Five Favourite Makeup Brushes: ELF, MAC, No7, Ecotools, Liz Earle

By Emma | September 3 2012 | 39 Comments

make up brush collection

Make up brushes are fast becoming my latest beauty obsession. My collection has exploded recently – this is just a selection of what I currently own and use. I get a much better finish when I apply my products with a decent brush, but decent doesn’t always mean expensive. Here are five current favourites which are well deserving of a place in your kit. Just getting started with your brush collection? Check out this post for some pointers.

 Liz Earle Powder Brush

Liz Earle powder blush

This powder brush is so pretty, with its clear acrylic handle and giant fluffy head. It’s well made, fits nicely in my hand and makes it super easy to sweep just a smidgeon of powder all over my face. The synthetic, cruelty free bristles are soft and silky – and the blusher brush is pretty awesome, too. This is €23.75.

 ecotools bamboo deluxe concealer brush

Ecotools Bamboo Deluxe Concealer brush

This is the biggest concealer brush I own which means it makes short work of applying cream concealer under the eye. The cruelty-free taklon bristles are soft but firm and wash well with no shedding. Like all Ecotools brushes this was great value and came in at under a tenner from Boots.

 best make up brushes

ELF Studio Angled Contour Brush

I’d recommend all four of the brushes I picked up as part of this ELF haul. But there is a noticeable improvement in quality between the regular and the Studio lines, which feel sturdier and better constructed. I don’t like this one at all for its intended usage- application of base and crease eyeshadow – but I love it for applying contour and highlight powders.

 ELF Studio Angled Contour Brush

And hey, while we’re on the topic, you also need this ELF brush in your life. You seriously do.

MAC 219 brush

MAC 219

Soft and firm, I love this pencil brush for precise application of colour to the crease and for smoking out my lower lash line. It’s a useful, well made tool that I reach for a lot and that cost me around €20 in duty free.

 Boots No 7 Contour and Blending Brush

Boots No 7 Eyeshadow Blend and Contour Brush

Very similar to the MAC217, this is a lovely little brush that is brilliant for applying shadow to the eye contour and for blending it out. It’s a steal at around the €7 mark and even better value with those Boots vouchers you used to get. I have a few of these and they’re incredibly handy to have around.

So those are my favourite five – what are yours? To the comments!

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39 Replies to "Five Favourite Makeup Brushes: ELF, MAC, No7, Ecotools, Liz Earle"

  • ~Thalia~ says:

    Emma, love the look of the Liz Earle brush and their new make up line but haven’t taken the plunge on any of their products other than cleanse and polish yet. Thanks to your pic the brush might be a first!
    They’ve a fab looking limited edition c&p out this week too. Can’t wait to get my paws on some :)

  • Gracie says:

    Great post! And hurray for the No 7 Blend and Contour brush! I think it doesn’t get enough recognition for its quality.

    Brushes are so close to my heart. I had to buy a brush belt in the end to store them! There is a quite cheap one from ELF if you’re interested. I tend to buy mid to low end brushes (love ELF Studio, Real Techniques and Eco Tools) but I cannot find a good pencil/smudging brush from a wallet-freindly option. I think I’ll check out the MAC 219. Oh a bit unrelated but I hate the MAC 109, which everybody seems to love. It sheds like mad and sits on my belt unused for years now :(

  • Gracie says:


  • LauraLou says:

    MUD brushes are great, got some in flair. around the €13 mark for a blush brush :)

    the no.7 brush has gone up to 9e. Scammers! :)

    Lovelovelove my real techniques brushes, seem to be the ones I always use, on myself and clients!

  • LauraLou says:

    Gracie- mine barely sheds a bit. what a shame! :(

  • lainey316 says:

    I have a couple of that No7 brush that I use for concealer, absolutely hated it for my eyes, found it both scratchy and utterly useless at what it was supposed to do! It just doesn’t seem to have enough structure to blend, it just goes smoosh and splays.

    I use MAC 239 and 224 every day, absolutely rely on them, the 217 less so. I have the Sigma versions of 217 and 224 but they’re not anywhere near as good. I love the 211 for gel linger

    The Ruby & Millie angle brush is great for eyebrows and powder liner, but don’t know if they do that anymore.

    The ELF complexion brush is great for MSFs and highlighters, it doesn’t pick up a huge amount of product so just creates a nice diffused sweep across teh cheekbone.

  • Gracie says:

    @ LauraLou I think it really has something to do with certain batches. I read lots of reviews of 109 and some says it sheds like there’s no tomorrow and some says it’s perfectly fine. Either way, I believe, there is a certain quality difference between different batches. I know that they’re hand made but they should still be consistent, shouldn’t they?

  • Makeupglitz says:

    Love the real techniques brushes there actually amazeballs my mac 187 hasn’t Been touched since I bought the set !! Must check out that no 7 brush

  • LauraLou says:

    Gracie- yeah i know what you mean, there’s no consistency with the brushes, shame really, cos the price point aint that great!

  • Dawn says:

    Have to add that I am loving the Ecotools buffing brush at the moment. I use it to put my foundation on and it helps with a natural look as the foundation really blends into my skin then.

  • avicakes says:

    another vote here for ecotools buffing brush & powder brush. soft, effective, animal friendly, economical…

  • Cait says:

    Love love love the ELF brushes. They have a brilliant dual fibre one in the studio range too. The normal range has great eye brushes. I got a crease one just like the MAC one above for £1.50. Ever since Sarah started her eye makeup tutorials my brush collection has dramatically increased!

    Lainey316 – I have that Ruby and Millie angled brush too, I bought it years and years ago. Their brushes were brilliant then.

  • JLo says:

    I have the Eco tools and no7 ones, they’re really good.

    Wonder now that no7 has had a complete overhaul does that mean they’ll give up on the €7.50 vouchers? Love the BB cream but not sure I’d ever pay full price for it!

    Really wanna try the Liz Earle brush!

  • orlee says:

    No7 have put up the price of that Eyeshadow Blend and Contour Brush to over €9 so people stop using the vouchers! It looks like they’ve changed the packaging slightly but other than that no difference. Not cool Boots!

  • @JLo I was wondering about that with the vouchers myself – hope not, they were so handy! xo

  • ZsaZsa says:

    I love the Ecotools brushes – good prices, great quality brushes, nice weight to the brushes, they plus they’re eco friendly! Need I say more! I do have other brands but this is a range I always go back to and I find that I use their brushes the most because they are such a pleasure to use!

  • Lorna says:

    Ecotools are some of my favourite brushes. Their basic shadow brush is great for doing a quick one colour all over the lid and then blended into the crease as its a relatively large shadow brush with a pointed tip

  • jessabell says:

    dawn- how much was the buffing brush from eco tools? would love to try it!

    also does anyone know if eco tools do their eye brush set here or do they sell individually?

  • orlee says:

    I got eco tools stuff recently from and it was literally half the price!I think They do real techniques stuff too (Samantha Chapman of Real Techniques recommended them)

  • Dublinlover says:

    Hey :) i follow th eblog almost every day for the last three years and i really like it.Finally i decided to comment :)
    ..I do own some of elf brushes , but im not satisfied though.Bare escentuals are the ones that i almost use daily…I have to try the ones of boots they seem good and cheap :)
    Emma and other girls please…im ashamed to ask..but i will take the risk as the curiosity is taking me over…
    please let me know what the idea behind the MAC brushes number..i read all the around and hear on utube videos saying the number like it was obvious one should know that’s it 109 instead of 106 ….where im lost.. ?? Anyone help please !!

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