I have seen so many videos and blog posts citing the ELF eyeshadow brush as a dupe for the MAC 239 brush. Quite honestly, it drives me a bit wacky since they are very different. In my opinion, a dupe should perform as well as the original, at least when it comes to tools. The MAC 239 brush and the ELF eyeshadow brush are quite different from each other in many ways.
The most obvious difference between these two brushes is the price: the MAC 239 is $25, while the ELF brush is just $1. Another big difference is MAC’s muddy cruelty free policy versus ELF; ELF is a cruelty free brand. While MAC is considered not cruelty free due to selling in China, their 239 brush is also made of goat hair.
The ELF brush is a little shorter than the 239, and the handle is also a little wider in the middle.
The bristles of the ELF brush are shorter and wider than the 239 brush. Also, they are not as densely packed. The 239 brush is stiffer, while the ELF brush is more flexible and doesn’t allow for as much control.
Here you can see that the shapes are slightly different. No dupes here!
Now, let’s take a look at how they perform! I used the same method of swatching with a high end shadow, and a drugstore shadow. Let’s start with the drugstore shade, Tastefully Taupe from Maybelline.
The MAC 239 is on the left, while ELF eyeshadow brush is on the right. Each is two swipes. On the first swipe, the ELF swatch barely showed up, and as you can see it is quite patchy. The 239 swatch is more pigmented, but honestly neither swatch is very good!
Now for the next shadow: NARS Lola Lola. As you can see, the MAC 239 swatch is a lot more pigmented than the ELF swatch on the left.
These brushes are definitely not dupes for each other, and I also think there are way better options for drugstore brushes. For one, the Rite Aid Renewal eyeshadow brush is amazing, and it is made with synthetic fibers. It also only costs $4, though it is often on sale for less than that. Sonia Kashuk is another cruelty free brand with a variety of price points when it comes to eyeshadow brushes. They are more than ELF, but still less than MAC, especially if you get them in a kit.
If you can get the ELF brush to work well, more power to you! I haven’t been able to work with this brush and actually find it quite terrible. It doesn’t pick up enough shadow, but worse than that, the application is terrible. It is really difficult to pack on shadow with this brush, while it is effortless with the MAC 239.
These brushes are definitely not dupes for each other! Do you know of any MAC 239 drugstore dupes?