Friday, February 7, 2014

The Beauty Look Book Essentials | Eye Brushes


I'm launching a series of my favorites and essentials. I've been asked by many of you to share what are my holy grails for hand/nail care, tools, foundations and skincare. My favorites change as I discover new products, brands and tips so for this series, so I'm taking extra care to pick out my tried and true. First set includes what my essential eye makeup brushes are.

I built my brush collection bit by bit over many years. My first brushes (MAC, Stila and Trish McEvoy) were purchased during my college years and with careful storage and care, most have lasted quite well since then. Over the years, I've added more one by one. I prefer to purchase brushes individually because I usually find the quality to be much better than brush sets from the same brands. I've compiled a list of my top picks for eye brushes. When it comes to eye makeup, I'm usually a minimalist and I like to blend a lot.

There are literally hundreds of options out there. If you are new to eye makeup or feel like you're a novice with application, I'd recommend attending one of your local events at your Nordstrom or Bloomingdales. I've learned so much from artists, in particular NARS, Chanel and Le Metier de Beaute. Many of the artists have worked with multiple brands are are free-lance artists. They can help show you different techniques and often can help compare a few different brushes from mainstream brands. If you're just starting out or have a smaller budget for tools, I'll share my top 3 picks to get started below.


Brush storage idea:


My Eye Brush Essentials:

What I look for in brushes:

Long handled brushes are easier for me to pick up so I prefer brands that have longer handles (rather than all short). I also look for a brush that will not shed or fall apart after washing. I usually won't pay more than $50ish for an eyeshadow brush, although I have made the exception for Tom Ford. I prefer brands I can access in person since for me it's very important to try the brush in person before buying. The brand with the best brush selection and price is MAC, although they don't have every kind of shape or material (if they did, all my brushes would probably be from them).

My picks:
  • Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush ($40) is hands down the best fluffy all over eye shadow brush. There are dozens of other brushes with a similar shape, but most are not dense enough (the less dense the sheerer the application of color is). The Edward Bess brush is well designed and has enough bristles packed in to really pick up and layer color.
  • Chanel Brush Large Eye Shadow Brush #25 ($38) is my favorite large/flat eyeshadow brush for a sheerer all over application. It's a good brush to give your lids a wash of color and applies it evenly.
  • Trish McEvoy Medium Laydown #40 ($43) is a good brush for cream shadows or blending bases all over the lid. I like that it's a bit thicker than most cream shadow brushes which makes the blending process easier for me.
  • MAC #217 ($24) is one of the best multi-purpose brushes. You can use this to apply shadow all over the lids, blend colors together or use this for your crease area. It's super soft but still well packed to pick up color.
  • MAC #239 ($25) is another staple. I wish MAC made more brushes this size with different materials because this is the perfect shape for your basic eye shadow application. It's soft and dense and blends well. It picks up more color than the #217, but I usually use both together.
  • MAC #226 (discontinued) has been released and re-released a couple times. It's now discontinued, but it makes the perfect detail brush and for those with creases, is the ultimate crease brush.
  • Chanel Large Tapered Blending Brush #19 ($38) is the closest I've found to MAC #226. It's a bit shorter and more domed-shaped though. This one is good for a smokey eye or blending darker shades.
  • Tom Ford Eye Contour #12 ($55) is one of my favorite multi purpose brushes. It never fails me. You can read more about it in my review here.
  • MAC #219 ($25) is another great detail brush for smokey colors or to highlight inner corners. It's pointy at the end for good detail but soft enough for those with sensitive eyes.
  • Laura Mercier Smudge Brush ($24) is my favorite smudge brush. There are a number of smudge brushes from other brands but this one picks up color the best out of any I've tried.
  • Bobbi Brown Angle ($30) this one was from a set but is the same quality as the individual ones. For liner or brows I usually prefer brushes like the smudge brushes, but this one is great for a thin liner with shadows or creams.
  • Tom Ford Definer #15 ($50) is another smudge-like brush. The end is really thin but dense which makes for a good cream or gel liner application. I have a weak spot for white haired brushes because they are generally softer than others.
  • Bobbi Brown Gel Liner ($27) is my favorite gel liner brush, it's a classic.


If I could only pick five brushes for the most basic level, my top picks would be the Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush, MAC #217, MAC #239, Tom Ford Eye Contour #12 and the Laura Mercier Smudge Brush.

I hope this helps you find some new favorites!

13 comments:

  1. Hi Sabrina,

    What a beautiful post! I havent looked over my brush collection recently and this certainly gives me the impetus to do so. I may have to stop by a MAC counter later today to check out #239!

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  2. You take amazing pictures! I love the variety of brushes you have chosen :)
    Bea x
    Bea's Beauty Blog

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  3. I have to add that the MAC 217 works beautifully in blending undereye concealer. For this reason, I should probably pick up another one for eyeshadow application.

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  4. I always have to have the MAC 217 in my life.

    RIKKI POYNTER
    // RIKKI POYNTER MAKEUP

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  5. I have a large moveable eyelid and large brow bone area so for general application I favor larger brushes like the Hakuhodo K021 (squirrel) and the Tom Ford #11 (goat). What I love in particular about those two brushes is that they lay color beautifully when used flat but can also apply crease color easily when turned on their sides. They're "twofers"! Although I have over thirty eye brushes of various shapes and sizes, I use either the K021 or the #11 almost every day so I have multiples. I'm a such a sucker for a beautifully crafted brush. When I went with a friend to IMATS, while he was investigating cosmetics for his kit, I was off stroking all the brushes :-)

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  6. This is super helpful! I've also been interested in exploring Hakuhodo and SUQQU brushes, but it's nice to know there are great domestic choices as well!

    Shani x
    She Dreams in Perfect French

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  7. What a fantastic collection of brushes! I have the LM Smudge Brush but I don't quite like it because I find it a bit pokey. I'm not sure if you have a similar experience. Or maybe my lash line is just a tad sensitive.

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  8. What a collection! I find eye make up brushes are a must when it comes to achieving the exact look you want. In the process of building up my own collection. Thanks for the post and the details about these particular brushes.
    E, x

    http://loveisrealbeauty.blogspot.co.uk/

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  9. Hi Sabrina,

    Great post! This was very informational for a novice like me.

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  10. Great picks! i have a few of those brushes and I'm always on the lookout for more! A girl can never have too many makeup brushes!

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  11. i really want to try tom ford, suqqu and hakuhodo brushes, but the prices are scary!

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  12. That's quite the collection! Thanks for sharing, it's nice to see a diversity of brands in your brush collection.

    xx Alyson
    Beauty Vanity

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  13. Laura Mercier crease brush and Hourglass 3 brush for deep set eyes with very little fixed lid (brow bone) space.

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