAC 275 Brush


Sigma SS275 Brush / MAC 275 Brush


Sigma SS275 Brush / MAC 275 Brush

SS275 vs. MAC 275: The SS275 is significantly smaller than the MAC 275, which isn’t a bad thing. It actually kind of reminds me of MAC’s 272. The SS275 is a little more angular towards the edge in comparison as well. Like most Sigma brushes, the SS275 is also about half an inch longer than the MAC 275. The SS275 fits better in my inner corner than the MAC 275, actually! The SS275 sheds a bit more than my MAC 275 (which doesn’t shed at all). It’s not particularly worrisome, but it’s worth noting.

Q. Do you like the Sigma or MAC Kabuki (182) better?

I like the MAC 182 better, but it is really a tight race. I prefer the square handle of my MAC 182, which is actually not even what MAC 182 normally comes equipped with! I find MAC is just the littlest bit softer. Is it worth the huge price difference? No, I don’t think MAC is $25+ better by any means. I also like that my MAC 182 doesn’t smell after washing. I’m not that bothered by the scent, just because I don’t notice when I actually just use the brushes rather than specifically going out of my way to smell to see if there *is* a scent. The SS182 hardly sheds, is incredibly dense, very soft, and it retains its shape well after washing. I didn’t have any bleeding with the SS182 either.

Q. How does the weight of the brush compare?

The weight of the Sigma brushes seem heavier than the MAC brushes overall, and the difference is more noticeable in the face brushes, just because the handles are significantly thicker. Nearly all of the Sigma brushes are longer than MAC brushes.

Q. Why do they have the same numbers as MAC brushes?

According to Simone, when they originally launched their brushes, they didn’t have numbers. Customers requested that numbers be added to the brushes so they could refer to which brush they were using. Simone has told me that they are slowly phasing out the MAC-based numbering system and will have a new numbering system in place by the end of this year.

Q. Do you think these would last a lifetime like MAC brushes?

If you don’t use them very often, sure. If you use them everyday, I don’t think they will last you as long as MAC brushes. I see some of the ferrules loosening up over time with heavy use (I put ‘em through the ringer, trust me!), a few brushes have some shedding/dye issues that could be fixed, and the smell might get worse after a couple of years (can’t say either way). These are just some concerns I’d have for lifetime use. I think they’ll last you a few years, and if you have to replace them in a few years, I think the low cost of even an entire set is certainly worth a few years’ of usage, you know?

I know several makeup artists who can vouch for their MAC brushes being as good today as they were 15 years ago when they first bought them–but they also take meticulous care of their brushes. With good care of your Sigma brushes, I imagine you can get several years out of them. You may have to hot glue the ferrule back on after a few years, but the brush itself seems to hold its shape, not shed so much that you’re missing half a brush six months later, etc. It is unrealistic to expect that Sigma = MAC (and unfair to hold Sigma to MAC standards, considering their price point, to be honest) in every single way.

Q. Do MAC brushes fit in the brush roll?

Yes.

Please feel free to ask any additional questions you may have.  Thanks for reading!

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257 thoughts on “Sigma Makeup Brushes vs. MAC Brushes Comparison with Photos

  1. Kristen

    the mac ones look a lot nicer

  2. Wow! This is the best comparison I have ever come across. Thank you for this. This will really me decide on what to invest on. :-)

  3. Thank you for this comparison!

    I felt the same as you, I’m not exactly too fond of a company that prides itself to be a cheap copy of MAC. But of course, being a business student like like you, I can understand why they did that, haha.

    I’m sure customers who are looking for good value will buy Sigma because it really is that much cheaper, but customers who are looking for good brushes, even at that much higher of a price point, will stick with MAC (or even Shu Uemura… which is much much higher).

    • Haha, I know, right? You just find that you aren’t too surprised or bothered by certain business practices because you’re like, “Well, I can see why…” or just understand what goes behind it.

      I think that’s a really fair assessment. I can afford MAC brushes, and it’s taken me something like five years to build up my MAC collection–but I can’t really afford shu or Chanel brushes, so I don’t go there. I can definitely understand that there are others who feel the same way about MAC! Or look at the price of the 134 and lose their mind!

  4. Thanks for this review Christine. I have been hesistant about this brand just because of how they named their brushes. I have both low and high end brushes but my MAC ones are my favorites still by far. I’ve had a MAC powder brush called #1 for more than 15 years and it has stood the test of time.

  5. allison

    I have been waiting for this comparison. Thanks so much for such a detailed/concise report. This has definately helped me make up my mind as to which brushes to buy!

  6. I love the fact that your comments seem very honest!!! Thanks for reviewing :)

  7. Dani S

    My one problem with sigma is the fact that you can’t buy all the brushes separately. It’s a real pain.

  8. Couturelovin183

    WOW!
    youre like the ONLY person who gave Sigma brushes a bad review…Ive read hundreds of reviews and seen like 50 videos on youtube that say the sigma brushes are better. They also did brush by brush comparison as well…I guess everyone cant agree!

    • Saki

      It probably also helps that other gurus got the Sigma brushes for free, and they don’t get free MAC.

      The Temptalia website gets both, so naturaly this website would prefer MAC.

      • Actually, I’ve paid for all of my MAC brushes. :)

        • Saki

          I’d assumed the brushes you had, but you get the collection samples. Which in a way makes your review MORE fair that the others. Because I don’t get in the back of my head “Is she saying this because it’s free…” You get MAC products and these, so it’s more accurate and not tainted.

      • Saki

        That’s not saying that this review is unfair; the pictures speak for themselves. Just that the other reviews are of course going to prefer something when the get it for free…and the free brush positive reviews let to free cosmetics and positive reviews!

  9. 266 and 275 (last 2 comparison) have the same pictures. You’ve repeated 266 twice. :)

  10. JoElla

    Thank you for the really detailed review. :)

  11. abril

    I’ve never really liked the fact of the same numbers on Sigma Brushes… It automatically makes me think of a copy and I actually think they’re a copy! Even other brands have similar brushes and they don’t use other companies numbers to compare! Maybe if Sigma has used their own name or number on their brushes I would’ve gave them a try! But If I want another 224 I will buy one from MAC!

    Excelent job Christine! We really apreciate the time you spend on doing all the reviews! Thanks a lot! :)

  12. daphne

    So funny. I only have three Sigma brushes – 188, 182, 109. Of those, the only MAC version I have is the 182, and I like my MAC much, much better. My Ss182 doesn’t look like yours, for one; the bristles are all completely black, and it is not as dense. My MAC 182 is much, much softer than my SS182. I do like the SS182 a lot, but it has its uses and they’re not generally the same as the MAC’s (more finishing and touching up, less buffing because, well, ouch).

    However I love my SS109 and SS188. I admit I can’t really compare to MAC and I imagine my SS188 is not as springy and firm as my MAC 187, but it’s definitely not floppy and not terribly soft. It does a great job with my cheek stains (Stila and Benefit) and my Benefit liquid highlighters, though I don’t have any cream blushes so haven’t tried it with that yet. My SS109, when dried in a brush guard, is SUPER dense and applies liquid foundation beautifully. However I look like a bearded lady when I’m done and have to tweeze a zillion shedded hairs off my cheeks :P

    • Hey Daphne,

      How do you apply your cheek stains/liquid highlighters? Do you use the brush to apply or just to blend?

      LOL @ bearded lady!! Seems like there is something about the shaping of the 109 that lends itself to being more prone to shedding. I feel like I totally got luck with my MAC 109, because it hardly sheds!

      • daphne

        I dab them on with their applicators – the little brush that comes in PosieTint and the clickpen from the Stila crushes (I don’t use them on my lips – didn’t love the effect – so I find it sanitary enough) and I blend them with the SS188. I have to work quickly because PosieTint, especially, sinks in pretty fast but it works nicely :)

        I keep pondering getting a MAC 109 and seeing if it sheds a little less. My MAC 187 still sheds a tiny bit for foundation but not nearly as much as the SS109 does. But when I already have something that does a fairly good job, it’s hard to convince myself to spend – what? – $34 when I could use that on other brushes :)

        • A lot of people complain about shedding issues with the MAC 109, though, so I don’t know. I really just consider myself lucky. I mean, it’s not zero shed, but I never noticed it shedding until I read about others having that problem… then I was like, “OK, does mine shed?! Am I blind? Have I been going out with brush hair all over my face?” I get maybe one or two hairs at most every other use or so.

    • Chantal

      I hear you on the “bearded lady” phenomenon; I can’t use my MAC 109 for foundation, it’s like I’m stippling on facial hair as well as foundation. Although not quite as bad, my 116, 129 and 182 all shed as well (and I bought them directly from MAC, they aren’t fakes). But my 187, 188 and 131 are my babies!! And I love my MAC eyeshadow brushes. You win some, you lose some.

      • LOL. Stippling on facial hair… that’s a new one ;)

        It’s so weird, the 116 and 182 don’t shed at ALL for me. The 129 shed maybe one hair per use or less, but I didn’t really notice it either, but I haven’t used that in awhile (totally adore the 116 for what I used the 129 for).

        But I agree… your mileage may vary. Both Sigma and MAC brushes are handmade, so inevitably, there can be some variation, though I am sure everyone does their best to keep things up to par and standard. Like the MAC 150 is kind of scratch, but I still use it because I’m not shelling out money for another powder brush (though I have the 134 and keep meaning to use that instead).

        • Avatar of Lauren Lauren

          I strongly suggesting using the MAC 134. It’s one of my favourite brushes. I can use it for powder, bronzer and most recently, my new Shell Pearl Beauty Powder. One of the best impulse purchases I’ve made. ha.

        • tracy

          my MAC 150 was scratchy as well but I condition it with paul mitchell moisture conditioner several times and it’s much much softer!

    • Hannah

      im not ssure if this would help because I don’t have eiher, but I heard that if you apply less pressure on the 109 it’ll shed less and give you a really nice application :)
      YAY for youtube!

  13. macpixie55

    Great review. I am not buying them on principle, I don’t like how they use the MAC numbers and that the descriptions on the site are word for word the same.

    I love my MAC brushes and I feel like buying these would be a waste of my money as I know I’d only see them as a substitute or backup until I can get the real thing.

  14. alex

    And I will stick to my MAC brushes forever. Thanks for the review. MAC will forever be the one of the best. Hands down.

  15. Mrs Angel

    Either way you’ll get a nice application with both and you can save a whole butt load of money with the cheaper but nice brushes, MAC is way overpriced and overated.

  16. Keri

    Thank you so much for this comparison! This is the most in depth and most honest review I have come across! A lot of the people who get sent these brushes and make videos or blog posts about them say that they are exactly like the MAC brushes and a lot better than the MAC brushes. I’m glad to see that you don’t have biased opinions and really give an honest review the product instead of immediately slapping a fake or biased review on them!

    • It’s funny – I think they are good brushes overall, but some of the brushes really aren’t very much like the MAC brushes they share their number with. Like if they had numbers that weren’t connected with MAC, I probably wouldn’t make the connection myself!

  17. JJ

    Great comparison!!
    Which Sigma brushes are better than the Mac ones at getting the job done??

    • I don’t think any are better. I like the SS219 for getting a more defined, but not harsh, crease, and I don’t think MAC has a comparable brush for this purpose (the closest would be the 226, which was limited edition and more tapered)!

  18. Ellie

    This is so incredible helpful! Thank you. I do not own any MAC brushes and was thinking of purchasing Sigma brushes, but now I have a good idea of what to get from each brand.

  19. KP&7

    Will you be reviewing the new brushes that Sigma came out with?

  20. Katie

    Great review, Christine.

    I couldn’t agree with your opinions more. The Sigma are good brushes, especially compared to some others on the market, but they are not on the same level as MAC.

    I bought the set with brush roll and use it mainly for travel, which I like it for. Kind of a no brainer to just grab the roll and go.

    But if someone is used to MAC brushes and expecting Sigma to be the same, they’re just not.

  21. Abi

    I have the sigma 12 piece set and i really love most of the brushes apart from a few.
    187- I hate it really scratchy and floppy
    194- Didnt blend my concealer just made it streaky
    190- Same as 194 made my foundation streaky.

    So i think i will invest in the mac versions of these brushes.
    Also i think i will buy the mac 239 as it looks alot nicer even though the sigma one does a good job i still want to try the mac!

    Also could anybody tell me which brush is better to invest in 188 or 187 ?

    Thanks x

    • It’s so funny, I think the SS239 and MAC 239 are so so different! I wouldn’t have thought the SS239 looked like the 239 if they didn’t have the same number.

      188 is better for small areas, so if you want to use it for blush. If you want to use it for foundation, the 187 is a bit better since it’s larger. If you can only get one, I usually recommend the 188, because it’s smaller (so you can use it in both small and large areas) but will still get the job done that the 187 would (it’ll just take longer!).

    • lily

      i bought the 188 a while ago and was so dissapointed, my favorite youtube girls raved about it but it did nothing for me, its too small to put creme blush on i felt like i had to paint my face like i was painting a picture. the 187 in my opinion is better because its the size of my cheeks and you can use it for everything.

  22. Dia

    I wonder if it’s the hair used, some sort of coating on the bristles, or something else that makes the Sigma kabuki a wee bit smelly. I have a kabuki from another brand altogether, and it definitely has an odor if you smell it up close. But it also sheds like the dickens, so you’re selling me on trying a different brand! ;-)

    It’s clear that you spent a lot of time, energy and effort with these Sigma reviews. Not that it’s unusual for your site, but I just had to leave a comment and say BRAVO! Your reviews are always informative, but these Sigma comparisons are above and beyond what I had expected. :-)

    • It might be! I really don’t know. Maybe my MAC brushes stunk when I first got them but they’ve been washed a zillion times over the years, so that’s why they’re fine. It’s definitely something that I only noticed in bigger, bulkier brushes like the SS150, SS182, etc. – I didn’t get any real odor from the eye brushes!

      The Sigma SS182 is really nice. Definitely worth getting for the $19 price tag.

      Even though I definitely spend the time I think is necessary on the products I review (I always spend more time on a product I have no experience with than say reviewing yet another MAC lipstick, lol!), but particularly in the case of products that get a lot of hype or rave reviews, I like to really break it down and try to be analytical about it. I really want to see why it’s hyped up, is it worth the hype, etc. The last thing I want to do is tell you to waste your money, whether it’s $2 or $50. I think you can make the right choice on whether it’s worth it to you and if it’s in your budget than I could, so quality is always key for me!

      Thanks, Dia!

  23. Kesh

    Great, thorough comparison! I was really tempted to purchase the Sigma brushes, but after reading your review, I have opted not to. I think the MAC brushes are definitely worth the money and, they also looks a bit better than the Sigma brushes. Seems like MAC brushes will last more longer.

    • I think if they start selling more individual brushes, it might be a better way to grab what you need or maybe a brush you lust for at MAC but you’re just like… no way at that price tag.

  24. Joanne

    I am a real believer of price = quality

    I was wondering where these Sigma bruses are made in (China?) and are they all synthetic?. I know MAC brushes are made in Japan (at least the ones I own), and some are made with real hair (such as goat and whatnot).

    My personal opinion is that I find that “economically priced” brushes are usually made in China (cheap labour and quality hence the ability to provide cheaper prices to consumers) smell funny sometimes, shed and bleed.

    So even though MAC brushes costs me an arm and leg, I prefer to make the investment because I know they are of a certain quality and will last me forever.

    • Hi Joanne,

      The handles of the Sigma brushes say U.S.A. (I just looked at four or five of them), just FYI! They are a mix of synthetic and natural hair – the natural hair being primarily from goat hair. In my Sigma Brush review I listed whether it was natural, synthetic, or a blend, so that should help you there!

      • Yoyo

        Hi Christine,
        I just wanted to let you know that, at least on mine, there is a small “PRC” carved into the Sigma brushes. I’m not sure why it says they are made in the USA but then have PRC on them too but mine definitely have that on all of them >_<

  25. Avatar of Kristina Kristina

    I think these comparative pictures speak for themselves. The tailoring of brushes are very important to their function and it is very obvious the MAC versions are far more tailored.

    Not every product made is for every person, based on budget alone, but there isn’t anything wrong with that. Make purchases for what works best for your lifestyle, but until I slipped my feet into my first pair of prada pumps, my feet could not understand the word “craftsmanship” either.

    I wish all makeup, shoes, cheese and scotch were created equally but sadly they are not.
    I thank you for this honest review.

    • Prada pumps, eh?! I have always wondered whether designer high heels were any more comfortable than regular high heels! LOL. I set a goal for myself a few weeks ago, and I met it, and I’m still meeting it, and I’m planning to reward myself with some pretty summer shoes (I was gonna do spring, but I fear summer will show me a shoe I am even more head-over-heels, haha, for).

  26. I have the Sigma set and a few Mac brushes and here are my thoughts:

    I like most of the Sigma brushes except:

    SS194 – Very stiff and hurt under my eye even though its a concealer brush
    SS219 – It’s okay but it kinda lost its shape and I have some straggly hairs coming from it.
    SS168 – It’s okay but it kinda lost its shape like you said and I can not get it totally clean (I don’t know if it is just because it’s a white brush or what, but it is totally annoying – I’ve used brush cleaner, olive oil, etc. and it still has a pink tinge)!!

    I love the SS182, I don’t have the MAC 182 but I do have the MAC 181SE (came in a holiday set) and it is way softer than the MAC one. I also have a MAC holiday set and the Sigmas are all softer than the holiday versions. I only have a few other MAC brushes, 217 – my fave, 224 and the 165 (just got this at a CCO and am trying to figure out how to use it) and they are all super soft and totally worth the price. However, because I am not a makeup artist, I don’t feel the need to buy the full-sized MAC versions and am pretty happy with my little collection. (Except the 226 if it comes out again, I am totally falling for all of the hype and must have it if it comes out again). (By the way my favorite brush of all is my Sonia Kashuk flat contour brush – I love it for foundation).

    • Hi Crystal,

      I can’t get my MAC 168 totally white, so go figure. It makes me sad/mad/annoyed. I’ve just learned to wash my brushes ASAP and not let product sit on them if they are white, lol!

      I completely agree that the Sigma Brushes totally blow MAC holiday/travel sets out of the water. (The holiday/travel sets used to be OK, but I feel they’ve gone down in quality in the past two or three years.) I didn’t like the 181SE very much – it was a little scratchy to me.

      I think if I didn’t have this blog, I probably would not have indulged on all the MAC brushes. There are several eye brushes that I really never reach for (like the 212… totally never use it!). But I also suffer from beauty addict’s “collect them all” syndrome and sometimes get caught up in having to own all of X (like with Chanel Rouge Allure Laques – I knew not all were for me, but I HAD to own them all!).

      Sigma has the 226 now, except it’s only in the Premium Set. Would be awesome if it was great (haven’t tried it) AND was sold individually!

      Oh, I love the 165 for highlighting :)

      • charlieee

        Hey Christine, thank you for this awesome review! I have been contemplating to get these Sigma brushes or not for quite sometime because I can’t afford to get MAC ones now.
        Anyway, I read before that cleaning 168 or white haired ones with cleansing oil will get it white again! I don’t know how true it is since I don’t own any white haired brush, but no harm trying! :)

        • I’ve tried that tip, but no dice! It’s definitely helpful and I sometimes will use cleansing oil for a deeper clean, but never turned it 100% white again, LOL!

          • tracy

            you should try rubbing the tip of the brush on a dove bar soap it worked for my 168,272,and 217.

  27. Kate

    Hey Christine – I don’t know if this is a question you can answer, but since you’re not only a makeup guru but a lawyer in training, I figure you might know: How come these brushes can be produced without Sigma getting sued? They seem to be direct copies of the MAC brushes (though a little lower, possibly, in quality) and even worse, they have the same identifying numbers.

    Seems a little sketchy, like the company is banking on the fact that the brand recognition with MAC and seeming like a cheaper alternative will bring them more customers.

    • I was actually wondering about that myself. I was just wondering why MAC wasn’t enforcing their copyright, but yeah… couldn’t really figure it out other than maybe it’s not worth bothering over?

      • Avatar of Kristina Kristina

        Or maybe MAC didn’t copyright their numbering system.

        • In the U.S., you pretty much copyright from the time you create it, but I’m not sure they could prove copyright over numbers alone – more the totality of it. Though registration of copyright usually grants more protections and all that. I’m not familiar enough with copyright law to be able to give any real insight in it, just crumbs!

  28. Yo

    best in-depth review of sigma brushes that I have ever come across! Thanks you so much Christine!=)

  29. Michelle

    Wow This is such a great post! I have seen a lot of YouTube gurus raving about Sigma brushes, and some actually “think” they are better than MAC ones. I was thinking about getting one or two SIgma brushes to test out, until I saw your post.
    I too do not like copycats and believe the originals deserve a higher price for all the creativity and research going into each product. I am slowly building up my MAC brush collection and I know I will continue supporting MAC brushes. Would you write a post about how to properly take care of the brushes? Thank you so much!

    • Just like with readers on this post, you can see some think they’re better than MAC, some don’t, and sometimes it may just be individual brushes that standout in both brands, so it’s really in what you’re looking for, I think! It took me five years to build-up my MAC collection, and I did buy them myself (OK, I think I received the 2nd 182 as a Christmas gift from my mom, lol!), and I personally am very happy and glad I did so. I used cheaper brushes from various brands, both super cheap (like Loew-Cornell) and not so cheap (Philosophy), but I ended replacing every single one with MAC down the road. I also started off with a MAC brush set, which got me by, but full-size brushes are definitely way better (particularly for face brushes!).

      I did a few on how to clean them, which is most of the care you need…

      http://www.temptalia.com/beauty-tips-how-to-clean-your-makeup-brushes
      http://www.temptalia.com/5-makeup-tips-on-how-to-clean-makeup-brushes

      Spot clean throughout the week, deep clean once a week (this assumes you use them everyday). Personally? I use baby shampoo on whatever eye brushes I use right after I finish using them–particularly if they’re white bristled! For face brushes, I’ll wait 2-3 days, depending on if I’ve worn makeup everyday. I use MAC’s Brush Cleanser once every 2-3 weeks on all my brushes. When you wash them, make sure you are generous with the cleanser – don’t skimp – and then lay them flat to dry. Don’t let your brushes soak for long (otherwise water can travel up the ferrule and wooden handle).

  30. Yo

    By the way, I think you have the most credible comparison of the mac and sigma brushes since you have all MAC counter parts.=)

  31. I was just about to buy their brush but now that I’ve read ur post.. I think I’ll go for the mac brushes.I’d’rather spend more for a better quality! Thank you for this helpful comparison

  32. Mai

    I am glad for this review because so many people have been saying it’s the same and clearly it isn’t. I will stick to the few MAC brushes I have

  33. This was about the best review and comparison I have seen on these two Brush Brands!! Thank you

  34. Avatar of Rebecca BeckBeck

    Thanks for this in-depth review – a lot of time obviously went into it! I have a Sigma SS239 that I got singly from allcosmeticswholesale, and I like it better than the Sephora brand brush I have (from a holiday set) that I bought it to compete with, but now you’ve got me wondering if I should hunt down a MAC 239 to see if it’s even better. ;)

    • The 239 is quite a bit different just on shape alone! But I am totally partial to the MAC 239, it’s my very favorite MAC eye brush! It’s like my do-it-all brush if I am being lazy. It can pack on color, blend, handle the crease, etc. I have 5 and I always feel like I need MORE.

  35. Stacy

    Best review I have come across. Even without your comments, just from the pictures alone I would buy MAC.

  36. SiaM

    Incredible review and thank you so much for the many photographic angles and comparisons. I always appreciate how realistic your reviews are and that you take many factors like price and relative quality under consideration. ^_^ I feel informed!!! =)

  37. Cyndy Lou

    Christine,
    I would like to thank you for your honest opinion… I have heard soooo much good reviews about these brushes, then i come to find out that sigma sponsors these “gurus”! i was going to buy a set but thanks to your honesty i am not…. so you saved me about $100.00. and thanks for the pictures.. one can easily tell the difference

    • I always want you to be happy with what you buy, especially if it’s because I reviewed/photographed/swatched it :) Pictures always help so much for me when I look at products so I am glad these photos helped you.

  38. Ashley

    Thank you so much for the review! I really appreciate the fact that you give out honest reviews. I watched quite a bunch of youtube gurus who received the Sigma brush set for free and I just felt that they were totally being biased. I’m definitely going to stick with the MAC brushes. Christine, have you the EcoTools brushes? They don’t shed, are super soft, friendly to the environment, and best of all very affordable. EcoTools & MAC <3

    • I have tried EcoTools brushes – they are very nice! :) Review on those to come, but I’ve been pretty busy with Sigma for the past six weeks!

  39. Hannah

    hey thanks so much for this reveiw!
    I’ve watched all the gurus on youtube rant and rave about it ( I got it for Christmas), I do love them but I did notive diferences between the two and was slightly dissapointed. When i’d see someone do a cut crease and use a 266 mine would never make a sharp line
    With the 219, I couldn’t see how people used it on the lashline (but if you dry it really pointy anfer a few times it will become a lot more pointier
    the 224 seemed scratchier and on the other guru’s eyes it seemed to be floppier
    I only use the 187 for blush etc…
    The only brushes I own are the sigma ones (excluding 182, 188, 109,197), MAC 226, MAC 182 and a random angled craft brush (which is WAY better than the sigma one)
    But im so glad I cam across an honest reveiw on these…I was beginning to wonder if it was just me and I got a dodgy batch
    Also was the dodgy smell of burning? It smelt like mine were burning and I ran to my mum an a moment of panic, waving a ‘burning’ brush in her face :S

    Thankyou SO SO much for your honesty and keep on doing what you’re doing…my whole budget is based on your site ;)

    • Just like with MAC brushes, some Sigma brushes are better than others! Can’t always have things be perfect (wouldn’t it be nice, though?!) :)

      I am glad you enjoy the ones you have!

      I couldn’t really describe it, I don’t think it was burning… but it wasn’t pleasant, LOL.

  40. DKC

    I own quite a few Sigma brushes and while I agree that the SS150 does have an odor and sheds a lot, over all I think Sigma offers excellent quality brushes at a very affordable price point. I feel like most people believe MAC is the end all be all when it comes to makeup, and the truth of the matter is that ever since MAC was bought by Estée Lauder, MAC is NOT the quality brand it used to be. I purchased a MAC brush set and was VERY disappointed with the quality. I think Sigma’s choice to number their brushes the same as MAC’s makes it appear that Sigma is a copycat company and the argument can be made that by doing so, Sigma is admitting MAC’s superiority. But I do not think that this is reason enough to write off Sigma completely. I think that because everyone is convinced that MAC is the best, Sigma was quite smart to capitalize on the buying public’s fixation on MAC and use their numbering system as a way to showcase Sigma’s products. While I think this review is honest and thorough, it may be a little biased. I took a chance on Sigma and have been nothing but pleased with them.

    • You should check out full-size MAC brushes, as the brushes in a MAC brush set are different and inferior to full-size brushes. Not necessarily to buy, but maybe just play around with next time you’re at the mall. :) MAC brush set brushes are machine-made whereas full-size brushes are machine-made so they can be quite different!

      I don’t think that just because something is cheap should automatically make it better or give it a higher rating or level of quality. They are good for your money, and they are better than I’d expect at that price, but it doesn’t mean they’re the best just because they’re cheap.

    • Avatar of Erica Erica

      I agree with DKC on everything s/he said. And one other thing too, there are a lot better brushes out there than MAC or Sigma. If you really are looking to *invest* in makeup brushes, do your research…there truly are some exceptional quality brushes out there from other brands/manufactures that are worth looking into!

      • What are your favorite brands, Erica? I don’t think I said MAC brushes were the best of all time, and I think that just like with makeup… lines all have something to offer. Not every single product they offer is 100% amazing to everyone, which is why we have so many brands available with a bazillion SKUs to choose from.

        • Avatar of Erica Erica

          Although most of my brush collection consists of MAC brushes (I think I am only missing a few older LE brushes from MAC), my favorite brushes are from Kevyn Aucoin – they all do exactly what they are supposed to and are gorgeous on top of it. (Part of my love is sentimental since my DH bought the set for me as a gift about 6 years ago (I later picked up the few individual brushes not in the full set)). But the Aucoin brushes are really fabulous and really well made and everything I look for in a brush.

          I also have many other random brushes. High up on my list are the 5 or 6 Bobbi Brown brushes I have (although mine are older – I think the quality of her brushes have gone down in the last couple of years). I also have quite a few random brushes from other brands: Shu Uemura (also exceptional quality, and VERY well made, but I only have 2 Shu brushes, so it is hard to speak globally about them), Laura Mercier, Smashbox, Bare Essentials (the worst IMO), Sephora, Too Faced Teddy Bear brushes, and a few other random ones – like the MUFE HD Kabuiki and things like that.

          However,I have heard that the best brushes – bar none – are from Hakuhodo.
          Although I haven’t tried them myself, I have heard nothing but good things about them. http://www.hakuhodousa.com/
          They are more expensive, but the quality is supposed to be the hands down best.
          I’m not really looking to invest in more brushes right now, but these are on my radar for future purchase.

          • Thanks, Erica! Appreciate you sharing :) I’ve never heard of Hakuhudo!

            • min

              ..OMG! one of the powder brushes is $210 but I agree the photos look pretty good hah! I may have to try some of the eyeshadow and foundation brushes. They seem to more in my range.

            • min

              …googled them.. Apparently they oem for many high end companies.. INCLUDING MAC!

              ps: sorry for the double post :)

    • Jane

      I agree that MAC is not the be all, end all of brushes but I have heard that the MAC brush sets are not as good as the singles. This is why I never bought the sets even though they are a much better deal than buying each individual brush.

  41. these picture comparisons are so nice. Now we all knw what is what and why and how…all doubts cleared Christine…now I knw what I want and what I don;t////

    thank you

  42. Michelle

    I have both — MAC and Sigma brushes. I really like both. Sigma is a great alternative for people who don’t want to spend in the range of $30-40 per brush. However, I love my MAC brushes, too.

  43. Hannah

    hey, where’s the 252?
    Its like my favourite brush form the whole lot! Especially for using pigments…

  44. Haylie

    I love your posts Christine but I felt like you were kinda biased on this post especially. I mean the MAC brushes aren’t all that great and way overpriced and I know most people are going to agree with you on liking the MAC brushes better since you always have great posts.

    I still think your amazing! I just couldn’t go through this post.

    • Haylie

      I think people just buy MAC because of the name..I own both 224s and my MAC one sheds more than my Sigma one. I know they’re not exactly the same but its a lot scratchier too. And $30. Worst $30 I’ve ever spent.

    • If you don’t like MAC brushes, that’s your prerogative :) That’s why it’s so great that we have review websites and different beauty blogs to visit – so we can get lots of opinions before making purchases. All I want is for people to enjoy and love their purchases. I don’t care if you hate MAC or love MAC – I just want you to enjoy all that is beauty & makeup!

    • Avatar of Kristina Kristina

      In the review, it clearly stated that even MAC was not exclusive in producing all types of great brushes. She mentioned NARS and Chanel (as examples) as other great brands for brushes.

      Since Sigma has pegged itself through its numbering system and marketing strategy to be comparable to MAC, it is logical to compare the two brands.

      Being biased would entail only one review, but there were two. One for Sigma to stand on its own and another for it to be compared to MAC.

      If Sigma created NARS imitations like the Botan, Ita and the Push brush, and branding it with the same names, it would be fair to pit those brushes against each other as well.

      A product, any product, being deemed excellent just for having a lesser price, isn’t the same as it simply being excellent on its own merits. Price isn’t indicative for quality. In any way.

  45. Jae

    Thank you so much for the awesome review! Been trying to find a comprehensive review since forever…

    Would you mind if I posted this page on a forum (cozycot.com/forums)? I’ll be crediting you of course but the girls have been continually asking about the difference between sigma and mac so I’m thinking this might solve it once and for all.

  46. Nichole

    I own the MAC 219 (purchased in 12/09) and the Sigma 219. Neither one of my brushes look like yours. My MAC isn’t nearly as pointed and my Sigma isn’t flared like yours. They are both full and stubby. The only difference is Sigma’s is softer (has more give).

  47. bubbles

    Christine I love you ! :D such a thorough review

  48. Steph B

    Thanks for doing this comparison. I’ve been slowly upgrading my brush collection. One of my first quality brushes was a MAC 144 at least 10 years ago. I think it was a precursor to the 239. I like it but don’t love it so was thinking about trying the SS239 rather than shelling out MAC prices. But I recently got a 217 and holy cow is that an awesome brush. If the 239 is similar quality and feel in the other shape it’ll be well worth the money.

    • Hey Steph B,

      I think there is some variation (unfortunately!) even in MAC brushes. They may have gone through different suppliers over the years, different methodology, training, etc. – who knows! I was just talking to Elessa from Pursebuzz and she was saying how she has two 224s one is amazing and she loves it but the other is scratchy!

      I adore the 239 – it used to be the ONLY brush I owned and I used it to do *everything* – application, blending, crease, smudging! I love it so much I have 5! I only have doubles of a few brushes (208, 226, 182), but I love the 239 a lot.

      If you’re in the U.S., you can always return it if you hate it, too! (Or exchange it, if you think it might just be off for whatever reason.)

      • Steph B

        I figure I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of the 144. It is at least 10 year’s old. It’ll be a decent backup. I did return a 266 that was just off. It was crazy thick. They were happy to exchange it and the MA’s were passing it around since it was just so wrong.

  49. Anum

    I am so glad someone agrees with me that these arent the same as mac!!
    and that they definetly shed more!!

  50. Thanks for your in-depth description and comparison.

  51. Avatar of Mariana Mariana

    Christine,

    Thanks for such a great and totally unbias review….your awesome!LOL!

    I have the Sigma set and like it, but I LOVE my MAC brushes. BTW, my SS275 sheds like CRAZY!

  52. Avatar of Erica Erica

    Christine, thank you for your review. I have been looking forward to it since you mentioned you were going to review the Sigma brushes.

    I have this same Sigma brush set and I also have all of the corresponding MAC brushes and I have to say, I really and truly love my Sigma brushes. I think the quality is outstanding. The Sigma brushes far surpassed my expectations and I find them to be of great quality for my everyday needs. I think a lot of the praise and gushing over these brushes from people on Youtube and other beauty websites is warranted. In fact, for several of the brushes I *prefer* the Sigma ones and reach for them more often. When I use my Sigma brushes, I’m not comparing them to MAC. I’m just rating them and judging them based on the experience I am having with the individual brush at that time. Which for me, has been great. The brushes offer the same usability as the MAC ones….the brush heads are similarly shaped, both are soft, both deposit color or blend in similar ways and both have long, sturdy handles. However, one huge difference remains. And that is that the price tag for the Sigma set is a fraction of that of the MAC set.
    I don’t necessarily feel like your review was completely fair…I just don’t think every brush or every product needs to be compared to MAC. I realize Sigma’s business strategy is to attract the MAC consumer by offering similar looking brushes with the same sort of numbering scheme, but it is sort of like comparing L’Oreal’s HIP line and MAC cosmetics. The HIP drugstore line is clearly aimed at MAC consumers, but people should really base their opinions on what individual products do for them and review them in that fashion. Just like people have many different brands of cosmetics in their arsenal, I think there is room for different brands of makeup brushes in one’s collection. I think the MAC brushes and Sigma brushes complement each other and there is room for both in people’s makeup kits. I think Sigma brushes are great and would recommend them to anyone. Hopefully in the future Sigma will offer more brushes for purchase individually and not in a set.

    • As I mentioned in the comparison, Sigma invites a particularly critical comparison by using the exact same naming scheme, for better or worse. It was also the #1 thing people wanted to know – how do they compare? Did you read the review of the brushes – not just the comparison? There are two posts :)

      I personally feel that several brushes are substantially different and shouldn’t be thought of as the same, but I also don’t think they should have used the same number system. (They could have put up an online guide saying these are comparable to x, y, z brushes by x, y, z companies.)

      I’m glad you enjoy your brushes, but I worked really hard and invested a lot of time on this review and I believe I was honest and fair. I don’t think you’re being unfair or that you don’t enjoy them – what’s important to me is that you like what you own, whether or not I like it or not. We are entitled to hold different opinions :)

      • Avatar of Erica Erica

        Christine, you are totally right, Sigma sets itself up for this kind of critical look at their brushes. And you put them to the test! Which I think is great – and hopefully it’ll give SImone some food for thought on a few ways she can improve. :-) But I do hope people give Sigma a chance though because I do think they offer a really fabulous product. And it helps that they can be had at a really great price. And as someone who is picky about brushes, I do think there is room for both in someone’s collection. :-)

        • If Sigma didn’t number them so, I would have only compared half of the brushes to MAC brushes (most notably the 168, 182, 187, 188, and 190), at most! But to number them the same, and then when you really dissect it all, you can see how they differ – so they can’t be thought of as dupes, but unfortunately, the numbering system suggests that they should be (even some of the descriptions are taken from MAC).

          I am happy to hear you enjoy your Sigma brushes :)

  53. I hate to say this but my sister and I did the same comparison and found the Sigma brushes to be thicker, fluffier and softer and more affective by far !! This comparison that you did isn’t even true. Like I said we did the same thing and you must have did it oppositely because the Sigma brushes are way better !!

    • Mai

      These are obviously her opinions, so if you had a different experience then you did but no need to say that her review isn’t “true” or “oppositely”

      • I completely agree with you, Mai! I absolutely love to hear everybody else’s experiences, whether they’re good, bad, the same, whatever – it helps anyone who reads the post get more information about the product!

  54. Steph B

    I don’t understand why this one mostly glowing review seems to have brought out the worst in some people. I have learned a lot from reading this site. A benefit to reading a blog consistently is that you learn how your tastes are the same or differ so you can get great value out of any review, even when you disagree completely. As Christine keeps saying, these are her opinions. It is one thing to disagree, it is another to attack her. Christine, I hope you aren’t letting this dampen your enthusiasm for what surely has to be a labor of love.

    • Thanks, Steph! I think it’s great that people have had awesome experiences and even love these more than MAC counterparts. I’m all for it! It doesn’t hurt or help me if you buy MAC, Sigma, or use your fingers. I just want you to be happy and love what you buy or use. :) I just hope that this comparison and the review in the original post can highlight different aspects of the brushes to help someone make a decision and feel more confident in what they’re getting!

  55. Steph

    I hate COPY CATS !!!! Be Original isnt that the whole point of creating your OWN BRAND ? idk

  56. Jasmine

    Great, detailed review! I sometimes toy with the idea of buying sigma brushes, but for now I like slowly building up my MAC brush collection each year :)

    • It can be really rewarding in a sense – the waiting and patience of it all :) It took me 5 years before I did it, and I don’t regret it one bit!

  57. Dao

    Thanks for the review! I love brushes and have so many of them. Brushes can last for a very long time. My cheap Target brushes I bought close to 10 years ago are still working fine for me. I guess if you have money, spending a bit extra on the brushes is a good way to go as they last long, as long as you take good care of them.

  58. Avatar of Shayantani shay

    am just soo soo glad i didnt get carried away and but the Sigma brushes, especially after all the hype… thanks a cartload Christine!

  59. Julie

    Although MAC brushes aren’t my favorite (I love MUFE brushes), this review is very fair and seems very honest. Sigma seems to specifically make their brushes comparable to MAC, so it only makes sense to make the comparison.

  60. Jess

    Thank you for the honest review!! Im going to pass on the sigma brushes,i already have the SS219 and i really hate it lol its not pointy enough i’d rather spend more on good quality MAC brushes.Anyway Thanks again hun your awesome :)

  61. Dianna

    Thank you SO much for your review & comparison of Sigma and MAC brushes! I’ve been wondering about these for a while now, especially because many reviewers claim that they’re “exactly the same” as MAC brushes… they’re clearly not.

    It seems as though they’re closer to MAC’s holiday sets, in the sense that those also have shedding/dye issues and (in my experience) tend to splay out a bit after washing. I hope SIGMA brushes are better… The SE brushes are machine-made, after all.

    The SS119 & SS224 look like great brushes and I don’t think MAC has any perfect dupes of either of them. I’m glad they’re sold individually :)

  62. diana

    Thank u so much finally!!! A person who is not going to sell out for free brushes. I hear so many gurus 0n youtube who get these brushes for free saying that they prefer these over Mac’s and well I find that hard to believe. i love my MAC brushes and I am just so glad that you made these comparisons thanks u so much!!!!!

    • Michelle

      I don’t think every person who says they love Sigma is a sell out. Some gurus get them for free — but check out tutorials where they use the Sigma brushes. The makeup still turns out great! I do love MAC brushes, don’t get me wrong. But I like my Sigma brushes too — and yes, a couple of Sigma brushes I do like better than MAC. I think each line of makeup brushes had great and not so great products. But I don’t think the youtube gurus should be attacked for liking a product.

  63. Thanks for this comparison!

  64. Mia

    I love ur reviews becuz i can always trust them more than a youtube guru. You always have unbiased opinions and i kno u only speak the truth. Thank you Christine for this review!! :D

  65. Sabah

    This review is awesome!
    i just bought the sigma travel set in pink 2 weeks ago, used it couple of times, i know the travel set brushes are smaller; but even though they are good for travelling not as good as mac! i have a lot of mac brushes & im always scared to take them while travelling, just incase i lose them! i dont think i would ever buy full size sigma brushes, im happy with mac brushes even though they are so expensive they are soo worth it.

  66. francesca

    Thank you so much for this AMAZING review, Christine! Just a question: how do you wash your 182? It’s always a problem for me…

    • I put a little soap in the middle (I spread it open a bit with my fingers), and then a little on the outer edge, then I swirl it in my hand.

  67. I really appreciate the honest review. The best review/comparison to MAC brushes that I have come accross and I’ve been searching for reviews on Sigma for months!! (I didn’t want to take the plunge.) The reviews really helped me get an idea of each brush. I think I might rather invest in other brushes though -after this review although Sigma does seem decent. I just liked how some of the MAC brushes “were” more.. softer, sturdier, etc.

  68. I posted my comment but it disappeared… oh well.

    Anyway, I was just saying that it’s a really great and long (like so long), but very detailed review. Thanks Christine. I think a lot of people might be overreacting about comparing Sigma brushes with MAC brushes. Like Christine said, Sigma didn’t start their numbering system until customers asked for it. And since they label it like that, there is gonna be a comparison. And since a lot of people on YouTube are raving about it, I guess Christine is just here to give her side of opinion.

    I wanted to try them for ages, but I didn’t give in, and I am still building my brush collection. (If I have the money, I would get some NARS brushes too, the blush brush was just superb!) If Sigma do sell individual brushes that they sell in the kits, I would love to give some of them a try, instead of getting the entire set. It’s not like I need two powder brsuh and two blush brush that apply the same. It just doesn’t add up to get the kit. I would also love to try the SS 182. It looks amazingly soft. And the MAC 182 is too pricey for a college student. I should put SS 182 on my shopping list.

  69. Though the numbering system is the same, I don’t think these 2 brands are comparable at anything else. I see where is Sigma going with those numbers and you have mentioned they added numbers later, AFTER costumers asked for them to be added.

    Anyway, I will definitely buy Sigma whole set, few friends of mine have them and they are really satisfied with the money-quality relation. I do think it is a good investment for average makeup addict. :D

  70. Victoria M

    I LOVE my MAC couture 182 brush – it’s so soft, and sometimes I just grab it and swipe my face with it *LOL* – Christine, thank you for this very honest review. It makes it easy to decide wich, if any, Sigma brushes I will invest in.

  71. Natalie

    Wow, thanks Christine for the reviews. I have seen so many people raving about Sigma brushes, so I wondered what they were like. I am a makeup artist, so even a little difference makes a whole lot of difference to application, speed, etc. MAC brushes are not the best, but all my favorite brushes are from MAC and I cannot live without them.

    • I think what MAC does really well is they have such a wide range of brushes. Not all of them are amazing, and I know that I drool over the softness of Chanel (though I own none because my wallet cowers in fear, so I’ve never compared simultaneously), but I think they have excellent brushes overall.

      What brushes do you think are the best? I am so curious :)

      • Natalie

        I had no idea Chanel or other higher brands made nice brushes! xD
        MAC brushes? The usual 239, 217, 219, 188, 187, 231.
        I prefer MUFE HD brushes over MAC though. They are softer and the sizes are just right for what I need :)

        • Oh, Chanel is so soft. I was like, “OH, YES!” *pet* Reminded me of the MAC 179 (I think that’s it.. maybe 172, or 174… the big body brush). I had to have it because it was just so freakin’ soft!

          Are all the MUFE brushes awesome or have you found some favorites/must-haves?

          • Natalie

            How much was THAT Chanel brush? :)
            I only have N series, so I am not sure about the other MUFE brushes. I definitely prefer 8N over 190 – it is much softer and fluffier. I also love 5N as a concealer brush than 194 (I use it as a lip brush lol), because it is shorter and tiiiny bit wider. I also use 20N and 6N (for paintpot) all the time too.

            • $52 for the powder blush!

              Admittedly, when I first played with Chanel brushes, it was awhile ago, long before I started shelling out for MAC brushes, LOL. $52 to me at the time was like, “WHAT?! WHAT?!” Going back and looking up the prices now, though, they’re not significantly higher than MAC. Slightly, but not insanely so.

            • Natalie

              But they last FOREVER, so $52 isn’t too bad! And they come with Chanel logo right? Ohhhhh :D

  72. Daphnee

    I’ve seen many YT gurus raving about these brushes and went as far as saying that they are better than MAC. I never believed them.

  73. JB

    Wow thanks for this review and the pictures. Makes you think twice before buying. I’ve always said that the SS219 always looked like a 217 MAC brush.

  74. I’m surprised how many people are ragging on you for giving ‘biased’ reviews, already asking you when you’re reviewing more Sigma brushes and/or asking why you hadn’t reviewed one brush or another with this set. It makes me a little sad. :(

    ANYWAY, what I can say is that your Sigma review and this comparison was very thorough! I was really impressed by the detail that you went into, from smell, to length of brush bristles, brush handles, and even taking pictures from multiple angles. I can’t imagine how time consuming that must’ve been.

    Thanks for reviewing these. Sadly, I can’t get Sigma brushes where I live right now (Hong Kong) without a friend buying and sending it to me from the US, but I know I’ll be picking up the MAC 266 and the MAC 187 this weekend. I’d love a Kabuki brush too, but the MAC 168 is way out of my price range. D: Any chance you know of a good alternative for it besides Sigma? I’d really appreciate it.

    • Hey Ceriene,

      Hmm, kabuki brush – do you mean the 182? The 168 is an angled brush, more for contouring. Regardless, for another 182 dupe, I recommend EcoTool’s retractable one or Everyday Minerals’ kabuki!

      For the 168, Sonia Kashuk has a good dupe of it!

  75. Luisafer

    if not MAC, what brand would you recommend??? of course, brushes

  76. Sixx

    I think some people are disappointed by your reviews because they were hoping to get away with the price of Sigma’s but the same quality as MAC’s. Heck, even I’m disappointed, ‘cos who doesn’t want quality brushes at a cheap price? But it is, what it is! I remember once mentioning to you my SS109 sheds TOO MUCH and now you came up with the same results! So yeah…in a sense, you still get what you pay for.

    • I feel like Sigma Brushes are a good alternative if you don’t mind say 80% of the quality, or if you don’t mind that the brush is really not exactly the same shape as the same-numbered MAC. And like MAC brushes, it can be hit or miss (which is why it’d be nice to be able to purchase all the brushes individually if one desired) — sometimes a well-chosen collection is better than buying in bulk.

  77. Crazy for Make up

    Cristine,
    Thanks for the review very detailed and I have been wondering about these brushes… After the closeup pics, you clearly see that most of the brushes from Sigma is not as dense as MAC… also,it appears that the Sigma brush bristles don’t have the same quality either. I am sticking with my MAC.

  78. DoDe

    Thank you for that review… I have both MAC and Sigma brushes. The MAC ones are better. As somewhat related note…I have the ecotools bronzer brush and it is the softest brush i have ever tried. Softer than MAC!!! And the price is sooo reasonable. $12.99

  79. Marta

    Christine,
    Great review!
    This comparison is the best.
    Thank you so much for the many photographic angles.
    I realy love my Mac brushes.

  80. Kim

    This article is great! I was actually wondering about the comparison (and the only reason I thought to compare the 2 was because of the numbering!) between the two the other day. My friend owns the Sigma eye brushes and she was satisfied with the quality but didn’t find that it was similar to MAC’s standards. I’m all about dupes but you are right the numbering renders a closer look between both brands.

  81. Hi Christine,

    How would you rate Sigma brushes in comparison to MAC??

    Ciao

  82. Chai

    I have a set of Sigma brushes & am starting my MAC brushes collection. I am satisified with the Sigma because, financially, it’s overhwelming to get all the MAC brushes at the same time. The Sigma brushes do their job but I do have 2 brushes where the furules are loose and the handles do come off. My SS187 still bleeds each time I wash it. I have to wash it a few times and use conditioner each time until the dye stays put for awhile. This recurs with each wash after it’s been used. The SS134 does the same. Both of those brushes shed. At first, I didn’t mind because it was a great deal but now, it’s bothering me like heck and I so need to get myself the MAC brushes! The eye brushes are not bad. I have not ran into problems with those.

    • The eye brushes definitely have less quality issues than the face ones – I haven’t found the eye brushes, overall, shed or bleed dye like some of the face brushes seem more prone to do.

  83. Cindy

    Sigma was my first brush set, and I think its a good starter. SS219 is lame it NEVER gets touched. My special edition MAC 219 gets more love. and my SS187 bleeds…gah SOOOO annoying! I am slowly but surely purchasing MAC ones.

    So, I bought the Mac 224 last week…and Its like I can’t transition over…I’ve been so used to the SS224. lol.

  84. Thank you so much for this review! I’ve been debating on whether to get them or not. I think I will just stick to my mac brushes! I truly appreciate your efforts! You ROCK!

  85. CottonxCandy

    Thank you very much for this review. I was hoping to see some comparison photos of the Sigma brushes and this review was extremely helpful.

  86. Lucy

    Thank you so much for this review. I purchased the set back in August after watching a youtube video from a guru saying these brushes were comparable and even better than MAC brushes. Well what a disappointment they have been to me. My Sigma brushes shed excessively, bled black dye, smelled of a horrible chemical smell, and after only 7 months of use the ferrule is loose on three of the brushes. I do continue to use them because I paid good money for them but I am now slowly working on building up my MAC brush collection. I feel in my case the money would have been better spent on a quality MAC brush than a bunch of worthless Sigma brushes.

  87. Jane

    This is the most detailed review that I have come across and I thank you for that and the great pictures comparing the brushes. After your review, I am still interested in buying a few of the Sigma brushes. I already have some MAC brushes and love some of them but due to my budget, I would not mind trying a few of the Sigma ones. I just don’t expect the best quality or for them to be almost exact MAC dupes which is what some of us were thinking due to all the youtube raves.

  88. Luisafer

    Thanks a lot for the answer!!!
    To be honest, could finish reading it till today… great review and comparison, so useful, specially for someone who knows so little about makeup LOL

  89. Katie

    Thank you for your detailed and honest review of these. :)

  90. Esther

    Finaly! i’m sick of all the reviews sayin its just like mac brushes! Now I know that MAC brush obsession is healty..And that it is worth it to invest in them! :D

  91. Allison

    Excellent!!! This is THE most comprehensive to date article I have seen on the difference between Mac and Sigma brushes. Kudos!!!

  92. Zinnia

    this was a great review thank you

  93. Wow, you were so thorough with your review. It’s definitely appreciated, thank you!

    After reading the review and then the comments it made me think about something. It seems like a lot of people are all about having ‘everything’ immediately. I don’t know many people who could go and buy a ‘full set’ of MAC brushes. I always considered it a process, an investment that was attainable when done over time. It’s the same with eyeshadows, from taking years to fill 5 or 6 pro palettes to the 88/120 colour palettes.. it’s like this frenzied desire for immediate gratification.

    Bizarre phenomenon.

  94. Coco

    Surprisingly, my MAC 109 sheds so badly :(.
    I thought it was normal but maybe not since yours doesn’t :o.
    Like everytime I use it it sheds atleast 3 hairs :s

  95. tracy

    Christine,
    thank you so much for doing the review on the sigma brushes. I have been using MAC brushes for 10 years and I own a lot of mac brushes, as well as my sigma travel set and a couple single full sized brushes. I thought your review was really fair and honest. You did a great job with photo comparisons so that people can actually see your point of view as well. I bought the Sigma travel set and some of the brushes like the 224 and the 219 was really good 150 and 187 bled and shed after 6 months of using! my 187 bled so much that it stained the bristles! keep up the good work! it’s nice to visit a place that is fair and honest in its reviews.
    I love your quote,” It is unrealistic to expect that Sigma = MAC (and unfair to hold Sigma to MAC standards, considering their price point, to be honest) in every single way.” -agreed very true.
    Tracy

  96. I was going to buy the SS219 but seeing how different they are…I’ll save my money for the real one. Thanks!

  97. Vickie

    i brought the Sigma Brush set about 2 months ago as a birthday gift to myself. at first i was head over heals in love with them until the ferrals started to get loose. ive only had them a short amount of time and have only washed them like 3 times since i dont wear makeup everyday so i never saw the point of spending 25-45 dollars on one brush when it wasnt used everyday.but after the ferrals started getting loose i decided to invest in some MAC brushes and have fallen in love with them…enough that i have bought 8 MAC brushes in the span of 4 weeks…I wished that i had found your review and comparison of Sigma before i spent 100 dollars on them.

    oh and i also bought the MAC 109 and have used it almost everyday for a whole month and i love to use it to put on my MAC Mineralize Satinfinish foundation. it applies it like a dream! i have washed it about 4 times now and have not had excessive shedding like other people have mentioned (yay) i too think that i must have gotten lucky with my 109.

  98. Ci

    Could you measure the accurate hair length and thickness of the Mac 109 brush,Thx!

  99. esme(:

    i think i’d much rather invest in MAC brushes(:

  100. Jazmine

    Thank you for being honest. I have seen waaay to many reviews on these brushes on youtube. However, the brushes were sent to the guru either for free or they were paid to make the video. They all say the same thing = “These brushes are exactly similiar to MAC brushes”. :/
    I don’t really trust their reviews when the products are sent to them for free and stuff.

    So thank you so much for being honest and detailed about Sigma. Very good review.