When it comes to buying makeup brushes, there are countless options to choose from. Whether you’re looking for an inexpensive brush that just gets the job done, or a high quality brush that will last for years to come, it’s important to know just what you need. Since many women tend to spend lots of money on expensive brush collections only to abandon most of them in favor of a few they prefer, I’ve compiled a list of essential makeup brushes and what they’re used for. Read on for the ultimate guide in choosing the right makeup brushes for any budget, and how to protect your investment.
Synthetic Bristles vs Natural Bristles
One of the biggest distinctions between makeup brushes is the type of bristles they’re made of — synthetic or natural hair. Besides being different in appearance–synthetic brushes are generally softer to the touch and look shinier–they also serve different purposes. Synthetic bristle makeup brushes are typically made of nylon or taklon fibers. They are easier to clean and less prone to damage.Therefore, they’re ideal for applying liquid and cream makeup. Natural bristle makeup brushes are made from the natural hair of animals, such as the pony, goat, kolinsky, squirrel, or badger. They’re slightly more difficult to care for and can become clogged and degraded by liquid makeup — making them ideal for applying powder products.
Essential Brushes You Should Own
Powder/Blush Brush : A large or medium-sized, soft, full brush – used for applying powder, bronzer or blush, shading, and blending.
- High End – Too Faced Powder Pouf Powder Brush ($32 – In stores & Online)
- Affordable – Real Techniques Powder Brush ($10 – In stores & Online)
- Inexpensive – e.l.f. Studio Powder Brush ($3 – In stores & Online)
Foundation Brush : A large or medium-sized, firm, densely packed brush that is flat or tapered – designed to achieve a smooth and flawless finish.
- High End – Tarte Airbrush Finish Bamboo Foundation Brush ($32 – In stores & Online)
- Affordable – Eco Tools Bamboo Foundation Brush ($7 – In stores & Online)
- Inexpensive – e.l.f. Studio Angled Foundation Brush ($3 – In stores & Online)
Blending Brush – A tapered, flat or dome-shaped brush – used for blending colors and buffing out harsh lines. You can choose a soft or firmer brush depending on preference.
- High End – Urban Decay Good Karma Blending Brush ($25 – In stores & Online)
- Affordable – Everyday Minerals Dome Blending Brush ($8 – Online)
- Inexpensive – BH Cosmetics Blending Brush ($3.25 – Online)
Contour Brush – An angled, flat or round brush – used for sculpting, contouring, and highlighting.
- High End – MAC 168 Large Angled Contour Brush ($35 – In stores & Online)
- Affordable – Bdellium Tools Bambu Slanted Contour Brush ($10 – Online)
- Inexpensive – e.l.f. Studio Contour Brush ($3 – In stores & Online)
Eyeshadow Brush – A small or medium-sized, flat, slightly round brush – used to apply powder eye shadow over the entire eyelid, and inner corners of your eyes.
- High End – Bobbi Brown Eye Sweep Brush ($33 – In stores & Online)
- Affordable – Sonia Kashuk Eye Shadow Brush ($5 – $10 – In stores & Online)
- Inexpensive – e.l.f. Essential Eye Shadow Brush ($1 – In stores & Online)
Angled Liner Brush – A narrow, angled, short bristled brush – used for applying gel or cream eyeliner, or shadow as a liner. Can also be used for eyebrows.
- High End – Benefit Cosmetics Hard Angle/Definer Brush ($20 – In stores & Online)
- Affordable – Eco Tools Bamboo Flat Eyeliner Brush ($5 – In stores & Online)
- Inexpensive – e.l.f. Essential Eyeliner Brush ($1 – In stores & Online)
Lip Brush – A firm, short bristled brush with a rounded, sculpted tip – used to apply lipstick and gloss to lips, and even concealer to small blemishes.
- High End – MAC 318 Retractable Lip Brush ($24 – In stores & Online)
- Affordable – Maybelline Expert Tools Lip Brush ($6 – $7 – In stores & Online)
- Inexpensive – e.l.f. Studio Retractable Lip Brush ($3 – In stores & Online)
Taking Care of Your Brushes
Whether you’ve chosen to splurge on high end brushes or not, you still want to make sure to clean them properly since dirty brushes breed bacteria, and can cause skin irritation and breakouts . After every use, spray your brushes with an anti-bacterial daily brush cleaner (Sephora Collection Daily Brush Cleaner $7, or e.l.f. Studio Daily Brush Cleaner $3 – In stores & Online). At least once a week, deep clean your brushes by soaking them in a bowl of lukewarm water and clarifying or baby shampoo. Make sure to rinse the brushes thoroughly after soaking them, then use a clean cloth to dry and reshape them. Allow your brushes to lay flat on a cloth and dry completely before putting them away.