How to Find the Right Makeup Brush

Makeup brushes make all the difference! With well-designed brushes, winged eyeliner may be done more easily, and creating smoky eyes just might become second nature. “You cannot achieve good makeup without good tools,” says Francois Nars, creative director of NARS Cosmetics.  

There are so many kinds of brushes to choose from, and it’s hard to know which to buy for which product. With this simple guide, any collegiette can build her own perfect brush collection, at any price. Here’s a breakdown of what you should use each brush for!

Powder Blush: Rounded Blush Brush

MAC 129 Powder/ Blush Brush $35

Find a natural-fiber brush to apply your favorite blush shade in circular motions along the apples of your cheeks.

Bronzing Powder: Tapered Contour Brush

MAC 168 Large Angled Contour Brush $35

Use to apply matte bronzer over any contour cream in the hollows of your cheekbones, the sides of your nose and forehead. This will make your cheeks look defined all day. This brush’s angled shape is designed just for such spots on your face.

Highlighting: Stipple Brush

e.l.f. Small Stipple Brush $3

Use a small duo-fiber brush to apply a highlight cream to the planes of your cheekbones, brow bones and down the bridge of your nose. Be sure to apply lightly and quickly for a natural glow. This brush allows for enough control without too much power!

Contour Cream: Contour Brush

Real Techniques Contour Brush $18

Use a fully rounded and tapered synthetic brush to blend a contour shade a few shades darker than your foundation to the hollows of your face.

Liquid Foundation: Flat Foundation

EcoTools Flat Foundation Brush $5.99

Try to find a synthetic brush for liquid foundation for a smooth and clean application. Make sure that the brush is about half an inch wide, flexible and strong.

Concealer: Medium Synthetic Brush

Eco Tools Airbrush Concealer Brush $3.99

Your foundation brush needs its own match! Find one by the same brand that’s about the third the size of the foundation brush for creamy concealer applications!

Powder Foundation: Kabuki

e.l.f. Studio Kabuki Face Brush $6

With this brush’s short handle, you can apply pressure to any powder foundation, allowing the product to have its fullest coverage.

Gel Liner and Brow Gel: Angled Eye Liner

Sigma Beauty E65 - Small Angle $14-$18

A synthetic liner brush is a perfect way to control gel-based liners for successful cateyes, and this one doubles as a brow brush when you use it with brow gel. Make sure the bristles lay flat as you apply.

Eye Kohl Pencil: Pencil Brush

MAC 219 Pencil Brush $25

This brush is small and fits in hard-to-reach areas of the eyes including the tear ducts and lower-lash line. Use this to smudge kohl eye pencil, or apply shadow to those areas.

Eyelids: Shader Brush  

Sigma Beauty E57 Firm Shader $14-$16

Find a small, flat and square synthetic brush for cream shadow, and a natural-fiber brush for powder eyeshadow. Pack your color of choice onto the brush and pat on the sockets of your eyes.

Creases: Round Crease Brush

Sigma Beauty E47 Shader - Crease $14-$16

Crease brushes should be round (like a dome), dense and sturdy. Apply a shade that’s a few colors darker than your natural lid shade into the hollows of your eyes. Natural fiber crease brushes are often best.

Smoky Eyes: Blending Brush

MAC 224 Tapered Blending Brush $32

Don’t use this one to apply product to your eyes; use it in circular motions to soften the edges of your eyeshadow. It’ll make your look appear more professionally done.

Lipstick: Small Tapered Lip Brush

Sigma Beauty LO5 - Lip $14-$17

It’s not easy to create the perfect red lip without a brush. Look for a thin and rounded synthetic brush to improve your daily lipstick application. It works well for both lipstick and opaque gloss.