If you are looking for a solid set of brushes to get you started with a well-rounded collection, here are my picks based on my personal experience and preference. This list is not based on any surveys, so be sure to choose what you feel is best for you!
5. The 208: Small Angled Brow Brush
Description: Applies colour to the brow. Use to define or add “fill”. Its precise angled tip provides pro-style application. Synthetic / natural blend fibre. Use to apply powder, liquid or cream products.
Why you should own it: This brush can be used in so many ways! It is the perfect size for filling in sparse brows, and it can be used to apply cream, gel, or cake eyeliner close to the lash line. The brushes are firm enough to hold “sticky” products, yet no so harsh that it will pull on your eye.
Cost: $19.00 (US)
4. The 219: Pencil Brush
Description: For precision shading on lid, in eye crease or along lash line. The soft, smooth fibers of this brush are gathered into a pencil-shaped tip. It is ideal for blending eyeliner into eye shadow to create a smoky looking eye.
Why you should own it: This brush is the perfect size for creating a smoky eye- it is small enough to smudge color under the lower lashline, and to apply precise color on the outer V or in the crease. It is excellent for creating strong lines of color with exact precision. I often use this brush for smudging color along the upper lashline to prevent harsh lines caused from eyeliner.
Cost: $23.00 (US)
3. The 224: Tapered Blending Brush
Description: For controlled eye shadow application. This brush has soft fibers which taper to form a medium size dome shape.
Why you should own it: This is the perfect brush for applying color in the crease or for blending out any harsh lines. The 224 is similar to the 222, but is slightly larger and fuller. If you have a smaller eyelid area to work with, I would recommend the 222 instead- it works the same as the 224. I use this brush almost everyday for blending, blending, blending!
Cost: $28.00 (US)
2. The 239: Eye Shading Brush
Description: Soft and dense to shade or blend eye shadow or emollient-based products. This brush has a tapered, rounded edge with smooth, firm, fine fibers. It can be used to build intense colour on the eyelid.
Why you should own it: This is the perfect brush for packing on color on the lid. The brush is large enough to cover the eyelid without too much effort, and the bristles are stiff enough to pick up a decent amount of color. The bristles are firm, but will not pull on your eyelid (unless you drag it across too harshly). The 239 is a must have- I use it every day!
Cost: $24.50 (US)
1. The 217: Blending Brush
Description: For shading or blending of color or creamy products. This brush has fine, densely packed fibers that are arranged in an oval shape.
Why you should own it: The bristles are shaped in a perfect dome, which is great for getting color in the outer V, for blending color into the crease, and for evenly dispersing paints or paint pots across the lid. Although this is a blending brush as the 224 is, the bristles are more stiff and pick up more color. The tip is also more pointed which allows for more precision. I use this every day for applying color on the outer V and blending into the crease. I love this brush so much, that I have bought 3 of them!
Cost: $22.50 (US)
I hope this list has been helpful to you, as it is easy to get overwhelmed with the many brushes available by MAC.
*All of these brushes are available through maccosmetics.com or your local MAC counter.