Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Week of Beauty Tools & Essentials: Eye Brushes

This is part one of a week-long series featuring my favorite beauty basics for makeup application and grooming. This week you'll see the tools I use and skincare items that work for me. The lists are by no means comprehensive and some might not work for you. I'd like to get your input on what you've tried and what does or doesn't work for you.

In this feature - eye brushes! I've separated the eye brushes I have into different categories by shape and style. Most of these are the full sized versions within each brand (several lines carry both short handled and long handled versions of the same brush). I will admit that my brush collection is quite massive, you might ask how many brushes does a girl need? Definitely not all of these. Infact there are several brushes that seem almost identical in shape, size, and material between various different brands. At the end of this post, I will let you know what my top essential eye brushes are.

All Over Lid & Eyeshadow Brushes: I like larger or fluffy brushes for applying an all-over wash to the lid, or for applying a matte base color. The brushes that are more tightly packed (more dense) allow for a heavier application which include Stila's #5, Trish McEvoy's Laydown Brushes and Laura Mercier's All Over Eye Color Brush. Fluffy lighter brushes like the white bristled MAC #217 & #239 are nice because they make blending colors easy.


1. Trish McEvoy Eyeshadow Brush #10
2. MAC Square Shader Brush #259 (pro)
3. MAC Large Fluff Brush #227
4. Stila All Over Shadow Brush #5
5. Laura Mercier All Over Eye Colour Brush
6. Trish McEvoy Sheer Application Brush #45
7. Trish McEvoy Large Laydown Brush #21
8. Trish McEvoy Medium Laydown Brush #40
9. MAC Blending Brush #217
10. MAC Eye Shading Brush #239
11. MAC Fluff Brush #213
12. Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow Brush
13. Chanel Eyeshadow Brush #2

Crease & Contour Brushes: The brushes here are intended for the crease area. For those who do not have a crease, some of these tools are still handy for creating a soft gradation of color from darker near the lash line to the brow bone or blending shades together. I found out about the Studio Tools Brush (labeled #6) thanks to Karlasugar! The brushes with a smaller tip are great for creating a smokey eye, or even just smoking out/blending eyeliner for a softer but still defined look.


1. Stila All Over Blend #9
2. MAC Tapered Blending Brush #224
3. Laura Mercier Pony Tail Brush
4. Stila Double-Ended Shadow #30
5. MAC Small Tapered Blending Brush #226
6. Studio Tools Crease Brush (from Target)
7. Trish McEvoy Tapered Blending Brush #29
8. Chanel Eyeshadow Crease Brush #3
9. MAC Pencil Brush #219
10. Stila Double-Sided Crease & Liner Brush #15
11. Trish McEvoy Round Eye Contour #6
12. Trish McEvoy Smudge Brush #9

Odd Shaped & Cream Eyeshadow Brushes: One of the very first brushes I bought was the Trish McEvoy #23 hoof shaped brush which I like to use for an easy simple one-step eyeshadow application (use in a windshield wiper motion). (Note that the Trish brushes with golden handles are her original version, she has since revamped her brushes with clear lucite handles.) Unfortunately, I think she has discontinued this brush, so the next best closest tool is one from Laura Mercier. I believe Nars also carries a hoof-shaped brush as well, but I have not checked it out. For cream eyeshadows, I also like to use concealer brushes!


1. Laura Mercier Angled Eye Colour
2. Trish McEvoy Angled Contour Brush #23
3. Stila Eye Enhancer Brush #20
4. Bobbi Brown Eye Contour Brush
5. MAC Large Shader Brush #252
6. MAC Shader Brush #242
7. MAC Concealer Brush #195
8. Becca Eye Color Brush #11
9. Becca Eye Creme #31
10. Shu Uemura Synthetic Brush #10
11. Bobbi Brown Cream Shadow Brush

Detail Eyeliner & Smudge Brushes: These smaller stiffer brushes are nice for getting those corners, for the waterline, or for simple eyelining. The angled brushes to be the most precise and they can also work well for brows. I find that I use smudge brushes for eyelining more frequently than I use the eyeliner brushes when lining with powder eyeshadows. For gel liners, Stila #4 and Bobbi Brown's Ultra Fine Eyeliner Brush are my absolute favorites.


1. Stila Dual Sided Brush #23 (from 6 pan palette)
2. MAC Flat Definer #212
3. MAC Small Angle Brush #266
4. Trish McEvoy Angled Eyeling Brush #50
5. Laura Mercier Corner Eye Colour Brush
6. Bobbi Brown Eye Liner Brush
7. Stila Precision Eyeliner Brush #4
8. Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Eyeliner Brush
9. Shu Uemura 2R
10. MAC Short Shader Brush #214
11. NARS Smudge Brush
12. Trish McEvoy Va Va Voom Smudge Brush #54
13. Studio Tools Smudge Brush (from Target)
14. Laura Mercier Smudge Brush
15. Trish McEvoy Precision Smudge Brush #41

If you're just beginning your brush collection, I'll narrow down the selection from over 40 different eye brushes down to what I think are the essentials:

* All over eye brush - MAC Large Fluff Brush #227
* Best all purpose basic eyeshadow brush - MAC Blending Brush #217
* Smudge or detail brush - Laura Mercier Smudge Brush
* Eyeliner brush - Bobbi Brown Eye Liner Brush
* Cream eyeshadow brush - anything from Shu Uemura or Becca
* Crease brush - Stila Double-Ended Shadow #30

You might ask - are these brushes really worth the price tag? It really depends on your personal preference & budget. Yes, there are duplicates of the more expensive ones for less $$$ in other brands. I don't think you need to spend a lot for basics, however, that being said, many times "you get what you pay for." At least 1/3 of the brushes that I've own were purchased some 10 years ago. I've found the quality of many to be excellent, so I believe that sometimes higher prices = higher quality, which translates into longer lasting tools, which means a better deal for your $$$.

Looking for other alternatives? Look for brush sets! You can often find better deals by buying brushes that come in a multi-product set. There are some great sets from all different price ranges at Target (Sonia Kashuk or Studio Tools), Sephora, and higher end sets like MAC, Laura Mercier, Trish McEvoy, Bobbi Brown and Chanel. Do be warned that brushes that come in sets aren't always the same quality or size as the full sized individual versions. Some brands use different production methods (machine made versus hand made) for their sets. One brand I believe you can never go wrong with is Laura Mercier - her short handled brushes are just as good as the full size! The sizes might be different for her travel collections, but still work as well as the bigger ones.

Also note that brush sets are sometimes seasonal with holidays, or annual event sales, or with certain color collections. If you want to find a great brush set, wait a couple months - I'm sure there will be a few nice holiday sets coming out from MAC, Shu Uemura, Bobbi Brown and more.

Are there any eye brushes that you absolutely love? Please share!!!

7 comments:

  1. Wow that's a fabulous brush collection! I really enjoyed this post. =)

    One eye brush I particularly love and use on a daily basis is the EDM eye kabuki. It looks huge and unwieldy at first, but it's great for highlighting the brow area, as an all-over wash brush, and (my favorite purpose) erasing mistakes, such as when I take the outer corner/crease color too far out, or missmudge my eyeliner (powder of course). They have a new mini one which I plan on purchasing soon too. =)

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  2. i am like catherine, fascinated by this post and i re-read it again and again! i love those brushes on the past pic (#10-#13). So far, I only have 2 of those and I love love love them!

    however, ponytails are too soft for my liking.

    your blog is certainly doing very well! i love it!

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  3. Oh Lina, this was divine! I think I'm going to go home and take pics of my brush stash. I'm surprised at how different even the most similar looking brushes are! There's even a few brushes you posted that I really want (like that Trish #45)! And I already have a ton of brushes =/ but I find that even the smallest variation in shape makes a large difference in application.

    Oh, and I second Catherine's rec of the EDM Eye Kabuki. That brush is fantastic!

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  4. Catherine/Joey - I will definitely check out that EDM brush! I agree the smallest variation makes a huge difference!

    Jojoba - I agree with you too about the Laura Mercier Ponytail. This is one fluffy brush I find too flimsy as well. I included it for comparison purposes.

    Girls - thank you for the sweet comments and your support! I really appreciate it :)

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  5. I dont know about you but for me MAC 217 is a god-send - I also agree about the Laura Mercier ponytail brush being slightly too fluffy.

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  6. how amazing this entire section is!!! very informative . thanks =)

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