Unless you are intentionally creating a harsh or carved crease then you absolutely need blending/crease brushes to diffuse and blend colors smoothly and evenly from one to the next. I typically blend the colors where they meet. These brushes are also excellent when you have heavily pigmented colors that you want to have lightly applied to the brow, crease, or mobile lid. They are also great for a light wash of color over the eye.
Crease and blending brushes are typically fluffy haired brushes because they are made to diffuse and blend color. They can be made in various sizes, and of all types of hair including: synthetic, squirrel, goat, and kolinsky.
Synthetic hair brushes are great for both cream, liquid, and powder products. I find that I prefer to use them with liquid or cream rather than powder.
Squirrel hair will deposit really soft washes of colors and are great for heavily pigmented eye shadows and pigments. Brushes made of squirrel hair are usually softer than other natural hair brushes especially blue and grey squirrel.
Goat is more versatile. I love to use goat hair for liquid, cream and powder. It is a nice mixture of firm and flexible. I use goat hair brushes for just about everything. Goat hair will deposit more color, so if you have densely pigmented colors a little will go a long way. They also do a great job at blending.
Kolinsky hair is the most expensive. Kolinsky hair is a species of weasel, and since it is difficult hair to harvest and more rare it is more costly. Kolinsky hair brushes are very resilient and are excellent at packing on color. Both firmly pressed and low pigmented eye shadows work well with Kolinsky hair brushes.
I've arranged the brushes in groups. The first group of brushes are blending brushes similar to Mac's 224 brush. They are great at applying soft, diffused color in the crease. These brushes are also great for applying washes of color. I will often use them without any product just to blend colors in my crease that have already been applied.
Bottom picture left to right:
~Le Metier de Beaute Eye Crease brush-This brush has the smallest handle of all the brushes I own. The brush fully measured is about 10 mm compared to the Mac 224 at 21mm. Made of goat hair. The bristles are firm and densely packed. This brush is great for firmly packed eyeshadows, because it can pick up lots of color. It would be great for those with smaller lids as well. This brush can be purchased from Neiman Marcus.
~Paula Dorf Sheer Crease brush-This is one of my favorite blending brushes. Made of blue squirrel. I feel like this brush could be a mix of hairs, or mixed with synthetic hair. It is not nearly as soft as my other blue squirrel hair brushes. I love that it is a lovely mix of firm and delicate. I can apply both heavily pigmented and firmly pressed colors on my eye with this brush. Since the tip of the brush comes to a point you can place the color right where you need it and blend it out with minimal effort. This brush can be purchased from several places including Dermstore.
~Hakuhodo G5522-This is a luxuriously soft brush made of blue squirrel hair. Since the hair is so soft I find that this brush works well with pigments and heavily pigmented shadows. It is a bit of a larger brush, so if you have smaller eyes you may find that you have a harder time placing the color precisely. It is still great for blending. You can purchase this brush from Hakuhodo.
~Edward Bess Luxury Eye brush-Very firm. Made of goat hair. Great for packing on firmly pressed colors. I can really blend with this brush. I find that it is similar to the Mac 217. This brush can be purchased from Neiman Marcus.
~Mac 234 brush-This was a limited edition brush. It had duo sides. One side is natural squirrel hair, while the other side is synthetic hair. The brush is a bit flat so not as great for blending. I use this more as a lay down brush or for concealer. This brush is no longer available.
~Mac 224 Tapered Blending brush-By far one of my oldie but goodies! I have had some of my 224 brushes for over 10 years. Made of goat hair. It is such a great blending and diffusing brush. I often use it without any product just to blend out colors in my crease. The hair on the brush does tend to get larger after several uses and washing. If you have small eyes you may have trouble with placement of the shadow and need a smaller brush. You can purchase this brush from Mac Cosmetics.
~OCC #004 Tapered Blending brush-This brush is really similar in shape to the Mac 224 brush. Made of synthetic hair. I find that since it is made of synthetic hair it keeps it's shape well. These brushes are not your old synthetic brushes. They are much higher quality and perform like natural hair brushes. This brush makes blending and contouring a breeze! This brush can be purchased from Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics.
Part 2 coming soon...