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Second your praise for the 239. I have that and a couple of other brushes, and I’ve never been quite as happy with them. I really do need to go get a second one!

I concur with you Christine, the Hakuhodo brushes listed above are amazing.

I also dream of the day I can get my hands on a real MAC 226 brush… my eyes are small, and I feel like the 224 is just too big.

Maybe one of the Hakuhodo crease brushes could work instead? The 226 has had SO much variance over the years from one release to the next 🙁

I LOVE the J5523 by Hakuhodo. I have two of them, but I will definitely order more. I find them to be significantly better than the MAC 217. The Hakuhodo brushes make everything better 🙂

Awesome chart Christine! Even though I don’t consider myself a makeup beginner, it’s very helpful xto go through my brushes to see which ones are doing the job or not.

The MAC 239 is easily an HG product for me, too – to this day, I’m surprised that I’ve yet to come across a dupe for the 239 from another brand. (They got a patent on that shape or something??) The 242 and 216 are the other two MAC brushes that see the most face time in my eye routines. I’ve been wanting to try some of the new Wayne Goss brushes – particularly #17/16 brushes. 🙂

I have no idea… because the 239 seemed like an ESSENTIAL brush for eyeshadow back in the day, and I always hear raves for it. It seems so weird that of all brushes that don’t get copied from MAC, the 239 is one! I’ve found similar brushes but not THAT similar (always a little longer, denser, etc.).

For me, I notice the brushes I use everytime (and freak out if I can’t find) are
– MAC 217
– MAC 242 – originally bought for concealer but I find I like it for both cream and powder eye products, even over the lone 239 I have
– a POSH super small crease brush – it’s a bit smaller than my 219. I like the density and small size for under my lower lashes
– a super soft fluffy crease brush that I use for blending. It reminds me of a 217 but less dense, a bit more floppy, a bit thinner. I got it at a hair show years ago and I still love it. Apologies, I can’t recall the name of it, John something I think it was…

Christine, thanks for these recommendations! I also love the MAC 239, would like to try the MAC 242, and really want to try some Hakuhodo brushes. Have you tried the Wayne Goss brushes? I have small eyes with crepe-y hoods and love his #5 brush for my crease. I love his #6 brush for blending, especially with really soft eyeshadows that can easily get over-blended. His #7 brush is by far the most perfect brush for applying shadows along my lower lashline that I have ever found, and I love his #8 brush for pushing tiny amounts of dark eyeshadow right into my lashline, to bring some depth and definition without actually making a visible line.

Hey Fran!

I haven’t tried Wayne Goss’ brushes, but I have heard good things and know that they’re made in Japan in a similar fashion to Hakuhodo’s brushes.

These are all GREAT brushes!

I love my MAC 239, but lately I’ve been reaching for Hakuhodo J004 more and more. I think I actually prefer the J004 now, which I didn’t expect at all when I first got it. I didn’t feel comfortable with the pointier end in the beginning, but now I’ve come to realize that it works so much better for the inner and outer corners of my eyes.

MAC’s 239 is great but I also really love Elf’s C brush for applying shadow quickly and intensely. For my crease, in addition to MAC 217, I really like the Smashbox Detailer Brush (I think that’s what it’s called). #15 and 2 Posh brushes I got, one quite small and the other slightly bigger. The BEST cream shadow brush I’ve very tried is Sephora’s own Pro #28 cream shadow brush. I am amazed by how much better it is than any other brushes I’ve tried or my fingers (which I had been using because I wasn’t getting great results with any brush til the #28)

I’ve got the concealer brush, the foundation brush (I think it’s #55; after I got it, they came out with a smaller one I’d have preferred but I haven’t bought it because I then found the Shiseido one) and the Mineral brush. They are all really good. I’m planning to pick up another #28 to use for concealer (I like the concealer one but it’s large which is good in some ways but I’d like something smaller and the cream shadow brush is like a “baby sister” – same shape and texture but about half the size)

I’m so glad you put this list together, I’ve been slowly grabbing some backups and trying new eye brushes! Thank you Christine!!
Oh and by the way, have you or anyone else here recently purchased a 239 brush? I bought one years ago and recently purchased a second one, and I noticed that the bristles are slightly longer than the original one I own. Anyone else notice this?

Hmm, it’s odd! The new one seems like it has longer bristles and the bristles don’t seem as thick as the old brush. I still like both of them, but I just thought the difference was fairly noticeable!

I have most of your Mac and Hakuhodo recommendations and then some! I find that the Hakuhodo brushes – particularly the J series – are superior to, and in some instances, more affordable than the Mac brushes. The J142, J5523 and J004G Hakuhodos have rock star status in my makeup collection. Yes, I also love the Mac 239, 210, 217 and 224 too. Sentimental favorites.

In general, Hakuhodo’s brushes seem to be softer and more consistent than MAC’s! And depending on the series and brush type, they can be cheaper!

Thanks Christine! I have made the switch to vegan brushes, so I will give the 263 a try. There are some really good synthetic brushes nowadays, but I am still looking for my HG blush brush. I will share if I ever find it.

No I haven’t tried the #73 which is pony hair. But, I do have the Sephora Pro Airbrush Blush Brush #54, which has synthetic bristles. It is very good for blending out cream blush, good for powder blush, and a multitasker. I still want something synthetic that is a similar size and shape of the Suqqu blush brush though.:-)

I didn’t realize #73 was made out of pony hair – I thought all of Sephora’s brushes were synthetic actually.

In general, I have more luck with synthetic versions of face/cheek brushes compared to eye brushes!

Hi Christine 🙂 is there a hakuhodo dude for the Tom Ford Cream Foundation brush? I’ve been reading all your brush posts lately and I’m wanting to upgrade my brushes. Sorry I know this was about eye brushes but I didn’t want to ask on an old post 🙂

I know the J5543 is similar to Tom Ford’s Cheek Brush, which IS similar to the Cream Foundation Brush, just not the same size. I haven’t found a Hakuhodo equivalent though!

I love this, great info. My favorite eyeshadow brushes are MAC 217, 239, 209, 208, and 286. They are all in the makeup bag that I carry daily.

I use the cheapy sonia kashuk travel kit for my eye makeup xD it’s so perfect haha. But when I see the comparison, you can tell they’re cheap haha. Oh well I’m not good with brushes anyway ^^;

I have to say I’m disappointed in the mostly high-end choices (although I respect that decision, just my own budget talking) but more so the lack of cruelty-free brushes you’ve included. I had been hoping for more synthetic recommendations and/or animal-friendly companies.

At a glance, at least five of the brushes I recommended were synthetic, actually – for instance, Sephora, OCC, and a few of the cream eyeshadow brushes are synthetic brushes. I made my recommendations based on what I found to be the best in my experience – not a particular slant e.g. budget-friendly – in this instance. If you’re looking for synthetic brushes in particular, you could try OCC, Hourglass, or Sonia Kashuk.

Can you clarify which are synthetic then? The Sephora Pro Blending Brush #27 is made of goat hair, so that isn’t. I know the MAC 249 and 228 are, and the OCC, but I don’t think any others are. That’s just 3 as far as I can see.

I know this wasn’t any particular slant – I was just expressing my disappointment at the amount of cruelty-free offered on your list. I specifically mentioned animal-friendly as well as synthetic too as you only have one cruelty-free company listed above, OCC.


I thought the entire Sephora Pro range was made out of synthetic hairs, so that was my mistake. The MAC 252 is a synthetic brush last time I inquired about it (which was a few years ago when I initially reviewed it).

I am going to take this post, print it out, and study it. I am totally in makeup brush school at the moment, trying to find things that suit me, so this post is *excellent!!*

Thanks, Christine!

I purchased several of these Hakuhodo brushes after you recommended them on another post. The blending and crease brush are the best I’ve used. I appreciate your help, because I would have been lost on Hakuhodo’s website without your recommendations.

Thrilled to hear that my recommendations were helpful, Dora, but even more excited that you love your new brushes! 🙂

Christine, your posts are so informative! I was wondering if you always wash your new brushes before use? I have heard that this helps with preventing shedding, but it hasn’t been a practice that I normally put into play.

Thanks for this post! I really want to improve my brush collection, but I’m not always sure about what to look for. I’m going to check out the MAC 239 based on your recommendation as well as the positive comments!

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