MAC Brushes

One of the problems I have with shopping for brushes online is that the products are always shot in limbo, on a white or black background, with no context to tell you how big they are — or how big they are relative to one another. It’s sexy-looking, but not useful.

Just as MAC’s foundation naming system is often used as an informal standard for describing one’s approximate skintone, MAC’s brush numbers are sometimes used to describe a brush type. Across brands, the 187 is sometimes called a “duo-fibre brush,” a highlighting brush, or a skunk brush.

TNBTTGSY’s first post ever was a brush comparison post (nostalgia!). I thought it would be helpful to revisit that information — this time including the pro brushes, where possible. Don’t forget to click on the pictures to see them at full size.
209 Eyeliner – $17.50
210 Precise Eyeliner – $17.50
212 Flat Definer – $21
202 Sponge Tip Applicator
217 Blending – $22.50
219 Pencil – $23
222 Tapered Blending – $28
224 Tapered Blending – $28
225 Tapered Blending
227 Large Fluff – $30
213 Fluff – $22.50
228 Mini Shader – $19.50
231 Small Shader – $17.50
239 Eye Shader – $24.50
242 Shader – $23
249 Large Shader – $27
252 Large Shader – $29
263 Small Angle – $20
266 Small Angle – $19.50
269 Medium Angle
272 Small Angled Shader – $23
275 Medium Angled Shader – $24.50

It’s up to you what you prefer for eyeliner application. Some like a “pencil type” brush (the 219 is the widest, smudgiest, use-only-for-shadow-as-liner option; the 209 is a fine point; the 210 is a needlepoint). Most people who like pencil type brushes go for the 209 — the 210 will give you a finer line, but because the brush is so thin, you’ll have to keep dipping it back into your liquid or gel (and if you get impatient and try to load up your brush, your line will be uneven).

I prefer an angled liner (I find them easier to use). The 263 is the same head size as the 266, but the 266 is wider. If the 266 is a =, the 263 is –. For this reason, I prefer the 263. The only downside is that the 263 may not be available at every counter.

Here are the face brushes:
134 Large Powder – $52
136 Large Powder
150 Large Powder – $42
180 Small Buffer
182 Buffer – $45
184 Duo Fibre Fan
187 Duo Fibre Face – $42
188 Small Duo Fibre Face – $34

As you know, I wear liquid foundation (MAC Face and Body to be precise), and the 187 is my favorite tool for applying it. The 188 is smaller, and most people use it for the application of blush (especially pigmented blush — the duo-fiber design deposits color more lightly, with a more airbrushed look).

And finally, lips, cheeks, and more foundation options:
311 Lip Liner – $20
316 Lip – $19.50
318 Retractable Lip – $21
204 Lash – $11
205 Mascara Fan (pro)
206 Brow Groomer
208 Angled Brow – $19.50
190 Foundation – $32
191 Square Foundation – $32
192 Cheek/Face (pro)
194 Concealer – $19
109 Small Contour – $32
168 Angled Contour – $32
116 Blush – $32
129 Powder/Blush – $34

So the brushes that are missing include

  • the 214 Short Shader (or smudge) brush – $23, which came out with Blonde Brunette Redhead
  • the LE 165 tapered cheek/highlight brush – $34, which came out with Blonde Brunette Redhead
  • the LE 226 Small Tapered Blending (or tapered crease) brush – $24.50, which came out with Blonde Brunette Redhead
  • the 189 Face Brush – $40, a paddle-shaped, rabbity looking brush for mineral foundation
  • the 138 Tapered Face Brush – $52
  • the 195 Concealer with Pointed Tip – $22
  • and the 174 Large Angled Contour (pro)

Which brushes would I recommend? I’ll go into greater detail in another post, but basically: (1) everyone applies makeup differently and has different brush preferences, (2) no one needs every brush. You just have to figure out what you like using.

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14 Responses to “MAC Brushes”

  • Marina says:

    >thank you for this post!Now I’m thinking about new MAC brushes. special thanx for photos!

  • Kim says:

    >I have hoarding tendencies. It is my dream to own all of these brushes. They’re all gorgeous (I know that’s weird)

  • Sandra says:

    >this is really helpful..thanks you.

  • Sissi says:

    >Brilliant post! Thank you.

  • jojoba says:

    >wow the local MAC doesn’t allow photograph at all. you did a great job!!! now i am thinking about some of the big fluffy powder brushes…

  • Pretebrowneyes says:

    >Thanks so much for this post….seeing these IRL (kinda) and not on the website makes it easier to pick…

  • Kimi says:

    >Excellent post! I always found myself jumping from informational vids to the mac page to look up the brush numbers and possibly find dupes to match…now you have provided an even better one stop info page, with comparison photos and all. Kudos to ya!!

  • Evelyn says:

    I was wondering if you can also add the 130 brush? and curious what your thoughts on it in comparison to other duo fibre brushes? :)

  • Katie says:

    Maybe I’ll get stones thrown at me for this and maybe I won’t. I adore MAC brushes, however, I’d rather spend a fraction of the price collecting Sigma brushes. I spent $99 (with an eye shadow quad included) for 12 brushes. Still, doesn’t mean I won’t be collecting the MAC ones anyway ;x

  • Amy says:

    I love this review… the full set of brushes in 1 post. Love the prices on these so I know what damage they are doing to me a well :(

  • Ms_K says:

    I hope they would come back out with the 226. I heard it is really good.

  • Tracey says:

    Thank you, this is super helpful. I couldn’t decide between the 228 and 231 and wrongly assumed the 228 would be smaller being the ‘mini’.
    I was wrong but at least I know which brush to get now :)

  • C says:

    I couldn’t decide between 263 or 266 or 208 but I think I’ll consider 263 :)

    This is awesome review for all the brushes, and you’re right about them being personal preference. On another note, I still want a 187 to try. I also use Mac Face & Body :)

  • Clynn says:

    Do you have a price for each package of brushes all together?

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