Makeup brushes are an essential part of any woman’s beauty arsenal. If you’re just beginning with your brush collection and were to take inventory of mine, you may start panicking thinking you need as many as I do. Luckily, that’s not the case.
I love makeup, but when it comes to buying makeup brushes, I have a problem. (The photo below isn’t even a third of my brush collection.) After all, I am a makeup artist and what is an artist without their brushes? While I’m not painting the Mona Lisa, a beautiful makeup application relies heavily on the quality of one’s brushes.
Although you might not need five of the exact same eyeshadow brush, there are a few “must-haves” that will make all the difference. Keep reading to learn the 7 makeup brushes every woman should own!
Traditional Foundation Brush
Why you need it: A foundation brush is perfect for flawlessly applying foundation where your fingers can’t.
How to use it: Most people glide this brush along their face in long strokes, which is responsible for creating that dreaded streaky look. Instead, you should use this brush with stippling or tapping motions. You’ll be amazed by how natural your foundation appears.
I recommend: The budget-friendly e.l.f. professional Foundation Brush, $1.49 can’t be beat for that price. It’s the traditional flat head brush and won’t give as much of an airbrushed finish as a stippling brush. And although the price is great, if you’re going to be using this brush often, I would recommend spending a little more and getting the higher powered benefit cosmetics Foundation Brush, $24.00. For a great stippling foundation brush, consider the Real Techniques Stippling Brush, $9.99.
Why you need it: In my experience, I’ve found an Angled Contour Brush works best for bronzer and a Domed Cheek Brush works best for blush. However, if you’re on a budget, you can get by using the same brush.
How to use it: If you’re using an Angled Contour Brush for your bronzer and blush, you will use them the same. Just be sure to remove any excess bronzer before applying your blush (and vice versa).
To create flawless contours, dip into your bronzer, tap off excess, create a “kissy face”, and swipe your brush downward diagonally under your cheek bones, where you see shadows created by this expression. Move your hand in one sweeping motion for a flawless application.
To apply blush, dip your clean brush into your blush, and softly sweep onto the apples of your cheeks. To apply highlighting powder, dip into the powder and glide over your cheek bones, down the center of your nose, mid-forehead, and center of your chin.
I recommend: The Double-Ended Face Brush from Victoria’s Secret combines these two brushes for only $18. If you make it to one of their semi-annual sales, the savings make it even more worth it. If you’re wanting to save a little money, I recommend the budget-friendly e.l.f. Studio Angled Blush Brush, $3 and although its name says it is a blush brush, I love this one for daily contouring with my bronzer. A great budget-friendly domed cheek brush is the Makeup Geek Rounder Blush Brush, $8.99.
Why you need it: A concealer brush is great for hiding blemishes, dark spots, or acne scars on your face. This small brush has very compact bristles, making it able to hold a lot of product for precise application. Plus, it’s much more hygienic to use a brush instead of your fingers. Note: Be sure to clean this brush if you use it to cover acne, as the bacteria can easily spread, causing even worse breakouts.
How to use it: This is pretty self explanatory. Dip into concealer and dab. Blend with the brush, and set it with a powder.
I recommend: The EcoTools Bamboo Deluxe Concealer Brush, $3.99 is great for a budget-friendly brush, and most of EcoTools brushes perform exceptionally well. My all-time favorite is the bareMinerals Maximum Coverage Concealer Brush, $20
Powder Blending Brush
Why You Need It: If you’ve been applying your powder with a pouf, you’ve been wasting product. Not only that, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much better, more even, and more natural your face will look.
How to use it: Simply dip your brush in your powder, tap off any excess, and then lightly brush in a sweeping motion over your face, paying special attention to the natural contours of your face.
I recommend: EcoTools Large Powder Brush, $6.79
Why you need it: If you’re still using the drug store sponge stick that comes with your eyeshadow, you should be ashamed of yourself! Okay, that may have been a bit harsh, but in all seriousness, this is an archaic method and you’ll be thrilled when you discover how much more you can accomplish with an eyeshadow brush. You’ll use your this brush for all-over eyelid application of your base color (to the arch of the brow) and for your eyelid shade, giving you a much smoother finish.
How to use it: Simply dip your brush in your eyeshadow, sweep it over your lid starting from the inside, moving outward. You can also use this brush for your highlighting eyeshadow color, under the arch of your brow. Going for a more dramatic look? Dip your brush in water before swiping through your eyeshadow color for a more pigmented look.
Eye Blending/Crease Brush
Why you need it: Ahhh, that ever-frustrating smokey eye. It can’t be achieved without this brush. You will use this brush with your darker shades to emphasize your natural eye crease. Whether you’re doing a nighttime smokey eye, or using your neutrals for a natural look, this brush is a must. Because of its shape, it’s capable of getting into the most difficult areas of your eyes for some serious definition and precision. It’s also great for blending your eyeshadow so there’s no separation of color.
How to use it: Using a circular motion, swipe your brush into the darker shade. Gently tap off any excess. To create your crease, use the tip of the brush. Starting at the outer edge of your eyelid, work up into the crease of your eye. Blend with a backwards/forwards motion, working the color into the crease. When you’ve achieved the depth you desire, wipe it off, dip in your lighter eyelid shadow and buff the line of demarkation.
I recommend: Ulta Crease Brush, $8.00
Bent Liner Brush
Why you need it: The bent liner brush is specifically designed to reach your lash line with ease. The bent head is great for applying gel or liquid liner on your upper lid, and also makes cleaning up any liquid liner uh-ohs a breeze. Even the most amateur makeup artist can create a jaw-dropping cat eye with this tool.
How to use it: For gorgeous liner application, simply press the tip into your liner and follow the natural curve of your eyelid at the lash line. If you make a mistake when applying your liquid liner, this brush can instantly become a liquid liner mistake eraser. Dampen the brush with a small amount of water and dip the wet brush into your eyelid shadow, and gently tap where your liner has gotten out of line and you’re good to go!
I recommend: The Sonia Kashuk Core Tools Bent Eyeliner Brush, $5.99 is a great, affordable alternative to some of the more pricey options out there.
The Best Budget-Friendly Makeup Brush Kits
If you’re considering buying all these brushes and looking to save some money, check out some of these great brush kits:
- The EcoTools 6 Piece Cosmetic Set ($11.49) includes a large eyeshadow brush, concealer brush, face brush and a makeup puff.
- Real Techniques Core Collection Set, ($17.99) has all you need for flawless face application. It comes with a detailer brush (perfect for concealing problem areas, or applying lipstick with precision), pointed foundation brush for liquid foundation, buffing brush for powder and mineral foundation, and a contour brush to create stunning contours and highlighting finishes.
- Similarly, the Real Techniques Starter Kit ($17.99) has all you need for beautiful eyes, including a base shadow brush, a deluxe crease brush, an accent brush (great for highlighting under the arch of your brow and smudging), a pixel-point eyeliner brush, and a brow brush to help shape and define your eyebrows.
- The “Flatter Yourself” Contouring Brush Set from Sephora is a bit more pricey ($48) for only three brushes, but it’s worth every penny!
There are many others I’d recommend for those wanting a professional makeup application, but these are the must-have makeup brushes for anyone just starting out. What are some of your favorite makeup brushes you can’t live without? Tell us in the comments section below!