I have always fancied MAC 217 (and yes, I'm feeling a wee bit British today).  It is a cult favourite in the beauty community.  Over time, since it has been so popular, other companies tried to create brushes that posses the similar shape, and try to achieve the similar results that MAC 217 will give to its users.  I couldn't help but acquire a few of these counterparts.  So it's only appropriate if I give my two cents on them and see which ones are worth getting, and which ones are not that great.

From top to bottom: bdellium #776, MAC 217, Sigma E25, Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow Brush, Sigma E25 (Travel)
Handle/length comparison


MAC 217 Blending Brush

MAC 217 Blending Brush
Of course, we must start with the original,  MAC 217.  It is my very first MAC brush.  I still remember I was so excited to get it from the MAC counter near my university.  I must say, over the past few years, although the numbering has worn off, the brush itself is still going strong.  One interesting fact about my  MAC 217, it is made in Japan, which is different when comparing it to other brushes company, where majority of them has factory in China.  By the way, I have also had MAC brushes that are made in France

MAC 217 Numbering (faded)
The  MAC 217 bristles are made out of white goat hair, which are not as white as they were few years ago, but they are still as soft, which makes it feels luxurious on the eyelids.  I guess most important part of this brush is its shape.  It does not have super long bristle, and it's flared out to the top into a dome shape.  It is quite stiff and full, but at the same time it is very soft, which makes blending very easy.

I love that it is multipurpose.  Although it is meant for eye shadows, you can also use it for your concealers.  I have done that before, but I have unless you want to pick some white hair out from your face and damage your brush, I would use other brushes for concealers.  For some strange reason, it doesn't shed when it's used to blend out cream eye shadow.  Anyhow, I prefer to use the  MAC 217 purely as an eye shadow (powder or cream) brush, which it excels at.  I like that it is a one-brush-does-it-all brush.  When I'm feeling lazy, I'll use it to apply lid colour and crease colour, use it for blending out the colours, and of course, apply a highlight colour as well.

MAC 217 Brush Head

Pros:

  • Soft bristles for your delicate eye lids
  • Long lifetime brush makes your investment worth it
  • Very very minimal shedding
  • Stiff dome shape that makes applying and blending out colour easy
  • Long handle provides you the options of the amount of control you want with the brush
  • Accessible where you can find it at any MAC stores, counters, or buy it online

Cons:

  • Quite expensive as it costs US $22.50 / CA $27
  • The whiteness of the bristles is not as long lasting, it can get stained from, say, cream products

Sigma Makeup Blending - E25

Sigma Makeup Blending - E25 

The first dupe of MAC 217 that I have ever acquired.  It is also my first brush from Sigma Makeup, how coincidental!  Like MAC 217, it is made of white goat hair.  It also has ultra soft bristles that won't hurt your eyelids at all.  It has a slightly longer bristles, slightly larger and wider brush head, and about half an inch longer handle when comparing to MAC 217.  I find myself reaching for this quite often, mostly because it's more cost effective.  Since it's longer, it's easier to reach for.  And I'm not joking, I usually reach for the "taller" brushes.

Sigma E25 Numbering
Sigma E25 Brush Head

The quality of this brush is phenomenal for the price that you're paying for it.  Like MAC 217, it works really well with eye shadows, cream or powder, but it sheds when it's used with concealers.  This really makes me wonder why.

Sigma Makeup Blending - E25 Travel Size
Sigma E25 Travel Size Brush Head
Since I also have the travel size that I got as a gift with purchase, I figure I should also mention it in this post. There isn't really much difference in the full size and the travel size.  However, since the handle is much shorter, it gives very good control.  But I still prefer the long handle version, because it also offers the option to holding the brush at the end and that is great for blending.

Sigma Makeup Blending - E25 Full size and Travel size

Pros:

  • Affordable at US $9 + shipping
  • Soft bristles for your delicate eye lids
  • Very very minimal shedding, and  holding up well for almost 2 years
  • Stiff dome shape that makes applying and blending out colour easy
  • Whiteness of the bristles are still quite there

Cons:

  • Not as accessible, only available online at the moment
  • Handle might be a bit too long and hence not as comfortable to use
  • The brush head is wide so it might not be suitable for those with smaller lid space

Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow Brush

Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow Brush
I never really thought of Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow Brush as a dupe for MAC 217, probably because of its brown hair bristles.  I don't believe it is designed to be a dupe, but when I think about how I use it, there are a lot of similarities in the two brushes.  First of all, the shapes of both brushes are of a dome shape, even though the Bobbi Brown one has a smaller brush head than the MAC one.  They are both designed to be very versatile, in terms of eye shadow applications.  I could use the Bobbi Brown one to apply eye shadows all over the lid or just at the outer corner or in the crease.  It also does blending quite very.

Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow Brush logo

However, if, say, you apply a little too heavy in the outer corner, Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow Brush might not be the best to fix the situation.  I also won't use it as the major "blending" brush because its brush head is quite small and fluffy for this purpose.  It also couldn't handle cream shadow too well.  It also has a shorter handle, which is great for travelling, and at the same time, because the brush handle slim down a bit towards the end, it is easier to hold when you choose to do so.

Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow Brush Brush Head

Pros:

  • Versatile brush that can handle different tasks in the eye shadow application
  • Small brush head will fit many different types/sizes of eye shape
  • Ultra soft bristles that are nice to the eyes
  • Compact size that is great for travelling
  • Accessible where you can find it at Bobbi Brown counters, Sephora, and online

Cons:

  • Very steep price point for US $28
  • Quite a bit of shedding, and it still hasn't stop as of the publication of this post
  • Fluffy brush head that might not be the best for blending out harsh lines


bdellium tools #776S - Blending

bdellium tools #776S

My most recent acquisition of MAC 217 dupes is the bdellium tools Studio line #776 - Blending.  I got this a few months back at IMATS Toronto.  When I first saw it, I knew I had to get it bc it is dupe for my beloved MAC 217.

bdellium tools #776S numbering
It is extremely affordable, retailing for US $9, and currently on sale for US $ 7.92.  At the price, it is, yet again, another phenomenal brush.  Its brush head is almost the same as MAC 217, but a little more fuller, and hence less fluffy, which, in turn, it works well with cream shadows that need a little more of "push".  However, it is not complete the same as 217.  For example, the bristles are a tiny bit less soft than MAC 217, Sigma E25 or Bobbi Brown.  The handle is about a quarter inch longer than MAC 217 (and hence a quarter inch shorter than Sigma E25).  However, it performs pretty much the same as its counterparts.

bdellium tools #776S Brush Head

Pros:

  • Very affordable for only US $9 (on sale for $7.92 right now, and I got it at IMATS for $4!)
  • Stiff dome brush head allows for versatility
  • Long handle that gives full control of the brush
  • Minimal to no shedding
  • Soft enough bristles

Cons:

  • Not quite accessible, only available online and certain beauty supplies stores
  • A tinsy bit scratchy but might not be noticeable

Now, on to the actual comparison:
From top to bottom: bdellium #776, MAC 217, Sigma E25, Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow Brush, Sigma E25 (Travel)
Handle/length comparison
Categories / Rating (1-10)
MAC 217
Sigma E25
Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow
bdellium #776
Shape/Size
Just right for my eyelid, some people might find it too big
A little too big, not suitable for all sizes of lid spaces
Great for smaller or larger lid space
Just right for my eyelid, some people might find it too big
Softness
9
10
10
8
Versatality
10
9
9
10
Longevity
10
10
8 (shed too much)
10
Accessibility
10
9
10
8
Price
8
(US $22.50)
9
(US $9)
7
(US$28)
10
(US $9 or lower)
Will buy again?
Yes
Yes
Maybe (on sale or outlet price)
Yes

From L to R: bdellium #776, MAC 217, Sigma E25, Sigma E25 Travel, Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow Brush
Brush head comparison (front)

From L to R: bdellium #776, MAC 217, Sigma E25, Sigma E25 Travel, Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow Brush
Brush head comparison (side)

So this Battle of the Brands is very tough, because each of the eye shadow brush excels in a certain way.  I do not regret buying any of the above brushes, but if I REALLY have to choose one that I would recommend, which is very hard because I recommend all of them, I would choose bdellium #776 if you are on the budget side, and MAC 217 if you don't really mind the price.  If you are larger lid space and on the budget side, Sigma E25 is great for you.  And if you have smaller lid space, then the Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow Brush might be the best for you.

BUT, I should repeat, I do highly recommend ALL of the brushes mentioned in this post.  It depends how much you can afford, what you really need for your lid space, and how accessible it is for you.  I hope this summary will help you decide which one to get if you're on a market of a "stiff dome blending brush".

Do you own any of these brushes?  Which one do you like the best?  Let me know!

x Rica

About the Author

Rica
Rica is a business professional by day and a blogger by night. Besides blogging, she loves to eat, shop, sleep & spend time with her loved ones. To see what she's up to and to interact with her check out her Twitter and Instagram!

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20 comments:

  1. I live the 217 and haven't been able to find anything like it!!

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  2. I think the Sigma one and bdellium one are very close dupe.  If you're going to IMATS next year, check out bdellium, because it was only $4! $4! Can you believe that? lol

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  3. Thanks for this! I'm on a tight budget and really want the 217 by mac but I live in Canada and it comes to like $30 with taxes... too much for me haha
    Do you know how long it would take the sigma to arrive in the mail?
    Thanks again!!

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  4. Hi Michelle,


    Mine took two weeks to arrive to Canada, it wasn't too long. Remember to use a coupon code though, save you a good 10% =)

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  5. Thanks for the review! I have the bobbi brown shadow brush, but was still thinking to get the 217. After reading your review, I felt they might be somewhat similar, so I'll just hold back until i hit the airport and get it from the duty free, haha, thanks again!

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  6. Supreme review....i recently picked up a couple Sedona lace universal blenders because I heard good reviews and the shipping to Canada plus the 50% off sale was appealing to try out a dupe of the 217. For me when it comes to Sigma, the $14 shipping cost plus the $10 for the brush wasn't worth it for a dupe. If you are grabbing multiple items then the shipping cost is worth it, so I decided to just get another 217 and just stick with the Grande Dame of blending brushes.


    Bit of a side note, if you can get your hands on Paula Dorf sheer crease brush, you will not regret it.

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  7. Thanks for the great comparisons. You can get Bdellium tools from iherb.com. And with code IKA481 you'll get $10 off your first order over $40 or $5 off if less.

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  8. They are somewhat similar. I'd get one of the counterparts if you just want something that work as well as the original MAC 217 =)

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  9. Thank you for your kind worlds!


    I haven't really looked much into Sedona Lace, but I have heard good things (mostly from YouTubers though). Yes shipping cost for Sigma is quite steep, so I'd wait for the free shipping promo or other promo to get it.


    I believe we don't have Paula Dorf in Canada, but I'll definitely check that out! Thanks!

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  10. oh nice! Thanks for the code :)

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    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you so much the really informative and organized post of Battle of the Brands: MAC 217 and its alike. I have had my 217 for over 8 years and it's starting to look its age and I've contemplating if I should repurchase or branch out into other brands. Your post gave me some great ideas and I'm seriously thinking of the sigma E25 as I have a lot of lid space and it may for me. Thanks again and Happy Holidays!!

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  13. Really great post

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  14. lovely photo and post

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  15. Bookmarked this post! The 217 is probably my favorite (and most used brush) so i'm always looking for alternatives that are actually worth it! Thanks x

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  16. Great comparisons! I love Sigma's E25 :)

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  17. What an AWESOME comparison review. I loved it! This is the first one I've read by you, but I really enjoyed reading your comparisons. Thank you so much! I think I'm going to try the Sigma blending brush sometime soon! :-D

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  18. Amazing comparison! I don't have any MAC tools and actually I'm pretty undecided

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  19. Great post! I love Sigma brushes. Don't have the MAC one so I couldn't compare. I have the E.L.F blending brush (not the black handle) which I also love.

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  20. Just found the bdellium brushes at Blur Makeup Room on Queen & John St., downtown Toronto, across Much Music!

    ReplyDelete