MAC 217 Blending brush and the like

The 2nd installment of “Comparison Week” will feature the ever popular MAC 217 Blending Brush:
This versatile brush regularly appears on “Best Makeup Brushes” lists due to its high quality and multi-purpose-ness (yes that’s a word now).  It is rated 4.7 out of 5.0 on MakeupAlley with 946 reviews and 92% stated they would repurchase this brush again.  It is a universally lauded beauty tool.  But should you rush out to buy one?

The MAC 217 Blending brush costs $29.50 and is made in Japan.  The hairs are white and made of goat.  The hairs are tapered to a slightly bulbous shape, with a flattened pinched base – it’s like a lovechild of a flat shader and a rounded fluffy crease brush.
The 217 is not the softest brush out there, but, it has a fantastic ability to both lay down and blend eye shadow with ease.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: a super soft brush is not always the best brush for the job.  Sometimes you need a bit of “grab” from the hairs in order to pick up powder from the pan and then push them around on the eyelid (ie. blend) rather than the super silky filament in synthetic fibres which just glide over everything.  But I digress.  The 217 Blending has no rivals… or does it?

The success of this brush has spawned many MAC 217 copies. Most are less expensive than MAC’s while others are around the same price.  Here’s what I own that have a similar shape and function:
bdellium tools Blending 776T – $9.00 USD
Sedona Lace Universal Blender EB09 – $13.95 USD
Coastal Scents Pro Blending Fluff – $4.95 USD
Trish McEvoy #30 Eye Blending Brush – $30.00 USD
MAC 234 Split Fibre Blending Brush – $30.00

Click to enlarge image

I actually took close-up photos of each of these brushes against the MAC 217 in various angles (front, side, top views) but upon editing the pictures, I found them to be really repetitive since they all look so similar to each other. Here’s MAC 217 beside bdellium 776:
Pretty darn close, really.  You don’t need to see 4 more sets of pictures which look just like that, so I’ll spare you.  I should also add that the hairs on the dupes feel just like the MAC, their bristles don’t shed, and they perform similarly.  My 2 personal favourite MAC 217 dupes are bdellium and Trish McEvoy because they have shorter handles.

I do own a bunch of the Coastal Scents version because they often go on sale for $2 each (let’s be honest, I own so many of these because I’m lazy with washing my brushes!)  It is a decent dupe and I would wholeheartedly recommend it as a MAC 217 dupe if you’re on a budget:
However, it remains to be seen how long these Coastal Scents ones will last me – I’ve had the MAC 217 for at least 7 years and it has kept its shape and not stained. A few of my Coastal Scents brush bristles are tinted green at the base where the hairs meet the ferrules – I don’t use green eye shadows so I’m thinking it’s from the metal used for the ferrules. The handles of these also feel very lightweight / weak so they may warp over time. I’ve had the Coastal Scents brushes ranging from 5 to 2 years.

The other famous MAC 217 dupe is the Sigma E25 Blending brush ($14 USD), but I don’t own it.
I’m really not interested in Sigma brushes – they don’t seem like good value for the quality.

The two dupes that I am interested in purchasing are the Zoeva 227 Luxe Soft Definer brush (€7.85):

And Hakuhodo J5523 Eye Shadow Brush Round and Flat ($19 USD):
(And this blogger has so kindly compared the MAC 217 against these 2 blushes for me already!)

Bottom line: MAC 217 is a fantastic brush, but they didn’t break the mold when they made it.  I think the dupes are great, and are good alternatives depending on what you’re looking for (less expensive, different handle length etc).

Do you have MAC 217 Blending brush?  What about the dupes?

33 thoughts on “MAC 217 Blending brush and the like

      1. I’ve only got two brushes from Zoeva just now but I totally recommend my other one, the 231 luxe petite crease brush! Its small and tapered and works so well in the crease! I really need to get more Zoeva brushes! I have my eye on one of the flat shader brushes!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I bought a few Sigma brushes a while back, and while they were inexpensive, I don’t love them. I don’t use the E25 for my crease at all, as it’s too soft and splay-ey; but it’s good for blending. So I’m not overly disappointed with the brand (I haven’t tried any of the cheaper dupes like Coastal Scents, though, so maybe that’s part of the reason!).

    Think I’ll probably just pick up the MAC 217 some time. Cheap-feeling makeup brushes annoy me – I’ve had some that work quite nicely, but if the ferrule eventually becomes loose or rusty, it’s a goner.

    Thanks for the in-depth overview!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m actually quite tolerant of cheaper brushes IF they were inexpensive – I just feel that Sigma charges so much for brushes that should cost half the current price. While I don’t love loose ferrules, nothing that some super blue can’t fix (I’ve fixed many many brushes). Yes, you should get the 217 – it’s solidly made and will last you a long time!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have heard this brush being raved about but I just can’t see myself spending the money on it lol. I think I will try the Coastal Scents one instead lol. That’s more of my price range. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well I just put it on my “To Buy List” lol. Though I will probably buy more than just the one brush! Haha! 🙂


  3. Don’t have this brush, but i definitely say go for the zoeva ones, i really like their eye brushes…well all of them really. with regards to staining, my eye brushes have remained perfectly white, it’s only my blush ones that are a little bit stained 😦 Sigma brushes are great…just pricey and you can get more or less the same quality from other brands and cheaper

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You say that your 217 brush is 7 years old. Is that the brush that you are reviewing in this post? I ask because My original 217 is around the same “age” as yours and I abs love it. I love it so much that I decided to buy a new one a few months ago. The new one is quite different from the one I bought 7/8 years ago (and not in good way) :/ I also bought a new 224 and found the same… The quality of the bristles is just not there anymore… Maybe this i an idea for a review/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the brush I’m reviewing in this post is the only MAC 217 I own and it is 7 yrs old. I considered buying another one but since there are so many good quality dupes, I’ve not found the need. Now based on what you’re telling me, I don’t think I want to get the newer version! I have a relatively newer 224 (bought in 2012) and I dislike it very much – although, I typically dislike the black bristled brushes from MAC – I find them all to be scratchy and shed more than the white hairs brushes for some reason. I noted that the 224 is made in France whereas the 217 is made in Japan.


  5. I have two MAC 217 brushes but the really odd thing is that the differences between the two are actually greater than the differences between your dupes! I bought them both at MAC counters so I doubt that one is a knock off.
    This is such a useful post! I think the 217 is my most used brush JUST due to the shape rather than the brush quality and since I too am a bit of a lazy brush washer, I wouldn’t mind having a few dupes. I’ve been curious about Hakuhodo brushes for a while so maybe I’ll snag the one you mention here 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I usually ask the MAC people if I can choose my own brush from their jars instead o letting them pick for me. I do find there are significant differences from brush to brush. I want to place an order from Hakuhodo too but the Canadian dollar is so sucky right now I’ve put a hold on a lot of online purchases from the US.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. They say it’s due to the price of oil. It’s not terrible for the Canadian economy… we export a lot of our raw goods so it encourages trade. But it does have effect of causing consumers to not spend as much – at home or abroad! 😛

          Liked by 1 person

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