When I started writing this article I thought I’d put together a complete list of the brushes I like to carry with me, as well as overview of what each one is for. As I got into it though, I started to wonder “What’s the best brush in each case?”. I have my favorites, but what are other top makeup artists raving about? So I started to do the research…
Maybe some of the top makeup brush recommendations aren’t a huge surprise – Mac features heavily for example – and as you might expect some of them are a little on the expensive end of the scale, but this is almost certainly because (as with so many things) you get what you pay for. But there are most definitely brands that rank higher than others regardless of pricing.
Thanks to the popularity of PixiWoo, I ‘ve noticed Real Techniques brushes are gaining huge momentum in the world of makeup (plus they do great sponges). They’re great because they’re synthetic brushes which work great with liquids, glitters, powders etc. They’re good for sensitive skins as well. I found that a lot of my clients have sensitivities to animal hair, so synthetic brushes always make me happy.
One thing I’ve discovered in the last couple of years is Art Shop Brushes (or artist brushes). I’m always after the finest, sharpest eyeliner & brow, angled and pointed brushes as well as great paddle concealer brushes. After stumbling into a local art shop I found a huge selection, of what looked like the best liner and brow brushes ever!!! Seeing as I go through several liner and brow brushes in one job, having several to hand it hugely beneficial.
Plus I’ve also recently discovered that I can now bulk buy these liner brushes for about 6 in a pack for a measly £10. Check it out!
I’m not the only one on the ol’ artist brush bandwagon. Lisa Eldridge, one of the world’s leading makeup artists, is a huge fan of these affordable brush options!
There are so many makeup brushes you can potentially carry in your makeup toolkit – I’d love to hear what you have with you and what are your recommended makeup brushes! Let me know in the comments at the bottom!
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And so without further ado…
The 10 makeup brushes that you need (and what makeup artists recommend)…
…with a few suggestions sprinkled in from me
1. Medium Eyeshadow Brush
This will be a firm brush great for applying shadow along the lid.
Recommended: MAC 239 Eye Shading Brush
Sorry, there’s only one that is the holy grail for me, and that’s MAC 239. It is the perfect brush for applying eyeshadow, and frankly, if I could only have one brush to do my eye makeup, I’d pick this – Temptalia
2. Eyeshadow Blending Brush
This will be fluffy and slightly dome shaped and is great for blending out shadow (I sometimes use it to apply concealer as well because it gives an airbrushed effect).
Recommended: MAC 217 Blending Brush (£49 from Amazon)
This could be shocking, but this is basically the only eyeshadow brush I use (I wash it constantly). I apply my base colour with it and then flip it over to apply a darker crease colour. It’s great for blending and although it’s a bit big for precise eyeshadow work, it’s perfect for my everyday eyeshadow – Essie Button
(By far the cheaper option is the blender brush from Morphe, a brand that is hugely popular amongst professionals, and one that I use a lot)
3. Large Eyeshadow Brush
This will be used to cover the whole eye with shadow and would be less about precision and more about coverage.
4. Eyeliner Brush
For me the easiest brush to use is a flat angled brush, however it is completely down to preference and some may find that a flat brush or pipet brush work best. Either way a liner brush will be densely packed to be able to apply a smooth, solid line.
I actually prefer the art shop brushes for eyeliner, and they’re such good value. These ones from Amazon are perfect.
5. Eyebrow Brush
Like the liner brush the eyebrow brush will be densely packed and at an angle. This will allow you to create a clean, neat brow shape with precision. I love these art shop brushes – they’re great value, and allow me to go through a few on each shoot without breaking the bank!
Recommended: MAC #208 (£17.50 Amazon)
I loved MAC’s #208 eyebrow brush from when I first started doing makeup. Its bristles are the perfect shape to create the perfect eyebrow whether it be natural or defined. I really like how the bristles are a soft but firm allowing easy application of power or cream – Nilo Haq @ Saudi Beauty
6. Foundation Brush
This will most likely be a synthetic, flat shaped brush, though there are now fibre-optic brushes that help create the airbrushed finish. You may also find that you actually prefer using your fingers to apply the foundation. It all depends on the client, their skin type and what you prefer.
Recommended: Dior Fluid Foundation Brush (£22.99 Amazon)
There are lots of solid paddle foundation brushes on the market, but our top pick is the Dior Fluid Foundation Brush. It’s an exceptional brush, with amazingly soft synthetic fibers that are layered and tapered. The substantial toe of this paddle brush is simply not as flat as the others. It’s tapered from every angle which gives it some more useful dimensions – Sarah Webster @ MyBrushBetty
7. Concealer Brush
This will be a synthetic brush, like the foundation brush (so that it doesn’t soak up too much of the liquid) and will be smaller than a foundation brush so that you can apply concealer in areas, like under the eyes, around the nose etc.
Recommended: Cover Fx Concealer Brush ($20 Sephora)
Using a small brush, like Cover FX’s synthetic one, keeps contamination to a minimum and also does a better job of hiding bumps. With the flat edge, you can put concealer right onto the brush and just stipple, holding the tool at a point – Daniel Martin in Vogue
8. Lip Brush
A lip brush will be a small, densely packed brush that will allow you to apply lipstick with precision and allow you to get into all of the creases on the lips.
Recommended:Bobbi Brown Lip Retractable Brush (£46 Amazon)
Nice and small and precise. Really good for working the lipstick right into the lips – Lisa Ellridge
9. Blusher Brush
This will be a soft brush, not overly fluffy and sometimes angled so that you can create soft cheeks but in a small area. This brush will be smaller than a powder brush.
Recommended:Sigma Beauty Large Angled Contour – F40 (£17.50 Amazon)
The F40 is hands-down my favorite blush brush because it fits into the contours of my cheeks perfectly. I also like that the white bristles let me know when it needs another deep cleaning soon. – Jen @ FrmHeadToToe.com
10. Powder Brush
This will be a fluffier brush. It is sometimes fanned out and large and fluffy and sometimes it is domed, depending on where you buy your brushes from. This will allow you to dab powder onto this skin either through sweeping motions or in congregated areas.
Recommended: NARS N10 Powder Brush (£46.05 Amazon)
NARS is known for its durability and high quality brushes. This one is a high quality brush that feels very good on the face and distributes the powder very well and evenly. It is not dense but you will not have any shedding problems with this product. – Estelle @ BeautyTonic.com
Building your brush collection
Getting started can seem both daunting and costly. Fortunately there’s some great brush sets out there that can get you off on the right foot. I like EcoTools, Crown and Kabuki, and have used these quite a lot. And definitely on my wish list are some Laura Mercier brushes – I want some!
So what do you think? What brushes do you love/can’t live without? Drop us a comment below!