My Brush Recommendations

Yesterday’s post was starting to get a little long, but I did want to share with you the eye brushes that I use and love. (And possibly save you a little money.)
Let’s start with concealer. For a long time I used a flat, domed concealer brush (the bristles are synthetic because it’s meant for a cream product) and I worked the brush back and forth to blend. The one you see here is a cheapie from Target called Studio Tools — I think it cost $2-3 — and I liked the shape and the level of brush stiffness.

I’ve changed my technique though: I’ve found that a fluffy blending brush does a better job (light touch goes a long way!). So now I dab on the conealer with my fingers and then buff-buff-buff! with Sonia Kashuk’s Large Crease Brush (~$5-6?).

This Large Crease Brush is my wunderbrush. If (God forbid) I could only have one brush, I would have to choose this one. I use it to blend in concealer, eyeshadow — in a pinch I’d use it to apply highlighter. It’s most like the MAC 217, but the head is slightly smaller. The 217 always seemed too big to me, and when I blended eyeshadow with it, I ended up blending too far out.

Once my concealer is on, I apply eyeshadow primer (like Too Faced Shadow Insurance) with my fingers, if I’m going to use a cream product like a MAC Paint Pot, I use my Studio Tools concealer brush, then it’s time for powder eyeshadow!
The first brush I need is something I’ll call a “laydown” brush — for laying down (or some people say “packing on”) the lid color. There are tons of options out there, but most are similar in shape to the MAC 239. MAC calls this a “shader” — because it adds shadow?

If you want an exact, identical copy of the 239 for cheap, go to an art store, go to their brush section, and find a brush by Loew-Cornell called Maxine’s Mop in the 3/8″ size. Sidebar: part of Trish McEvoy’s brush mythology is how she went to an art store and collected specimens on which to base her brushes.

But I’ll be honest: I find the 239 a little scratchy. I want to enjoy putting on eyeshadow with something that feels nicer, and there are plenty of options. The Shu #10 eyeshadow brush ($60) feels like luxury on your lids; as does the YSL Shade Blender brush ($30) — but my pick is actually the Sonia Kashuk Small Eye Shader ($10). In size, shape, and feel, it’s at home with the Shu and the YSL.
We could stop here. I could wipe my brush off and apply a crease color with the same brush — but a crease brush makes things nicer. It’s the right size and shape to fit perfectly into your crease, so application is pretty foolproof. My favorite is the Studio Gear #35 ($30, found at Ulta). It’s perfectly soft and I love the size and shape.

For blending — you guessed it, the SK Large Crease.

I still have a MAC 219 Pencil Brush, which I could use in my crease — but I prefer it for making a thick smudgy line over my lashes (for example: Blonde’s Gold on the lid, Museum Bronze in the crease, smudgy line of Vintage Gold over the lashes — perfect!).
Okay, eyeliner. Whether I’m using gel, cream, or powder-shadow-as-eyeliner, I like an angled brush (as opposed to a “pen” or a “needlepoint” style). I mentioned yesterday that the 266 is wider than the 263 — I still use the 266 when I want a wider, smoky line of shadow, but I think the 263 is better on the whole. Even better than the 263, though, is a brush called the Angled Liner from a cheap, drugstore brand called Ms. Makeup. This brush is the same width as the 263, but it’s just a BIT shorter, which I find easier to use. (And the Ms. Makeup will cost you less than $5.)
So you could splurge on MAC — or Trish or Shu Uemura — they’re all really nice brushes. But if you’re on a budget, or you don’t want to “worry” about your brushes, you’ve got options.

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13 Responses to “My Brush Recommendations”

  • Catherine says:

    >ITA with you on the concealer! My MAC MA used a fluffy blending brush to put MoistureCover Select on me, and when I tried using my flat synthetic brush at home it just looked all wonky. Now I’m using my EcoTools blending brush which does a much, much better job. =)

  • makeupmag says:

    >This is such a great post. I love how articulate you are!

    I use the MAC 224 for concealing work and love it. :)

  • Dannimag says:

    >Love this post. by the way, I was wondering where can you get Ms Makeup brush in the U.S.? Thanks!

  • Lynn says:

    >awesome review! thank you so much..I bookmarked this for the future..

  • Betty says:

    >Great post! I have been wondering about that SK blending brush. I think I’ll go ahead and buy it.

    And I’m glad I didn’t buy the 239. I have the craft-store version and I find it scratchy. I was wondering if the 239 was too, and you answered my question.

    I do use a craft-store brush for my liner. It’s very thin like the 263 and I think it does a fine job.

  • yummy411 says:

    >fab post per usual! if my brushes ever feel scratchy, i condition them. have you tried that?

  • BeautyTalk says:

    >will try a fluffy brush with concealer… thanks for sharing this trick!

  • KarlaSugar says:

    >Dannimag — there’s the rub! Ms. Makeup is sold in random places (I’ve heard of sightings in Big Lots, Long’s on the west coast, Rite-Aid, K-Mart, Walmart…). Basically, if you can find it, grab it!

    Yummy411 — I have not tried that (I was afraid of buildup), but if you recommend it, I’ll go for it.

  • Clariced says:

    >It’s nice to see Ms. Makeup getting some love. I don’t have the 263 or 266 for comparison, but MM’s is my favourite liner brush – compact, oh-so-precise and just a wee bit incongorously bling.

  • innerchild says:

    >I think the 239′s a little scratchy too. And I take well-care of my brushes :( I’ll have to hunt down for the SK Small Shader brush. Thanks, Karla, for all these recommendations! I’m so glad I made a blog too so I can finally comment on your blog non-anonymously :D

  • Pretty N Pink says:

    >ITA with the Sonia Kashuk crease brush! I thought I was the only one who loved it…use it a lot for everything. I never thought about it for concealer though. Going to give it a try. Thanks!

  • Foodzings says:

    >i love that concealer brush from target! it's my HG concealer brush!

  • wow. I’ve been looking through some of your posts because I wanted to read a review about the Eco Tools fluffy crease brush… and I went through a whole bunch of other posts and lost track of time! Amazing blog ;)

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