MAC 109 Small Contour Brush For Contouring Chubby Faces Like Mine


It took a long time, plenty of research and some nerve to buy another MAC brush. Mind you, they’re madly expensive! The MAC 109 Small Contour Brush retails for an insane SGD67. I bought it online, of course, but still.

Before I got the MAC 109 Small Contour Brush, I tried using the MAC 168 Angled Contour Brush to contour my cheekbones, temples and jawline, as what I always see Marlena of MakeupGeek do to create shadows on the face.

But because my face is much smaller and I have absolutely no cheekbones even when I pucker up and do the ‘fish face’, I always ended up with muddy, blotchy cheeks that extended almost to my jawline, when all I wanted to do was contour under my cheekbones. The 168 just made the powder blush/bronzer go all over the place.

I kept thinking ‘Wow, I must really suck’ to be always doing a bad contouring job, but later realized I was merely using the wrong tool!

Bun Bun’s Makeup Tip: Don’t fret if you’re getting it wrong. Sometimes, it’s quite alright to blame it on the tool. Heh.




So began my quest of finding the right tool for the right job. I Googled ‘MAC 109 dupe’, but while it’s usually rather easy to find lists of dupes for other brushes, it seemed the MAC 109 was IRREPLACEABLE and UNDUPABLE.


It bit into my bones to be throwing money on yet another MAC face brush, but when you are reminded of how lasting they are, the initial hefty price tag hence divided over a long time period, you feel much better.

It’s an investment worth making. In the long run, you will save money by purchasing a high quality brush.

Let’s get to the part where I tell you why the MAC 109 Small Contour Brush is part of my daily makeup routine.

Picks Up And Deposits The Right Amount Of Powder Product

Made of natural hair, the MAC 109 is dense yet soft, making the application and blending of products very easy. MAC suggests using the 109 for contour powder products and that’s what I use it for.

The 109 face brush picks up the right amount of contouring product with its dense bristles and deposits it on the face where you want it. It also buffs out products nicely so you don’t have ugly stripes down the cheeks.

The thing I really like about the 109 is its precision, something I could never achieve with the 168 Large Angled Contour Brush (or any other brush in my makeup brush stash) even though it is highly recommended by many beauty gurus for contouring.

Bun Bun’s Makeup Tip: No two faces are created equal, so just because someone said a face brush is The Face Brush doesn’t mean you have to force yourself to use it.

(Just in case you’re wondering what that silly thing on my hair is, check out this post on the Hair Velcro Pad)

Versatile Brush – Contour, Blush, Highlight

I reserve the MAC 109 solely for contouring powders but have tried using it as a highlighting and blush brush just to test its versatility.

As a blush brush, because of its dense bristles, more blush product is picked up with the MAC 109 Small Contour Brush as compared to the MAC 168 Large Angled Contour Brush. As a result, accidental over application of blush may occur for the first few times when you are still getting the hang of using the brush. But once you get to know the MAC 109 better, blush color will go on effortlessly, and look natural and well-blended. To tell you the truth, if I had another 109, the 168 would be on the dole.

Even among different contouring powders I have to change the weight of handling the brush – lighter for MAC Gold-Go-Lightly and heaver for NYC Bronzer in Sunny.

Since this face brush is small enough, it can also be used as a highlighter brush. Lightly swirl the brush into the highlighting powder (my staple is the MAC Too Chic Beauty Powder), tap off the excess and apply it on the top of the cheekbones, and wherever you want highlighted. For highlighting though, I much prefer using the MAC 188 Small Duo Fibre Face Brush because it picks up and deposits less product. It’s always better and easier to build than slap on a eye-blinding amount of shimmer on your face.

Contouring Makes Chubby Faces Appear Slimmer

As you’d have seen from my many pictures, I don’t have model cheekbones. Which is perfectly fine with me because where I am in this side of the world, faces with less prominent cheekbones are prefered.

I can tell you why, but I’d like to reserve that for another series of posts. Heh heh.

Anyhow, bronzer brings warmth to the face otherwise ‘flattened’ by foundation and contouring helps give the face more dimension.

Shedding Monster – Don’t Use It For Liquid/Cream Products!

I believe MAC recommended the MAC 109 for powder products, and specifically stated so, because if it sheds even with powder products, I can’t imagine how many more bristles will be shed with the weight of liquid and cream products.

Stray black hairs on the face are rather the norm for the 109 – it’s really annoying – but despite it, most people who use the 109 merely suck it up and remove them. Like me. Because it is irreplaceable.

The good news is that over time, less hair is shed. And I’d advise everyone to take a last check in the mirror before leaving the house.

Fun fact: While traveling to work one day, I noticed many people staring at me. I thought I was particularly pretty that day, having spent more time on an elaborate eye makeup look. Halfway through the journey, I took my mirror out to do a look check and to my horror, saw a piece of dried tissue stuck on my cheek. Thanks, strangers, thanks for looking and not having the courtesy to tell me! Grrr!

Initial Washes Issues

It doesn’t bleed anymore, but it bled black blood during the initial washes. Bristles used to shed in 4 or 5, but they don’t occur that often anymore even when dry. With all brushes, be careful not to get water into the brush ferrule (the metal part), dry your brushes at a slant, and shape them while they’re wet. Invest in brush guards!

Best Contouring Brush

In summary, the MAC 168 was too big for me and couldn’t give me the control I yearned to create natural-looking shadows on my face.

The MAC 109 small face brush with a rounded-dome tip, densely packed bristles gave me the precision I desired. HG contouring brush.

I hereby crown the MAC 109 Small Contour Brush For Contouring, Holy Grail Material.

(Do I still have to rate it?)

Bun Bun rates the MAC 109 Small Contour Brush:

I’d like to know what brush you use for contouring! =) Oh, and do you face any problems with contouring? Do let me know!

You will also like:

About Bun Bun

Hello! My name is Juli and Bun Bun is my alter-ego. I blog to share my love for makeup, how to apply it, and what works or what doesn’t work, all from an Asian perspective.

My first makeup product was a shimmery light blue lipstick which I proudly wore all over my eyelids and lips. It cost $2.50, felt like $250, and made me feel like a million bucks.

  • Sunny

    I use 168 to contour with bronzer, and my new Bdellium 965 to highlight (I’ll review my Bdellium brushes on my blog soon, but in short I DIG them). It is a blush brush and I certainly do use it that way, but because it is duo-fiber and has a rather fine tip, I find it pretty decent as a highlighting brush too!

    Thanks for sharing Bun Bun!

    • Bun Bun

      Doesn’t 168 go all over the place? It doesn’t fit my bone structure well at all. =(

      • Sunny

        It’s OK for me because my cheek bones are actually pretty prominent. Also, I just got the brush guard. If I dry 168 in it 168 gets reshaped pretty well. It takes forever to dry though! I washed my bunch of brush on Sunday night, now on Tuesday morning even my eyeshadow brushes are still wet!

        • Bun Bun

          Yeah, I use the brush guard for all my face brushes. Very important! I don’t know why brushes seem to dry much slower in other countries – must be the humidity levels. When I wash my brushes, I simply leave them overnight and they’d be well and dry the next morning. Face brushes need maximum 8 hours, that’s all.

  • shusheshe

    What a coincidence! I recently just got this brush myself on the recommendations of a MAC makeup artist for contouring. I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but I will soon!

    • Bun Bun

      That’s great! So what contouring powder do you use?

  • a!k0

    Oooo… I don’t have any MAC brushes but this would be one I would take a look in the near future :) Chubby cheecks XD hehehehe I have chubby cheeks too! But those chubby cheeks are adorable on you ^^, I still don’t know how to apply bronzer on my chubby cheeks o__O


    • Bun Bun

      Haha chubby cheeks are fun! At least when we get old, we won’t have sunken cheeks! Application of bronzer takes practice. Will be making a how-to post on that soon!

  • Sarah

    I’m pretty lacking in the cheekbone department. :< But I use a similar brush from Lancome that I got as a gift with purchase. It works well but it’s not very soft. Maybe I’ll add this one to my wishlist. 😀

    • Bun Bun

      I always aim to use soft brushes on my face coz I have rather sensitive skin which can breakout from the slightest irritation or discomfort. You will definitely love the 109, Sarah! 😀

  • Amelia

    Chipmunk cheeks! I inherited mine from my father’s side. I have never quite gotten the hang of blushes, but this post has me reconsidering. Thank you for sharing!

    • Bun Bun

      I never thought it that way! Suddenly I feel super pleased with my chipmunk cheeks! Lol! Thank you Amelia!

  • Kimberly

    So glad you posted this. I thought that something was wrong with me. I could not get the 168 to work when I tried to contour; I always wound up with blotchy spots on face. I am totally going to try the 109 now.

    • Bun Bun

      I thought so too. I guess we can only blame ourselves for having cute, small faces. Teeheeeheee….

  • Lola. B

    Try the sephora I.t. Foundation brush. It’s a bit flatter but still domed enough to give a wonderful cheek contour!

    • Bun Bun

      Thanks for the recommendation, Lola! I’ll make sure to check it out the next time I pop by my local Sephora! =)