The Gold Standard: The Best MAC Limited Edition Brush Sets to Buy this Holiday Season

Published in: MAC Makeup, Makeup, Product Reviews

The Golden Girls

You know your girl loves the brushes! If you’re going to spend any money on brushes this holiday season then bring your bad self to the MAC counter because they’ve got some really pretty — and surprisingly practical — gilded goodies. Ohh, la luxe!



For holiday 2007, MAC has a collection called Heirlooms, which features cute clutch bags and several different brush sets. By far my favorites are Heirlooms: 4 Face Brushes and Heirlooms 5: Basic Brushes. I love these sets because of the gold handles! And not only are they pretty to look at, but they’re surprisingly useful too.

What’s the deal with the “SE”?

The “SE” sets are different than the regular, full-price brushes you buy individually at MAC. SE handles are shorter and lighter. Although the SE brush heads are great, they aren’t as soft as my regular MAC brushes. I prefer longer-handled brushes that have weight to them, but I do like SE brushes for travel or for touch-ups, like after a gym workout. I think of them as my “occasional” brushes, rather than everyday “workhorse” brushes.

If you plan to buy these brushes, I’d recommend that you either be:

– a brush newbie who plans on building a collection of brushes, but needs a good starting off point
– a lovely lady on a strict brush budget
– a brush junkie who need a set of small handled brushes that will only be used for travel and on-the-go touchups, and not everyday use

The brush breakdown


With brushes, I really don’t believe in limiting a brush to a specific use – i.e., this brush is for the crease only, or this brush is for concealer only. I really like to mix and match my brushes according to the products that I’m using and how I’m feeling that day. Here’s a general breakdown of how I’d use the brushes in these sets.

Heirlooms: 4 Face Brushes ($48.00)

This set comes with the a cutie-pie clutch purse made from Chanel-esque gold tweed! To peep the brushes that come with this set, check the picture above and start from the left-hand side:

168 – Large angle contour brush. I’d use this for applying blush to the hollows of the cheek, to contour, or for specific placement of highlighting powder. In a pinch I’d wet this and use it as a foundation brush.
187 – Duo fibre brush. This is the famous MAC “skunk” brush, made from a blend of soft goat and synthetic fibers. The MAC Web site says that this is used for lightweight application and blending of face powder or pigments. I’d use this as a foundation brush, as a blush brush, as a highlight brush and as a blending brush.
194 – Concealer brush. I’d use this for undereye concealer and for layering powder shadow on top of soft kohl liners, like MAC Technakohl.
190 – Foundation brush. If you’ve used this brush before as a foundation brush and it works for you then I give you big props. I have this brush in the full-sized version, but can’t seem to get this to work on me. I always end up with patchy application. For foundations I actually like the 182 buffer brush! The price is an arm and a leg but it’s well worth it. The 190 is still a useful brush though, and would be good for getting foundation into places the 182 doesn’t go easily, like the corners of the nose. I’d also use this for creme blush.

The cold, hard math: If you purchased the full-sized version of these 4 brushes it would cost you $124.50.

Heirlooms: 5 Basic Brush Set ($45.00)

Check the cute, gold fake-snakeskin container this comes in. I love it ’cause it looks expensive. Plus, the brushes are useful, too! The five brushes that come with this set are in the pic above starting from the right hand side:

219 – Eye detail brush. This brush has a small brush head with fibers that are gathered into a pencil-shaped tip. I use it for shadow application right at the lash line, or precise application of color to the outer-v. I’ve tried to use it in the crease but have had just so-so results.
316 – Lip brush. In a pinch I’d also use this for fine spot concealing, or for applying gel liners like Fluidline.
266 – Brow brush. WOOT! You know you’re girl can’t live without her 266. I use this every day to apply Concrete shadow to my brows. I know some folks like to use the 266 to line the eyes with Fluidline, too.
129 – Powder/blush brush. In a pinch I’d also use this as a foundation brush.
239 – Eye shader brush. I love this brush. It’s great for both powder and emollient products (MAC Paint, concealers) and has so many uses. You can use it to apply shadow all over the lid, or in the crease, or to blend out harsh lines. Oh, and it can also teach you how to speak French! Okay, totally kidding about that last one. But still, it’s a fantastical, multi-use brush that I’m sure you’ll fall in love with.

The cold, hard math: If you purchased the full-sized version of these 5 brushes it would cost you $119.50.

Both sets give you brushes with a wide range of possibilities. But if you’re watching your budget and can only purchase one set I’d recommend:

– buying the 4 Basic Brush Set if you have a good working set of everyday go-to brushes
– buying the 5 Basic Brush Set if you’re new to brushes and need a good starting point

The OG Original Gangsta Golden Girls


Before there was Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte there was Blanche, Dorothy, Sophia and Rose.

Did you ever watch this show? All my gay guy friends love it, and so do I. It seems to be on Lifetime (television for women!) every other hour and it *always* cracks me up.


I think I’m mostly Sophia with a touch of Rose, ha! How about you?

I hope your morning was a relaxing one. I’m still recovering from the P. Hilt interview (this whole weekend was REALLY STRESSFUL) but am now looking forward to hitting the Chanel counter for a lil’ relaxation and reward.

Two days ’till turkey — are you ready?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 23 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Laurie T says:

    The Golden Girls as the first Sex and the City, too funny!

    But they lived in Florida right? How about The Golden Girls Do Miami?

  2. Megan says:

    Umm…I absolutely love the Golden girls! I’m mostly Dorothy…maybe with a little tiny bit of the niceness of Rose…

    My gay friends love it too. πŸ™‚

  3. NBLACK says:

    From a straight guy, who use to watch this show in his youth along with 227 another shows of that era. Blanche and Rose are my favorites. The big one (Dorthy) was way to stiff and sour for me. I can’t believe I used to enjoy watching a show about women way past “the change”. I am so out of the demographic I am sure. But, I am writing this on a Make-up and Beauty blog.


  4. kia says:

    great review.. so is the 266 like a regular 266? i’ve found in past holiday sets that the 266 was the brush that was the most ‘off’ and not nearly as similar as the regular brushes. it was more stiff, wider and not as precise as my beloved full size 266. now i feel i have to get the set with the 187 just to have another one =))

  5. nilla cookie says:

    I actually just returned my 5 Basic Brush set. It didn’t come with cute gold handles; they were just as cute in silver in the cluth. I had originally intended to keep it for travel, but it just wasn’t worth it for me. The quality of the bristles weren’t great and it just made me think that I’d rather spend the $50 bucks on some Chanel πŸ˜‰

    PS – I thought I was the only one my age who watch the Golden Girls when I was, I dunno – 7 or 8??? πŸ˜€

  6. Karen says:

    LOL Laurie, yes, the did live in Florida. Not sure if they would be hanging at the club with J-Lo. in Miami though!

  7. Karen says:

    Hi Megan!

    Ha! What is it with this show and the love it gets from gay men? I can’t quite figure it out. πŸ™‚

    I think everyone needs a lil’ touch of the niceness of Rose.

  8. Karen says:

    Dude, did you like the brush pic above? Does it remind you of the time we went to Sephora and you went all crazy with the squirrel hair brushes? One of these days I’m gonna get your fine words of wisdom on this blog. How about “Ask a Dude”? or “NBLACK Knows Best”? Ha ha ha. BTW, my mom says “hi.”

  9. Karen says:

    Hi Kia,

    Noooo! The SE 266 isn’t as fantastical as the OG 266. It does well in a pinch though, should you need it for travel or if you need to refresh your brows after a workout. It might be nice just to have an extra one on hand. Sometimes my 266 disappears and I’ll have to use the SE and it does just fine. πŸ™‚

  10. Karen says:

    Nilla, I agree that the brushes aren’t as soft as the full price versions, but I think that for the price you do get a great deal.

    Yeah, I know you wanna Tivo some Golden Girls when you get home!

  11. nilla cookie says:

    Oh dear.. I really live in the stoneage, Karen – I don’t have TIVO!!!!

    Is it crazy to ask you what time it comes on? This is one that I have to hide from my BF. On the DL for sure… πŸ˜‰

  12. Karen says:

    Girrrrl, you crack me up. I’ll look it up for you when I get home from my Chanel counter visit!

  13. Tootsie says:

    OMG! I love the Golden Girls! I’m Dorothy, totally.

  14. Mrs. Lynne says:

    For a second I thought that if you bought the brushes in the gold canister that you got ALL those brushes *thumps head with palm* by the looks of the picture. Duh, lol. I got myself a face brush set a couple of weeks ago but more for the convenience. I’m all for the full size brushes because quality is hands down waaay better. Although Mr. Wallet doesn’t seem to agree as wholeheartedly as I do.

  15. Karen says:

    Ha, Tootsie πŸ™‚ I love Dorothy … nobody messes with her!

    And here I was thinking I was the only closeted Golden Girls fan!

  16. Karen says:

    I here ya Mrs. Lynne. Which brush set did you get?

    BTW, do you have a favorite brush? πŸ™‚

  17. Mrs. Lynne says:

    I bought the Heirlooms Face Brush set. I only own the 188 and 129 face brushes in full-size but know that the full-size versions of the Heirlooms set are MUCH better. But if figure for powder touchups throughout the day, the set should suffice.

    As far as favorite brushes go, I’d have to say my 239 and 219 for sure. I’m still trying to find out what my HG blending brush is. I haven’t used my 217 yet, but am wanting to know if it works better for me than my 222/224. Honestly, I’m not all big on the 224. Either that or I’m using it wrong.

    In regards to the cat-eye, I want to pick up the 208 brush. I think a shorter-haired brush would work better for me, more control. I’m just not having any luck with the 266 and have yet to master the wing with a 209 (recommendation from this girl who has mad-BOMB cat-eye lining skills).

    What are your favorite brushes? Do you use only MAC brushes or others brands as well?

  18. Mrs. Lynne says:

    This was my response in “This is What Happens to Your Brain on Makeup” before it decided to snip my reply, hah. I have to learn to not be so long-winded in my writing…

    Mmmm, besides the ENTIRE store? Lol. Yes, I do like Fluidline also. Although I think its more of an esthetical obsession. I love the glass jars and the way it looks when its brand new

  19. Mrs. Lynne says:

    ok. must be code thing. sorry.

  20. ponikuta says:

    Hey Karen, I just got the 5 basic face brushes 2 weeks ago. Over here in Melbourne, Australia they come in the same bag as the 4 face brush. What a shame. And they come in gray holders instead of gold. I want gold and shiny casing and brushes too. Boo !!

  21. Karen says:

    Hi Mrs. Lynne,

    I’m not a fan of the 224 either. I find it too big for my crease. When I use it color just gets all over the place. Either I can figure out how to use it correctly or my eyes aren’t shaped right for the brush.

    You will love the 217. It’s fabulous for creasework, for blending, for applying concealer … I love it because it’s just so multi-functional.

    I’ve been using both MAC and brushes by Billy B. (I’m going to put the review up later this week) which freakiing RULE. I’m sooo picky about my brushes and I love his.

  22. Karen says:

    Hi Ponikuta,

    The Heirlooms come in both silver and gold sets here. Too bad you didn’t get a choice in the matter. The silver is very pretty, too though!

  23. sassy says:

    Those Golden Girls are Sassy!! I’m not ashamed to say i stil catch them on lifetime reruns.

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