The first one I bought was the Real Techniques brush from Ulta (it's $9.99; the MAC 188 is $34, for reference). Actually, it's so good, I'm not really sure why I bought the MAC one. Honestly. I think I bought the 188 for some specific reason, but now I can't remember what that is. And I think I just gave away the punchline. Damn.
|The MAC 188 is not quite as dense, and has longer, more flexible fibers. The Real Techniques brush has shorter, stiffer fibers.|
Save your $24. Seriously. That is, if you are primarily going to use this brush for the application of cream blushes. I haven't tried either of these with foundation, but I think you'd want a bigger brush for that, no? I use either my fingers or a big EcoTools duo-fiber brush for foundation. I will outline the differences for you.
MAC 188: Thinner brush head, with longer fibers. The brush is ridiculously soft, which is nice, but I find the long fibers get kind of floppy. When I try to apply cream blush with this brush, it can actually get a little messy because I have less control, and the brush head area is quite narrow. However, since the brush is softer and more floppy, you're likely to get a lot less product on it to begin with, so there's no way you can overdo it.
Real Techniques stippling brush: Denser brush head, with stiffer fibers. It's not scratchy by any means, just full and a bit more rigid. This means you have a lot of control, but it also means you have to be careful, because the brush will pick up a lot of pigment from your blush. I usually tap mine off on my hand, and then tap it lightly along my cheeks to get color where I want it. Then I tap off some more, and tap along my cheeks again to diffuse the color. Works every time, and is fairly easy (it's what I use with that vividly orange Illamasqua Libido!)
I suppose it depends what you want out of your brush, and what you intend to use it with. I primarily use mine with cream blushes, though I think I may give my MAC 188 a go at cream/liquid undereye concealers. Obviously, I am holding on to them both - I don't regret buying either of them - but if you're debating it and only want one, I'd go with the Real Techniques. The drawback is that it's not as widely available as MAC brushes. I have seen them at Ulta and Fred Meyer here in the PNW, and also on Amazon.com but I'm not sure where else they are sold.
What's your favorite method of applying cream blushes? Do you have a favorite stippling brush?