I have lots of eye brushes, but when I wanted to achieve a softer, smokier look with my black gel eyeliner, I decided that what I needed was a "pencil" brush, and that was one eye brush missing from my arsenal.
At first I thought I'd go for the MAC 219, since I LOVE MAC brushes, and the 219 seemed to be exactly what I was looking for.
However, I'm an animal-welfare advocate, and once I found out that the MAC brush is made with "natural" fibers (a MAC artist admitted that this means “animal hair”), I knew I'd need to look elsewhere.
A helpful MUAer, shells08, directed me to the Sephora Smokey Eye brush, a Taklon pencil brush, and it's perfect! It even cost a few dollars less than the MAC brush.
The Sephora Smokey Eye brush is shaped like, well - a pencil. It's slightly smaller than a number two pencil, then the brushes taper to a point. The point is small, but not what I’d call “fine.” But you wouldn’t expect a fine point from a brush that’s intended to produce a smudged, “smoky” effect, anyhow. The Taklon bristles are firm, good for blending/smudging, but soft, which feels good against the eyelid.
I use this brush in tandem with my MAC 263 small angle brush. I use the angle brush to apply my gel liner (Bobbi Brown “Black Ink”) right along and into the upper lash line, then I immediately(I do one eye at a time, since I need to work quickly) go over it with Stila’s “Ebony” eyeshadow, using the Smokey Eye brush. The result is a defined but soft and natural-looking “dense lashes” effect.
Though I normally shop MAC when I want a great brush, I was very happy to find a good alternative in this case. I expect my Smokey Eye brush to get lots of use. I fully intend to buy this one again, when my original wears out.
This is a classic case of not knowing you needed something until you got it.
UPDATE: I have used this brush a number of times, and it is *wonderful!* It glides across your lashline, placing the liner or shadow precisely where you want it.
Knowing that it's synthetic helps me enjoy it even more.
Anyone who wants a softened effect with eyeliner should BUY THIS BRUSH, RIGHT NOW!