There are so many makeup brushes on the market to choose from, just as there are brands and types of makeup. The right shaped brush makes a huge difference in applying your make up and makes it so much easier. Your makeup technique will go up a notch and you will be amazed with the professional looking results you’ll obtain from using the right shaped brush.
So here is my advice on the brushes you really need to prevent you from wasting money on brushes you may not use or that don’t perform…
Top 5 Makeup Brushes
Make Up Brush No. 1: Foundation Brush
A good quality foundation brush will have bristles that are tightly compact and firm, but not coarse, so it feels comfortable gliding over your face. Some foundation brushes have angled heads to make getting into the corners of your face much easier. The best brushes will have tapered bristles to make blending a breeze.
Generally synthetic taklon fibre bristles are better for foundation brushes as they will not absorb as much product as animal hair which means you use less product, they are more hygienic and easier to clean, and do not have an irregular surface like animal hair, so they feel smoother against the skin and are less likely to cause skin irritation.
You wouldn’t want to go below $30.00 for a medium to good quality foundation brush. The premium price for a foundation brush is around $70.00.
Make Up Brush No. 2: Powder Brush or Kabuki Brush
This brush has a lot of bristles, which are tight at the base and fan out a bit at the tip of the brush to allow product (loose or pressed powder or bronzer) to fit in-between the bristles and to allow a soft buffing of the brush over the skin to set the make up and work it evenly into the skin.
A general powder brush (pictured right) will have a long handle like other make up brushes, whereas the Kabuki brush (pictured left) has a short circular base, making it great for keeping in your handbag for touch ups on the go. The short handled Kabuki Brush is very popular in the application of mineral make up powders as it is great for achieving a flawless result when buffing in foundation powder in a circular motion. Kabuki brushes can actually be used with any powder make up, and are also very popularly used in the application of loose or pressed bronzer.
Because these brushes are used so flush against the surface of the skin, I believe using a synthetic fibred powder brush is a great option. As I mentioned above with the foundation brush, they are less likely to feel as though they are scratching the skin. Also, synthetic fibres tend to work like static with make up, rather than absorb the product, so in this way you won’t be using more product than you need to.
Kabuki brushes are usually no less than $35.00, but great quality Kabuki brushes cost $90.00 or more. Powder brushes range from $50.00 to just over $100.00.
P.S. If you are limiting your brush set to 5, use your kabuki or powder brush as your blush brush as well; you will need to shape the brush with your fingers, to make it a bit slimmer than its natural shape, to fit nicely onto the apples and contour of your cheeks. Just remember to remove excess product and give the brush a light clean before reuse for powder foundation application.
Make Up Brush No. 3: General Medium Eye Shadow Brush
This is a general eye shadow brush that is the perfect size to allow the quickest and most comfortable application of eye shadow over the entire lid of your eye. The bristles should be firm and smooth and taper slightly at the end point. The bristles should not feel coarse or rough when gliding over the delicate skin of the eyes. Roughness is a sign of poor quality and uneven lengths in the bristles of the brush.
A great technique for eye-shadow application is to apply the colour to your brush and press the brush repeatedly over your eyelid to disperse colour until it is even. This pressing or ‘dabbing’ technique works better than pulling the brush across the eyelid as it is more gentle and will allow you to build the colour, making it either sheer or opaque.
A medium eye shadow brush is better than using foam applicators as it gives you more flexibility in movement and is more gentle in texture. You will get a better application with a brush. I always find that the foam applicators absorb so much of the colour and it is really difficult to build the colour on the eyelid using them. The colour always comes out sheer; the more you try to build, the more you press the applicator and this actually drags and rubs-off the eye shadow rather than placing it on the eyelid.
A good quality medium eye shadow brush will cost between $25.00 and $55.00. Animal hair bristles are probably better than synthetic bristles when it comes to eye shadow brushes, as the bristles are more flexible and contour into the shape of the eye. When synthetic bristles are 1cm or less in length they tend to feel very stiff, firm and do not mould as readily to the shape of the eye.
Make Up Brush No. 4: Contour Eye Shadow Brush
This brush is a lifesaver and takes the guesswork out of applying your contour colour. The brush is fairly thin and cylindrical with a point, allowing it to fit perfectly in the crease of your eyelid to give you accurate application of your darker eye shadow colour (contour colour). It is good for application of your contour colour, as well as for blending this colour into the eyelid colour and out from the crease to create a smokey effect. To learn how to create a quick smokey eye go to Taking Your Make Up from Work to Dinner and a Night in the City and Ombre Eyes.
Expect to pay between $30.00 and $55.00 for a good quality contour brush.
Make Up Brush No. 5: Angled Eyeliner Brush
This makeup brush is designed for applying liquid or gel eyeliner, but has other uses as well. You can rub the bristles of this brush along pencil eyeliner to get a really accurate pencil line too, then add eye shadow to the brush and layer this on top of the pencil liner to lock it into place. The brush is angled and thin so that you can create your own desired thickness of eyeliner, building up the thickness each time until you get what you are after. You can also create a nice flick on the outside corner of your eye, again as small or as dramatic as you desire; no wing at all, or a 60’s glamourous wing. Just take a look at our Modern Make Up Sirens for some great eye make up styles. You can also use this brush to colour in, shape and define your eyebrows with either a brow dust/shadow or blending through and softening brow pencil application.
Costing around $20.00 to $30.00, a great brush to finish off your five basics.
Now Here Are The Additional Brushes!
You may actually prefer to swap one of the additional brushes listed below instead of building the set we have just put together, depending largely on how you like to do your eye make up or whether you prefer to perfect the skin rather than focus on the eyes. Read on to select what you need most…
Additional Make Up Brush No.6: Blush Brush
This brush is slightly smaller than a powder or kabuki brush and sometimes the bristles are angled to allow more accurate positioning of product on the face, usually either directly on or just below the cheekbones, depending on which style of blush you are applying.
The bristles are not as densely packed as a powder brush and fan out slightly so you can make breezy sweeping motions over your cheeks to gently and softly build up the amount of colour you desire. This is essential so you can blend your blush properly; so it doesn’t look stuck on your face, but is rather blended so much so that the colour looks as though it radiates from within the skin. That’s why the soft edges are essential to a blush brush. Dense of hash bristles will prevent a flawless application and finish.
A good quality blush brush ranges $45.00 to $60.00.
Additional Make Up Brush No. 7: Blending Eye Shadow Brush
Your blending brush is almost the size of a medium eye shadow brush, just slightly bigger and the bristles are not as tightly compact; the brush fan’s out slightly, is more fluffy and flexible, making it ideal for blending around the outside of your make up. It is ideal for blending a smokey eye effect; blending the outside/upper edge of your contour line. It is also great to use as a highlighting brush just below your eyebrows, on the bridge of your nose, peaks of your cheeks and on your cupid’s bow (middle of your top lip). I love this brush! To find out more about highlighting and contouring jump across to my article No Sticky Make Up Here Honey!
Again it is at the same price point as other medium size brushes, so expect to pay $30.00 to $55.00.
Additional Make Up Brush No. 8: Smudger Brush
This brush is very firm and has a nice round point that allows you to blend your eyeliner to create a softer and more even line. It is also great for smudging out your eyeliner even further to get a great smokey affect on the top and bottom lash lines. Sometimes, like the one pictured, you can have a double-ended smudger brush with both a sponge tip and a brush tip. You may actually prefer this brush to the angled eyeliner brush, depending on which styles of eye make up you like to wear.
Expect to pay between $30.00 to $50.00.
Working within the price bracket of medium to high quality for the first 5 brushes you are looking at $140.00 to $310.00. With the addition of the last 3 brushes, add an extra $105.00 to $165.00. If you go for all 8 brushes the total will be between $245.00 and $475.00.
5 brushes is a good starting point for your brush collection, and add in the other three if you think you will use them. The brushes we have discussed are great staples to include in your personal makeup brush kit with the bonus that many of them have multiple uses. With this selection you are absolutely covered to do basic make up as well as a few more advanced techniques.