The 14 Types Of Makeup Brushes You Need For Flawless Application

 
Photo by Flaunter.com on Unsplash

Photo by Flaunter.com on Unsplash

 

The world of makeup brushes can be unreasonably confusing. Many makeup brush sellers don’t even name their brushes, instead choosing to assign them a random number. They release heart-shaped brushes, wavy brushes, pointy brushes, and hundreds of other oddly-shaped brushes, then leave you to figure out what to do with them. How are you supposed to decide whether to buy Brush #143 when its brand won’t even tell you how to use it?

Don’t worry—we’ve all been there! We know makeup brushes can be confusing, so we’ve selected the 14 most essential makeup brushes for your collection and provided short explanations of how to use them. If you don’t have the money to drop on a 30-piece set of makeup brushes, but don’t want to miss out on any important brushes, this is the list for you.

Flat Foundation Brush

If you want a full-coverage finish, reach for a flat foundation brush. When used with paintbrush-like strokes, they provide a quick and easy application, making them a favorite of runway makeup artists. Because of their dense structure, flat foundation brushes will absorb minimal product and give you the fullest possible coverage from your cream or liquid foundation.

 
PHOTO: COURTESY SEPHORA

PHOTO: COURTESY SEPHORA

 

Make Up For Ever 108 Large Foundation Brush

$36 at the time of publication


Stippling Brush

A stippling brush is characterized by its flat top and two lengths of bristles: longer white synthetic bristles and shorter black natural bristles. This duo-fiber structure allows the brush to diffuse the foundation, allowing for a more sheer, airbrushed finish. When using a stippling brush, apply a small amount of light to medium coverage cream or liquid foundation on your hand, dip the brush in the foundation, and lightly buff it into your skin using delicate circular motions. Because it creates such a diffused finish, you can also use a stippling brush to apply cream bronzer or blush.

 
PHOTO: COURTESY SEPHORA

PHOTO: COURTESY SEPHORA

 

Sephora Collection PRO Stippling Brush

$35 at the time of publication


Concealer Brush

Because they’re used to create as much coverage as possible, concealer brushes are compact and dense. They’re meant to cover smaller areas, such as the under eyes, acne, and dark spots. To apply your cream or liquid concealer, dip the concealer brush into the product and apply in short strokes and small buffing motions.

 
PHOTO: COURTESY SEPHORA

PHOTO: COURTESY SEPHORA

 

Kat Von D Lock-It Edge Concealer Brush

$24 at the time of publication


Powder Brush

Powder brushes are the largest, most luxurious of all face brushes. They’re characterized by soft, loosely packed bristles that are intended to diffuse powder as smoothly and evenly as possible. These brushes are meant to be used with setting powder (or powder foundation if you want a very light finish). To use a powder brush, dip the brush into a loose setting powder, tap off the excess on a hard surface, and either buff the powder onto your face or gently press it into your skin (often preferred for under eyes). 

 
PHOTO: COURTESY MAC COSMETICS

PHOTO: COURTESY MAC COSMETICS

 

MAC 135 Synthetic Large Flat Powder Brush

$42 at the time of publication


Blush Brush

Blush brushes are similar to powder brushes but are slightly smaller and denser. Though they’re named after blush, blush brushes can also be used for bronzer or setting powder (if you want to really pack powder onto your under eyes). To use a blush brush, dip the brush into your blush or bronzer compact, tap off the excess product, and apply it to your cheeks using light circular motions. 

 
PHOTO: COURTESY BH COSMETICS

PHOTO: COURTESY BH COSMETICS

 

BH Cosmetics Studio Pro Brush 15

$4 at the time of publication


Fan Brush

Fan brushes vary in size and density, but they all have one main use—to apply highlighter. Just like their name says, fan brushes contain bristles arranged in a fanned-out shape that’s perfect for applying a precise yet not harsh wash of powder. It’s ideal for applying highlighter on top of cheekbones, on the nose bridge, or on the cupid’s bow.

 
PHOTO: COURTESY NORDSTROM

PHOTO: COURTESY NORDSTROM

 

Luxie 560 Rose Gold Medium Fan Face Brush

$18 at the time of publication


Contour Brush

Contour brushes are usually about the same size as blush brushes, but slightly denser for more coverage and angled for more convenient application. Its slanted bristles are made to fit perfectly in the hollows of the cheeks to create a chiseled contour. A contour brush can be used with both cream and powder contour. 

 
PHOTO: COURTESY BH COSMETICS

PHOTO: COURTESY BH COSMETICS

 

BH Cosmetics Brush V3

$4 at the time of publication


Blending Brush/Crease Brush

A blending brush (or crease brush because it’s most commonly used in the eye’s crease) is a small, round, tapered eye brush with medium to light density. Because its main job is blending out eyeshadow (the key to a put-together eye look), the blending brush is one of the most important and essential eye brushes. If you can only buy one eye brush, go for the blending brush. To apply eyeshadow with a blending brush, pat or swirl the brush in an eyeshadow pan, tap off excess shadow, and apply it to your crease in circular buffing motions.

 
PHOTO: COURTESY NORDSTROM

PHOTO: COURTESY NORDSTROM

 

Sigma Beauty E40 Tapered Blending Brush

$17 at the time of publication


Smudger Brush/Pencil Brush

A smudger brush (or pencil brush) is an extra-small, extra-dense eye brush that’s round and tapered (like the tip of a pencil). Unlike a blending brush, this brush’s purpose is applying an opaque line of color and smudging, rather than blending, it out. A smudger brush is usually used for applying an intense line of eyeliner to the top or bottom lashes or smudging out a line of pencil eyeliner to create a smokey look. Use a pencil brush in back-and-forth motions to keep its application precise but not blunt.

 
PHOTO: COURTESY SEPHORA

PHOTO: COURTESY SEPHORA

 

Make Up For Ever 212 Medium Precision Smudger Brush

$25 at the time of publication


Shader Brush

Shader brushes are typically small, flat, and have medium density. They are a multi-functional eye tool whose uses can vary from packing shadow onto the lid to applying shadow to the bottom lashline to blending shadow into the crease. If your metallic shadows aren’t applying as reflectively as you’d like, spray your shader brush with a bit of setting spray before dipping it into your eyeshadow. The setting spray will give the bristles extra grip, allowing them to pick up more product and giving you a much more pigmented eyeshadow application!

 
PHOTO: COURTESY BH COSMETICS

PHOTO: COURTESY BH COSMETICS

 

BH Cosmetics Brush V18

$5 at the time of publication


Angled Eyebrow Brush

An angled eyebrow brush is small, dense, and has angled bristles—perfect for applying eyebrow pomade in hair-like strokes. Eyebrow brushes can also double as eyeliner brushes, so you get double the use for your money! Use them to apply eyeshadow in a winged eyeliner shape, or to wing out your pencil liner.

 
PHOTO: COURTESY NORDSTROM

PHOTO: COURTESY NORDSTROM

 

Smashbox Angled Brow Brush

$18 at the time of publication


Eyebrow Spoolie

Eyebrow spoolies are usually either sold attached to eyebrow pencils or attached to angled brow brushes. But even though you probably won’t have to buy one on its own, you should still know what it does! Eyebrow spoolies are used to brush through your brows after you apply pomade or a pencil. They gently blend out the product, making your brows look less harsh while maintaining their shape. 

 
PHOTO: COURTESY SEPHORA

PHOTO: COURTESY SEPHORA

 

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brush #12

$18 at the time of publication


Lip Brush

If you have a cream lipstick bullet that no longer has its sharp, angled shape, you need a lip brush! Its tiny, dense bristles ensure a sharp, precise cream lipstick application, making it a favorite of makeup artists. To use a lip brush, brush it back and forth on your lipstick bullet before applying the lipstick in a careful outline or your lip line. After lining your lips, you can either continue filling them in with the lip brush or use the lipstick bullet directly on your lips.

 
PHOTO: COURTESY MAC COSMTICS

PHOTO: COURTESY MAC COSMTICS

 

MAC 316 Lip Brush

$20 at the time of publication


Beautyblender

This little egg-shaped sponge may seem simple, but ever since its invention in 2007, it has changed the makeup game. The Beautyblender (and its less expensive knockoffs) applies any cream or liquid face makeup with a natural and hydrated finish. To use a Beautyblender, soak it in water and squeeze to remove excess moisture. Dip it in cream or liquid makeup, then gently bounce the sponge on your skin for a perfect application every time.

 
PHOTO: COURTESY SEPHORA

PHOTO: COURTESY SEPHORA

 

The Original Beautyblender

$20 at the time of publication

Beauty, Feel Good(s)Anna Choi