Review: Eye Brushes in My Brush Roll! MAC 239, 217, 219, Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Liner Brush

When I got into makeup a bit more than a year ago, I saw no point of getting decent brushes. I had been using the inadequate sponge applicators/brushes that came with the eyeshadows till that point, and I was fine. After watching some tutorials however, I thought I’d give the “real” ones a try. I was appalled by the price range of MAC brushes, so I thought I’d just get something from the drugstore. I found some at Yves Rocher, and since they cost around 6-7 euros each, I got them. The result was already better, but I felt that there was still room for improvement. After some research, I bit the bullet, went to MAC, paid for the first bunch of high-end brushes of my life, and I have never looked back since. True, you don’t need good brushes to do makeup. Even your fingers would work if we’re just talking about eyeshadows here. However, if you want to do it more finely, you need good brushes. I am not discrediting all the brushes on the cheaper side, because I have heard enough good things about Sonia Kashuk, Sigma, elf, and so on. It is also because I don’t have easy access to these brands that I turned to MAC. However, I am happy to say I don’t regret any of my purchase so far, and I am going to introduce my humble collection of four eye brushes to you.

The first one is MAC 239 Eye Shader Brush: This is a good brush for depositing color and shading your eyelids. Just a swipe or two in the pan does the job. I like how the size is not too big even for my limited eyelid space! Also, you can always use the flip side for another shadow, so I have been fine with just one. You have a lot of control over where and in what shape you want your eyeshadow to be. If you want a thinner strip, you can always use more of the tip. I know that people call this brush a multi-tasker, but since I bought it along with 217 and 219, I normally don’t blend or do my lower lash line with it. I do think the tip can perform well on lower lash line, but I prefer 219 because it is more precise.

The second one is MAC 217 Blending Brush: This brush is a great multi-tasker! Besides its excellent blending capacity (even the precise shape you create with dark eyeshadows for a smokey eyes blends out like nothing), I also use it to apply a wash of color on my lids when I want to go minimalist. The result is soft and natural. On top of that, it is a great brush for highlighting your brown bones especially if there is not an awful lot of space between your brow bones and eyelids. I know that some people use 224 Tapered Blending Brush to buff the transition shade into their crease, but 217 does that job well as well. When I want a bit more definition in my crease, I lightly dab 217 into my crease shade and intensify it that way. It leaves no harsh line, so it’s perfect! I cannot stress enough the importance of blending for me, so this brush is a must-have. I have even seen the amazing Lisa Eldridge use this brush to apply concealer! A MAC SA I met in the US said:” I’ve always been saying if they continue this one, I’ll quit!” Well, I can’t quit, but I’ll be seriously skeptical about the future of this brand and eye makeup in general.

The third one is MAC 219 Pencil Brush. I can confidently say that the only bad thing about this baby is the price. In Belgium it costs a whopping 26.5 euros (I wish MAC would start doing currency conversion properly instead of thinking one US dollar is the equivalent of one euro), but IT’S WORTH IT!

I bought this because the cheap “pencil brush” I got wasn’t exactly doing a very good job. My inner corners were often overhighlighted (yes I’m making words up), when I wanted to smudge my eyeliner out I could easily made mistakes, and I wouldn’t dream about lining my lower lashline with it. Things changed the day I got 219 in my hands. It lines my lower lashline precisely and effortlessly, it smudges eyeliner with ease, it hightlights my inner corners delicately, and it is the candidate for defining my outer v! Again, I know that some people recommend 224 or 217 for this job, but I don’t really have a folded “crease” to work with, so both of them would be way too big and fluffy for me. When I use 219 however, I do a first stroke as an extension of my lower lash line, and the second one below my brow bones before blending everything out. That hasn’t failed me!

The fourth one is Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Liner Brush: I used to think MAC 263 is THE brush to combine with gel liner. Don’t get me wrong, it is good, but probably works better for people who want a very thin line. I have monolids, and if I go too easy on the eyeliner it doesn’t do anything for me. The problem with 263 is that I have to go over the line too many times, and it’s not ideal for the wings that I want to do. I went to Bobbi Brown for a makeover this summer, and the lady who helped me has exactly the type of eyeliner that I want to achieve. Didn’t take much more persuasion for me to grab this brush, and I certainly don’t regret it! The tip is very good for precision, which means I can keep the first half of my eyeline extremely fine and close to the lashline. However, it is also VERY easy to go thicker, bolder, and drawing a perfect wing. I’ve never done my ideal eyeline so fast before getting this brush! It’s definitely highly recommended, especially if you also have monolids and can pull off more dramatic eyeliner!

All these brushes are very soft and fine in texture, not irritating at all on skin. The MAC ones are white, but they wash up beautifully however dirty you manage to get them. Another thing I love about these brushes is that they don’t “absorb” your eyeshadow/gel liner. I have read somewhere that some GOSH brushes are as good as MAC’s, but when I played with the testers in the shop I could see how little color they deposit compared with the amount they take from the pan. For your precious eyeshadows to last longer, I would still go high-end. None of these has ever shed one single hair on me either. There are a few wayward strands of hair on my 217 (I can’t tell if it came that way or if I made the damage over more than a year), but it doesn’t affect usage.

So no, good brushes are by no means cheap. However, if you take some care of them they last you for a long time, so I would see them as good investment.

How about you? What are your favorite eye brushes? Do you own and love these or do you plan to give them a try?

Do let me know!

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5 responses

  1. Thank you for such a thorough and well written review on all of the brushes! I have to agree that although you can get very good brushes for cheap, nothing beats a high quality professional brush. They seem to shed less often and hold up better in the long run compared to my other cheapie brushes, no matter how many times I wash them.

    You write really good reviews – I just followed your blog! Thanks so much for following me too ^^

    • Hey Rinny,

      Thanks so much for the compliment! I’m really happy to have found your blog, and even happier that you think mine is worthy of following!

      I might have started out with cheaper brushes if I had found access to them, but sadly I didn’t, so I had to make a big leap (after I did a bit more blogging and digging around however, I know where we can purchase Sigma and ELF stuff here now). I guess decent cheaper brushes are good for beginners for figuring out what you need, but once you have that figured out you might as well go high-end. The MAC guy who told me he’d quit if they discontinue 217 said his brushes usually last for 7 years, and that’s probably because he uses them on multiple people on a daily basis!

      I saw that you live in Jersey. I stayed with a friend in Hoboken during my recent visit to New York. Totally adored the big apple and definitely want to go back!

  2. I love the 239, 217 and 219 too! The 217 is quite un(in?)-dupable, really. I don’t use it for brow bone highlight though. But that’s because I like to bring eyeshadow up high so that there is just a little bit of space left for brow bone highlight. That’s just for my eye shape though, doesn’t work for everyone.

    The Bobbi Brown one seems great, I’ve gotta go check it out. For gel liner application, I use the MAC 263 and I love that I’m able to achieve super precise winged eyelines with it. =)

    • I can’t bring my eyeshadow up so high, just because I REALLY look like a drag queen if I do that (there really isn’t so much space between my lid and my browbone)! You should check out the Bobbi Brown eyeliner brush! I used to own 263 but it didn’t work as well for me. I read about bent eyeliner brushes on your site too, but haven’t got the opportunity to check that out yet!

  3. Pingback: Mostly Sunny September/Early Autumn Favorites! | MOSTLY SUNNY

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