Buyers Guide To Makeup Brushes

The makeup brushes we use are just as important as the makeup itself. But, with so many options and such little explanation of their functions, it’s easy to feel lost when walking into a beauty store or up to a counter. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of brushes every woman needs in her beauty arsenal. Click through to check out our favorites (and what they do!).

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The BB/CC Cream Brush

Use this mixed fiber brush to deliver a perfect, feather-light application of your favorite BB cream, CC cream or tinted moisturizer. This brush can also be used to apply primer. Apply using circular motions all over your face for a quick and even application. 

Try: Japonesque BB/CC Cream Brush, $30
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The Blending Brush

This brush is designed to be used once you’ve applied all of your face makeup. It will blend together all components of your makeup to give your face an airbrushed look. Use a sweeping motion to blend over skin.

Try: Bobbi Brown Face Blender Brush, $48
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The Blush Brush

This brush is a more compact version of a powder brush that can be used to apply cheek color. Smile to locate the apples of your cheeks, then use short strokes to dust the blush out toward your hairline. 

Try: Shiseido The Makeup Blush Brush, $38
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The Bronzer Brush

Designed with full, round bristles, these brushes work to evenly distribute bronzing powder to the skin. Although very similar to a blush brush, these bristles are typically longer and can be more dense, depending on the severity of your desired look. 

Try: NARS #11 Bronzing Powder Blush, $52
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The Concealer Brush

This firm, narrow brush is tapered at the end and allows you to brush on concealer in a concentrated area. Use one side to apply concealer to under-eye circles or blemishes, then flip it over and use the clean side to blend. 

Try: bareMinerals Maximum Coverage Concealer Brush, $48

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The Contouring Brush

The angled shape that this brush sports allows for more precise shading and contouring under your cheekbones for a chiseled look. 

Try: Sephora Collection Pro Visionary Precision Contour #132, $30
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The Crease Brush

This brush features a somewhat domed tip and is designed to easily apply eye shadow to the creases of your eyes. 

Try:Japonesque 150-Degree Eye Shadow Crease Brush, $18
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The Eyebrow Brush

For easy brow grooming, look for two-in-one brushes featuring an angled sable brush on one end for filling in brows and a spooley brush on the other for grooming hairs into place. 

Try: Anastasia Beverly Hills Mini Duo Brush #7, $18
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The Eyeliner Brush

These brushes are for use with liquid, powder or gel eyeliners. They are typically available with an angled tip or a thin and precise tip. An angled tip makes for a quick and straight application while a thin and pointed tip allows for a more precise application. Both can be used either damp (for powders) or dry.

Try: MAC 263 Small Angle Brush, $20 or Sigma E10 Small Eyeliner, $12
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The Eye Shadow Brush

This brush is versatile and can be used to apply shadow to your entire lid or to certain areas of it. Its bristles are thick enough and pack plenty of pigment to cover your entire lid for full coverage.

Try: Urban Decay Good Karma Shadow Brush, $26
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The Fan Brush

The soft bristles and fat, fanned shape of this brush makes it the ideal tool for gently sweeping on highlighting powder or bronzer for a soft yet focused effect. It can also be used to apply blush, blend your makeup or clean up excess powder. 

Try: Make Up Forever Brush no. 120, $31
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The Foundation Brush

Flexible bristles and gently tapered edges make this brush perfect for applying liquid and cream foundations. Start in the areas of the face that need the most coverage and use downward strokes for the most natural application.

Try: benefit Foundation Brush, $24
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The Foundation Sponge

An alternative to a foundation brush, this is a great tool to use when applying liquid foundation. It gives your face a flawless, smooth finish and its pointed edge lets you reach the smaller crevices of your face. 

Try: BeautyBlender, $19.95
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The Kabuki Brush

This brush is typically short with wide, flat or round bristles. It is mostly used to apply mineral powder by using a circular motion to buff the powder into your skin. 

Try: TooFaced Retractable Kabuki Brush, $34
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The Large Eye Shadow Brush

This brush is ideal for quickly and evenly applying shadow to your entire eyelid or applying highlighting shades onto the brow bone.

Try: Sigma E50 Large Fluff, $14

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The Lip Brush

Typically tiny to allow lipstick or gloss to be applied more precisely to the lips, just dab the brush directly onto the lipstick and carefully apply to lips for a detailed, even application. 

Try: Laura Mercier Pull-Apart Lip Colour Brush, $24
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The Pencil Brush

The long handle and pointed tip this brush features allows for an easy application of eye color to the crease of your eyelids to achieve that coveted smokey eye, or use as a highlighter on the inner crevices of your eyes to brighten. 

Try: Tom Ford Smokey Eye Brush, $50
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The Powder Brush

This brush sports loosely packed bristles in a round shape that makes it perfect for appling any loose or pressed powder foundation. Just tap off the excess before using sweeping motions to brush it across the face. 

Try: it Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Wand Ball Brush, $48
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The Stippling Brush

This versatile brush provides the lightest application of pigment for a sheer finish. Use it to achieve a soft, airbrushed look when applying powder foundation. Use a stippling motion to evenly press cream blush onto the cheeks, or apply highlighting powder on cheekbones for a subtle finishing touch.

Try: MAC 187 Duo Fibre Face Brush, $42
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Foundation Brush

Best For: Applying liquid foundation

What It Is: A flat and wide or round brush that works best with cream and liquid formulations

One To Try: Different from your standard foundation brush, bareMinerals Perfecting Face Brush features a reservoir where the foundation sits as you buff your makeup into your skin. Think less mess and more precise coverage. $28, bareminerals.com
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Powder Brush

Best For: Blending powder-based makeup or allover application

What It Is: A large, fluffy brush that can be used on both the face and body

One To Try: Boasting a large, dense dome shape, La Bella Donna Powder Makeup Brush is the ultimate blending brush for the face, especially when applying loose mineral powder. $35, labelladonna.com
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Concealer Brush

Best For: Covering under the eyes, the inner corners of the eyes and around the nose

What It Is: A small, flat brush with a narrow or pointed tip that gives full coverage to hide imperfections

One To Try: From Gee Beauty comes its Concealed Weapons Concealer Brush, a fairly stiff brush that makes dipping into cream concealers and properly applying them—so the product stays where you put it—effortless. $16, smartbombcosmetics.com
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Kabuki Brush
 
Best For: Buffing out foundation and applying powder

What It Is: A short, dense brush with a stocky handle and a round or flat head. Traditionally, Kabuki brushes were used in Japanese theater to apply white powder to the entire face.

One To Try: Brushes for Ulta Goddess Kabuki Brush is compact with a comfortable handle, so you can perfectly blend and buff your makeup either at home or when you are on the go. $54, ulta.com
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The Right Way To Clean Your Brushes

Makeup brushes are a breeding ground for bacteria, dirt and oil. Clean your brushes regularly (with brush cleanser) to prevent a buildup of product and residue. Sephora Brush It Off Cleansing Wipes, $16, sephora.com
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Shading Brush

Best For: Applying cream or powder shadow. The tip of the brush can be used to smudge shadow along the lower lash line, highlight the brow or define the crease.

What It Is: A small or large round brush that allows for even application of color across the entire eyelid

One To Try: Featuring Takelon bristles, an alternative to natural hairs that may cause sensitivities, hourglass no. 9 Domed shadow Brush gives definition to the eyes with control. $28, spacenk.com
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Blending Brush

Best For: Softening harsh lines, creating a smoky eye or applying light colors all over the lid

What It Is: A larger, fluffy brush

One To Try: One of our favorite makeup artist tips is to use a clean blending brush, like sonia Kashuk Core tools Pointed Blending Brush no 109, to blend out shadow that’s just been applied to the upper eyelids and soften hard lines. $4, target.com
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Pencil Brush

Best For: Smoking out and softening pencil or shadow eyeliner or defining the crease of the upper lid

What It Is: A small, soft brush that forms a tip resembling a pencil point, which allows you to get right up to the lash line for precise application.

One To Try: Jane iredale smudge Brush softens harsh lines, both under the eyes and on the lids, for a soft, pretty look. $14.50, janeiredale.com
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Angled + Spooley Brush

Best For: Filling in the eyebrows

What It Is: A dual-ended tool with a spooley brush on one end to comb through the brows and
a small stiff brush on the other side

One To Try: Anastasia Duo angle/spooley Brush #7 is a must for perfectly defined and accentuated brows. The angled end deposits color onto the brows to fill them in; the spooley brush evenly distributes the product so it’s uniform in appearance. $18, ulta.com
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Crease Brush

Best For: Creating a graduated look of color or smoking out shadow

What It Is: A stiffer brush in either a dome or tapered round shape to use in the crease.

One To Try: Handmade in Japan, Lazy Perfection by Jenny Patinkin Domed Multi-Blender Brush is dense enough to add definition to the eyes, but soft enough to seamlessly blend shadows together, too. $34, jennypatinkin.com
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Contour Brush

Best For: Contouring the cheeks, forehead, nose, jawline and neck

What It Is: An angled brush that allows for defined and controlled application of blush, bronzer
and highlighter

One To Try: With ultraluxe, supersoft sable bristles to perfectly sculpt the cheeks and anywhere else on the face, Claudio Riaz Face Contour Brush leaves a professional-looking, sophisticated finish without lines or streaks. $65, claudioriaz.com
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Blush Brush

Best For: Applying powder and cream blush

What It Is: A big, fluffy brush

One To Try: The epitome of supersoft luxury—the blush brush feels like silk against skin—Tom Ford Cheek Brush is a must-have for perfectly done cheeks. Use it with more intense colors since it can pick up a lot of pigment. $78, nordstrom.com
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Lip Brush

Best For: Precisely applying lipstick and lip gloss

What It Is: A small, flat brush with a pointed, angled or rounded tip

One To Try: With its pointed tip, which enables you to really define the curves of your lips, the retractable Dior Professional Finish Lip Brush puts your lip color exactly where you want it regardless of the formula that you choose to use. $26, sephora.com