Makeup brushes can be very complex, despite popular belief. There are so many different kinds, shapes, and sizes, and each serves its own unique purpose to what you are trying to achieve with your makeup look. Investing in a good set of makeup brushes can be very overwhelming, especially if you are just starting out, so I’ve laid out this guide to explain 10 must have brushes that are the most useful in creating a variety of different looks.
Flat Shader Brush
This is probably the crème de la crème of eye makeup brushes if I’m being totally honest. It’s like the big girl version of those crappy little sponges that come with a Claire’s glitter eye palette. This is just used for applying an eyeshadow directly onto the lid, allowing you to grab as much pigmentation of the product as possible to pack it onto your eye. Even if all you want is a shimmery nude shade atop your lids for that extra little pop, this brush is a life saver when it comes to a neat and crisp application.
This is the second most important brush because as soon as you decide to take your eye look to the next level with shading and contouring, you absolutely, ABSOLUTELY, need this brush. I have literally seen a woman claiming to be a makeup artist try use a cotton swab to blend a silver out to a smokey black and I almost had a heart attack. The fluffy bristles of a blending brush allow you to buff out color and achieve a nice, even fade on the outer edges of you eye colors, and also helps colors seamlessly blend into one another. This brush will prevent harsh lines between shadows as you begin working with multiple colors in one eye look.
This is also a good brush to have once you start practicing smokey eyes. Usually you want your eye look to frame your eye, meaning you want to blend out shadows onto your lower lid to match what you have on your top lid. This brush fits perfectly underneath the lash line and helps to buff out the color, and even blend it upwards into a winged-out eye shape if that is the look you are going for. This also works perfect for blending out creamy black lower liner if you are trying a sultry, grungy look.
I actually love to use this brush for my eyebrows. Of course, it depends on the type of brow product you are using, but for shadows and creams this brush helps to shape out your eyebrow with the color. It can also be used to create a wing using gel liner, or even a black shadow if you are going for a less intense winged eyeliner. It is also useful for applying concealer under misshaped shadow or eyeliner, or just cleaning up the outer corner of the eye when you are trying to achieve that perfect sharp wing shape.
Small Detailer Brush
This can be really good for applying an inner corner or brow highlight. Since it is so precise, you have a lot more control using it for when you are trying to do just a small amount of shadow in a small place, or shaping out a cut crease. These also double as a lip brush when you are shaping a cupid’s bow or attempting an ombre lip.
My recommendation: E.L.F. Has each of these brushes for a great price, I would highly recommend taking a look through their brush line when you go to shop.
Foundation brushes actually come in two different shapes: flat and dome. More and more makeup companies are coming out with their own unique shapes for foundation brushes, but these two shapes are the ones you will see most commonly. I’m going to tell you right now- flat foundation brushes kind of suck. They often leave you looking streaky, and I only like to use them for applying face masks. Dome-shaped foundation brushes are where its at. They are compact in order to really buff your makeup into your skin, but also the fluffy round shape helps you spread and blend it over your face to get a nice even application.
My recommendation: Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, $9.00
Unlike the dome-shaped foundation brush, the bristles on these brushes are longer and less compact, which feels much more gentle on the skin. This brush can be used for applying loose setting powder all over your face or for applying blush to the apples of your cheeks. It helps evenly distribute color without dropping off to much pigmentation in one place, causing you to look blotchy.
My recommendation: E.L.F Complexion Brush, $4.00
Angled Face Brush
This brush has a similar feel to the fluffy brush but has a tendency to be smaller, and is also shaped to be a slanted angle. These can also be great for applying blush, but can work to apply your bronzer in the hollows of your cheeks without making you look streaky.
My recommendation: Wet N’ Wild Contour Brush, $1.99
I use these for a couple different things. I used to use them to apply foundation, which isn’t necessarily wrong, but I found could leave the finish looking a little…disrupted. However, they work really good with other cream products, such as highlighter and cream contour shades. They can also be used to brush away excess loose powder after baking.
My recommendation: E.L.F. Small Stipple Brush, $3.00
Honestly this one product could probably knock numbers 1 and 4 off this list if it didn’t need to be replaced so often. Ever since the Beauty Blender, makeup sponges of all different unique shapes have been emerging from every cosmetic company, some better than others. Sponges can be used for practically everything: Concealer, foundation, cream contouring, or even baking. After running them under the sink and squeezing the excess water out, they buff product into the skin and blend it out like a fricken dream. The beauty of the sponge is that it can absorb excess product to keep it from caking on, and the moisture you put in the sponge when you wet it is what helps blend the product seamlessly and set it into your skin.
My recommendation: Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge, $6.00
Note: The sponge pictured above is not the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge, just the makeup sponge I had on hand and included a picture of for the sake of an example.