Daily I watch makeup videos where people swear their MAC brushes are the best things ever invented. They are great brushes, but they are also $30, $40, $50+ a brush. Too rich for my blood! Fortunately, there are MAC brush alternatives that are pretty close or even better than the name brand.
I use Loew Cornell's Maxine's mop collection along with an Essence of Beauty Kabuki brush. I wash my brushes several times a week and they wear well. Breakout of the top picks and where to buy below.
1. Loew Cornell Maxine's Mop. These are the brushes with the white hair and purplish handle you may have seen in many a You Tube video. These are made of goat hair and when stood side-by-side with a MAC brush most of them are a match. Best places to buy are B&M at Michael's Craft Stores, A. C. Moore Craft Stores, and online at Brushes and More.com (free shipping). If you have a Michael's or A.C. Moore's nearby, be sure to sign up for their newsletters and check their sale papers for 40-50% sales and coupons. Price: $2 - $15.
2. Essence of Beauty. This line is available exclusively online and B&M at CVS stores. These are quality goat and other natural hair brushes. I am thrilled with my insanely soft Kabuki brush ($9.99). I would recommend the 'Home Kit' and the Kabuki if you use mineral makeup. Keep an eye out for B1G1 Free sales. Price: $4 - $14.
3. Sonia Kashuk. This line is available exclusively B&M and online at Target. I have not personally used any of her brushes, but other makeup gurus rave about them. I have oogled her skunk blush brush several times but even at $14.99, it's still too rich for my blood. I would recommend trying her 'Essential Eye Kit' (left). Nice sampling of brushes and a very reasonable $9.99. Price: $8 - $30.
Here is some interesting and useful info on brushes I found in the FAQs on the Loewell Cornell website.
Should you wash new brushes before using
Yes! When brushes are made, the heads are dipped using a starch solution that makes the hair stiff and protects it during shipping. It is important to remove this sizing before painting. Rinsing in lukewarm water with a mild soap will do the trick. Natural hair brushes may also shed when new. Rinsing before use will remove stray hairs.
Are camel hair brushes really made from camels
No! I wish I knew how the term 'camel hair' came into existence, but no camel hair is used in art brushes. Camel hair is a broad term for brushes that can be made from any number of economical hairs including goat, ox and pony. These hairs are generally absorbent, but lacking in strength, spring and point, so best reserved for very light paint, washes and gentle blending.
I bought a natural hair mop and noticed it sheds? Is this normal?
Natural hair is not all the same length, so when brushes are made there may be some stray hairs that are not caught in the ferrule of the brush and will shed. To avoid having hairs find their way into your paint, be sure to rinse new brushes before using. You can also lightly tap the tips of the brush head on the sticky side of a piece of masking tape to pull out loose hairs.