Brushes I Use Regularly – Details and Photos

From left to right:
1. Benefit 05
2. Loew-Cornell 1/8 7400 Angular (craftstore)
3. Loew-Cornell 1/4 793 Angular Flat (craftstore)*
4. MAC 194SE
5. Philosophy “Shadow”*
6. MAC 190SE
7. [Unknown] Stiff, thick angle*

1. Benefit 05
Benefit 05 brush is ridiculously soft and versatile. It is softer than my MAC eye brushes, actually, and it picks up color easily. This used to be my all-time favorite brush to apply and blend eyeshadow with, and sadly, it is discontinued as far as I know. Occasionally I will use this brush when I am using black eyeshadow, so I do not dirty up my regular shadow brush (#5) Also, it can be used to pick up shadow along the edge to apply more precisely, especially on the lower lash line.

2. Loew-Cornell 1/8 7400 Angular (craftstore)
Yes, I use craftstore brush. Why not? I’ve yet to hear a compelling reason to avoid using them; they can be substantially cheaper compared to high-end brushes. You can always spend a little extra for a higher quality craftstore brush, as well, and still be under budget in comparison to cosmetic line brushes. This brush is insanely small, stiff, and thin. It is for absolutely precise lining, and I primarily use this brush when applying MAC’s liquidlast liners. This allows for you to have a lot more control over where you are putting the liner than with the liquidlast’s applicator.

3. Loew-Cornell 1/4 793 Angular Flat (craftstore)
I adore this brush. If you’ve wondered how I’ve managed to get my eyebrows not to look like they want to run away… This is one of the two tools that do it (#7 is the other). It has extremely soft bristles, but it is also quite firm, which is perfect when I go to pick up MAC’s Expresso eyeshadow to fill-in my eyebrows. I use this to refine the edge of my inner brow and to fill-in the thinner parts of my brow, including the “tail.” It is thin enough to be able to give me a fine line, but not so thin that I get a sharp line, it naturally pushes the color out so it looks more natural from the get-go.

4. MAC 194SE
I have only recently accumulated this brush, and I personally do not have many uses for it. It is meant to apply concealer, and I have used it to build up foundation in certain spots. Usually I will take a dab of Studio Fix Fluid with this brush and place it on the problem area, blend it out just a tad, and finish up the blending process with MAC’s 187 (#14).

5. Philosophy “Shadow”
Hands down, this is the most important brush in my daily makeup application routine. I apply all my dry eyeshadow products with this brush, and I also use this brush to blend everything together or as I go. It essentially performs all of the functions to bring together any eye look. It’s fluffy, but still has a touch of firmness so you can have control over what you’re doing with the brush. In terms of picking up color, this brush accomplishes it fairly easily. I rarely have to pack on shadow in order to get pay-off (only when the shadow is fussy, not the brush!). However, the bristles of this brush could be softer, and I would say that is the only downfall of this brush. I use this brush to apply and blend shadow both on the lid and crease and on my lower lash line.

6. MAC 190SE
Another recent acquistion, and I personally do not use it much, if at all. For me, it is simply not necessary, as I apply and blend my foundation with MAC’s 187 stippling brush (#14). However, this brush can be good to initially apply and brush out liquid foundation, because then you can smooth it out with the 187 or fluffy dome brush to buff it out to give your foundation an “airbrushed” or “flawless” look.

7. [Unknown] Stiff, thick angle*
My aunt gave me some random makeup kit, and it happened to include this brush, and it somehow became an essential brush in order for me to fill-in my eyebrows. As I mentioned with Loew-Cornell’s 793 (#3), this is one of the two brushes I must use in order to fill-in my eyebrows. I simply pat this brush with Expresso eyeshadow and apply it to my inner brow portion (the thickest part), and it really is that easy and all that I use it for. Bristles are hard, but it is a stiff enough angle brush with a good width to cover the majority of the inner portion of my eyebrow. Currently, I am considering replacing this with a higher-end brush, because it is quite rough.

From left to right:
8. MAC 168SE*
9. Loew-Cornell 3/8 270 Maxine’s Mop (craftstore)*
10. Loew-Cornell 3/8 270 Maxine’s Mop (craftstore)*
11. MAC 219
12. MAC 252
13. Loew-Cornell 1/2 270 Maxine’s Mop (craftstore)

8. MAC 168SE
I bought this brush only a few weeks ago, but it has become a staple brush in my everyday look. It is meant to contour, and I use it for that purpose. I pick up a touch of bronzer (just a bit darker than my skin itself) and contour my cheeks. I consider this brush to be fairly soft, and it does a good job of taking a little product and making it go a long way. I personally do not like white brushes because you can see them getting dirty as soon as you use them (and sometimes they can get stained). The angled dome shape is perfect size to fit into the hollow of your cheeks in order to contour them. I have yet to use the brush to contour other parts of the face, and it could be harder to use in smaller areas that require more precision.

9. Loew-Cornell 3/8 270 Maxine’s Mop (craftstore)
If Philosophy’s Shadow brush (#5) was the most important, this brush would be the second most important. I use it in every single one of my looks so long as there is a pigment involved. I apply all of my pigments wet, so I have to keep a separate brush that can take the wetness without having to worry about wanting to use dry shadows later on. I have two of these, because I like to have one for lighter pigments and one for darker pigments. They are small enough to allow for precision, but not too small that covering your entire lid is difficult. They do stain easily (which may be the nature of pigments), though. The bristles could also be a touch softer, but overall the firmness and shape of the brush make pigment application easy and worry free.

10. Loew-Cornell 3/8 270 Maxine’s Mop (craftstore)
See above πŸ™‚

11. MAC 219
At last we get to a MAC eye brush! One of many I bought, but this is one I was too lazy to return. I do not feel this brush is particular exceptional, and it is definitely not a must-have by any means. It is soft, but quite firm with the bristles coming to a slight point at the tip. The only use I have found for it is to apply shadow on my lower lash line, and I probably only use the 219 to accomplish this 4/10 times I apply shadow to my lower lash line, anyway.

12. MAC 252
Another MAC eye brush I forgot to return, so here it sits. It’s a flat, large shadow brush, but I find it too large to deal with application. It does not really allow for precision in terms of initially applying the shadow, nor the blending process. It isn’t too firm, but it’s not very fluffy, and I feel like it tends to eat up the shadow I pick up with it. I currently use this brush for extremely dark eye shadows (again, so I do not dirty up my main shadow brush), like if I use MAC’s Carbon eyeshadow.

13. Loew-Cornell 1/2 270 Maxine’s Mop (craftstore)
This is a larger version of #9 and 10, and as a result of its size, the brush is less useful than its smaller counterparts. I do use it to apply pigment on my cheeks, sometimes, but I have not used this much lately. It tends to be a brush of the last resort.

From left to right:
14. MAC 187*
15. Philosophy “Blush”
16. MAC 187SE

14. MAC 187
I am positive that most people have heard of this brush, and they have also heard numerous raves on it. I like the 187 (first positive MAC brush experience!), but I do not think it is the best brush ever made, and it is not my holy grail brush, either. Of course, I do not use mineralized skinfinishes, and I know most people use the 187 to apply those, so take what I say with a grain of salt. This brush is so soft and fluffy, and it is perfect for blending liquid foundation (I use Studio Fix Fluid) so that the finish is flawless. I did not find that it applied blush as nicely as my regular blush brush did (#15), so I’ve kept the 187 purely for foundation. Plus, I find that using it for liquid foundation makes it seem gross to use it for other things, too, unless it has been washed!

15. Philosophy “Blush”
This used to be a staple brush for whenever I was applying blush and/or bronzer. It is reasonably soft and fluffy, not at all stiff and immovable. It picked up color well, and it did not seem to apply the blush heavily, either. There is nothing inherently wrong with this brush, because I have used it regularly since I have got it (at least a year ago), but since purchasing MAC’s 182 buffer brush, I have favored that instead.

16. MAC 187SE
This is a smaller, machine-made version of MAC’s 187. I travel frequently, so it was worth picking up this miniature version of my staple 187. Plus, it was hard to pass it up with the price tag being so low (because you get four other brushes, too). In a comparison of this 187 and the regular 187, it isn’t quite as soft, and it feels denser than the larger 187.

From left to right:
17. MAC 182 (Couture)*

17. MAC 182 (Couture)
My newly acquired and beloved 182 buffer brush, Couture edition. This has to be the best MAC brush I have been able to use, and it accomplishes what it is supposed to do exceptionally well. I have been using it apply my blush on my cheeks, and also to blend the blush and contour lines together. Sometimes I use it to apply pigments as highlighters for my upper cheekbones, too. It works fabulously to blend all the various face products I have used throughout an application to help bring everything together. The brush is luxuriously soft and dense, picks up color like a dream, and applies wonderfully. I absolutely recommend this brush — so much so that I am seriously contemplating purchasing a second 182.

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πŸ™‚ I find they are so useful, and SO much cheaper than high-end brushes! If they’re just as good, just as soft, but half as costly… you know where I’m going to be!

I love your site! It’s so informative. I do have a question though…Do you know of a cheaper version of the MAC 182 buffer brush? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated:)

I love 182, it’s soooo gorgeous to look at too…and I completely agree with ur description and what u use it for…it’s sooooooooooooooooo gorgeous

Hey Dana! I’m not sure if they do. :/ But if you have any sort of craftstore near you, you should be able to find them there!

Hi Christine,

Wow, I’ve never thought about using craft-store brushes – brilliant idea!

I don’t have a lot of brushes for the eyes: I have a small angeled brush for liner, a small eye shadow brush from Dior (rather dense with a rounded/almost flat tip), a small cylindrical, firm and short eyeshadow brush from clinique, and a very flat and kind of firm flat-tipped brush for defining.

Just wondering what you think of the following MAC brushes as I am planning to get some:

217 – it’s a blender brush, but is it truly useful and can you use it for pigments or would it pick up too little pigment?

239 – not sure if this one would be useful?

242 – this one can be used for concealer too apparently, it’s flatter and dense, so I’m guessing it should be good for picking up lots of color and depositing it on the lids?

thanks a lot!

Sounds like you already have the basic eye brushes you need! To be honest, I’m actually not a big fan of MAC brushes; they’ve never acted fantastic for me, so I’ve relied on other brushes. The 239 is probably the best one that you mentioned, and I know tons of people have success with it – same with the 242. The 217 might be too small for what you want to use it for, and you generally use one brush for multiple usages so you don’t have to have ten different brushes to get one look done!

Hi Christine,

Just had a quesiton about cleaning/washing brushes. I wash my brushes every week (I have reallly oily skin) and was wondering if that is overkill. Most MA’s always talk about washing them once or twice a month. What do you do when switching between totally different eyeshadows(for example, dark smoky eye one day to a very light color the next)? Do you sweep the brush on a tissue? Sometimes I even wash them lightly under water (if neccessary, with a bit of cleaner) in between e/s changes. I’m scared that overwashing my brushes will actually decrease there lifespan and make the bristles dry/hard.

Can you recommend a good brush cleaner as well as a quick change cleaner (the ones that you simply spray on and sweep on a tissue without the need to run under water in between color changes – by the way, do such cleaners have a lot of chemicals that might cause breakouts?).

Thanks so much!

Hi Meme!

Hmm, I wash mine every two weeks, probably – depending on how much I’ve used them. I always use a different brush than my usual eyeshadow brush when I use black eyeshadow, though. Otherwise I generally just use the same one.

If you’re using the proper cleanser, like something gentle on brushes (I use Baby shampoo), they shouldn’t get hard or anything.

As far as I know, the cleansers shouldn’t cause break outs. I can’t recommend a good spray on cleanser as I don’t have one myself, lol!

I’m an opera singer, so I deal with a lot of makeup being put on my face, and I mean a LOT. In order for your face to be seen from a seat in the back of the opera house, you need tons of dramatic maekup, and the only people who know how to apply it effectively are professional makeup artists.

To get to the point- I will tell you first-hand that all the professional makeup artists with whom I have worked use art store brushes (not exlusively, because I always see one or two MAC brushes in their boxes). These ladies have all told me that art brushes are great for makeup purposes, providing that the brushes you buy are not too stiff. They clean the brushes by soaking them overnight in some water mixed with Dawn liquid soap, and then rinsing the brushes in the morning. I have found a large assortment of brushes at Michael’s, and Aaron Brother’s Ats and Framing- both have websites for ordering purposes if a store isn’t around.

By the way Christine, your site is great! I love the detail you put in your tutorials.

Thanks for sharing your experience, Dalyte! I always find that there are minimal, if any, differences between high end makeup brushes and art brushes found at craft stores. In fact, I feel like you can get a higher quality brush at an art store for the price you’d pay for a lesser brush at a makeup store.

Hello. Just ran across your site. I like it! I am a mac addict. I frequent all the time. Gosh, I am sooo looking for a MAC 182 couture edition brush. If you run across one, or get sick of yours, please email me. I like it because I prefer the square handle on that particular brush. I posted a want it now on ebay, and put up a picture I made in photoshop of a compilation of many different pictures I found of this brush on the net. I put your picture in my collage, just wanted to let you know, and find out if thats ok. If its not, I’ll take it down and do another one. Just didn’t want to steal your picture. But seriously though. If you find another couture edition please let me know. I am in desperate NEED. Again, love your site. I absolutely LOVE makeup!

Hi Suzyn! I will definitely let you know if I come across one! You might want to try MAC’s “Gone But Not Forgotten” program. The info for that is on their site.

You’re welcome to use my picture in your collage πŸ™‚


hey. i found the 182 couture brush you wanted it is at the cosmetic company store. i believe it is 38. i really think you should get it. they also had the regular 182 breush for 31.

I use the 182 brush to apply bronzer all over my face too…love how soft it is!

I never even thought you could use craftstore brushes on your face coz I had the notion that the bristles would be too hard/harsh for the face. But I’m certainly gonna check out a few brushes in our local craftstore. Although, paint brushes (especially the ones with natural bristles like sable and pony) could be quite expensive as well (I used to study oil painting years ago). The good thing with craftstore brushes is that they come in different shapes and angles that MAC may not offer.

182 is my favorite brush! A lot of brushes available for painting and whatnot are quite soft – especially the smaller brushes (which are the ones you’d use for makeup, anyway!).

This is an awesome blog, I got some very good ideas as to what brushes to add to my collection. I’m a big fan of craft store brushes as well. I am looking to buy the 182 since I hear such rave reviews about it.

Thanks, Jennifer! The 182 is sooo great. I have TWO of them, because I love them so dearly. VERY soft and perfect for finishing.

Hi, I have a little question and I’m sure you’ll be able to help me=)
Is there any difference between the brush 219 and 219SE, what does the SE stand for?
Thanks a lot

SE stands for Special Edition or Short Edition, I guess…

Basically, SE tends to be part of a brush set and is smaller than the regular brushes. They’re cheaper and always are machine made vs. hand made.

I’ve been wanting a full set of make up brushes and my mom said she would buy them for me for christmas, but I had to tell her which ones to buy… I know of a couple that I want from seeing them in the store, but this article has been really helpful, I would have never thought to use brushes from a craftstore, but I think that is a genius idea, really, I’m sure it will save a lot of money, thanks for the advice!

i really do want to buy some more makeup brushes so my makeup could be better applied.At the moment,i use sonia kashuk;i do not want to buy any from MAC because i think they are ridiculosly expensive for a brush(yeah,i know quantity over quality)but i can get it cheaper on ebay.Now my concern is the fact that:
1.I do not want to buy fake ones(brushes)
2.What kind of HAIR is the best for makeup brushes considering the fact that i have a sensitive skin?
3.Can you please recommend any ebay seller.?
Thanks i look forward to getting a reply.

It’s hard to find quality brushes on ebay for the fact that you can’t go and play with them. I don’t know any ebay sellers, as I pretty much never buy makeup from there.

Goat hair is incredibly soft against the skin.

Hi Christine,
I really love your tutorials! BTW, I cannot find the Philosophy shadow brush to save my life. Do you know where I can find one. If they are discontinued, what is a good substitute?


Hi Danielle! Sigh, it’s discontinued, unfortunately. I’ve been using MAC’s 239 brush though, for months now, and loving it πŸ™‚


Hey hun! It’s hard to tell, but usually the quality isn’t as good, the numbers might be wrong, or the country will be odd.

First of all I have to say that I looooove your site! You are such a great makeup artist!!!!!
So overall, what is your favorite brush for applying liquid foundation?

I actually have to defend the 219 brush. i do believe it is a must have. IT’s a pencil brush and extremely good for detail. it’s the only brush i use on my upper and lower lashline as well as the only brsuh i use in the outer 1/3 of my eye as well as the outer v. it’s the perfect brush for winging eyeshadow and adding definition to the outer area of the eyes.

I like the 219, but I don’t think the majority of people would find it to be a top five must-have brush, just based on my experience. But to each their own πŸ™‚

H…i was wondering what brushes of yours (craft store or any other pictured above) would you suggest using instead of the more pricer Mac 249 and Mac 239 brushes you used in your smokey brown eye tutorial? what eyeshadow brush is also a must have for all looks? thank you and god bless πŸ™‚

i read somewhere that you should put conditioner after you clean your brushes (but only if you use a soap or baby shampoo, not actual brush cleanser) and then rinse with cool water–just like your hair. what do you think? would the conditioner somehow interfere with make up application or clog pores.. or anything? obviously you would need to make sure all of the conditioner is rinsed out.. but i thought i should check your opinion before i try it out! :o)

Hey Jes!

I don’t use conditioner on my brushes, even though I use baby shampoo. I don’t find that they become any less soft over time. I suppose you could do it, and I don’t think it would ruin your brushes, but I honestly haven’t done it so I can’t tell you!

Just like with the shampoo, just be sure to rinse the conditioner out.

Also, certain ingredients in a lot of shampoos can cause break outs, so I probably would opt for a very lightweight, maybe even natural/organic conditioner.

Christine, I just discovered your site yesterday and I absolutely love it! You are so beautiful and talented. I have a question: I try to buy green/cruelty-free products whenever possible, and I’m looking for a good line of synthetic brushes. Any suggestions?

hey Christine!
so, i tried the conditioner thing, and i saw a little bit of difference, but only in my bigger/puffier brushes (mostly my 182.) i made sure all of the conditioner was completely rinsed out and make up application was fine as always, so that was good! another good thing is that it left my brushes smelling really pretty! not that smells really matters a whole lot, but it was a nice surprise to smell coconut lime verbena as i applied my make up!

Hello Christine (:

I was wondering, do your MAC brushes have a shedding problem? I got a 129 and it started shedding on the day i bought it, and at least one hair popped out every day i used it!

Thus i’m rather skeptical of MAC brushes (my others haven’t shed even for months) and wonder if i should buy brushes from them again.

Hey Jessica! A few of the fluffier brushes do shed a bit – do your other powder brushes shed at all? My eye brushes from MAC don’t shed at all, but the powder ones shed a little bit.

Hi Sharon,

I’m not familiar enough with the line to tell you, and I don’t even know if they have one like this… but the 187 brush is a stippling brush, and if you go to the store and ask an employee for help, they might be able to help you find it with that term.

Hi Christine!
my question is close to Sharon’s, but I wanted to know if there was a brush similar to MAC 187?
Any brand is fine, I’m just looking for a lower price tag πŸ™‚ have a similar brush to the mac 187 (get the pink version as some ppl say it is better) and it is very cheap. hope that helps =)
btw christine u rock!

I love the 239 for eyeshadows, the 249 for pigments/paints (well, for anything wet or creamy; if you use pigments dry, the 239), and for liner, I like the 208, 210, or 266 (depending on whether you like thin or thick liner).

Hi Christine!

I loooove your sight!! It has given me info on brushes I didn’t know about. Right now I’m looking for a brush that I can use to blend in eye shadows and at the same time, affordable. Which one do you recommend?

Hi Kayla,

There is a Loew-Cornell brush that is just like MAC’s 239. It’s pretty good and cheap (like $3!), otherwise Sonia Kashuk brushes at Target work well, too!

I love and would recommend any of the pink brushes. I currently own Pink Blending Fluff Brush, Pink Round Crease Eye Brush, Pink Oval Fluff Shadow Brush, Pink Angle Taklon Liner Brush, and Chisel Detail Mini Brush. The Chisel Detail Mini Brush i use for any sort of small details. For liner on my lid i put any sort or regular kohl liner and match a shade of eyeshadow (that’s a velux pearl or anything non-matte). I use the brush to place the eye shadow over my liner and it holds great and has a great shimmer to it ^_^ As for blending brushes the Pink Blending Fluff Brush is nice. It all depends on what you want out of your brush. I highly recommend reading the reviews of the brushes before you buy them.

You know, Madison, I don’t know if there is offhand – but you may want to just go and check out your store’s LC selection!

I just picked up some Loew-Cornell brushes at my local craft store. I noticed they had Mona Lisa Pink Soap which happens to be the same color as Mac’s brush cleaner. Do you know if this is safe to use/a good idea on makeup brushes?

Hey Rachel! To be honest, I really wouldn’t know. You might want to compare the ingredient list! However, I do use baby shampoo on my brushes personally, though others have used things like Suave shampoo, too. If it’s a soap that’s near it, it may be appropriate for those brushes.

Rachel, according to, the Mona Lisa Pink Soap is not only safe, but is highly recommended to clean makeup brushes. See their “Care” section at: . They recommend the “Pink Soap” Artist Brush Cleaner and also, another one called “Master’s Brush Cleaner & Preserver”. When you go to that link, be sure to scroll down the page past the “Special Offers” box for the “Makeup Brush Care & Other FAQs”.

Forgot to mention that whole website, , is full of useful information on makeup brushes! In addition to “Care”, the pages on “How to Choose”, “Brush Terms” and “Compare” are really informative. “The design of the website is a bit confusing until you figure out that each time you click on a new link, you must scroll down past the “Special Offers” block to get to the information for that page.

I have become addicted to you website. I had spent a lot of money since I discovered it! But I feel better about myself now that I finally learned how to apply makeup correctly. Thank you so much for all the info you give us. You truly are an inspiration. Keep up the good work doll!!!

a quick question.. you haven’t mentioned lip brushes. i’m going through this dilemma in finding a decent lip brush, MAC r ok, who’s do u use christine, would love to read your comments. also, could you advice how to create that manequin look with foundation? what brushes to use, without making it too obvious

Hi Christine,

Just wanted to say ‘brilliant’ website, love all the information on the applicators and the tutorials- wicked!! I’m from the UK and I must admit many of the MAC items, Philosophy applicators are not as easily found here but you’re website has given me just soooo much inspiration!! i’m luving it!! Keep up the good work!

Thanks, Shanara! I’m so glad you’ve found the website helpful. Good brushes can come from anywhere – many brands have them, beyond MAC and Philosophy πŸ™‚

Hey..I’m new to your site and have become absolutely addicted! How do you clean your brushes? Does the temperature of water matter and what soap if any do you use?

Hi Christine, I am from the UK and only just stumbled upon your website recently. It is such a fantastic site and very useful to me as I am training to be a Make-up artist. You are so young but yet very knowledgeable!!!
Okay, here goes my question.
I have noticed that most brushes they call blending brushes are so huge. Are they not supposed to be small?
How would you blend e.g in between the inner corner eye and the middle lid with such a big brush? Without causing a muddy mess (to use your words from the blending tutorial. fantastic, I must say)

OR blend in between the crease and the

Hey Seyi!

I use the MAC 239 to blend, which I think is a really good size. I find larger blending brushes to be difficult to use. At the same time, sometimes people prefer using really fluffy brushes like the 222 or 242, because they only use it to gently blend colors than actually apply it.

Hey Christine,

I can’t seem to find the Philosophy “Shadow” brush anywhere. Can you tell me where I may be able to purchase it. If it’s discontinued, what is another shadow brush that you would recommend?

Thank you, I guess if I would have read the rest of the comments I would have seen someone else asked the same question I did. Ha sorry, but thank you again! BTW, I am absolutly addicted to your site!

I love your website. I have no idea how I came upon you but I do know that somehow i became your fan on twitter. You do great work. Thank you for everything. xx- Leidy R.

Hi Christine,

I couldnt find an answer anywhere so thought you could help me out… is the MAC 182 Couture brush (the square handle) “Made in China”?


Hi Christine!
For starters, what brush(es) would you recommend?
MUFE – #187
MSF Natural – #182 or Smashbox Powder Brush
Eyes – #239

is that correct?

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