Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Paula Dorf Smokie Lid Brush (and replacement options)

I wasn't sure that I was going to dedicate a post to Paula Dorf's Smokie Lid brush because it's been discontinued for ages. But after yesterday's post Dain of Ars Aromatica commented about it and I received a bunch of emails, so apparently there's enough interest to warrant a discussion.

The best makeup brushes are not only of great quality but also have a good design that make them unique and useful. This is the case with Paula Dorf's Smokie Lid brush. I don't know why it was discontinued any more than I get the spelling, but I like this little brush enough to deal with the latter.  Now, I first bought the Smokie Lid brush years ago and it took me a while to appreciate it for what it is. My oldest brush is a bit different than the one I bought later as a backup (no, neither one is a fake, both came from Beauty.com). It appears that the brush has undergone a redesign that stripped it from its best feature, the smooshed tapered shape. My older brush fits perfectly under the lower lashes and is among the best tool for soft and understated contouring. It's also great for various detailed tasks, from smudging to highlighting the inner corner. People with small and hooded lids can also put it into further use when shading.

The soft roundish shape of Paula Dorf's Smokie Lid brush is quite different than classic smoky eye brushes. Both Laura Mercier and Sephora Platinum #24. These are all terrific brushes (I'll review these two soon), but I the synthetic pointy and narrow edge of the Sephora and Laura Mercier makes them better at dealing with creamier products while a soft diffused powder smokiness is better achieved with Paula Dorf.

Even in its newer and less unique incarnation, Paula Dorf Smokie Lid brush is fantastic- it's dense and firm with little give but soft and gentle. As you can see, this shape is quite popular with me and sees a lot of use, hence the various small domed brushes in my collection. I have never found another brush with a similar design to the older Smokie Lid brush, though I certainly tried. The version Paula Dorf produced prior to discontinuing it altogether can be more easily replaced.

I have two decent suggestions for the task. One is Sephora Platinum Natural Dome Smudge Brush #13 ($20). This brush is round, firm and a bit stubby, and have been one of my favorite Sephora brushes for years. Like the Paula Dorf brush,  the #13 was also slightly reconstructed over the years, but in this case the new version is more precise. The other one is Space NK Domed Smudge Brush (it's the store's private brand). This one is smaller and a tad pointier, but still offers the excellent balance between firmness and very soft hair necessary for creating a smoky eye and working under the lower lashes.

The other brushes you see in the comparison shots are actually pencil brushes. They're not as firm and I prefer to use them in the crease, outer V and for general contouring. All of them are great performers and can definitely multitask and create a smoky eye, but we're being very specific and particular today.

Bottom Line: Dear Paula Dorf, please bring this brush back in its original shape.


  1. Thank you for taking the time to respond so thoroughly, Gaia. I wish I could get my hands on that original shape; I like how it's flattened to smudge liner, but also pointed for detail work.

  2. One possible replacement is the Kent Brush No 4 (Definition Eye Socket Line Brush). Not quite as dense, but very similiar shape, shorter handle

    1. I tried this one and it was not even close. It is too large, to dense and way too rough. I was hoping this would work but yeah, no.

  3. thank you for reviewing on paula dorf smokie lid and discusssing about replacing options, very useful ;)

  4. Hello Gaia,

    Do you think that the PD Smokie Lid brush may have made a comeback in the clothes of Charlotte Tilbury's Smudger Brush? The shape looks very similar, it is soft enough, however it is not dense, at all, but I truly think that it comes very close. Have you got your hands on it yet to compare? :)

  5. The Smoke Lid brush is BACK!!! Just received mine from Pauladorf.com
    Oh happy day!!!

  6. Me too!!! I was reading Sonia's Sweet Makeup Temptations blog regarding her Pro MUA kit choices and she mentioned that the Smokie Lid was back in stock. I went straight to the site and ordered two, as well as another Sheer Crease for back-up. Already received and I am thrilled to have mine finally. I went back a day later and they are gone. I'm so glad I acted fast.

  7. I saw the smokie brush on site (her own website)... But I am confused if its the same original shaped one or the new one. There was one smudger brush as well. Can you please help to tell if that smokie brush is the one like older version.


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