Ask any beauty lover about their favorite makeup artists, and one of the first names out of their mouth is Mario Dedivanovic, aka Makeup by Mario. Ask them their all-time favorite makeup brushes, though, and their replies are usually less passionate — whatever's nearby, clean, affordable, etc. However, that's all about to change, thanks to the Makeup by Mario x Sephora Brush Collection. "Brushes are something that last for years, so I wanted to give to my followers something that they could hold on to," Dedivanovic tells Elite Daily exclusively. "They're very special to me." When you see them, you'll understand why.
Prior to a recent cleanout, Dedivanovic had hundreds of brushes in his professional kit. When he noticed himself digging for the same specific brushes over and over again, though, he used a process of elimination to weed out the excess. Now, he claims his kit has around 30 brushes total, many of which come from his latest collaboration with Sephora. "I've done a couple of other collabs with other big companies, but I've never done brushes," says Dedivanovic. "In masterclasses throughout the years, I can't pick a brush up and not tell [attendees] what it is. They want to know what the brushes are." When Sephora approached him to create a range of brushes, Dedivanovic knew it was the perfect opportunity.
From Sephora and Dedivanovic come three different kits: the Eye Brush Set, the Complexion Brush Set, and the Master Brush Set. The Eye Brush Set retails for $49 and contains five shadow brushes, the Complexion Brush set retails for $69 and contains six face brushes, and the Master Brush Set retails for $119 and contains both the aforementioned kits' brushes plus two additional face brushes. While each brush has a name implying what step it's meant to be used for (Foundation, Contour, etc.), Dedicanovic notes that most are multi-purpose and can be used a variety of ways.
Many of Dedivanovic's personal favorite makeup brushes are handmade in Japan and utilize natural bristles, meaning they're not the most accesible. In an attempt to bring a similar product to his fans, he set out to design the best synthetic option on the market, with qualities that mirror his pricy faves. "Sephora gave me full reign, there were no restrictions. There was no limit to what I could do, so I was able to create and mimic the natural bristles that I've worked with in my kit for many years," he says.
According to him, the keys to ensuring the synthetic brushes met Dedivanovic's high standards were nailing the hair density and brush shapes. Oftentimes, synthetic brushes are overly dense, which affects the ways they pick up and apply products to the skin. Dedivanovic went back and forth with the Sephora team to ensure his brushes were just the right density to mimic natural-hair brushes. As for shapes, he took a good look at his own most-used tools to determine what brush styles would be best for the ideal starter kit. One of his favorites, the Contour Slant brush, is designed with a taper that mimics the way one of his go-to brushes wore in over time. "I had created the shape myself over the years, so I recreated the used brush that I loved so much," he says.
While Dedivanovic was only approached about the collaboration last year, he says he's been manifesting something similar for almost two decades. His first job was at a Sephora, and it was there he discovered his love for makeup. "Sephora for me is life-changing in that they sort of saved my life, because when I started working there, I was very suppressed," says Dedivanovic. "When I went into Sephora and I discovered makeup, I discovered my passion and the very thing that changed my life and drove me. I focused on becoming an artist, and becoming a good artist, and becoming successful, and all of those things. Without Sephora — without me walking into that store when I did — I would not be here today."
Dedivanovic had a particularly full-circle moment on the day of the campaign photoshoot. He tells me he thought back 19 years ago to when he was a Sephora employee and remembered a very popular makeup artist visiting his store. "They had cameras on her, and she was doing something with Sephora, and I just remember staring at her and manifesting, dreaming, like, 'I'm gonna work hard, and I'm gonna do that one day, and I'm gonna be important enough to where I'm going to do something big with Sephora.'"
Eighteen years later, he gets choked up acknowledging how far he's come, a few tears welling up in his eyes as he speaks. "I walked into the campaign shoot and it was this massive studio, and it was all for me. I just couldn't believe that my dream had come true ... And it not only came true, but it's so much bigger than what I had imagined," he says.
If you're hoping to manifest your own makeup dreams, having the right tools is essential — cue Dedivanovic's brush kits. To snag some incredible makeup brushes with his seal of approval, you can shop all three kits on Dec. 26 exclusively at Sephora in stores, online, and using the Sephora app.