Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dupe Alert: MAC 217 Blending Brush

Photo credit: MAC website
If you are a beauty junkie, you have probably heard all the fuss over MAC's 217 blending brush. I'm in the camp of people who adore it. I think it's the perfect brush. It's stiff enough to pack on color, yet fluffy enough to blend to perfection. I can use it with powder shadow and creams. It's the one brush I reach for that I can use for a complete eye makeup look. For me, it's a staple. For the longest time, I couldn't find a cheaper alternative. For all my other brushes, I could easily find an alternative that wouldn't cost as much. Fluffy blending brushes, shader brushes of all sizes and densities, angle brushes, liner brushes, pencil brushes, you name it, I could find one that I didn't have to spend a fortune on. As much as I love MAC, I just couldn't bring myself to shell out the money for a brush I could find somewhere else (that was also a good quality and friendlier on my wallet). In fact, the only MAC brush I own is the 217, and that was after an intense (and failed) search for a suitable alternative.

But now, I'm happy to report, you don't have to pay $22 for one brush. If you are like me, and just love your 217, or if you've been wanting to try it but just couldn't justify the price (what if you didn't like it after spending that much?), you are in luck. There are now some great dupes out there that will save you lots of cash.

The first one I ever got was the Sigma E25 ($9) is less than half the price of the original MAC brush. I have the travel sized E25 and I think I may actually like it better than my original 217. Here's why, it's softer and a bit fluffier. Yep. As much as I adore my 217, I feel it can sometimes be a bit scratchy (not crazy scratchy, but just a tiny bit). Now, I have discovered that if I wash my brush often, it doesn't get scratchy, but I have to do the deep cleaning (as in using baby shampoo not brush cleaning spray). I don't have a problem with this, but sometimes I'm in a hurry and forget to clean it. I use the brush so often, I can't have it on the counter drying and not be able to use it (Gasp! Unthinkable!). Enter the new brush. With two of them (and one at a fraction of the price) I can alternate between the two while the other one is being cleansed. But I digress; the E25 is definitely softer, even when it's not as ideally clean as it should be.

Photo credit:

So I thought I was in heaven when I found a dupe for $9. It was a price I was much happier paying (especially compared to $22) if anything were to happen to the brush that I would need to replace it. But, call me cheap, I'd still prefer to pay less (if I can).

Imagine my joy when I received my weekly email from Coastal Scents announcing its sales and saw that brushes were on sale and in the photo I saw a brush that looked just like the 217. I had no idea that Coastal Scents had this brush! I'd been on their site many times before and had never seen it. Turns out, it's relatively new (about 6 months). I immediately clicked on the link and went to find out if this brush was in fact a comparable dupe. There were tons of reviews on it. Apparently it had been out long enough for the legions of 217 fans to try to get their hands on it, so it was always out of stock (how had I NOT heard of this until now?). Most reviewers were saying it was a comparable dupe. And here is the kicker. Are you ready for the price? Wait for it… $4.95. Yes! And it was on sale for 20% off. Even without the sale I could get 4 of these brushes for about the price of one 217 (I'm counting shipping). I jumped on it.

Photo credit:

I got them in the mail two days ago. I have to report, it really is a close copy. The 217 is definitely denser (fluffier, more hairs) and a little rounder, while the CS Pro Blending Fluff Brush is a bit flatter and stiffer. But don't let this fool you. It still does an amazingly good job at blending your shadow and packing it on if needed. It's excellent quality at a fabulous price. I washed mine, and it didn't lose shape. However, when I did wash it, it looked like it might lose shape (the bristles started drying all wide). I fixed this by folding my towel in half and drying the brush wedged inside the fold (to help hold the shape since I don't own brush guards). I then put a small container (I used an eye shadow) over the bristle side to keep some pressure over it, and that worked just fine. When I unfolded the towel and got my brush the next morning, it looked just as it did before I washed it.

UPDATE: I recently urchased more of these brushes and have more to say about them on this post

Here are photos of my brushes so that you can compare them side-by-side. Apologies for the one dirty brush. I'd used it (obviously). As you can see, the Sigma brush is fluffier and fuller, while the Coastal Scents brush is a bit flatter. However, they are all so similar, the distinctions are truly minor.

Left to right: Sigma E25, MAC 217, Coastal Scents Pro Blending Fluff Brush

Close up shot of brush heads (same order as above)
I'm so thrilled. I now have four of the same style brush. Excessive? Maybe, but I'm telling you, I use this brush a lot and I'm tickled that I can now find it at a better price (and share those savings with you) and can always have a clean one ready and on hand.

So, what do you think? Are you a 217 fan? If so, will you be getting either of these brushes? If you have them already, was your experience similar to mine? Tell me what you think!


  1. Thanks for much for this post! I'm desperately in need of a good 217 dupe. As I already have some Sigma brushes and really like them I guess I'll go with the E25.

  2. So how does the E25 and the E35 compare?

  3. Hi Ana Maria - I don't have the E35, but from the looks of it on the Internet, I would guess it's a little bigger than the E25. I think the E25 comes the closest to being like the 217. It's by far the softest of all the dupes I talk about here.