It took a long time, plenty of research and some nerve to buy another MAC brush. Mind you, they’re madly expensive! The MAC 109 Small Contour Brush retails for an insane SGD67. I bought it online, of course, but still.
Before I got the MAC 109 Small Contour Brush, I tried using the MAC 168 Angled Contour Brush to contour my cheekbones, temples and jawline, as what I always see Marlena of MakeupGeek do to create shadows on the face.
But because my face is much smaller and I have absolutely no cheekbones even when I pucker up and do the ‘fish face’, I always ended up with muddy, blotchy cheeks that extended almost to my jawline, when all I wanted to do was contour under my cheekbones. The 168 just made the powder blush/bronzer go all over the place.
I kept thinking ‘Wow, I must really suck’ to be always doing a bad contouring job, but later realized I was merely using the wrong tool!
So began my quest of finding the right tool for the right job. I Googled ‘MAC 109 dupe’, but while it’s usually rather easy to find lists of dupes for other brushes, it seemed the MAC 109 was IRREPLACEABLE and UNDUPABLE.
It bit into my bones to be throwing money on yet another MAC face brush, but when you are reminded of how lasting they are, the initial hefty price tag hence divided over a long time period, you feel much better.
It’s an investment worth making. In the long run, you will save money by purchasing a high quality brush.
Let’s get to the part where I tell you why the MAC 109 Small Contour Brush is part of my daily makeup routine.
Picks Up And Deposits The Right Amount Of Powder Product
Made of natural hair, the MAC 109 is dense yet soft, making the application and blending of products very easy. MAC suggests using the 109 for contour powder products and that’s what I use it for.
The 109 face brush picks up the right amount of contouring product with its dense bristles and deposits it on the face where you want it. It also buffs out products nicely so you don’t have ugly stripes down the cheeks.
The thing I really like about the 109 is its precision, something I could never achieve with the 168 Large Angled Contour Brush (or any other brush in my makeup brush stash) even though it is highly recommended by many beauty gurus for contouring.
Bun Bun’s Makeup Tip: No two faces are created equal, so just because someone said a face brush is The Face Brush doesn’t mean you have to force yourself to use it.
(Just in case you're wondering what that silly thing on my hair is, check out this post on the Hair Velcro Pad)
Versatile Brush – Contour, Blush, Highlight
I reserve the MAC 109 solely for contouring powders but have tried using it as a highlighting and blush brush just to test its versatility.
As a blush brush, because of its dense bristles, more blush product is picked up with the MAC 109 Small Contour Brush as compared to the MAC 168 Large Angled Contour Brush. As a result, accidental over application of blush may occur for the first few times when you are still getting the hang of using the brush. But once you get to know the MAC 109 better, blush color will go on effortlessly, and look natural and well-blended. To tell you the truth, if I had another 109, the 168 would be on the dole.
Since this face brush is small enough, it can also be used as a highlighter brush. Lightly swirl the brush into the highlighting powder (my staple is the MAC Too Chic Beauty Powder), tap off the excess and apply it on the top of the cheekbones, and wherever you want highlighted. For highlighting though, I much prefer using the MAC 188 Small Duo Fibre Face Brush because it picks up and deposits less product. It’s always better and easier to build than slap on a eye-blinding amount of shimmer on your face.
Contouring Makes Chubby Faces Appear Slimmer
As you’d have seen from my many pictures, I don’t have model cheekbones. Which is perfectly fine with me because where I am in this side of the world, faces with less prominent cheekbones are prefered.
I can tell you why, but I’d like to reserve that for another series of posts. Heh heh.
Anyhow, bronzer brings warmth to the face otherwise ‘flattened’ by foundation and contouring helps give the face more dimension.
Shedding Monster – Don’t Use It For Liquid/Cream Products!
I believe MAC recommended the MAC 109 for powder products, and specifically stated so, because if it sheds even with powder products, I can’t imagine how many more bristles will be shed with the weight of liquid and cream products.
Stray black hairs on the face are rather the norm for the 109 – it’s really annoying – but despite it, most people who use the 109 merely suck it up and remove them. Like me. Because it is irreplaceable.
The good news is that over time, less hair is shed. And I’d advise everyone to take a last check in the mirror before leaving the house.
Fun fact: While traveling to work one day, I noticed many people staring at me. I thought I was particularly pretty that day, having spent more time on an elaborate eye makeup look. Halfway through the journey, I took my mirror out to do a look check and to my horror, saw a piece of dried tissue stuck on my cheek. Thanks, strangers, thanks for looking and not having the courtesy to tell me! Grrr!
Initial Washes Issues
It doesn’t bleed anymore, but it bled black blood during the initial washes. Bristles used to shed in 4 or 5, but they don’t occur that often anymore even when dry. With all brushes, be careful not to get water into the brush ferrule (the metal part), dry your brushes at a slant, and shape them while they’re wet. Invest in brush guards!
Best Contouring Brush
In summary, the MAC 168 was too big for me and couldn’t give me the control I yearned to create natural-looking shadows on my face.
The MAC 109 small face brush with a rounded-dome tip, densely packed bristles gave me the precision I desired. HG contouring brush.
I hereby crown the MAC 109 Small Contour Brush For Contouring, Holy Grail Material.
(Do I still have to rate it?)
Bun Bun rates the MAC 109 Small Contour Brush:
I'd like to know what brush you use for contouring! =) Oh, and do you face any problems with contouring? Do let me know!