Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How to spot fake M·A·C Brushes

Every aspiring make-up artist would love a good deal on MAC Brushes. I usually get mine from the MAC store at Rustan's Makati. However, I also managed to score an authentic brush online from a very reputable seller. 

However, not all sellers online can be trusted. I also had an experience of being duped by an eBay seller who has been selling items off eBay since 2005. She already has over 300 feedbacks with only about 3 negative ones, mostly on her rudeness which I actually didn't mind when I decided to bid on her item. She guaranteed the authenticity of the product and claimed it was bought from the US. At about 500 Pesos cheaper than it's price in the local MAC store, I thought it was a sweet deal. But lo and behold, when I got the item, it was placed inside an authentic plastic sleeve with barcodes, etc. but the brush was fake. It's a good thing I have authentic ones to compare it with. I immediately texted her asking for a refund but she wouldn't want to insisting that her brush was authentic. We had a long exchange of texts where she actually showed and proved to me that the negative comments she had on eBay were true. She's the meanest and rudest seller I have ever dealt with. From then on, I have never and will never deal with an Online Seller that would have even just one negative feedback! Anyway, I ended up filing a case on eBay which forced her to refund my money! [Note: If you want to know who she is, just message me... :) ]

As such, I would just like to share with you a guide on how to spot fake MAC brushes, which is actually a compilation of what I observed from experience as well as what I found form other guides online :

Look at the packaging of the brush. Authentic MAC brushes come in clear plastic sleeves with a bar code printed on the sleeve.  However, some sellers can just use an authentic sleeve and insert a fake brush in it (just like what the eBay seller I encountered did) so you still need to watch out.
aunthentic brushes with plastic sleeves
Aside from this, many fake MAC brushes come with additional hard plastic protectors for the bristles but the authentic ones do not have this kind of plastic protector.
sample fake with protectors

 Take a closer look at the wooden handles. Authentic MAC brushes have black wooden handles with small silver speckles. Some fakes are also trying to dupe the silver speckles on the handle but it's still not the same. The real ones would have more and finer specks than the fake ones. Also, the handle of the authentic ones appear more matte black while the fake ones are glossier with a bluish-black hue.
top is authentic, bottom is fake
Take notice of the shape of the ferrules. Some of the bigger (mostly face brushes and some eye brushes) full-sized aithentic MAC brushes would have silver ferrules with a more curved shaped near the base attached to the handle while fake ones would be flatter.
left is fake, right is authentic
Look at the labels/lettering closely. Authentic MAC brushes are labeled MAC### with ### being the number of the brush. The lettering on the real brushes are normally easily rubbed off, hence a lot of people would normally coat it with clear nail polish. On most fake brushes, the label is engraved and are very hard to rub off. Also, on authentic MAC brushes, the lettering starts near the end of the ferrule while it is a little farther on fake ones. The distance between the numbers found on authentic MAC brushes are even/equal and they are normally unevenly printed/engraved on fake brushes.

top is authentic, bottom is fake
Proliferation of fake MAC brush sets. Note that MAC has not released a set of full-sized brushes except in November 2006 with the Pret-a-Porter brush set and in 2008 for the Holiday set for Nordstrom.

The Pret-a-Porter set is in a black satin brush roll appliquéd with black beads and a velvet fastener. It contains 8 essential brushes. For the face: the 129 Powder/Blush, 187 Duo-Fibre  and 190 Foundation brushes. For the eyes: the 213 Fluff, 219 Pencil, 224 Tapered Blending and 266 Small Angle. For the lips: the 318 retractable Lip Brush.
 For Christmas 2008 MAC released a full set for Nordstrom only.  It came with 4 full size brushes (187, 168, 222 and 208). 
2008 Holiday Set
Therefore, 99% of the brand new full-sized MAC brush sets online are FAKE. Below are some sample photos of the fake sets:

Lastly, to ensure the authenticity of your brushes, just simply buy at the MAC store. They now have a MAC counter at Duty Free Philippines which sells  cosmetics and brushes that are a few hundred pesos cheaper than in the local stores. So it might be worth driving all the way to Paranaque especially if you'll be hauling MAC stuff.

*I'll be doing a separate post on the SE brushes.    


  1. Hi! I love reading your reviews. I'm from Cebu and there are only few few stores (actually just 1 store) in Cebu selling authentic MAC brushes and not very much variety. I'm planning on going to Manila this month and shop for make up. Where's the MAC store in Manila? any tips on where else to get good finds on make up? I'm a newbie on make up too.. and I'm falling so deeply in love with it!!

  2. Hi @Rishee Wishee! It's nice to know that there are people like you who actually read and love my posts.

    Anyway, there are 5 MAC stores in Manila as follows:
    MAC at Rustan's Shangri-la Mall
    MAC at the Powerplant Mall in Rockwell
    MAC at Marionnaud in MOA
    MAC at Rustan's Glorietta
    MAC at DutyFree Philippines

    I normally shop at MAC Glorietta as I've gotten to know their MUA/Product Specialist Mikee thru Make-up School and they relatively have stocks of what I usually buy. Before visiting the stores, I suggest you call them first for stocks so you don't have to travel all the way there only to find out that what you want to buy are all OOS.

    For good deals on make-up, your best bet would be trustworthy online sellers. I'll do a separate post on that soon to help you out so watch for it!


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