Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Temptalia Asks You


What is the most versatile and effective brush for the eyes? For the face?

Temptalia's AnswerMAC 239 — that shape and density just works so well for application, blending, lining, and the like.  For face, I think a buffing brush might be most versatile, since you can apply, blend, and buff with it.

Thanks to Sarah for today’s question! Do you have a question idea? Submit yours here.

Discussion and debate are highly encouraged, and we expect community members to participate respectfully. When asking a question, please check the FAQ section (above) for information about purchasing, price, dupes, and the like. If you have general feedback or need technical support, please contact us.

Comments that include advertisements, self-promotion, insults, etc. may be in violation of our comment policy and subject to deletion. Please see our comment policy for more information.

36 thoughts on “What is the most versatile and effective brush for the eyes?

  1. Stacey

    What? I am not going to name my MAC or Tom Ford brushes that I own. The face is Shu Uemura angle blush brush. You can use it anyway you like for the face with that angle brush. The other is the Loew Cornell brush I bought for less that $5.00 each. I have 4 of them. Bought mine at Michaels. You can get them at Amazon for slightly more. The 1/4 inch is like the MAC 239. I buy the 1/2 inch. It is not as precise at the 1/4 inch but I am lazy…so I just tap more on and apply when I am half awake.

  2. Real Techniques Base Eyeshadow Brush! It can pack color, blend, and buff. :)

  3. Avatar of rebecca blueraccoon

    I don’t know about eyes, because I rarely wear eyeshadow. But my favorite multi-tasker brush for the face is my Burberry beauty brush. It’s a small kabuki type brush, but I use it for anything except liquid foundation. It’s a fantastic brush, and it’s small enough I can toss it in my purse for travel. (I’m still waiting for them to release a line of brushes. sigh.)

  4. Emma

    I agree – MAC 239 and 217 are the only eyebrushed I need to create a great look. Both of them are pretty versatile. If I could only keep 2 brushes, I’d go for these.

  5. Avatar of LeeAnn moena

    For me, it’s a tie between Shu Uemura Natural 10 and Hakuhodo B505bksl. Both of them can lay down color as well as blend.

  6. ID

    yeah,mac 239 does all d job fr eye makeup

  7. Miss J

    Eyes: MAC 217
    Face: MAC 187

  8. Avatar of Mariella Mariella

    Much as I like the MAC 239, I think the 217 is probably the most versatile in the sense of “if I could only have one eyeshadow brush”, I find it would work best for applying, blending, buffing and also contouring a crease.

  9. Sara

    I use the brush that came with the Urban Decay Naked 1 palette and it looks pretty similar. It’s my go-to brush as well, perfect for getting eyeshadow in the crease but also good for blending and really getting a good color application. I have small eyelids so I can’t use the big crease brushes, it gets the eyeshadow everywhere!

    • Avatar of Amy xamyx

      I got stuck with the double-ended 24/7 pencil with my N1, but I *love* the brush that came with N2 (I’ve heard they’re slightly different). I’ve read so many negative reviews on both, but I use mine the most of all my brushes.

  10. Yellowlantern

    My Sonia Kashuk crease brush is my most versatile brush for the eyes. It works well both on the lid and in the crease.

  11. Sarah

    I think the MAC 217 is my favorite because of it’s versatility not just for the eyes but other areas of the face as well.

  12. I would say the Essence of Beauty Crease brush. It’s not too big or small, the bristles are not densely packed, meaning it’s good for blending, and it’s also not too floppy, so it’s good for applying lid shades. When I’m in a rush, I stick with this brush, and wipe it off in between colors.

  13. Eileen

    I have large lids so my go to eye brush is either Tom Ford #11 (goat) or Hakuhodo K021 (squirrel) as a very close second. Either one can be used as an all purpose brush. If I had to have one face brush, it would be Hakuhodo K020 (squirrel). It is actually a blush brush, but it is fluffy enough to apply finishing powder or it can be turned on its side to apply contour or highlighter.

  14. slick

    Agreed on the 239 for eyes! For face, I think the 109 is a great multi-purpose brush. When I travel I usually just bring my 239, 217, 208 (brows) and 109!

  15. Avatar of Holly Holly

    my MAC 217 brush. When I bought my first one, I swear I used it exclusively and none of my other eye brushes. I now have 4 and they are definitely my most versatile/used brushes! :)

  16. Tori

    I love Shu Uemura’s kolinsky/sable 10 brush. It’s expensive but it makes eyeshadow perform at its best, so even not very pigmented eyeshadows show up on the eyelid. It’s soft but stiff and the way the hairs are layered allows for eyeshadow to be blended as it’s applied so I never had to worry much about blending for natural eyeshadow looks. It won’t do everything perfectly but it’s the best all-rounder, especially since I don’t tend to do over-the-top looks. The bristles also handle both powder and creme/liquid textures well so I use it for concealer too. As mentioned before, it’s not cheap, but my first brush has been with me for 10 years and it’s still in perfect condition. It’s never shed and the tips of its hairs are as they were when I first bought it. It was my first individual eyeshadow brush (I started with two holiday brush sets) and it’s no doubt my favourite.

    • Seconding the Shu Kolinsky/Sable 10. I don’t have a large lid space or deep crease, so I don’t have much use for fluffy blending brushes.

      This brush is small enough for targeted application of colour, yet large enough to cover my whole lid. It blends with ease, and has an edge that will smudge eyeliner in a pinch. The fibres of the brush are very soft and silky, with just the right amount of firmness that allows you to be precise. Those with more lid space night prefer the Kolinsky/Sable 12, a larger version of the same brush (unfortunately very difficult to find now).

  17. Avatar of Diana Diana

    I think the Bobbi Brown lid brush, small one. It is so dense you could use it in the crease, it’s small enough to use in the inner corners if you turn it to the side, it can highlight and of course lay down pigment on the lid.

  18. charlotte

    For eyes I adore the Sonia Kashuk core tools small eye shadow brush. It is only $5, yet I can do my entire eye look with it. It’s the perfect size, soft yet just stiff enough to be able to blend well, and the chisel edge is fine enough to smudge shadow under the lower lashes or in the inner corner. I use mine every single day and it is in perfect condition, just like the day I bought it.

  19. Avatar of Silvia Silvia

    Mac eyes: 217 I have 3 and always will repurchase, pack color, blend, smudge.. All in one
    Mac eyes: 266 angled for brows, and perfect eyeliner
    Mac face: 109 foundation, blush powder and cream, highlighter, bronzer, contourning.

  20. Tara

    Definitely MAC 217. I have two and am considering getting a third.

  21. JEN

    MAC 217 for sure! I can do so much with that brush in so little time.

  22. Gracee

    MAC 217!! If I was in a pinch I could do my whole eye look with it! it’s quite affordable as well so thats def a plus!!

  23. Lilac

    While I have not tried out MACs eye brushes, I would like to add that it’s important to consider eye size / lid space when choosing brushes. Since I have very small eyes, I realized (after much trying with too large brushes, that were liked by many – maybe they have “regular” sized eyes) that I really only can work with very small brushes and that many popular favourites are too large for my eyes.

    Currently I am using brushes by Zoeva (German band) and Bdellium; I chose detail shaders and very small brush heads and finally I`m getting somewhere. I don’t have a real answer to that above question actually :) but I wanted to comment on that it’s not only about finding good brushes quality wise but also that they need to have the appropriate size for the person.

  24. Avatar of Jenny Jenny del Castillo

    This is for all the girls commenting here: I´m in desperately need of a good blending brush, and I want to buy the MAC 217 brush, but is really this brush as good for that? I don´t want to spend all the money it costs (I´m a little on a budget right now) to then find is just a normal brush and not so good. Thank you and sorry for the inconveniences girls!

    • Lark

      Get an elf for a buck or three. See if you even use a blender. I have that brush but never use it. AbbaMart.com has some sweet brushes too, for salons. MAC has some spectacular brushes, but some? You can do better cheaper. Or experiment cheaper.

      • Avatar of Jenny Jenny del Castillo

        Thanks for the reply, but I´m a little tired of those blending brushes from ELF or even from Sigma (they don´t work for me as I would expected), that´s why I asked about the 217 from MAC.

  25. Rada

    Totally agree with the MAC 239 – perfect size, density and shape. You can do a whole eye makeup just with this brush, from applying to blending. I have Hakuhodo and Suqqu brushes that I love to death, but the MAC 239 remains my favorite for eye makeup, along with the 217.

  26. MAC 226. I wonder why they don’t put it in th permanente collection. I can’t live without that brush!

  27. Avatar of Susan Susan Nevling

    I don’t have a specific favorite but since seeing how
    Christina does her 4 color eye shadows, I’ve started using smaller brushes and using one large one at the end to dust off any extra. Brands I use include UD, :aura Mercier, Bare Esscentuals, Ecco, Sonia Kashuk, Sephora, and Ulta. There’s probably other brands too.

  28. Avatar of Amy xamyx

    I’m torn between my Essence of Beauty double-ended “Smokey-Wide” brush, and the brush that came with the UD Naked 2 palette, although the latter definitely gets the most use.

    As for face brushes, I don’t know how “versitile” it is, but if I could only have one, it’d be my Physician’s Formula Airbrush Mineral brush; I use it every, single day to buff out my liquid foundation & powders.

  29. lily

    The Ecotools Eye Shadow Brush. I have 3 and I think they cost around 5 bucks each at ULTA. I love this brush sooooo much! One side of the brush is flatter than the other and it has sort of a pointed tip so I use it to apply shadow to my lid, crease, browbone and lashline. And its super dense, super soft, never sheds, and never gets bent out of shape no matter how many times I wash them. LOOOVE ECOTOOLS

  30. Lark

    The standard eye shadow brush is the 239 shape; every company makes it cos it does it all. MACs is sweet, but the $1 elf version is pretty decent. Just in case you hit Vegas with no luggage and run to the drugstore, lol! ;-D

    You can do great eyes with q tips too. A 239 type is quicker though.

    I’m not playing face brush. I like the Nars bronzing brush as a buffer, but I need my three MAC 160 LE Highlight brushes for color and my Shu powder brushes and and and… I was much younger on that Vegas trip. Make up was simpler.