Here is an incomplete list of various MAC brushes, new and old, with their functions. It’s a work-in-progress, so bear with me. I have a little star by the brushes that are discontinued, and a little plus sign by the brushes that are PRO-only. For discontinued brushes, I always appreciate any info you may have about them that I may not have here, as I try and get this to be more comprehensive!
*102: Brow comb. This is your standard brow/lash tool-a brush on one end to groom and to help get excess brow powder off, and a comb on the other for snarls (I have had them before) and separating lashes.
109: The contour blush brush. The small head makes it perfect for highlights, as well as just a little bit of a brighter colour like Azalea or Devil.
116: Blush brush. This blush brush has a rounded, short head, so it’s good for those of us who don’t like a ton of colour all over the cheek.
*123: Powder/blush brush. This seems to be similar to the 129, except maybe not as full.
*128: Split-fiber cheek brush. This came out with Semi-Precious, and it seems like a same-ol blush brush, the two-sided effect not withstanding.
129: Basic blush brush. While it isn’t so great for buffing at the end, it applies the colour quite nicely.
130: Duo-fiber face brush. This is an interesting brush in that it’s very short-figure it’s about half the length, bristle-wise, as the 187. It also has less bristles in general-but what makes this great is that it’s a sort of chisel brush, so it’s good for buffing out or for really packing in colour as this gets colour in FAST.
*131: Duo-fiber face brush. This is a brush that is duo-fiber, like the 187, but instead of being round, it’s more paddle-shaped, designed to easily highlight and contour the face. It could be used for blush, but also for all-over powder. It is one of the Colour Craft brushes.
134: Large powder brush. This is a paddle-shaped brush, with lots of fiber, so this is good for an all-over facial powder or for highlights on the body.
*136: Large powder brush. This goat-hair brush is designed to be a softer brush, for more sensitive skin, but at the same time still good for all-over work. I can’t remember if it was this or the 134 that had a shorter handle.
138: Tapered powder brush. This is a candle flame-style brush, as I like to call it, so you can use it for applying and blending blush, or to contour and sculpt the face.
150: Large powder brush. The difference I see with this is that it’s fully round, and not a paddle shape, but it is meant to be used for face or body.
*156: Large powder brush. This brush is supposedly a fan brush, which is always great for when you need to get a light application, a veil if you will.
*162: Small angled contour brush. This is a smaller version of the 168, which I imagine would be quite useful for applying right under the cheekbone for a highlight.
*165: Tapered cheek brush. This brush is designed to be used for highlighting the face, so it’s really good for Mineralize products (it did come out as the face brush for BBR).
168: Angled blush/powder brush. The main use for this is to create contours on the face, such as on the cheeks, to enhance or create the appearance of strong cheekbones. However it’s also good for foundation.
*169: Angled face/cheek brush. This is a slightly larger, more slanted version of the 168, as well as being made with different fibers.
+174: Large contour brush. This is a somewhat-flat large brush designed for contouring, so it is good for body work.
*179: Large flat buffer brush. This came out with the Skinsheen collection in 2008, and it is designed solely for buffing on body bronzer-hence the larger size.
*179: Duo-fiber angled buffer brush. This one came out with Semi-Precious…no idea why they recycled a number, oh well.
*180: Small buffer brush. This brush has a smaller head of hair, but it has a novelty handle that makes it a vanity staple for many.
*181: Small buffer brush. It’s perfect to have for on-the-go, as well as for use on the cheeks to maybe apply a Mineralize product. I personally love this (as I do not have the 182) to apply Pretty Baby after I have put on my blushes and bronzers on, as it gives a very nice, perfected look. (If you do not have Pretty Baby, that’s one of my beauty staple products and I highly recommend it if you have lighter skin)
182: Large buffer brush. It’s mainly for all-over facial use, so you can use it to buff on any powder to get a nice, airbrushed look. The most common use for these are with Beauty Powders. You could also use this with body bronzer, as it has a fairly decent-sized head which would allow you to apply Skinsheen like a pro.
*183: Flat-top buffer brush. This brush is a smaller version of the 185, so this could be used on the face but also really nicely on the body.
+184: Duo-fibre fan brush. This is designed to skim over the skin, to give it a really nice sheen. This would be really nice with Mineralize products, as well as with Iridescent powders and all that sort of stuff.
*185: Flat-topped buffer brush. This is a body-buffer brush with a flat top, designed to perfectly buff in body bronzer-it’s a little large for the face.
*186: Large buffer brush. This is a larger version of the 180, with the stylized handle, perfect for all-over polish of a look or for body work.
187: Large duo-fibre brush. This is the holy grail of brushes for many. You can use it in a way similar to the 181 or 182. You can use it when using a darker shade of MSF or with a bronzer in order to create a look that won’t be as hokey. You can use it to apply any sort of foundation.
188: Small duo-fibre brush. This is mainly used for blushes, especially the Mineralize ones and potentially the Blushcremes.
189: Face brush. This is a soft-bristled synthetic brush, designed to be used with powders but especially with cream products, like CCB or Blushcreme.
190: Foundation brush. This is slightly tapered, flat, and designed for use with all liquid foundations.
191: Square foundation brush. This brush looks like a paintbrush, and it’s a good one to use to get foundation on the face. Paint your face with this one.
192: Cheek brush. This is designed specifically for application of products that are liquid or cream-based, as it is a synthetic brush.
193: Angled foundation brush.
194: Concealer brush. This is a slightly tapered, flat brush, so it’s good for applying concealer to small areas and for precision work.
195: Concealer brush. This one is a bit wider, firmer, and a bit tapered. This is also a synthetic brush.
*201: Sponge applicator brush. This is a sponge-tip applicator brush, which can be really handy to apply some shadows, and to apply some lighter shadows more densely.
*202: Sponge applicator with refills. That’s the only difference between this and the 201-this has a couple of refill applicators.
204: Mascara brush. It looks like a mascara wand on a stick, and in a way, it is. You can use it with any mascara, or you can use it after mascara to separate the lashes and perfect. It’s also good with taming the brows.
+205: Mascara fan brush. Yes, this brush is used for the lashes! You can rub the end of it up against a mascara wand or dip it in a self-made mascara (using Lash Mixing Medium), and you then use it to paint the lashes. This is one of my favourite brushes, as I am a fan of the LMM so that I can have chartreuse mascara.
*206: Brow groomer. This is just a little brush used to get unruly brows into shape-but I honestly don’t see the need.
*207: Duster brush. This discontinued brush is a white goat fan brush, designed to not only shade cheeks and eyes but to help with cleanup after a messy makeup application.
208: Angled brush. This brush can be used for two different things: easy eyeliner application, as the bristles are very dense, or for the brows-be it to just tame them or to apply some Brow Shader.
209: Eyeliner brush. This is a nice, thicker pen-style tip eyeliner brush, so it’s really good to use to get a nice accurate line.
210: Eyeliner brush. This is a very fine pen-style tip, finer than the 209, so it’s good for super-precision, or when you need a very fine line.
*211. Eyeliner brush. This brush is a more finely-pointed version of the 210-while the 210 is some long-ish fibers, these taper off to a point.
212: Flat eyeliner brush. The bristles on this brush are very densely packed, so it’s really good for applying a lower liner. It’s also good with pigments and glitters when used as a lower liner.
213: Fluff brush. This is the basic eyeshadow application brush, the one you would use to lay down your basic colour. It is a little bit on the larger side, however that makes it good if you are just doing one or two colours.
214: Smudger brush. This is a brand new brush, and it looks to be like the 212 except with a lot more bristles. It’s good to smudge liner for a smokey eye, as well as for extreme shading.
*216: Blending brush. From the reviews I have read, this was a 213 but with longer fibers.
217: Blending brush. The nice thing about this brush is that it isn’t terribly large, so you can not only blend with it but you can also lay down a colour. I like to use it if I have to do a sheer coat of something light over a dark colour, as well as to put a colour in the crease.
219: Pencil liner brush. The bristles on this brush are going to be shorter, and tapered just like the point of a pencil, which is a good way to go. In a pinch, it can be used to apply colour when you just need a tiny bit. It’s also good for thicker lines, smokey eyes, use with glitter, and so forth.
*221: Blending brush. This blending brush of pony hair is like a precursor to the 222.
222: Blending brush. This is a longer, narrower version of a 217, so a good brush to help create a crease without spreading shadow all over.
*223: Blending brush. The thing about this brush is that it’s shaped like a tube, which makes it quite interesting, but then you could really use it like a windshield wiper.
224: Tapered blending brush. To me, the only difference is that the 224 is shorter, fatter, and has black fibers as opposed to the 222, which is a bit longer, a bit thinner, and with white fibers.
*225: Large tapered blending brush. This is fatter than all the rest of the blending brushes, and it could be used in a pinch on the cheeks.
*226: Tapered blending brush. The thing about this brush is that it tapers, like a candle flame, so it’s really good for small areas that have to be blended.
227: Large fluff brush. It can be used to apply a dense wash of colour over the lid, or to do facial contouring. I would use it with Sculpting Powder in order to give my face a nice contoured look.
228: Small shading brush. As far as the differences between this and the 239, I am not entirely sure-I think this is more densely packed as opposed to the fluffier 239.
231: Shading brush. This brush is my pride and joy! You can not only use it to apply little bits of shadow where you need it, but it picks up shadows that very few other brushes can, it picks up a ton of those shadows, and you can use the end as an eyeliner brush in a pinch.
*234: Split-fiber shadow brush. This seems to be a bit larger of a head than my beloved 228, but smaller than the 227…and split-fiber. Came out with Semi-Precious.
*235: Split-fiber blending brush. Another one of those Semi-Precious brushes, this one seems like a split-fiber version of the 217. That’s just me though.
*236: Shading brush. This is a bit longer than a 228, and thinner than a 252. Great for detail work, or if you have smaller eyes.
239: Shading brush. This is almost like a smaller 213, and it’s good for those of us who like to use tons of colours.
242: Shader brush. This is a very popular brush to be used with cream-based products, such as concealers, Paints/Paint Pots, and so forth.
*246: Large shader brush. This is a paddle-shaped shader brush, so essentially like a larger version of the 231.
249: Large shader brush. The main difference between this and the 242 is the size-this would be good for large areas.
252: Shader brush. This is a hell of a brush, as far as the size goes. I find it useful on the eyes for two things: applying a crease-to-brow highlight, and applying a Paint. Otherwise, it’s not as useful to me on the eyes.
*255: Square shader brush. This seems like a brush that the pros would have loved more than the average person, as it could create even lines and squares effectively.
259: Square shader brush. This, to me, seems like a larger version of the 212. Also a larger 255.
263: Small angled brush. I think that the big difference between this and the 266 is the angle.
266: Small angled brush.
*269: Medium angled brush. A larger version of the 263 or 266, for quicker jobs or larger work.
272: Small angled shader. These are really nice brushes to use for normal shadow application, as the angle picks up more shadow, but it’s also good for applying a colour in the crease.
275: Medium angled shader. I’m a big fan of this brush-it makes applying some shadows as easy as pie, and when I want a subtle highlight (NOT a total wash of Crystal Avalanche) this is the way I prefer to go.
*279: Large angled shader. This is a brush that I actually would want, since I love my 275. Too bad this is discontinued.
286: Tapered duo-fiber. Almost like a duo-fiber 226 or a smaller 224.
*301: Synthetic lip brush.
*306: Synthetic lip brush. This is larger than the 301.
311: Lipliner brush. I have never seen a powder lip liner, but you might use this with your lipstick to line before you fill in. You can also use this for eyeliner, and I would be interested if only because it is shorter than the 210.
316: Lip brush. This is the basic lip product application brush-can’t really say a whole lot more about it.
318: Travel lip brush. This is the 316, but retractible and with a cap, so your purse doesn’t get ruined.