Saturday, September 3, 2011

Favorites: My favorite / must have / can’t live without eye brushes + comparisons !

Hi everyone!

Today’s post is about my favorite eye brushes. The brushes I’m going to talk about, are the ones I use with pretty much every eye look. These are also the kind of brushes I would recommend to anyone starting out with makeup. I’ll talk about the different kind of brushes and my favorite of each kind. I’ll aslo include a little comparison to other similar brushes. I’ll have some more expensive brushes and some cheaper brushes that are similar. I see brushes as an investment. A good brush may cost you a little more, but if you take good care of it, it will last you for years and years! On the other hand, a brush doesn’t have to be expensive to be a good brush.

Essential eye brushes

Let’s have a look at my must have eye brushes one by one!

1. Flat shader brush

MAC 239MAC 239 side 

Description: This kind of brush is fairly flat, pretty wide front and back and rather thin on the sides. They come in pretty much all sizes. I suggest looking for one that works best for your eye size. Another thing that can vary is the density of the bristles and the stiffness of the brush. The closer the bristles are packed together, the more dense and stiff the brush will be and the better it will be to really pack on colour on your lid.

Use: This is a basic eye shadow brush that is mainly used to place the colour all over the lid up to the browbone. The flat side of the brush allows it to pick up a lot of colour from your eyeshadow pan. The thin edge can be used for a more precise application, for instance on the lower lashline.

My favorite - MAC 239: This is my favorite flat shader brush because I like the size of it, it’s very stiff so it’s great for putting colour on the lid. It’s also thin enough to use under the eye. Another thing I like about it is the fact that the bristles are white. This makes it easier for me to see just how much powder I have on my brush.
You can find MAC brushes at your local MAC store or MAC counter. Or you can order them online (if your country has a MAC web store!).
Price: $24,50, £19 or €26,50

- Sigma E55: This is Sigma’s equivalent of the MAC 239. It’s a flat shader brush just like the 239, though not as stiff and not as thin. It’s also a little bigger. It works great for applying colour and it’s a great alternative if you find the MAC 239 a little too pricey. I use this brush quite often too, mostly for my brow highlight. I like how it’s a little softer and more fluffy for a softer application.
Price: $9

- ELF eye shadow brush: An even cheaper option for a good eye shadow brush. I have one of these and it is a lot like and works just as good as the E55 (couldn’t find it for the picture). Can’t go wrong for this price!
Price: $1, £1,50 or €1

- Covergirl brush that came with a quad: This brush came with a covergirl quad I bought a couple years ago. I don’t know if this brush comes with every Covergirl quad, but it’s just an example of a bigger shader brush. This one is a little wider, thicker and also softer than the E55. These bigger shader brushes are great if you want a quick, softer wash of colour all over the lid.

- MAC 242 and 252: I don’t own these brushes, but they are great  shader brushes as well. The hairs are a mix of natural and synthetic and they are a little longer than the 239. Because of the synthetic bristles, these are great for cream products. The 252 is a bigger version of the 242.
Price $24,50 or £19 for the 242, $30 or £22 for the 252 (don’t know the price in €).

- Sigma E60: This is Sigma’s version of the 252. From what I’ve seen on pictures online, it’s seems to be alot smaller than the MAC 252. It’s more stiff than the E55 but has longer bristles than the 239, but they’re both about the same width. Also, the tip is not as thin as the 239.
Price: $9

flat shader brush comparisonSONY DSC
(Covergirl, MAC 239, Sigma E55)

 (MAC 239, Sigma E60)

2. Blending brush:

MAC 217MAC 217 side

Description: There are so many different kinds of blending brushes out there. Any brush that is somewhat fluffy would be suited for blending eyeshadows. The blending brush I will be talking about is the kind that’s like the MAC 217 (pictured above). This kind of blending brush is kind of oval shaped and flat. You can see that the metal part of the brush is pinched, which makes the brush more flat than most blending brushes, which are round from all angles.

Use: A blending brush is obviously made for blending eyeshadows. It can be used to blend out the edge of a colour to make it softer, or to 2 colours together so that the line of separation between them looks less obvious and it turns into a smoother transition. Since this blending brush is more flat, it can also be used to apply colour. Because it’s fluffy, it will apply the colour more sheer, great for a quick wash of colour all over the lid.

My favorite - MAC 217: If I could only have 1 brush to do my eye makeup, I would choose this one. It’s flat enough to apply the colour and also fluffy enough to blend it out. Because it’s flat, it fits in the crease perfectly. Just like the 239, this brush had white bristles which make it easy to see how much product you have on your brush. I love this brush!
Price: $22,50, £16 or €21

- Sigma E25: This brush is pretty much identical so I don’t have much to say about it. I love that you get a travel size version of this brush as a gift when you order from their website. I can never have too many of these lol.
Price $9

- Hema: This brush is only available in Hema stores (so only in Belgium and the Netherlands I think). I don’t know what it’s called but it kind of looks similar to the 217. I don’t think it’s meant to be a bleding brush, but it’s fluffy enough to be one. Also flat enough to pack on colour. So if you live in Belgium or the Netherlands, give this one a try!
Price: don’t remember the exact price, I’m guessing between €3 and €5.

- MAC 224: This is your ordinary belnding brush. It’s fluffy, it’s round and it blends out colours.
Price: $30, £22 or €33

- Sigma E40: This is Sigma’s version of the 224. I don’t have the MAC 224, but I do have the E40. I like it for blending around the edges of my eyeshadow, and I assume that the MAC 224 does the same thing. However, I don’t like it to actually apply colour to my crease because I find it to be too round and too big. The 217 fits much better in my crease. (The one I have is 2 years old so the E40 might look a little different now)

blending brush comparisonblending brush comparison side
  (Sigma E25, MAC 217, Hema eyeshadow brush)

(Sigma E40, MAC 217)

3. Pencil brush


Description: A pencil brush is a small, round brush with short bristles. Most pencil brushes have a tapered tip. They are designed for a more precise application in smaller areas. These come in different sizes which will work for different purposes.

Use: Like I said, these brushes are great for applying colour more precisely. They are small enough to fit in smaller areas and the smalled the pencil brush, the more precise it’s going to be (obviously lol). It’s great for defining the crease and outer V, applying eyeshadow to the inner corner and for smudging eyeshadow under the eye. I also like to use it to smudge out eye pencils after applying them on the top or bottom lashline.

My favorite – MAC 219: I don’t have too many pencl brushes but to me this one is just perfect. The tip is thin and tapered and it’s stiff enough to smudge out creamy products. And again, white bristles :)!
Price: $24,50, £19 or €26,50

- Sigma SS219: I got this brush when they still used the SS numbering. Compared to the MAC 219 it’s alot less pointed and less stiff. I don’t use it to smudge out liner or to apply colour to the bottom lashline because I find it too fluffy for that. I do use it to apply eyeshadow to the inner corner or to intensify the crease.

- Sigma E30: This is a newer version of the SS219. It’s a lot more pointed than the SS219 but still not as stiff as the MAC 219. I like using it for an even more precise application than the MAC 219 gives me.
Price: $9

(Sigma SS219, MAC 219, Sigma E30)

4. Eyeliner brush

art liner brushes

Description: For me, an eyeliner brush is any type of brush that’s thin an pointed enough to make a fine line with. Usually these types of brushes are synthetic bristles so they’d work best with cream products.

Use: This one is pretty self explanitory. An eyeliner brush is used to line the eyes. Usually with a cream or gel eyeliner. Because this kind of brush is so thin, it can be used to paint all kinds of lines, not only on the eye, but anywhere really, for the more creative looks.

My favorite – a thin paint brush: My favorite brush to apply gel or cream eyeliner with, is just a really thin paint brush I got at a craft store. I have two of these brushes, one being even thinner than the one I use the most. The thinner the brush, the thinner the line will be. I like these brushes more than my other eyeliner brushes just because they’re thinner. I don’t see much of a difference as far a quality goes. To me the quality of these brushes is just as good as my MAC 209.

- MAC 209: This is a standard eyeliner brush. It’s a little bigger than the two paint brushes I uses and I also don’t find it as pointed. I do use it quite often, mostly when I want a line that’s a little thicker.
Price: $18 , £16  or €21 .

- Sigma E05: Sigma’s version of the 209. It’s a bit bigger than the MAC 209 but works really well as an eyeliner brush. I personally prefer thinner brushes so I don’t actually use this brush for eyeliner. I use it for my nail polish clean-up. (This brush is 2 years old as well, so the newer ones might look a little different).
Price: $9

- Sigma E10: I have this brush, but it’s completely ruined cause I accidentely put my flat iron on it, so I can’t use it anymore. It’s a really nice eyeliner brush though, or at least it was. It’s smaller than the MAC 209, so more like the bigger paint brush. Great eyeliner brush, just don’t leave it near your flat iron.
Price: $9

eyeliner brush comparison
(Sigma E05; MAC 209, Paint brushes)

5. Angled brush


Description: This is a small flat brush with an angled tip. Usually they have synthetic bristles that are pretty stiff. They vary is size and width fir different applications.

Use: These are often used as eyeliner brushes with gel or cream eyeliners. They are also great to fill in eyebrows with an eyeshadow or line the eyes with an eyeshadow. Great for defining top and bottom lashline.

My favorite – MAC 263: This is my favorite because it’s not too small to fill in my eyebrows, and that’s what I use it for. The angle on it is perfect and it creates thin strokes that look like hairs. I don’t use these kind of brushes for eyeliner, but I do use this one for my brows every day.

- Inglot 31T: This is the one that looks the most like the MAC 263. It’s a tiny bit bigger, but does pretty much the same thing. The only problem I have with it is that the angle isn’t as perfect as the 263.
Price: $11

- Sigma E65: This is Sigma’s version of the MAC 266. I don’t have the MAC 266 so I can’t compare them. The brush has synthetic bristles and works great with cream  products. Because this brush is smaller but a little thicker, I like to use it to define top and bottom lashline with a dark eyeshadow.
Price: $9

- Hema angled brush: This one is very similar to the E65, only the bristles are a little longer. Great for lining top and bottom lashline too.
Price: around €3

- Elf small angled brush: This is the smallest angled brush I have. I like it for smudging eyeshadow along the lashes, but I don’t find it thin and sharp enough for precise work.
Price: $3, £3,50 or €4

angled brush comparison 1
(Sigma E65, MAC 263, Inglot 31T)

angled brush comparison 2
(Elf small angled brush, MAC 263, Hema angled brush)

Those were my 5 favorite eye brushes. These are the brushes I use the most and I think you can create pretty much any look with these!

Some links to where you can buy brushes:

MAC Cosmetics brushes on the US website

MAC Cosmetics brushes on the UK website

Sigma brushes (they ship internationally!)

ELF brushes on the US website

ELF brushes on the UK website

ELF brushes on the Belgian website / Dutch website

I hope this was helpful and if you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments!
Thank you for reading!

Up next: August favorites!



  1. I love my mac 217 but I find the 263 a wee bit annoying its a bit too thick and hard for me but I use it every now and again for eyeliner


  2. Lovely comparison. I was particularly interested in the thin eyeliner brushes you showed. I have one like the thinnest one you showed, although I think mine might be even thinner. It's actually a nail brush but I love it when I want the thinnest of lines :)

  3. wow. these are really helpful. :) Thanks so much! :D

  4. Awesome brushes you have here :) I really need to buy an angled and a pencil one! thanks for sharing!

  5. Great post! I think these are the brushes I'd pick as well if I had to :)

    I'm in love (lol) with MAC 239, don't know how I lived without it before. And I could say the same thing about pencil brush - I discovered it only few months ago, don't know why it took me so long :)

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