Here is the run down on the MAC brushes I'll be discussing. Mainly speaking of the star #222!:
#217- "For shading or blending of colour or creamy products. This brush has fine, densely packed fibers that are arranged in an oval shape. M·A·C professional brushes are hand-sculpted and assembled using the finest quality materials. They feature birch, linden and ramin wood handles, nickel-plated brass ferrules." ($22.50)
#222- "Applying, contouring or highlighting powder-based products such as eye shadow, powder, or Pigment. Soft round "brush" tapers into a tip. Of natural fibres." ($28)
#223 le- "Synthetic, tube-shaped with tapered tip, this brush is specially designed for the application/blending of face or eye product. " ($28)
#224- "For controlled eye shadow application. This brush has soft fibers which taper to form a medium size dome shape. M·A·C professional brushes are hand-sculpted and assembled using the finest quality materials. They feature birch, linden and ramin wood handles, nickel-plated brass ferrules." ($28)
Slvrlips and I have called and scoured town looking for the MAC #222 brush. I wanted the brush because I am absolutely in love with the 217, but the 222 looked like the 217, but better! It appears to be contoured to aid in better control when blending. It was so hard to find. Many of the MA's in the MAC stores told us it was just like the #223 LE brush, just different colors. One MA said they really are the same, especially since they are just one number apart.
I own the 217, 222 and 224. The hairs on the 222 are much softer, with a feather touch like it's cousin the 217. The 223, with the dark hairs, isn't as soft as the white hairs and shapes into a small dome when I tested it in the store. I would imagine that it blends like the 224, but is not as fluffy as the 224. Why do I like the 217 so much? The head on a 217 is dense so that it picks up color, but soft enough that it applies color with a light touch and blends beautifully. Here's why the 222 is a dream: The 222 is all of what the 217 is, but is contoured to give you more control with blending and placement- PERFECTION I TELL YOU! In comparison, the 224 picks up color, but doesn't spread or blends as softly as a 217. The 224 is a great blending brush, but still gives you an option for definition.
Slvrlips owns all four of the brushes, including the 223. Here's her take on the 222 (and our convo):
Slvrlips: "I FREAKING LOVE THE 222 brush. OMG it is the best brush. [Yes, this is how we talk about makeup, etc. daily lol] I can't explain it. It went right where I needed the color to be. The 223/224 are great for blending, but not always giving you a defined look. I think my makeup looked different. This was the first time I was pleased with my e/s application. [Refer to her All Done Up FOTD post.] I even did the look over this morning just to make sure I wasn't just having a good day with makeup and that darn 222 came through again. The 222 changed my life."
Me: "Ok, how would you compare the 223 to the 224?"
S: "Ok, I consider the 223 a smaller more stiff version of the 224. I really don't have a great comparison cause I'm kinda of biased to my 224."
M: "Lol what was your initial reaction when using the 223?"
S: "Oo nice and I think I liked the color of the hair more than anything." [Me too. I think I want it just for the collection.]
M: "Did you feel like it was just another brush or a tool that would aid you in application?"
S: "I thought that it was going to be an essential brush until I got the 222."
M: "Do you think you'll kick the 223 to the curb or return it now that you have a 222?"
S: "I will shelf it and use my 222 to death."
M: "Do you feel you will still get a lot of use out of the 224? How would you use the 224 differently than the 222?"
S:"Ok, I definitely will still use the 224 to apply color to my crease area, while the 222 will be used to apply the color and blend out my outer crease area and outer v."
M: "I like to place the color with a 219 [Thanks Mrs. Lynne!] blending it with the 219 a bit for definition, but using the 222 to soften it up in a controlled way. How do you feel about that?"
S: "I agree. I haven't really used the 219 brush alot, but when I tried it out, I used the 219 to place the color and at the time the 224 to blend the color out. The 222 would work better because it is controlled, but still moves just enough."
When I started on my brush collection from MAC, I liked the 217 and the MA said it was a good choice for starters. I used it primarily for blending in concealer, but learned the power it had with shadows.. duh! LOL The next one was a 224. I think those two are decent starter brushes for blending, but I think the 217 and 222 are fab when you are getting into using more than 2 colors. They are great all around, but will add a bit more of precision to your blending when using multiple colors. I didn't put up a picture of the 219, but that is a must have brush if you are learning about the outer v and want to add that great shadow color on your bottom lid. Other brushes can do the trick to place your outer v color, but the white hairs on the ultra defined pencil tip of the 219 adds color, but blends it with definition- KEY! Before using the 219, I would take whatever other brush, make an outer v and then try to blend. I wouldn't get the defined, but nicely blended 'v' shape that I wanted.
If you are doing fine without these brushes, great! If you are interested in purchasing them try these tips first: Wait for the annual holiday brush sets that MAC offers and see if they are included or go to your nearest CCO and find them!