Saturday, 3 December 2011

Stipple Brush Showdown: MAC 187 vs ELF Studio Stipple

Duo fibre, stipple, skunk... call them what you will, these brushes are serious business for buffing on foundation, applying a delicate veil of blush, or dusting powder onto the skin.  The contenders today are MAC's iconic 187 brush, and ELF's reasonably new Studio Stipple brush.

Of the two, the MAC brush is pretty recognisable as the more expensive offering - the brush handle is chunkier, heavier, and feels more solid and weighty in the hand.  Add in the metallic ferrule, and you've got a nice looking brush.  The ELF offering isn't too shabby either, with it's more lightweight feel, slimline handle and shiny black ferrule.

Both brushes sport a full head of graduated black and white hairs.  The MAC brush is the older of the two - I've had it for a couple of years now, and whilst some of the bristles are looking a little bit frazzled, the brush has survived many washes with its circular, flat top largely intact.  The ELF brush is a relative newbie to my brush collection - it's been washed a fair few times, and has also maintained its shape well - although its shape is less regular than the MAC brush's to begin with.

From above, you can see that the MAC brush (shown on the left) has a larger, more regularly shaped surface area.  I can't say that I've noticed a massive amount of difference in the time it takes me to apply powder foundation with either brush.  Interestingly, despite being quite similar in appearance and in texture, these brushes are made of different materials - the MAC brush is a mix of goat hair and synthetic fibre, where the ELF brush is made purely from synthetic fibres.  Both are super soft, pick up powder well, and buff liquids into the skin very effectively.

So, are there many differences between the two?  Well, not really - admittedly, I'm not sure how well the ELF brush would fare after two solid years of use, but I think that the price differential is enough to render any longevity issues null and void.  The ELF brush costs a mere £3.50, where the MAC brush is nearly 10 times more expensive at £32.50.  Even if the ELF brush lasted only a year, you'd be supplied in stipple brushes for ten whole years before you approached the price of the MAC brush.  Given the closeness in quality and performance, I know which brush I'll be buying more of in the future!

ELF's Studio Stipple brush is available from the Eyes Lips Face website, where it will cost £3.50, and the MAC 187 is available from the MAC website, where it will cost £32.50.  What do you think?  What's your favourite stipple brush?  Let us know in the comments!


  1. Awesome! I'm definitely going to have to give this ELF stippling brush a try. For that price, I have nothing to lose!

    Thanks for the review. :)

  2. Hi
    I have the ELF Stipple Brush- I only got it two days ago and was wondering whether to buy a MAC 187. Which one would you suggest and which is better?
    Thanks for the review! :)


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