Everything You Wanted to Know About Eyeshadow Brushes
You don’t need twenty brushes to get flawless eyeshadow application, but a few good, multitasking brushes can really change the way your eyeshadow looks. I’m going to walk you through some of the different types of eyeshadow brushes there are available, but more importantly, I’m going to recommend you the essential brushes you should keep your eye out for.
Why fingers and sponge-tip applicators are less than the best… Fingers can be unsanitary, to be honest, but you have natural oils in your skin (including those fingers!), and every time you touch your eyeshadow with your finger, some of that oil can be left behind. This is often why tester eyeshadows at makeup counters are hardened or otherwise look disgusting. I won’t knock ya if you just use your fingers to blend out, do some touch-ups, and the like, but when it comes to applying from pan to skin–brushes are more hygienic and will keep your eyeshadows in better shape in the long-run! Both fingers and sponge-tip applicators tend to waste product, as well, because they absorb a lot of the product without depositing the majority of it. Sponge-tip applicators can have their place (often for very sheer, powdery, or glittery shades), but brushes–at least, in my experience–go the distance.
Application brushes are often flatter, denser, and firmer overall. These brushes go from pan to lid, but they don’t necessarily work for blending colors together, but they’re designed to transfer the color from the pan onto the lid without losing the product in-between. These include brushes like Laura Mercier All Over Colour Brush, MAC 239, NARS Eye Shader, and Sephora #12.
Brow brushes are typically thin with a defined and/or angled edge. Often, brow brushes are used to apply a brow product to the brow to give brows a fuller look aka filling in your brows. You can also have brow brushes that are more to groom the brow into place (often a spoolie brush or what looks like a mascara wand). These include brushes like Bare Escentuals Angled Brush, MAC 266, NARS Brow Shader, and Smashbox #12.
Blending brushes are often fluffier and slightly tapered or domed. These brushes are used mostly to blend colors already applied to the lid. They help to make colors blend seamlessly with each other and help fade harsh lines of demarcation. These include brushes like MAC 217, NARS Large Domed Eye, Sephora #10, and Stila #9.
Check out suggestions for crease, eyelining, and brow brushes… as well as some general brush buying advice! Continue reading →
Affordable Makeup Brushes: Sonia Kashuk’s Twist of Fate Brush Set
Sonia Kashuk Twist of Fate Brush Set ($19.99) is a limited edition holiday brush set with six brushes housed inside a gorgeous, shimmering black clutch.
The six brushes you get are: blush brush, foundation brush, blending brush, small eyeshadow brush, smudge brush, and lash/brow groomer brush. The only brush I felt was kind of a throwaway was the lash/brow groomer – it’s just not a great brush, and it certainly couldn’t comb my lashes worth a darn, so I wasn’t pleased with it. The other five brushes, however, are much better and certainly more useful.
Sonia Kashuk is an extremely reliable, trustworthy brand, particularly for beauty tools. Whenever someone asks me about a budget-friendly brush brand, Sonia Kashuk is my go-to for a reommendation. These brushes are soft, fluffy, and useable. They’re not as good as my MAC brushes overall (I would say MAC brushes are softer, particularly for face brushes), but they’re around 75% there. Close, but not the same – but much more affordable.
In comparison, I would say the blush brush is similar to MAC’s 129 (a little bigger and not as rounded), the foundation brush is closest to MAC’s 190 (but a little smaller and thicker), and the other brushes don’t have as close matches. If pressed, I’d say the small eyeshadow brush is similar to MAC’s 239, while the blending brush is similar to MAC’s 222. Finally, Sonia Kashuk’s smudge brush is closest to MAC’s 231.
Even though the brushes are totally great for the price (and pretty good, period), my favorite part about the set is the CLUTCH. I usually hate the bags, clutches, etc. that come with brush sets and never use them again (they just sit around collecting dust, because I feel guilty tossing them), but this one is really fun and perfect for the holidays. It’s big enough to actually be used as a clutch and looks elegant and festive. I’d probably pay $19.99 just for the clutch!
If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ!
- Product: 28/30
- Value: 9/10
- Ease of Use: 4/5
- Packaging: 5/5
Recommendation: For affordable brushes, Sonia Kashuk always has you covered!
5 Tips to Keep Your Brushes In Top Shape
We just told you our essential eye and face brushes, and once you make the investment in high end, high quality brushes, you have to make sure you take care of them.
Brushes should, and will, last you many, many years if you take care of them properly. I have seen artists with brushes that are ten years old that look absolutely pristine when they are meticulously cared for!
Clean your brushes regularly. Whether you use baby shampoo or MAC’s Brush Cleanser ($11.00), it is imperative you make a point to clean the accumulated gunk out of your brushes. This is not only good hygeine (for you, your skin, etc.), but it keeps your brushes in good shape.
Always reshape your brushes while wet. Once you’ve washed your brushes, make sure you reshape them before they dry. Whatever shape your brushes are left in to dry is the same shape they will be when they are dry. You don’t want your contour brush looking like a tapered blush brush, do you? Similarly, if the shape is off, wetting/washing your brush will allow you to reshape a brush.
Never stand your brushes up to dry. You do not want to let in water or dampness into the ferrule portion of the brush (the metal part, right above the brush head), because it can weaken, errode, or loosen the ferrule making your brush wobbly. Always lay your blushes flat on an absorbent surface (like a wash cloth or towel–probably one dark in color!), and if you can manage it, turn your brushes after an hour or two.
Condition your brushes regularly. On top of cleaning, condition your brush with a quality hair conditioner will help keep the bristles soft. It’s not something that needs to be done as often general washing, but it is a good idea to do it often enough–like once a month. Mostly, it depends on how often you use and wash your brushes.
Wash brushes right away when using rich colors. It’s easy to stain a white-haired brush if you’re using a richly colored product, like Ruby Red pigment or True Chartreuse pigment. I remember using Flammable paint once, and it has forever-stained my 252 brush. One quick and dirty way to help minimize staining is to run the brush back and forth over a makeup remover wipe.
Share your own tips to keep your brushes in tip-top shape in the comments section!
8 MAC Face Brushes You Need In Your Arsenal
129 Powder/Blush Brush ($34.00) is your best bet for general blush application. Seriously, I’m constantly reaching for this brush whenever I go to apply colored blush. If you can only afford one face brush, this is the one I recommend getting first, because it can apply blush, highlighters, and do a little bit of buffing in a pinch. It’s thick, dense, and deliciously soft on the skin. (And don’t be fooled by the 129 in the brush sets–it is not at all the same in regards to quality.)
138 Tapered Face Brush ($52.00) is a domed-shaped brush, much more tapered than many powder brushes. It’s excellent for both highlighting, shaping, and contouring the face–whatever tickles your fancy!
165 Tapered Cheek/Highlight Brush ($34.00) is like a thinner, smaller version of the 138, and it’s $18 less–so if you’re on a tight budget, you might think about picking up this one instead. I love, love, LOVE this one for highlighting. The tapered end really makes placement of highlighting powders ridiculously easy.
168 Large Angled Contour Brush ($32.00) is THE brush to have handy if you ever want to sculpt and shape your face. The angled, slightly-fluffy-and-not-overly-dense brush is perfect for making cheekbones pop, jawlines thin instantaneously, and polish the face.
182 Buffer Brush ($45.00) is an essential face brush to have. I love it so much that I have two, because it is so phenomenal and perfect for a variety of jobs. Ultimately, buffer brushes are designed to finish your face, whether it’s blending contouring and blushing colors together, applying loose powder, or just blending all your face products together. You can buff out harsh blushes by moving this brush in small circles, so you can wear Frankly Scarlet blush without fear. I love it to apply foundation personally, as it gives a polished, streak-free result. Worth every single penny.
187 Duo Fibre Brush ($42.00) is a must-have brush if you love mineralize skinfinishes. Yes, it is indeed a fabulous brush for applying those delicious baked goodies MAC puts out from time to time. The way the brush is designed uses a blend of goat and synthetic fibers and it allows for softer, lighter application of product. It’s also known as a stippling brush (for those trying to find a dupe), and it works well with highlighting (if you don’t need so much precision).
188 Small Duo Fibre Face Brush ($34.00) is a smaller version of the 187 Duo Fibre Brush, and it works in similar ways. However, I do find that this brush is not a substitute for the 187, but more like a complement. This brush works best with creamy products, like MAC blushcremes and cream colour bases. In the summer, I love wearing blushcremes layered with a powder blush for more long-wearing color in the hotter months!
195 Concealer Brush ($22.00) recently debuted, and it is superior to the 194 Concealer Brush. It’s a thin, firm bristled brush that holds its shape and easily applies concealing products, but it is also great for dabbing liquid foundations onto the skin (to then be smoothed and spread out using a face brush like the 182, 187, or 190). I find using a concealer brush to apply liquids onto the face helps waste less product than directly applying liquid to a fluffier face brush or sponge.
Honorable Mentions: 109 (great if you do a lot of contouring), 134 (great for loose powder)
What are your must-have face brushes?
7 MAC Eye Brushes You Need In Your Arsenal
204 Lash Brush ($11.00) is perfect for grooming brows, grabbing mascara, and combing out lashes. It’s sturdier than disposal wands to boot!
208 Angled Brow Brush ($19.50) is my go-to brush for all my eyelining needs. It doesn’t matter that it’s labeled as a “brow brush,” because it’s excellent for thin, precise lining. It’s angled and stiff enough to use for upper lash lining and tightlining. Everyone raves about the 266, but I prefer this over the 266 when lining my upper lash line! (If you have the 263, it should be just about as good–though it’s $20).
219 Pencil Brush ($23.00) is a must-have if like to smudge your eyeshadow or wear eyeshadow as liner. It applies and deposits color easily on the lower lash line, but it can also smudge or smoke out liner (with or without shadow) in just a few seconds.
224 Tapered Blending Brush ($28.00) makes crease-work a breeze. Blend out harsh lines with a soft, wispy motion with this fluffy, blending brush. Add ultra-rich, pigmented shadows in smoother, subtler layers–and never worry about going too heavy. (By the by, the limited edition 226 is even better, but the 224 will do if you can’t get your hands on the 226.) I find the 226/224 works better for me than the 217 (too fluffy).
239 Eye Shader Brush ($24.50) should be the first eye brush you purchase. It is beyond phenomenal, and if you really want to, this is one brush that can do it all. It is up to the challenge of replacing every single other eye brush you own. Soft to the touch with a nice density of bristles, it’s has enough fluff to easily pick up eyeshadow color, but enough density to pack on the color on the lid. The size is ideal for applying eyeshadow from the lid to the crease to the lower lash line. In fact, you may want to think about owning multiple 239s. (I have five–yes, five!)
249 Large Shader Brush ($27.00) is the best brush for applying creamy products to your eyes. I am always using this whenever I’m applying paints, paint pots, fluidlines, etc. as a base. It’s flat, firm, and holds its shape while still picking up plenty of product. What I love is it picks up product, and it doesn’t all get stuck in the bristles.
266 Small Angle Brush ($19.50) is an oft-raved about brush, usually when speaking about fluidline and lining, but it is also excellent for filling in brows. It’s thicker than both the 208 and 263 (my choices for lining), but if you’re going for thicker liner, this will definitely be a must-have. Talk about making cat-eyes easier!
* Please note that these are my picks for essential brushes based on my experience, brushes not included may be valuable, but they are not brushes I find myself using often enough to call them essential.
What eye brushes would you deem as your essential set?
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