MAC 217S and 224S Eyeshadow Brushes (Review)

If you follow MAC Cosmetics, then you may already know that several years back they made the switch to synthetic makeup brushes. Most people are not happy about that switch and the reviews of the synthetic brushes have been terrible. The only good reviews I’ve seen have come from Makeup artists and people that I assume had never tried MAC’s natural hair versions. I got the synthetic 239 brush for free in an order that I placed and I actually liked it, which led me to try these two brushes as well. I won’t be reviewing the 239S at the moment. It has been so long since I have used it, I don’t feel like I can give a good review of it right now. So I’ll have to circle back to that brush in the future.

MAC 217S Brush Review vs MAC 217 Natural Goat Hair Brush
MAC 217 Natural Hair (left) and MAC 217S Brush (right)
Smashbox Shadow Blending Brush vs MAC 224S Brush and Review
Smashbox Shadow Blending Brush (left) and MAC 224S Brush (right)

This blog uses affiliate links (marked with **).  When you purchase through links on my site, I may earn a small commission.  Learn more here.

Keep in mind when reading through my thoughts that my natural hair MAC 217 brushes (I have 2) are about 6 years old. So some of the variations could be due to age. Also, I no longer own the natural hair version of the 224 so I’m working from memory on that comparison. I will also be comparing the 224S to my Smashbox Shadow Blending Brush** because it is the closest shape I currently own.

Continue reading “MAC 217S and 224S Eyeshadow Brushes (Review)”

Sonia G Soft Cheek Brush (Beautylish Gift Card Event Starts Oct 21)

Sonia G Soft Cheek Brush Review and Alternatives
Sonia G Soft Cheek Brush

As I said in my review of the Sonia G Builder Pro and Classic Crease brushes, Sonia G does a stellar job of describing her brushes on her blog ( and in her product descriptions on Beautylish. She shows how her brushes compare to each other if you are deciding between the different shapes. So my best suggestion for anyone shopping for Sonia G brushes is to check out her blog and the product descriptions on Beautylish.

I decided to go ahead and do a post on the Soft Cheek brush because while I can’t dupe this brush, I do think you can get a similar result from some other options. This Saikoho goat hair brush retails for $48.00 and it is often out of stock. Spoiler alert, if you have the budget, it is worth the wait. But I do have some alternative options if you don’t want to spend that kind of money, you’re impatient, or you prefer synthetic fibers.

The Beautylish Gift card event is also coming up starting October 21, 2021 and will last for 4 days. You will receive a $20 gift card for every $100 that you spend. So if Sonia G happens to restock, it could be worth buying some of her brushes during the event.

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Sonia G Eye Shadow Brushes (Builder Pro and Classic Crease)

Sonia G Classic Crease (left) and Builder Pro (right) Review
Sonia G Classic Crease (left) and Builder Pro (right)

I know I’m late to the Sonia G brush game, but after a lot of research I finally decided to give them a try. I’ve been testing these since July, so I’ve got a good feel for them. I am a novice when it comes to Fude (handmade, Japanese makeup brushes), so I’m unable to give you thoughts on where the Sonia G brushes stack up against more direct competitors.

Sonia G is so thorough on her blog ( and in her product descriptions on Beautylish that I really don’t think I can express the functionality of these brushes any better than she already does. I have found her descriptions to be accurate to my experience and she does a ton of comparisons on her blog. She shows how her brushes compare to each other and how they compare to other brands on the market. In my opinion, you get full transparency. So my best suggestion for those interested in her brushes is to check out her blog and the product descriptions on Beautylish.

Sonia G Builder Pro (left) and Classic Crease (right) Review
Sonia G Builder Pro (left) and Classic Crease (right)

So why am I writing this blog post? I’ve had such an enjoyable time using the builder pro that I honestly just wanted to shout from the rooftops about it. To me, the builder pro is more unique than the classic crease brush, so I thought about only talking about that one. However, since I have both, I figured I could show them for the fun of it. Don’t get me wrong, the classic crease brush is a nice brush, but to me, not as unique in function as the builder pro.

Continue reading “Sonia G Eye Shadow Brushes (Builder Pro and Classic Crease)”

When Dupes Aren’t Dupes For You

I know how hard it can be when you are interested in a product that everyone is raving about but for whatever reason, you can not get the product.  That feeling is likely part of the reason why dupes are popular. I just feel like sometimes they narrow in on price and sometimes leave people out.  I’m not sure what I hope to accomplish with this post, but I do wonder if there is a better way to approach dupes.

I’m not going to mention any specific examples of videos are blog posts because I’m not aiming to shame anyone for creating dupe content or anyone for wanting dupes.  I definitely think that presenting alternatives can be helpful.  There are times when you can save some money and other times when you don’t want to or can’t purchase certain items.  I have even written some dupe-like content with my Buy High/Buy Low posts.  So again, I do see that there is value in this type of content.

elf ultimate blending brush vs smashbox blurring foundation brush
Buy High/Buy Low: Foundation Buffing Brushes | Smashbox Buildable Cheek Brush and Real Techniques Blush Brush
Smashbox Buildable Cheek Brush and Real Techniques Blush Brush
Buy High/Buy Low: Sheer Blush Brushes | Smashbox Buildable Cheek Brush and Real Techniques Blush Brush

Dupes can be especially disappointing when the options presented save money, but end up excluding skin tones.  I do realize that we can only speak to our own personal experiences and that all content creators are doing their best to provide helpful content for their audience. I can also appreciate that as content creators, we can see what content people are enjoying the most and some can even see the demographics of our audience. So some of these issues may purely relate to the demographics the creator is seeing represented.

Despite that, I still find it hard to understand the oversight that often happens with dupes when it comes to availability. I’m not just talking about dark skin tones either, sometimes there isn’t enough variety for most people. For example, in the past, there was a hyped foundation dupe but it only had 4 shades, but the product it was supposed to dupe had 40 shades. Then there is the inevitable comment of “I don’t know why more people aren’t talking about this.” The limited shade range means limited access for a lot of people. I feel like the same thing often happens with highlighter and bronzer dupes. Shade ranges have come a long way, so I do think there is always some sort of alternative. But maybe we could all do better to at least consider if a dupe is actually widely accessible before making the suggestion.

Another issue that I’m not really sure how to unpack is that dupes can often disparage drugstore products. There are plenty of great products at the drugstore and I think they don’t always need to stack up against something that is higher end. I know that I compare product formulas quite often and it seems necessary to give you a point of reference in order to create context. But I hope I’ve been able to compare items without making it seem that a drugstore/affordable item isn’t as good simply because it happens to cost less. I also hope I haven’t made it seem like a product it better simply because it costs more.

This blog uses affiliate links (marked with **).  When you purchase through links on my site, I may earn a small commission.  Learn more here.

What Can You Do?

So let’s say you find yourself in that situation. You’ve learned about a dupe and wanted to buy it, but as it turns out there isn’t a good shade for you, you can’t use an ingredient in the formula, or you don’t want to support that company. What can you do?

Continue reading “When Dupes Aren’t Dupes For You”

Sigma Beauty Favorites (Semi-Annual Sale 2021)

The affiliate links listed in this post will not take you directly to Sigma Beauty, so I want to be clear that you will get the best price by purchasing these items directly from Sigma when they are having a sale.

The semi-annual sale at Sigma Beauty has already gotten started, but if you are interested in any of their products it doesn’t end until June 30, 2021 at 9:00 AM CDT. The discount ranges from 35% to 75% off depending on the product, so it really is a good time to check them out if you’ve been meaning to place an order.

I personally really like Sigma brushes and I’ve never had issues with performance or quality. You may hear people point out the 2-year warranty as a selling point, but I’d advise you to consider it to be a limited warranty. It only covers manufacturing defects, but they will replace the brush with the same brush or with a similar brush if that one has been discontinued. I consider this to be limited because even without a warranty, I’ve never encountered a brand that will not replace or refund your money for a manufacturing defect. Now the 2-year time period is likely unique, but a manufacturing defect should show itself way before you get to the 2-year mark. Just something to keep in mind.

Sigma Brush Favorites F10 Powder/Blush, F79 Concealer Blend Kabuki, F80 Air Flat Kabuki
Top to bottom: Sigma F10 Powder/Blush, F79 Concealer Blend Kabuki, F80 Air Flat Kabuki

Sigma F10 Powder/Blush, $25.00** ($16.25 during sale)

You’ve heard me mention this brush several times before, so probably no surprises here. I use this for blush rather than powder, so I can’t tell you if it is good for powder. For blush, however, this is a workhorse brush for me. The bristles are loosely packed, giving a diffused application. It works with all textures (including baked gelee), it cleans up easily, and it dries fast.

Sigma F79 Concealer Blend Kabuki, $23.00** ($11.50 during sale)

This is the only brush that I use for my undereye concealer if I’m not using my fingers. I do have to admit though, I’ve only tried a handful of concealer brushes, so I don’t have much to compare it to. It is dense while still being soft enough for the undereye area. This brush isn’t as easy to clean due to the density and using it with concealer, but it does still dry fairly quick.

Sigma F80 Air Flat Kabuki, $25.00** ($16.25 during sale)

I really enjoy using this brush when I want my fuller coverage foundations to look less heavy. I feel like the duo fiber design helps apply foundation in lighter layers. This brush is best for applying foundation in circular buffing motions. This brush is the hardest to clean, but again, I’d blame that on foundation being more tenacious to remove than blush. You may have also noticed that mine is a little stained, but keep in mind it is nearly 3 years old at this point.

If you are someone that likes to apply foundation in a stippling motion, I would suggest looking into the classic F80. I haven’t personally tried that brush, so I can’t give you any insight, but it is a cult classic, so you shouldn’t struggle to find a review for it.

There is one last caveat with this brush. If you use MAC Studio Fix Fluid, this brush does not get along with that formula. I don’t know why, but at least for me, this brush leaves terrible streak marks on my face. They just don’t go well together. I don’t get streak marks using this brush with NARS Natural Radiant Longwear or Estee Lauder Double Wear.

Sigma Cor-de Rosa Palette, $49.00** ($31.85 during sale)

Sigma Warm Neutrals Eyeshadow Palette vs Sigma Cor-de-Rosa Eyeshadow Palette Swatches
Sigma Cor-de-Rosa Palette (top) vs Sigma Warm Neutral Palette (bottom)

Sigma Warm Neutrals Palette, $49.00** ($31.85 during sale)

If you’ve been here for a while you should recognize these two palettes. I’ve done full swatches and given my thoughts on the formula of both palettes that I will link for you if you want more details.

Do you have any favorite Sigma Beauty products that we should be checking out during the sale? Let us know in the comments below.

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Sonia Kashuk Brushes/Target Haul

Sonia Kashuk Professional Collection large powder brush and medium powder brush
Sonia Kashuk large powder brush (left) and medium powder brush (right)

I noticed that the Sonia Kashuk Professional Brush Collection got a wardrobe update at some point and decided to try two of the powder brushes. I use and enjoy a few brushes from the current Essential Collection so I was expecting the same great quality. I purchased the medium and large powder brushes and the overall construction of these brushes is very nice. They feel sturdy and the synthetic hair is soft and gentle on the skin.

Medium Powder Brush, $20.00

Sonia Kashuk Professional Collection medium powder brush
Sonia Kashuk medium powder brush

This brush was the star of this order. For me, this is best for setting powder. It gives a nice coverage that isn’t too heavy. The shape is versatile for different application styles since you can use the side of the brush to pat the powder on for more coverage or use the fluffiness of the brush in more of a sweeping motion for lighter coverage. I have been able to use this brush for bronzer as well, but I do prefer how it performs with powder.

Sonia Kashuk Professional Collection medium powder brush
Sonia Kashuk medium powder brush

For size and shape comparison I have the medium powder brush pictured next to the Sigma F10, $25.00** and the elf flawless face brush ($6)**. The overall shape is the most similar to the elf brush, but the larger size does make it quicker for full face powder application. I use the Sigma brush for blush application, but it can be used for powder application so I wanted to include it since it does have a similar shape.

Continue reading “Sonia Kashuk Brushes/Target Haul”