Holy Grails #2– Brushes

The Best Makeup Brushes

As some of you must have already recognized, I was very busy the last weeks. So I was working on this second holy grails post little by litte. Today I finally finished it by taking the last pictures (the ligt is very bad here actually, raining and snowing for weeks) and I hope you Ladies like it & it will be helpful for all of you looking for good brushes.

Makeup Brushes

There are several companies offering different kinds of brushes and it would make no sense to recommend one of them to all of you. This tools have to fit very individual needs; there are beauties prefering synthetic fibres and beauties prefering natural bristle brushes. One other important thing is the fact that not every beauty can afford expensive brushes. You have to find out what kind of brushes will work best for you. When I am asked about brushes in general I recommend to start with a basic eyebrush-kit and add more brushes little by little. In my opinion it is better to have only a few but good tools than having a lot of stuff delivering no good results. A good tool will do half of the job, you get the best results with good brushes. But you have to find out for yourself what kind of brushes you like and love to work with. There are many brushes which will work very good for casual work but not for professional work and so on. I think make-up is a good opportunity to add some art to every single day and every painter would agree about better expression or even more fun working with good tools. Or just ask your housband or boyfriend what kind of tools they like if there is there is something to be repaired in the house or car. It´s quite the same with makeup tools.

This post shows you my personal holy grails among brushes. When I started writing it I was not expecting that there would be so many of them I consider holy grails. All of the brushes you see in this post are in regular use for years now, and are still in excellent condition, there is no new one among them. I clean my brushes after every single use by washing them with a soft natural cosmetics shampoo and I am no fan of the regular brush cleansers due to the fact they are more aggressive than soft shampoos. They do not take care of natural bristles the way I expect from a good  cleansing product. They work quite good for synthetic bristles but some beauties with sensitive skin cannot use them at all because of  irritations caused by the more aggressive formula. Personally I use brush cleansers only for duofibre brushes, means: Dipping the top of the duofibre brush into the cleanser, giving it about a minute to do the job and then go ahead by washing the brush with a soft, organic shampoo. This cleans the synthetic fibers deeply without affecting the natural bristles and makes the duofibre brush look nice black-white again. I can´t stand lumpy (looking) duofibres (this happens to them if you only use brush cleanser) :-(( ; for me a brush does not only have to be clean, it  also has to look clean, especially when you are not using it only for your own makeup.

Makeup Brushes

:-)) So let´s go:

MAC 239

MAC239One of MAC´s most popular eyebrushes. Beauties prefering synthetic fibers would say the 242 is a better basic eyeshadow brush but I prefer this one and use it for almost every eye make up. The 239 delivers good and flewless application of regular eyeshadows and pigments as well. Bristles: Goat hair.

MAC239 brush


MAC217 brushThe most versatile among the MAC eyebrushes. It´s primary purpose is: Blending brush but you can do a whole eye make up with the 217. It´s very good for application of almost every formula and finish and one of the best for apllying cream eyeshadows like Paintpots etc (I use the short handle for this).  Excellent blends out dry, creamy and fluid eyeshadow textures. Often used for application of fluid concealers as well. Bristles: Goat hair.

(Info: I used the long handle 217 today, it shows the bristles better than the clean short handle beneath).

MAC217 brush

MAC 219

MAC219 brushA so-called pencil brush; the fibres are gathered in a tippy pencil shape. This allows precision shading and smudging. Ideal for controled smudging eyepencils and khols into eyeshadows. I often use it for the outer part of the lower lashline, too – works better for me than angled brushes. Bristles: Goat hair.

MAC219 brush

MAC 210

MAC210 brushYou will find different oppinions out there about the MAC 210 eyeliner brush and the MAC 209 eyeliner brush. I definitely prefer the MAC 210 because it allowes controled and ultra-fine application of the products. Bristles: Synthetic fibre.

MAC210 brush

If you are looking for a basic eyeshadow kit from MAC I personally would recommend the four brushes mentioned above. All of them are versatile in their own way and will do every job at eye make up while delivering very good results 🙂

MAC 226 LE

MAC226 brushThe 226 was part of two limited editions and got very popular. It is a pointed blending brush and this tippy shape allows easy crease blending even for those beauties who do not have much make-up practice. It is not available actually but was/is supposed to get permanent. I have to mention it because I really like it :-)) Bristles: Pony hair.

MAC226 brush

MAC 224

MAC224 brushA classic blending brush, very fluffy; you can use it for soft outblending of eyeshadows or highlighting the under-eyebrow area. Often used as basic highlighting brush for controled face-highlighting and concealer brush for face area, too. Bristles: Pony hair.

MAC224 brush

MAC 228

MAC228 brushMini shader brush; excellent for refining and tiny-area blending. I do not use it very often because I prefer the 231 for acribic work but I decided to show it because it´s helpful for everybody who starts practicing and wants to get more detailed results. Good for applying emollient-based products. Natural bristles.

MAC228 brush

MAC 231

MAC231 brushAnother very versatile brush, claims to be a small eyeshadow brush only but it is suitable with every texture and I use it as a under-eye concealer brush and as lip brush as well. In my opinion better for lip  products application than the MAC 316 lip brush. Excellent, small allrounder :-)) This is the next brush I would recommend to pick up after you got your basic eyebrushes kit. Best precision at eye make-up. Bristles: Synthetic fibre.

MAC231 brush

alienor Brushes


Two amazing brushes from the German mineral cosmetics brand alienor. These brushes are made by Chisel USA, a small fluff brush and a super deluxe fluff. The small fluff brush is better than the MAC 228 but I mentioned the 228 above because I know you can get it in India and I am not sure about these two from alienor. The super deluxe fluff brush is amazing for fluffy application or when you want to speckle the product (soft buffing). Blends excellent as well. It is great fun to work with this brushes. Natural bristles.


MAC 204

MAC204 brushA so-called Mascara wand. I use them for applying Mascara and for brow fitting. Mostly the last brush on the mind when someone is going to buy brushes, but an important one. Creates very natural finish when used for brow fitting before and after brow powder/brow pencil application. Great at lash seperation and working lashes into falsies. Primary tool for MML (mining medium lash). Bristles: Natural hair.

MAC204 brush

MAC 150

MAC150 brushA Titan among the Powder brushes. Full and dense quality, great powder application and excellent for finishers, too – you can really dust the product on with this brush. I also love to use it as a blush brush for dramatic looks. Excellent for blendig powder blushes as well, delivers a perfect flawless finish. The pure face-brush basic. Bristles: Pony hair.

MAC150 brush

MAC 131

MAC131 brushAnother multi-talent: Blush brush, highlighting and contouring brush in one single product. Gives you more control than the 150, accentuates and highlights with flawless results. Often used for the application of foundation as well. Bristles: Duofibre

MAC131 brush

Kabukis / Buffer Brushes

KabukisBest brushes for the application of mineralized foundation, the dense gathering of the bristles makes it easy to work mineralized foundations into the skin. I am a big fan of asian make up tradition and you can get the best Kabukis in Japan; there are traditional manufacturers offering all handmade Kabukis. The price is very high, the quality outstanding and I will buy one of these in the future … because I know I will get a brush lasting for generations if I take good care of it.

A very good flat-top Kabuki is the dicontinued 185 Body Buffer from MAC. It´s a shame this brush is dicontinued, never saw anything similar in western hemisphere, the most dense arragement of soft natural brushes you could get from MAC. The brush was quite expensive but it is the best Kabuki I have and I love it. You don´t have to have any practice at all, this brush is an artist itself. Excellent application as well as lovely finisher, easy-going work.

The most popular MAC Kabuki is the 182 and it´s worth every cent as well. Very soft brush, good application, long-lasting quality. The third Kabuki is the duofibere Kabuki from alienor. Some beauties do not like natural hair bristle Kabukis. Sometimes the reason is that they never had a good Kabuki/buffer brush. Cheap and low quality kabukis often have very hard natural bristles and don´t feel nice on skin at all. The fact that Kabuki technique works with soft pressure raises the effect you get with low quality products. Good natural hair kabukis are soft and of dense quality. Synthetic fibres also deliver a very soft bristle; they cannot substitute a natural bristle but they work fine for a lot of beauties and are not expensive. If you want to try one of these (first) take care that the fibre arrangement ist as dense as possible.

Next to mineralized foundation application Kabukis are often used for fixing any kind of foundation. I use them before applying finishers or set powders. A little bit MAC Fix+ or rosewater on the kabuki sets down the foundation to a flawless texture. Then wait one or two minutes before going on with blush, powder or setting products.  MAC 185 and 182: Natural bristles. alienor Kabuki; Duofibre.


There are a lot more brushes I could have shown you but they are not holy grails for me. All the brushes I have shown you above are part of my travel kit (except of the three Kabukis, I only carry one Kabuki with me when travelling), mans: I consider them as basic brushes and have three or more of each of them – one in every kit.

Brushroll MACOne thing I would like to mention at the end of this post: I am aware that suggesting MAC or Bobbi Brown Brushes could appear as pointing out an a little bit decadent view regarding this issue. These  brushes are quite expensive and it does not matter if they are worth every penny when you cannot afford them. Take it easy, almost everybody started with a single of these brushes. Don´t hurry. Try out cheaper brushes to discover different shapes and bristles/fibres and to find out what brushes work for you – and then buy your first high-end one. Raise your kit step by step and easy going. Also there are so many opportunities to save money on other products – don´t go for tons of different colours and textures, use versatile products to create countless stunning looks. In my next holy grails post I will show you some of these products.  :-*  :-*  :-*


Also Read:

MAC Paints
MAC & Mickey Contractor Collection for Spring 2011
Silver and Grey Smokey Eyes Look
What Makeup Brushes Do You Need?


51 thoughts on “Holy Grails #2– Brushes

    1. TY 🙂

      But why did you change the title of the post?
      Please replace the original header, since this are my personal faves and not the best brushes ever. Also I am trying to do HG series here and this is part two.

  1. Wow, Tatjana, what a lovely article and pics, thanks so much for showing all these brushes. What is your favourite blush brush from MAC?

    1. TYVM Sabrina 🙂
      Definitely the 131 – which is quite funny because I am not such a big Duofibre fan.
      F. e.: The so-called “Skunk” (MAC 187) is a very popular brush here in Europe and I have some of these, still would not call it a holy grail for me. Never thought a duofibre brush could get a fave 😀 But the 131 is very good at controled application, blending and sculpting with blushes. If you are looking for a more dense quality or all natural bristles blush, try the 116, it´s very good as well. :-))

  2. I cannot live without my 219 !!!! Lovely Post Tatjana … now I know which brushes I need to add to collection :inlove: :inlove: :inlove: :inlove: :inlove: I love what you said about building your kit piece by piece … and I guess with brushes like these they do last a lifetime :cute: :cute: :cute: :cute: :cute: :-)) :-)) :-)) :-)) :-)) :-)) :-)) :-))

    1. Thanks a lot Janhavi :-))

      Well, maybe the MAC brushes would not last a lifetime but f. e. a good face brush kept in good condition has to last for ten years minimum for casual use. Professional use is different, often you don´t have the time to treat the brushes in a perfect way and also they are used more often – so it depends on many things how log a professional used brush lasts. The flucutuation at professional used duofibres is terrific – the reason are the brush cleansers. Washing the brushes takes much more time and this is one thing MUAs don´t have backstage: Time.

      On one of the pic in the post you can see a MAC 187, still fluffy and nice black-white like it should look – it´s about five or six yrs. old :-))

  3. Wooooooooooooooooooooooooowww…. :hypnotized: :hypnotized: :hypnotized: :drool: :drool: :drool: I am drooooling over these brushes Tatjana!! ..Amazing…just such an Amazing post!! :yes: :yes: :yes: :yes: :yes: This can be HG post for people searching for good and quality brushes!! :worship: :worship:

    1. Geek…. I am slow today, my mouse ran out of power… and I am not used to the touchscreen 😀 I cannot open the mouse to change batteries because my nails are too long – I am not kidding… quite funny. :rotfl: Have to wait till BY is back so he can do that.

      Thanks a lot for liking the post cali :-* :-* :-* :-*

  4. Awesome post, Tajana…I am so speechless. :worship: :worship: :worship: I want to start buying brushes again. I like Sigma brushes a lot but MAC brushes have their own class. It’s through Sigma that i discovered various kinds of brushes , their uses and the real importance of brushes in makeup. I would be lying if I say that I don’t want a full fledged MAC brushes kit. As of now I just have three from MAC – 2 217 and one 219.

    The Kabukis are very cute.

    This is a super tempting post. :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

    1. Thanks a ton Rati :-* :-* :-*

      And I agree – it´s a very good thing starting with a cheaper kit and then discover what kind of brushes you like. One very good exaple is foundation application. The classical way to apply foundation would be: Foundation brush and refining with sponge. At least you don´t need the foundation brush, it´s sole purpose is to bring more product on the face than a sponge can… so you can work faster. For casual use it´s not necessary to have the classical foundation brush.

      But there are so many techniques to apply foundation with other brushes, especially if you want to work the product into the skin; a lot of beauties swear the 187 is best for this, others say the 130 (small flat-top duofibre) or a synthetic fibre Kabuki. I prefer the dicontinued 136 for that which was supposed to be a powder brush, or the 138 – both not foundation brushes. You have to find out what works best for you and for your skin & a cheaper kit will give you an impression of all the different kinds of brushes. It would make no sense to say: Well, Rati I highly recommend you the 138 for foundation application because I prefer working like that. May end with a question what the crap did I suggest 😉

      I have all the MAC brushes and a lot of other brushes, too.
      At least I had 25 years to build up my kits and I started exactly like you did: Little by little :yes: :yes: :yes: :-* :-*

  5. Wow!!!! Tatjana you have like ALL the iconic MAC brushes… 😯 😯 😯

    I am drooling, swooning, waking up and drooling again!!! 😀 😀 Awessome!!! :yes: :yes: :yes:

    1. Thank you Mrun 🙂
      Good tools are important but it´s not about having them all.
      At least the blush on your face would not sing a song: Yehaa I was applied with a MAC 116 😀
      Just go for the ones that will work for you :-* :-*

      1. I do have all the brushes i need. :-)) I was admiring the collection, which you have built so thoughtfully.
        They are all must haves and you seem to use ALL of them… :yes: :yes:

        If you lose track of the things you have, it’s an indicator of addiction. Like, for ex. I am addicted to eye pencils. I still don’t know how many i have. 😕 😕

  6. I want to just put my hand into the post and steal the neatly wrapped brush roll….I am in :inlove: :inlove: :inlove: :inlove: :inlove: :inlove: Am :waiting: :waiting: :waiting: :waiting: for all the other posts now – will :evilgrin: :evilgrin: :evilgrin: :evilgrin: “eat Rati’s head” :evilgrin: :evilgrin: :evilgrin: :evilgrin: :rotfl:

          1. Maarning maarning I got up, and dropped a whole bowl of coooooooold milk over my clothes!! 😥 😥 😥 It was soooo cold :tremble: :tremble: :-(( :-(( ..Somehow then I got dressed, was searching some nice lippi in the inglot pouch and found that lakme kajal and revlon fabulash mascara there lying in the inner side pocket! :dance: :dance: :dance: ….I had forgotten about the side pockets, and hence they were aaram se resting there till now!! 😛 😛 …I came to office, had an argument with my boss :-X :-X :-X ..and now I am already tired of day’s work. When is the weekend? :waiting: :waiting: :waiting: :waiting: :waiting: …I don’t want to work!!! 🙁 🙁 🙁

            1. Todya is not my great day as well. from past one hour i am trying to upload one single post and some or the other error is showing. Wordpres gives such a bad pain at times. Sucks!!! :(((

              1. yeah………I too find wordpress quite non-user friendly. I started a blog there sometime back on self-help, but apart from posting, it was sooooooooo difficult to work on other things. That blog is left orphaned now!! :-((.I so much wanted to write on that!…. Now, all I wanted to publish there, I’ve been publishing at hubpages!! 🙂

                1. you know the bad thing with wordpress is that you get stuck badly with things. 🙁 Some fancy technical error comes up and then you keep wondering what happened. :(( It is technically advanced, which is both a benefit and a pain in bum.. :-X :-X :-X

  7. wow…..awesome collection Tatjana…..very very informative indeed. :yes: :yes: :yes:
    I have MAC brushes only…..I started with MAC 217, then got 239 and 219. 🙂
    Then the Buffer brush and contour brush. Now I am eyeing on 224. :-)) :-)) :-))
    They are expensive as u mentioned. But I get one after a gap of 4-5 months…..so I don’t have to crib over my purchase :giggle: :giggle:
    And I use the brush cleanser from MAC….but u mentioned its harsh ?:-) ?:-) ?:-) ?:-)
    What alternative I have to clean them? Like what shampoo do u use? 🙂

    1. Well, in my personal oppinion the MAC cleanser formula is too agressive to keep a natural bristle in good condition for a long time. I use the Logona Volume shampoo – Logona is a certified natural german brand but I don´t think you can get it in India. Try an organic/natural volume shampoo, what you have to take care of:

      No silicones, no parabens, no paraffines, no PEGs or PEG derivates.
      You need only a little bit shampoo for cleaning the brushes so you should spend a little bit money on a good one – the brushes will last so much longer :-)) At least you can use it for washing your hair, too :-))

      When you wash your brushes take care that they dry in a position no water can effect the glue the bristles are fixed with! Some beauties even hang them like laundry after washing :-)) It´s enough to place them in a position with bristles downwards and let them dry.

      One thing on expensive brushes: The REALLY expensive make up brushes are made of sable or (red) marten bristles; personally I would never buy these brushes and would never recommend them to anybody. Comparing to their prices MAC is quite cheap :-))

      1. thanx so much for the details Tatjana…..I will surely keep in mind these tips when I clean my brushes. :)) :))
        Your post and replies were really helpfull :highfive: :highfive: :highfive:

  8. :laugh: :clap: :clap: :clap: :worship: :worship: :worship:
    awesome!!suchaCOMPLETE fabulous post! so helpful!
    especially the bit of advice in the end for the starters!!
    E even i have started building bit by bit.. i use dto have (eww)-vega and body shop brushes.. now im slowly building on Mac.. although i still have body shop brushes i have literally thrown away vega :giggle:

    i wanted to ask u something tatjana are u a practicing makeup artist?

    1. Thank you very much Neha :-* :-*
      The BS Brushes are not that good, they did not manage choose the right sythetic fibres for them and the result is that the BS brushes fibres do not apply good. Coastel Scents and Sigma brushes are better, if you want to test synthetic fibres, you can try them first.

      I work as a senior consultant strategy actually; but I was a hard practicing MUA during my college time 🙂 :laugh:

  9. Thank you Tatjana for enlightening us. :-)) ….there’s so much of information……Poutmati also had done a post on brushes……after both of these posts, I am so brushknowledgable…. O:-) O:-) O:-) O:-) O:-) O:-) O:-) O:-)

    1. Thanks a lot :-))
      Maybe one of the indian beauties can help you about the prices;
      I am in Europe and do not know the exactly prices for India.

  10. @ Radhika

    The Brushroll it the travel size one from MAC 🙂
    Big enough to keep all the basic brushes.
    There are also special MUA belts you can get from MAC, they are bigger.

  11. Thanks so much for this Tatjana..wanted to thanku morning itself..but was trapped in a place wer ppl keep watching wat I do..have to blog chup chup ke..anyways..I see that u recommend MAC..but too expensive for me..I thought I would get TBS brushes as they have slashed the rates on some brushes n its easily available for me rather than sigma for which I have to wait for a long time..price seems to be the same as sigma..wat do I do? ?:-)

    1. This is kinda difficult for me …. since I am not in India and have no information about brushes you can get there. But I hope the indian beauties can help :fingersxd: Sorry that I couldn´t help you on this :shame:

  12. loved the article. I think brushes are an absolute. discovered that recently.:) my makeup goes on infinetely better. I havent tried the MAC brushes but I use the Oriflame ones and they are pretty nice too. I recently bought the Foundation brush and i cant praise it enuf. One of my best buys EVER. I use the foundation brush to set my powder after applying concealer and foundation so its amazing.

    my only question wud be on how useful the concealer brush would be or whether using my ringer below my eyes for darck circles will work just as well. ?:-)

    1. If the finger application works for you… go ahead 🙂
      If you want to try brush application I would recommend the MAC 231 brush due to it´s versatillity; you can use it as eyeshadow brush, lip brush and concealer brush as well.

  13. hi..tatjana……..
    very informative and much needed post…
    btw this is holy grail #2….
    what was holy grail #1 all about……..i m just curious……

Leave a Reply to Rati Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *