What was the first tool that changed your routine?

MAC 239! Magical eyeshadow application brush–it really could do it all. Not quite as good now that it’s fully synthetic and I’ve since replaced it with other tools I enjoy more (even before it went all synthetic).

— Christine


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Daisy Avatar

This still remains a favourite of mine. I bought my first 239 in 1999 (I think) and I still have it to this day! They don’t make them like that anymore. Off the top of your head, can you think of which products are good replacements? I’m curious, as a person with way too many brushes.

Cassie Avatar

Seconding this question! The 239 is still my favorite. I kept putting off getting another, and then they switched to synthetic and I’ve heard they’re not nearly as good, so I still have my original from the early 2000s. I’ve tried so many different brushes from so many different brands trying to find one I like as much but still haven’t been able to.

Seraphine Avatar

It’s a tie between Sephora PRO Flawless Airbrush #56 for applying my foundation and Sigma E25 for eyeshadow. Those are two brushes I just can’t do without. I love them so much I have two, so I always have a clean one ready to use.

Mariella Avatar

I have to agree about MAC’s 239 (and the 217 as well) but for me, I think it’s the original Shiseido foundation brush. It’s a slightly angled flat-topped brush with a stubby, short handle that really suits short-sighted me. It’s also been replaced with a synthetic version which is nowhere near as good. I’m glad I have an unused 2nd one but regret not having bought a 3rd before it was replaced with the synthetic version).

kjh Avatar

Changing this up a bit. First would probably be ‘brush included’ that we wouldn’t be caught dead with nowadays. So, semi-currently, past 10 years. Sephora had a tiiiny fan brush for mascara separation that I loved. No more fear of poking the eyes out. Yay. After it fell in a candle (really) I tried to replace it. Of course not. Wound up buying a Japanese one well rated on Amazon that folds up. Great. Now I can be afraid of a row of steel pins, instead of just one. It looks deadly, and I still revert to Q-tips or disposable spoolies. No fan brush is ever as mini as that perfect one from Sephora, and no one makes even a vague approximation.

Ana Maria Avatar

Sephora had some amazing brush options, but unfortunately discontinued some of the best ones. I have an angled blush brush which is the perfect shape for my cheeks (works for contour and bronzer as well), still in use after 7+ years… I regret I didn’t get a backup when it was on sale before it disappeared completely.

Sarah Avatar

The Maxine’s Mop brush from Loew-Cornell, which is a dupe for the 239. <3 EnKore made a video about it YEARS ago, and I love them so much. I think I have at least 15 of them in different sizes – they range in size, but they're all the same shape as the 239. There's a larger one that is perfect for highlighter.

Ana Maria Avatar

MAC 227 brush, until I had one, I don’t think I blended eyeshadows. 😆
Seriously, there were no makeup tutorials (or I wasn’t aware of them) when I started make-up. I would simply pat eyeshadows on my lids with fingers, those foam applicators from cheap palettes or wonky brushes. Blending was a big thing for me and a good brush like MAC 227 was a game changer.

Random fact, I still have my first MAC 227 brush, it’s in quite good condition and I think it’s like more than 7 years old. I actually don’t like the new versions of it as much.

Nancy T Avatar

Gonna sound crazy, but some of the BEST brushes I’ve used came to me via Ipsy Bags! I’m dead serious. One is a blending brush by Elizabeth Mott that works fabulously for blending out even stubborn shades, and another is by some brand called IBY Beauty that is a the perfect brush for me to define my crease and lower lashline due to it being a very small detailing brush that fits perfectly into my nearly non-existent crease thereby making it very easy for me to fake a crease.

Carla Avatar

Does YouTube count as a tool? I didn’t grow up with anybody who wore makeup, Ive learnt so much watching YouTube, it’s completely changed how skilled I am at application.

Thanks content creators <3

Sarah Avatar

Not a brush like some other responses, rather, a sponge. I think the Beauty Blender really changed the way I applied makeup. I’ve since moved on to less expensive sponges, but boy was that a complete game changer for me. That little pink egg could truly do it all and leave me looking flawless.

Yen.Lin Avatar

Real Techniques Expert Face Brush. Blended face products/base makeup like a dream. I used to use my fingers before that. They’ve revamped the brush design and I don’t know if the new one in pink performs as well as the old one in orange.

CatG Avatar

The original Mac 217 from years and years ago. My first blending brush. Or at least, the first that worked and that I actually used correctly!!

Jen Avatar

The Beauty Blender – or that kind of makeup sponge anyway 🙂 . I use a lot of different brushes but I have replacements or alternatives for almost all of them but I haven’t found another tool that works the same way that those sponges do. For me it’s the bridge between tool and fingers that still gives me that tactile sense while not having to actually use my fingers. For applying things like foundation or cream face products it gives me a level of fine control that I haven’t yet found with a brush.

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