What are makeup brushes used for? How many makeup brushes do do I need? What are the best makeup brushes to buy? Which makeup brush do I use where? Knowing what makeup brushes you need and how to use them can be utterly confusing and completely overwhelming. Today, I will help you clear of all of this confusion, with the complete list of makeup brushes and their uses. There are so many choices and price ranges, it is crazy! Even if you are an expert like me, the choices can be overwhelming, especially if you are just a normal person trying to figure it all out.
THE COMPLETE LIST OF MAKEUP BRUSHES AND THEIR USES
So, let’s break it down, shall we? First, I will share a complete list of different makeup brushes and their uses. The reason I created this chart, is so you are able to walk into a store and know what you are looking at. Keep in mind, there are lots of variations on the same brush and you do not them all! For example, there are small blush brushes, tapered blush brushes, angled blush brushes, I could go on and on. You only need 1 blush brush!!! This holds true for many other types of brushes, but here is the breakdown of some common types of brushes and what they are used for.
CONCEALER BRUSH |Typically shaped like a paintbrush but is slightly denser with firm bristles and is usually made of synthetic fibers. I use this type of brush for concealer under the eyes, as well as cream eye shadow.
BROW BRUSH | Similar to the concealer brush, you are looking for dense, firm bristles. This brush can be used to define and fill in brows, as well as for gel eyeliner application. This brush is usually fairly inexpensive.
BLENDING BRUSH | I call this the “windshield wiper brush” and it is my favorite type of brush to apply eyeshadow in your crease. Generally, the rounder and bigger the tip, the softer and more blended the application will be, This is a great brush for beginners and also a great brush for blending out shadow, hence the name “blending brush”.
CREASE BRUSH | Another version of the crease brush, or blending brush, this one is angled, instead of round. Personally, I prefer the round version, but they both do the same thing. It is simply preference. This type of brush is a bit more precise and placement can be easier if you are unsure about your crease color.
PENCIL BRUSH | If you like a soft and smokey shadow look and you like wearing liner and eyeshadow on the bottom of your lashes, this brush is crucial for creating those looks. It creates much softer and more flattering look than a pencil. This brush is small and is shaped like a pencil tip.
FLAT EYESHADOW BRUSH | In my opinion, this brush is ESSENTIAL for a great eye makeup application and one of the few brushes you actually NEED. This brush is crucial for creating a smooth base for any eyeshadow application. You are looking for dense, firm bristles and a bit of a thicker brush. I prefer natural bristles for the best application.
LASH & BROW SPOOLIE BRUSH| This handy little spoolie brush is great for taming brows and declumping your mascara after application. These are fairly cheap and I like to have a couple around. They generally also come on the other end of your brow pencil.
FLAT EYELINER BRUSH | My all time favorite brush for applying eyeliner that is flawless and lasts all day. I share my technique for this on Instagram and it is easy to do and will change your life, if you have been using a pencil.
LIP BRUSH | This is by no means a must have, especially if you are more of a gloss girl like myself. However, it does come in handy when you are wearing a bold lip and is also a great way to take an extra application of lipstick in your travel bag. Just pack lip color onto bristles and put on the cover. Ready to go!
FOUNDATION BRUSH | A foundation brush is great for achieving a flawless, airbrushed finish. Again, there are lots of different versions of this brush and a lot of it depends on what type of foundation you are using. Not all foundations work well with a brush, so it really depends on your foundation type here. I rarely use a brush and prefer my fingers or a damp beauty blender, but I do occasionally love to use a brush, especially for events or special occasions.
STIPPLING BRUSH | This type of brush creates a flawless, airbrushed base with high definition results. It can be used to apply foundation, blush, bronzer, powder, and highlighters. It also is very effective for applying liquid and cream products. There are duo-fibre bristles at the top of the brush, which make for a light, gentle application that looks very natural. These brush ends have a very light and feathery feel.
POWDER BRONZER, BLUSH CONTOUR HIGHLIGHT BRUSHES | This is where people get screwed out of so much money, in my opinion. It is certainly nice to have all of these lovely brushes, don’t get me wrong, but you just don’t need a separate brush for all of these things. One good brush will do all of these things for you. So, this is the place to spend a bit more money on ONE REALLY GOOD brush that lays on color beautifully and does it all. I have listed some of my favorites below.
WHAT BRUSHES DO I REALLY NEED?
Now that we have the complete list of makeup brushes brushes and their uses, you may wonder, which ones you actually need. I have alluded to this above, but would like to get into a bit more detail below. I am sharing the only brushes you need for a full face of makeup. It is not as many as you would think. You truly only need a 3-4 brushes if you are a beginner – a flat eyeshadow brush, a crease brush, eyeliner brush and a blush/powder bronzer brush. That’s it!!! However, once you are beyond the beginner level there are a few more brushes that come in useful and will complete your set. I have listed them below. I have yet to find a complete and comprehensive brush set that contains everything you need and nothing you don’t, but I have not found it. A few come close, but there are always a few that are unnecessary, in my opinion. You can create your own set by assessing your needs and compiling a list of exactly what brushes you need and will use. Then head to Sephora or Target and pick them out.
PRO TIPS FOR BUYING BRUSHES
My one rule about makeup brushes is this: buy the best you can afford. You can make inexpensive makeup look fantastic with good brushes. In turn, the most expensive makeup will look awful, if it is applied with bad quality brushes and tools. (i.e. those little applicators that come with your eyeshadows. THROW THOSE AWAY!!!) If you are starting out and need all new brushes, I suggest you buy a budget set I recommend below. This will give you a good starting point. Brushes have come a very long way since i started in this industry so it is certainly possible to get good brushes on a budget. Once you are comfortable with them and they start to show some wear and tear, you can replace them, one by one, with better versions. Also, you will find which brushes you use most often and then you can replace those with better quality versions. If you favorite thing in the world is blush, then you may want to go ahead an invest in a great blush brush. With proper care, good brushes will last a lifetime.
THE ONLY MAKEUP BRUSHES YOU REALLY NEED
1.FLAT ALL OVER SHADOW BRUSH | This brush should be shorter, and firmer and be be made of natural bristles. The purpose of this brush is to apply a base layer of eyeshadow in a neutral shade from your lid to your brow bone. Really press the shadow into your shadow primer to create a smooth, even, and long lasting base on your lid.
2.EYEBROW BRUSH | Use this angled brush to apply brow powder to define your brows in short, even strokes to mimic small hairs. I personally fluctuate between powders and pencil and I am currently using a brow pencil, but I like both and use the same application technique.
3.CREASE BRUSH | A crease brush is for applying a darker shade into your crease, or to layer a wash of color onto your lid over your base eye shadow. It is also essential for blending shadow, so I recommend you have at least a couple of these. One to apply shadow and a clean one to blend.
4. FLAT EYELINER BRUSH | This is my favorite brush and technique for applying eyeliner that is flattering and lasts all day. Rather than dragging it across your eye, use the flat tip to press the shadow into the base of your lashes, moving along your lash line as you go. Start on the outside and move to the inside
5.PENCIL BRUSH | If you like a soft and smokey shadow look and you like wearing eyeliner and eyeshadow on the bottom of your lashes, this brush is crucial for creating those looks. It creates a much softer and more flattering look than a pencil. This brush is small and is shaped like a pencil tip.
6. CONCEALER BRUSH | Use this brush to apply concealer under the eye area, as well as cream eyeshadow. I recommend a smaller, tipped brush for applying concealer on blemishes.
7.LIP BRUSH | This is by no means a must have, especially if you are more of a gloss girl like myself. However, it does come in handy when you are wearing a bold lip and is also a great way to take an extra application of lipstick in your travel bag. Just pack lip color onto bristles and put on the cover. Ready to go! Also, it works great as a concealer brush for covering blemishes.
8. BLUSH, POWDER, BRONZER BRUSH | You need only 1 brush for powder, blush and bronzer. Apply powder sparingly through the T zone to keep shine at bay and set your makeup. Bronzer goes onto the high plains of your face in a backward 3 motion. Lastly, pop blush on apples of cheeks and then blend upward and outward.
ANOTHER PRO TIP FOR MAKING BRUSHES LAST
Make sure to keep your brushes clean. I like to use this spray in between applications to keep them sanitized. I give them a good cleaning about once a week. If you use your brushes daily, deep cleaning them once a week is a good guideline. Not cleaning your brushes can lead to breakouts, shorten the lifespan of your brushes and is just gross in general. Proper care can make brushes last a lifetime. I have had some of mine for over 20 years. If a brush starts shedding, it is time for a new one.
A FEW OF MY FAVORITE BRUSHES
Since I am in the business, I have had the opportunity t try a bunch of different brushes in various price points. I have listed a few of my favorites here in a variety of price ranges. I love them all for different reasons and I have explained here why. I would say that my all time favorite brush brand, if money were no objects is between Trish McEvoy brushes, Laura Mercier and Bobbi Brown. My favorite drugstore brands are Sonia Kashuk at Target and Real Techniques. Ok, here are my personal favorites in no particular order:
BOBBI BROWN BLENDING BRUSH | I initially bought this brush to apply my shimmer brick, and quickly started using it for everything else, including powder, bronzer and blush. It lays color on beautifully and is a great all around brush for beginners. It is pricey, but it will last forever with proper care and you have one really good quality brush for all of your powder products.
IT COSMETICS COMPLEXION BRUSH | This is one of my favorite brush for getting a flawless foundation and concealer application. I use this with most of my liquid foundations and it does an amazing job of giving your skin and airbrushed finish. The small end is amazing for buffing out concealer. It is one of the best brushes hands down and I uses it a lot personally and professionally.
REAL TECHNIQUES EVERYDAY ESSENTIALS SET | This set is an amazing value and the brushes are so good for the money. It also comes with a makeup blender sponge. I like that the brushes tell you what they are for on the handles, and the bristles are so soft. The blush brush is a bit large, in my opinion, but nothing unmanageable. It also comes with a setting brush, crease brush and foundation buffing bruff. You honestly can’t go wrong with this set. If you are starting out, I think this set, plus one of their eye sets and you are good to go.
NARS BUKI BRUSH | This is a luxury brush, but it is so good. It is my favorite blush brush and lays color on beautifully and flawlessly. It will last a lifetime, if it is taken care of properly. It is made from natural bristles and also works wonderfully for liquid blush.
LUXI TAPERED BRUSH | This is sold as a highlighting brush, but I love it as a blush, bronzer and highlighting and powder brush. I have a small face, so this size works perfectly for me. I also use it for my beloved Daniel Sandler liquid blush. This is a great brush brand in general. I love all of their brushes and they are not super expensive. They are all made from synthetic fibers and are vegan and cruelty free.
REAL TECHNIQUES ANGLED BRUSH | I love an angled brush to apply my bronzer and contour my cheeks a bit naturally. This brush is great for that. It is certainly not a must have, but certainly a nice to have and the price is right – cheaper than a latte at Starbucks.
TRISH MCEVOY CREAM BLENDING BRUSH | This is one of the best brushes to apply and blend cream products to your skin. It work well for concealer and cream shadow and is a great complexion perfecting brush. I have had mine for 25 years and it is still as good as new. I love working
REAL TECHNIQUES BEAUTY SPONGES | These are not a brush, but I included them here, because I love applying my foundation with these little sponges. They are the perfect fit for my face and get all into the nooks and crannies for a flawless application. They are a great price, making them easy to toss after just a few uses. You always want to use these sponges damp, or they will soak up your foundation and not work well. I also like to spray them with setting spray to make my foundation last longer.
LAURA MERCIER FLAT EYELINER BRUSH | You can get this brush for a lot less money, but I love this one, because the brush overall is a bit narrower than most, making it easier to get a flawless liner application, in my opinion. Aslo, the bristles are just a bit longer, making it a bit more flexible and easier to work with.
SIGMA PENCIL BRUSH | I love this brush to line my eyes instead of an eyeliner pencil. It provides a much softer look and is also a great tool for blending edges together and placing an accent color into your outer crease. This particular brush has a bit more of a tapered tip than some others, making this my favorite one.
LUXIE BLENDING BRUSH | This is my current favorite crease brush. It is so easy to get color blended. My recommendation is to have 2 of these brushes. One for applying color and a clean one for blending. Because this brush is fairly inexpensive, you can purchase a couple without breaking the bank.
LAURA MERCIER ALL OVER EYECOLOR BRUSH | This brush is my favorite for applying my base shadow. It is great for pressing your base shade into your shadow primer and making it last all day. I love the size of the brush and the length of the bristles. They are a bit firmer and perfect for laying on base color.
TARGET BRUSH SET | This is a great starter set and a good bang for your buck. It has everything you need to do a full face of makeup and a few brushes you probably don’t need, but you can’t really go wrong for the price. The quality is great for the money. Sonia Kashuk also has a great selection of individual brushes, so you can build your own set with ease. These are the brushes I recommend to people on a budget.
Whew! That was a lot of information, but I hope it help you. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below, or send me an email.