There are approximately one million and one different makeup brushes on the market. And that is not an exaggeration. It can be hard to navigate which ones you really need and what they do. I thought I’d share a few of my favorite types, briefly explain what they do, and then show you some brushes at various price points that fulfill that need.
1. The Eye Shadow Fluff Brush
This is my basic, go-to shadow brush. I can apply a light wash of color all over my eye, concentrate a slightly darker color at my outer corner, or even use it to blend. Smaller brushes or those with stiffer bristles will apply more concentrated color. This is the brush I pick up the most often, and I can go through 2 or 3 of them in one day (I don’t like to mix my colors), I mostly use the $1 ELF brush.
Steal: e.l.f. Eye Shadow Brush (at ELF or Target)
Deal: Sigma E54 Medium Sweeper (at Sigma or Nordstrom)
Splurge: Sephora Classic Must Have Powder Shadow Brush #60 (at Sephora)
Luxe: Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow Brush (at Bobbi Brown, Sephora or Nordstrom)
2. The Eye Shadow Crease Brush
I like to have a brush just for adding a little depth to the crease of my eye. You could do this with a looser brush or one that is a little smaller. I personally like a more directed application with a pencil eraser shaped brush, so I know exactly how much I’m applying and where it is going.
Steal: e.l.f. Eye Crease Brush (at ELF or Target)
Deal: Sigma E38 Diffused Crease Brush (at Sigma)
Splurge: Sephora PRO Featherweight Crease Brush #38 (at Sephora)
Luxe: Laura Mercier Eye Crease Brush (at Nordstrom)
3. The Eye Shadow Blending Brush
This brush should be a big, slightly looser shadow brush, clean, which you lightly use over your shadow to blend and buff away any sharp lines.
Steal: e.l.f. Blending Eye Brush (at ELF or Target)
Deal: Sigma E25 Blending Brush (at Sigma)
Splurge: bareMinerals The Blender Brush (at Sephora)
Luxe: Charlotte Tilbury Eye Blender Brush (at Nordstrom)
4. The Eye Liner Smudge Brush
When I apply my liner, I try to get it down right into the lash line. I basically draw right down in there, ignoring the lashes themselves. I pretend they aren’t even there. Then I grab a smudge brush and run it over the line, just to make it slightly blurred. It looks very pretty and means any mistakes that I made are quickly and easily disguised.
Steal: e.l.f. Smudge Brush (at ELF or Target)
Deal: Sigma E20 Short Shader Brush (at Sigma)
Splurge: Sephora Collection Pro Smudge Brush #11 (at Sephora)
Luxe: NARS Smudge Brush #45 (at Sephora)
5. The Foundation Brush
There are 2 different types of foundation brushes- the wide flat ones (that almost look like a traditional paint brush) and slightly rounded, kabuki style brushes. It’s really a personal preference which one you use, though I admit I like the rounded kabuki ones a bit more. I dip them into the foundation (I pump it on to the back of my hand) and then buff the makeup on to my face from there.
Steal: e.l.f. Selfie Ready Foundation Brush (at ELF)
Deal: Beau Gâchis Paris Foundation Brush (at Beau Gâchis Paris)
Splurge: Bobbi Brown Full Coverage Face Brush (at Nordstrom)
Luxe:Charlotte Tilbury Foundation Brush (at Nordstrom)
6. The Blush Brush
Blush brushes can be a bit tricky. You want them stiff enough to pick up a decent amount of product, but not so stiff that the application is super concentrated. The goal is just enough blush and a glowy, very pretty application. And you don’t want a huge brush, that blush should mostly be on the apples of your cheeks. Sometimes that is with a regular rounded brush, and sometimes an angled blush brush.
Steal: e.l.f. Angled Blush Brush at ELF or Target
Deal: EcoTools Precision Blush Brush (at EcoTools, Amazon or ULTA)
Splurge: Sephora Pro Airbrush Blush Brush #54 (at Sephora)
Luxe:Charlotte Tilbury Blusher Brush (at Nordstrom)
7. The Face Powder Brush
I like my powder brushes big and fluffy for a light powder application, but with enough structure that they can also be used to buff/blend my face products or multi-task for bronzer application.
Steal: e.l.f. Selfie Ready Powder Brush at ELF
Deal: Sigma F30 Large Powder Brush (at Sigma) or F15 Duo Fibre Powder (at Sigma)
Splurge: MAC 135 Large Flat Powder Brush (at MAC or Nordstrom)
Luxe: Bobbi Brown Face Blender Brush (at Nordstrom)
8. The Blending Sponge
Yes, there’s really only one pick. I’ve been working my way through others, but pretty much I use my BeautyBlender 95% of the time. I have found that the Maskcara sponge is very, very close, and I’ve heard that Morphe makes a great sponge that is a near dupe, but I haven’t tried that one yet.
Deal: Maskcara IIID Perfector (at Maskcara)
Splurge: BeautyBlender (at Sephora)