Tool Thursday: My Essential Eye Makeup Brushes

This week I’d like to show you some of my favorite eye makeup brushes that I use often to create my eye looks. Some of these brushes are multipurpose and you probably don’t need all of them but for me, I like to have separate brushes for each job to avoid mixing colors (and muddy application!). Some of them I have had for so long and have been discontinued but I’m pretty sure you can find something similar easily. Now, let’s see what made it to the list!

For applying lid color

  • MAC 239 Eye Shading Brush (US$25 | Nordstrom)
    My holy grail. Soft, precise, and multipurpose.
  • Sonia Kashuk Eyeshadow Brush #103 (US$5.99 | Target)
    Soft, dense, springy. My second favorite! (review)
  • MAC 242 Shader Brush (US$25 | Nordstrom)
    Soft but firm. Smaller for more precise placement.

For darkening the outer corner

Outer Corner
  • Chanel Eyeshadow Blender #19 (US$38 | Nordstrom)
    Perfect size for my small eyes. Tapered, fluffy. (review)
  • NARS Eye Contour Brush #14 (discontinued)
    Firm but still flexible. For more controlled placement.
  • Smashbox Definer Brush #15 (US$24 | Nordstrom)
    Round shape. For a more diffused, smokey effect.

For applying crease color

  • MAC 226 Small Tapered Blending Brush (discontinued)
    Small, slightly tapered, slightly fluffy, precise.
  • Hourglass Crease Brush #4 (US$30 | Sephora)
    Synthetic bristles, incredibly soft, narrow but fluffy.
  • MAC 217 Blending Brush (US$24 | Nordstrom)
    Holy grail, super soft, fluffy, for a more diffused effect.

For blending

  • Smashbox Crease Brush #10 (US$24 | Nordstrom)
    Holy grail, fluffy, soft, precise. Perfect size for my eyes.
  • Chanel Contour Shadow Brush #12 (discontinued)
    Tapered, loose bristles, extremely soft, fluffy.
  • Burberry Socket Line Brush #9 (discontinued)
    Dome-shaped, loose bristles, large. For all over blending.

For lining and smudging color

  • MAC 219 Pencil Brush (US$25 | Nordstrom)
    Holy grail, soft but firm, slightly fluffy, precise. (review)
  • MAC 219SE Pencil Brush (periodically released)
    Same as above but with shorter handles.
  • Sigma Pencil E30 (US$14 | Amazon)
    Synthetic bristles, smooth, narrower, more precise.

For lining and detailing

  • MAC 211 Pointed Liner Brush (US$20 | Nordstrom)
    Pointy, small, great for smudging, applying liner. (review)
  • Real Techniques Eyeliner Brush (US$17.99 | Ulta)
    Fluffier and not as precise, for a more diffused line.
  • MAC 208 Angled Brow Brush (US$20 | Nordstrom)
    For lining, creating winged liner look, and filling brows.

For highlighting

  • Marc Jacobs The Conceal Brush #14 (US$30 | Sephora)
    Synthetic bristles, slanted to highlight and clean up. (review)
  • Urban Decay Pencil Blending Brush (discontinued)
    Synthetic bristles, small, fits nicely in the inner corner.
  • Smashbox Definer Brush #15 (US$24 | Nordstrom)
    Round, soft, fluffy, fits perfectly under the brow bone.

Do you use any of these brushes when creating your eye looks? What type of brush is most important to you?

Join the Conversation


  1. says: Sunny

    Oh God, this post makes me feel my eye brush collection is very primitive LOL I don’t really have this many types of brushes, but a lot of them kind of do more than one thing!

    1. says: Jaa

      These brushes are actually multipurpose and I use them interchangeably. I guess I just wanted to give as many options as I could in case anyone’s looking to upgrade their brush collection! :D

  2. says: Agata

    My eye brush collection is nowhere near as big as yours. I feel like I need to upgrade and your post is really helpful. Thanks for dividing the brushes into categories! I love my brushes from Naked palettes actually and I use them the most.

    1. says: Jaa

      I like the shader end on those but not so much the blending end (a little too firm and too big for my small eyes, LOL).

  3. says: Lily

    I love the brush variety here… but I love the layout of this post more. I appreciate your hardwork, Jaa. Must have taken you a lot of time.

  4. says: Erin

    I don’t use a ton of brushes in my eye shadow application but for the most part I only do a color wash daily. I use 3 brushes usually for a slightly detailed look. I might have to pick up the Sonia Kashuk brush!

  5. says: Sylirael

    I don’t use brushes at the moment, really (still on fingers for 99% of makeup, actually, LOL!), but the kind of brush that I always find myself wishing I had would be the pencil/smudger type of brush!

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