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Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Blending Brushes! Comparing and contrasting and yaddy yadda..

So, I have recently acquired a LOT of brushes! I've trebled what I've had at least and am a very happy bunny. So I thought I'd do a post comparing the blending brushes that I have, because I've got lots at different price ranges, so this can be an 'archive' sort of post and hopefully help someone out! This is a long post, so go and make yourself a cup of tea before you start. (Oh, and for y'all foreigners, that coin is exactly the same size as a Candian quarter.)

Blending Brushes I own:

From top to bottom, e.l.f blending eye brush, Revlon Contour Shadow Brush, Mac 217 and Mac 224.

Unfortunately I can't show you how these brushes apply colour, because my camera batteries have just died on me. Sorry! But I'll do my best.

First up: The e.l.f brush. E.l.f says this brush 'Expertly blends multiple eye shades while softening dramatic edges and fine lines. Brush can also multitask – use it to set powder or liquid concealer.' The website doesn't say whether its synthetic or natural, but it feels fairly soft.

Now, on the website, this brush looks much more like the MAC 224 than it does in real life. In real life, its more of a squat shape, much more comparable to the Revlon brush. To be honest, I don't care because I just bought this brush to see if there is such a thing as a decent brush for £1.50. And there is! I prefer my Revlon brush to this one, but not by much. If you want a blending brush and you don't want to or can't spend a lot of cash, this is a decent brush. Its reasonably well made - I've had very little shedding, the hairs on the brush are dense with an even shape and the ferrule is sturdy.

Second on the list - the Revlon Contour Shadow brush. I heard a lot about this online and saw it in a fair few YouTube videos so I bought it. Its got 4.6 out of 5 on Makeup Alley, too. Revlon says this brush is 'Designed to create definition and contrast, the contour shadow brush features a rounded, slanted tip for precise application along the crease. The exquisitely soft, all-natural bristles are best for applying powder shadows, while the long handle allows for superior control.' Mine cost me £6.99 but as of this post, it's £2.99 on!

I love this brush, basically. I prefer it to my e.l.f brush as it has a slightly more pointed shape, which means its easier to get into the crease with it. It feels softer on the eye than the e.l.f and it's also about 3m longer (handle-wise) than the e.l.f brush, and for some reason I prefer longer handled brushes. It also gives a slightly softer wash of colour and is slightly more fluffy than the e.l.f brush. These differences aren't big ones, though I expect the Revlon one will last longer than the e.l.f one, so while this brush is on sale, I'd totally recommend this one over the e.l.f. Also, its black while the e.l.f is white, so it just looks much slicker. I've also had no problems with this brush shedding.

Next up is the MAC 217. Sorry, mine is so stained already! MAC says this brush is 'for shading or blending of colour or creamy products. This brush has fine, densely packed fibres that are arranged in an oval shape.' This brush costs £14.50, and while MAC doesn't say if its synthetic or natural, its super soft. Also, I may be wrong but I read white MAC brushes are synthetic while black are natural? Corrections please!

This brush doesn't compare to the previous two at all! This brush is more flat and paddle-shaped as well as being wide and fluffy, so this is great for actually applying colour as well as blending it out. I find I can get a lovely precise application with this brush. Basically, I love it. I could live without it as there is nothing wrong with my Revlon brush and I have other brushes for application of colour, I just find this brush is much easier to use. Which is what we want, right? Also, where this brush is 'flat,' it also has two sides, so you can simply flip the brush over when you're using it for application, so you can apply two shades and not have to change the brush.

Again, its lovely and soft, and I've had no shedding problems. I only have one gripe about this brush and that is that the embossing that says 'MAC 217' is starting to wear off already - the print is right by the ferrule. If it were further down the brush perhaps it wouldn't wear off as quickly. I know this is so nit-picky, but I paid almost £15 for this brush! Stay pretty, dammit! It's also stained, but a lot of people have said they have this, so its something I already knew about.

And lastly, the MAC 224. Mac says this is for 'controlled eye shadow application. This brush has soft fibres which taper to form a medium size dome shape.' It costs £20.50, so its my most expensive blending brush.

I'm not sure about this 'controlled application' thing. If you look at the tip of this compared to the rest of the brushes I've talked about, it has a bigger circumference. All the other brushes are also a lot more dense - so this brush gives a much softer wash of colour. In all honesty, I haven't really figured out how to use this brush properly yet. Its probably perfect from some people but if you know me, then 'soft wash' is not really what I'm all about. This is too fluffy to apply a strong crease colour as the bristles are too long -the shape of the brush changes when you apply pressure. It'd probably be great for setting your concealer, etc, or perhaps even applying a highlight colour under the brow. Knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn't have bothered getting this brush. I hope I can come to love it as it is lovely and soft and while I've only washed it once, it didn't shed and kept its shape well. Any suggestions for use would be much appreciated.

Fluffy Blending Brushes:

So this type of brush is intended for blending things out or off, or applying a sheer wash of colour. I have two of these style brushes:

The top one with the cerise handle is 'The Love Brush,' by Tigi Bed Head, and the bottom is MAC 227. As you can see, the MAC is a fair bit bigger than the Tigi, so its not fair to say its a dupe, just a similar style brush. The blurb for the Tigi brush claims its for 'precise application for the whole lid,' which is of course, bollocks. MAC says the 227 is perfect for 'applying, blending or highlighting any powder-based products.' Both brushes are natural bristles.

I've washed both these brushes a couple times, and I was expecting mega shedding from each one. I haven't had a major problem with either of them - just a few hairs from each one. And while the MAC is super soft, the Tigi one is pretty darn soft too - much better than I was expecting. I use these brushes to blend out colour toward the brow or clean up the shape of my shadows on the outer part of my eye, and I highlight with the 227.

That's one swipe of each one. As you can see, the MAC 227 gives a much more sheer wash of colour, which is why I prefer this brush - its just less work than the TIGI brush.

On the other hand, though, the TIGI brush is £3.40 (I got mine from, which also has free shipping) whereas the MAC 227 is £20.50 and don't do free shipping unless you spend fifty quid. Plus the Tigi is purple. So while I much prefer the MAC brush, if you're in the market for this style of brush but don't have that much cash, or you want an alternative while you're washing your own 227, I'd really recommend this Tigi brush.

Phew. Hope that helps someone! I'll do some more comparisons of pencil or angled brushes that I have if people would like that, too.

Love and kisses,

Robyn xxx


  1. Very helpful, thanks for the comparisons!

  2. Thank you so much for this note :). I use 224 as a blending concealer brush :). And its work very well :)

  3. I really liked all the comparisons. Me personally, I find the Revlon brush to be too big for my crease area but it was what I used faithfully until I bought the elf blending brush. I still use my Revlon one, but only for highlight and blending out my rough edges :)

  4. I have the elf and MAC 217 along with some from coastal scents, and I have to say my favourite is the elf! I think it's made from natural fibres. I must try the Revlon one out, I've been waiting for ages for Revlon brushes to come out in Superdrug :)

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  6. Thanks girls :) And thanks Alex... I used my 224 for a neutral, soft look today and it worked really well!

    @ Kat: There's not too much difference between the elf and the Revlon but if the other brushes are as good, I'm definetly going to look and see if Revlon do a basic application brush because all mine suck.

  7. wow. all that infomation in one post! good work, and thanks for the tip.

    sweet blog.
    feel free to pop by sometime!

    xx T

  8. The Revlon one looks awesome! I don't think Revlon sell brushes in Australia :(

    MAC are silly rabbits, everybody I've seen uses the 224 for blending! And occasionally applying a crease colour, though mostly blending :|


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