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21 Dec 2011

Lauren Luke Brushes & Comparisons

I have been using the Lauren Luke collection of Makeup Brushes for a number of months now, and I thought I'd blog some information on them.  For those of you who don't know, Lauren Luke is a wonderful and talented lady, based in the UK, who has YouTube channel Panacea81, with video tutorials since 2007.

These are genuinely brilliant brushes.  I have to say that I love these brushes, and have started to reach for some of them in particular, before I look for their MAC "equivalents".  Lauren Luke doesn't make any claims that these are dupes for other companies' brushes, these comparisons are mine alone to show you some similar/more familiar brushes, and discuss how the Lauren Luke ones stack up.

The Set

"Set of Eight Essential Brushes" available from here.

The set of all 8 brushes

Large Powder Brush
  • Hair: Synthetic
  • Dupe: Can't comment, I don't have anything similar.  In terms of shape it's like the MAC 116 (but a significantly larger turbo-charged version)
  • Pros: Large, soft, good shape, slightly domed, works well with powder products
  • Cons: Not recommended for cream products, despite the claims on the site, it's just not dense enough

MAC 109, Lauren Luke
Flat Contour Brush
  • Hair: Goat
  • Dupe: Similar to MAC 109 in terms of shape, but not quite as dense, on a par with the 109 in terms of softness.  Shown with a MAC 109.
  • Pros: If you want a cheaper version of a MAC 109, this is a reasonable alternative at a fraction of the price
  • Cons: Hairs splay out a little after a number of uses.  Not quite dense enough

Stila #33, Lauren Luke
Foundation Brush
  • Hair: Synthetic
  • Dupe: Closest match in my current slew of brushes is the Stila #33 brush - however the Lauren Luke brush is slightly denser, slighly less pointed, and a lot less firm.  Shown with the #33 brush
  • Pros: I think this is a great brush for cream foundations, cream bronzers, cream blushers.  It's also pliant enough so the bristles move nicely on your face (the Stila brush is a little too firm)
  • Cons: If there were only going to be one foundation brush included in a set, I would prefer it to be a standard flat brush

Makeup Forever, Lauren Luke, Inglot
Pencil Brush
  • Hair: Goat
  • Dupe: MAC 219, Makeup Forever 14S.  I have stopped buying MAC 219 brushes because they keep splaying, shedding and generally losing shape.  Here the Lauren Luke brush is shown in the middle between a Makeup Forever 14S and an Inglot 80HP.  The Lauren Luke brush is superior to the 80HP and probably on a par with the 14S
  • Pros: Quite firm and comes to a very nice point
  • Cons: This could be slightly denser, but what it lacks in volume it makes up for in firmness
  • Note: I have actually thrown out two old MAC pencil brushes and have replaced them with these

Laura Mercier, Lauren Luke, MAC 263, MAC 266, Illamasqua
Angled Liner Brush
  • Hair: Synthetic
  • Dupe: Comparable to a MAC 263 and MAC 266 in shape, but ever so slightly bigger.  Slightly smaller than the Laura Mercier Angled Liner brush, slightly less dense than the Illamasqua brush.  Shown here (in order, from left-right): Laura Mercier, Lauren Luke, MAC 263, MAC 266, Illamasqua.  See here for more information on angled liner brushes.
  • Pros: Every bit as good as these brushes mentioned above and at a considerably smaller price.  Firm, creates a nice sharp line.
  • Cons: Better for angled liner than for brows (nothing beats the Illamasqua brow brushes).  Not as great with powder products as the MAC 263 (which is also synthetic)

MAC 239, Lauren Luke
Flat Eye Shadow Brush
  • Hair: Goat
  • Dupe: Comparable to MAC 239 in terms of shape and softness.  I've been using this, side by side with my 239s, for several months now and I have to say there's absolutely no difference in terms of usability
  • Pros: at a fraction of the cost, I recommend these as a brilliant dupe for the MAC 239 (the best I've found so far)
  • Cons: To be extremely picky, the Lauren Luke Flat Eyeshadow Brush is very slightly less dense than the MAC 239, but equally usable with no appreciable difference in application

MAC 217, Lauren Luke
Blending Brush
  • Hair: Goat
  • Dupe: Similar to the MAC 217, but a tiny bit longer.  Similar in terms of density and softness
  • Pros: Same as the MAC 217 in terms of usability and blending power.  I will replace my MAC 217s with this, when I need to replace them
  • Cons: As it's very slightly longer than the MAC 217, if you have a tiny eye, you will find that the MAC brush works better for you

MAC 224, Laura Mercier, Inglot, Lauren Luke, MAC 226
Tapered Blending Brush
  • Hair: Goat
  • Dupe: No real dupe found (among my brushes).  From left-right, it's shown here together with the MAC 224, Laura Mercier Ponytail Brush, Inglot 6SS, (Lauren Luke), and MAC 226 (LE)
  • Pros: It's a blending brush, it's quite cheap, it's not scratchy.  It's ok, but it's not great
  • Cons: The only brush of the set that I was truly disappointed with - it doesn't tend to stay tapered, even though I shape my brushes after washing them (and they get washed at least once a week, or after every use if they're in my kit).  This brush tends to splay out after the first use and the first wash.  It's still a handy brush to have as a blender, but I'm probably going to reach for either my Laura Mercier Ponytail brush, or my MAC 226, or my Louise Young LY38 before I reach for this one

Washing / Lastability

I have washed these brushes, as I do with all my brushes, in a disinfectant, alcohol based solution.  After several months of using them, they are still fine, with no appreciable shedding or splaying (except for those mentioned) and no problems with hairs shifting from the ferrule, thus far at least.  If this changes, I will edit this to reflect any issues I may have had.


Overall Recommendation

These are genuinely excellent brushes, even more so when you consider the price.  I highly recommend, in particular, the pencil brush*, the blending brush*, the flat eyeshadow brush* and the powder brush.  Considering that I have well over two hundred eye brushes, from many different companies (NARS, MAC, Laura Mercier, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, Makeup Forever, Sephora, Chanel, Inglot, Crown, Sigma...) and am no stranger to spending money on good brushes, when I say that I will probably buy these particular* Lauren Luke brushes in future rather than their MAC equivalents, that says a lot.


Overall Pros & Cons
  • Pros: Soft, inexpensive, excellent quality, not a bad dupe for some higher price brushes in terms of quality and shape, lovely company to deal with; friendly, communicative, quick to despatch items
  • Cons: Some of the brushes splay a little after multiple uses (eg flat contour brush, tapered blending brush.  There are 8 brushes in set and this doesn't include some basics as a flat concealer brush, a domed concealer brush, a flat foundation brush, a tapered blush brush, a spoolie.  With the addition of these, I think the set would be a bit more "complete"

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