Tools Of The Trade
Most makeup brands sell a range of makeup brushes to compliment their makeup. Good quality makeup brushes made from high quality fibers or hair can be pricey. You can either purchase all your brushes from your favorite brand or mix and match those you prefer, or to get better value. We always recommend checking the brush you are considering purchasing is cruelty-free, and where possible choose vegan. So if you don’t know your contour blender from your smudge stick, brush up your tool knowledge with our tip top guide and brush recommendations to transform you from clueless to confident. And, for the professional makeup artists reading, these are the brushes we highly recommend for each type.
When it comes to professional makeup application, perhaps this is the most important brush of all. Designed to achieve a smooth and flawless finish, the bristles are tightly packed with a tapered tip for fluid application. Dampen the brush first in warm water and firmly squeeze the excess into a towel or tissue, this will help achieve a more even distribution. You can also blend any brush strokes as you go with a damp natural or wedge sponge. We love Charlotte Tilbury’s Foundation Brush ($69), since being such a well-renowned makeup artist, she sure knows what’s needed in a makeup brush!
A soft bristled, flat brush with a wider base and a pointed tip. Use to apply concealer under the eyes, to spots and to camouflage problem areas such as broken capillaries and areas of discoloration. We love Bella Terra’s Multi-tasking Concealer Brush ($26), ideal for all concealer application, from concealing blemishes to under-eye dark circles.
Duo Fibre Brush
Made from a blend of goat and synthetic fibres this brush is ideal for buffing and blending color. The flat, circular, feathery head provides lightweight and buildable coverage of liquid, cream or powder. Use to blend cream blush onto the apples of your cheeks or for a light dusting of shimmer powder to your cheek and brow bones. We recommend MAC Duo Fiber Face Brush ($38.00).
Soft, full and rounded, this brush can be used for both compact powder and bronzer. The bristles pick up the perfect amount of colour and distribute flawlessly onto the skin. Load your brush with the powder and shake away any excess before sweeping onto the skin. Laura Mercier Bronzer Brush ($46) is our pick.
Mineral Powder Brush
A thick bundled brush that can sometimes be used both wet and dry. It is expertly designed to buff mineral powder onto your skin for pure perfection. Apply in small circular motions for a faultless finish. Bobbi Brown Full Coverage Face Brush ($52.99) is very versatile for all powder types and ideal for applying powder foundation or loose setting powders.
The Kabuki Brush is a type of powder brush with a flat, firm edge, and short handle. It is ideal for buffing loose mineral makeup into place for a flawless finish. It is usually a duo fiber brush with both soft and firm bristles, very densely packed to prevent product wastage and to ensure even coverage. Bare Minerals Full Coverage Kabuki Brush ($24) is super handy for on the go.
Fan Powder Brush
Created for use with loose powder, the fine fan sweeps a light dusting of powder onto the skin for a soft, velvety effect. This application technique avoids heavy coverage which can highlight fine lines and imperfections. These brushes are also used to remove excess powder on the face, particularly after eyeshadow application. MAC Duo Fiber Fan Brush ($42) is easy to use and ideal for dry or cream products.
Made with fine, gentle fibres the blusher brush has a rounded head which is perfect for giving a pop of color to the apples of your cheeks. Sweep and blend along your cheekbone drawing the brush up into your hairline. Once again, MAC Blush Brush ($42.99) is amazing!
Face Contour Brush
Slanted and rounded in shape, the contour brush mimics the angles of your cheekbones. This is ideal for highlighting and shading with bronzer or illuminating powder. Use with cream, gel or powder to contour a sculpted finish for a defined and dramatic makeup. Sigma Soft Contour Brush ($24) is excellent for pro-artists, and great value to boot!
Eye Shadow Brush
Large, flat, short and brimming with bristles for excellent coverage. The soft bristles have a beveled edge for a smooth application without ‘dragging’ the eyelid. Use to apply all over color. EcoTools Eyeshadow Brush Duo set in two sizes is ideal for smaller and larger area coverage, and a bargain at $5.99!
Angle Eye Shadow Brush
A long, round and tapered brush perfect for shading the eye socket. Just gently follow the natural crease of the socket blending back and forth to build up depth of color. Sigma Beauty Cut Crease Brush ($13.90) is just the right shape to create the perfect crease color every time.
Blending Eye Shadow Brush
Use this light brush to blend eye colors and to highlight the brow bone. Sigma Blending Eye Shadow Brush ($16), works well to soften intense lines and edges and combining colors on the lid. This is one of the most important brushes a makeup artist needs in their kit to create professional eye makeup looks.
Fine Point Eyeliner Brush
The extra fine tip of this brush delivers precise liquid and gel eyeliner application. A perfect line can be achieved in one stroke, or use the point to dot in between lashes for a more subtle effect. Laura Mercier Fine Point Eyeliner Brush ($24) has an extremely fine tip for creating the perfect line.
Flat Eyeliner Brush
Allows eyeliner to be applied deep into the lash line for a richer and more distinct eye. Gently brush upwards to soften and blend the line for a smokey eye. B-Precision Eyeliner Brush ($10) is ideal for both liquid and gel liner application.
You’re most likely to find these doubled ended with an eye pencil. The foam tip is used to soften the harsh line of the pencil giving a smouldering finish. Larger ones can also be used for applying eyeshadow such as Sigma Beauty Smudge Brush ($15).
Slanted Eyebrow Definer Brush
Used to define and fill brows for a beautifully symmetrical appearance. The bristles are stiff and angled for precise control. Apply powder, liquid or cream in short strokes mimicking the hairs, fill sparse areas, shape and elongate for a perfect brow.
Spiral Eyebrow Brush
Ideal for taming unruly hairs, the stiff bristles smooth and comb eyebrows into form. When shaping, use to brush hairs upwards and trim the excess for neatly groomed brows. Anastasia Beverly Hills Duo Brush ($18) has both a tapered tip and comb, so is ideal for applying cream products and wax.
The sculpted tip of a lip brush is perfect for achieving a flawless line. The bristles are short and firm for controlled application. Aesthetica Pro Series Lip Brush ($10) is great for its waterproof formula making it ideal for all types of lip product – creams, glosses, balms and tints.
Our top pick for makeup beginners or at-home enthusiasts would be Sigma Beauty’s 12-Piece Essential Brush Set. It features all of the brushes needed to create a complete look at any level of artistry and is great value for such high quality brushes at $150. Sigma Beauty’s exclusive selection of high performance synthetic fibers engineered to outperform traditional animal hair, making their brushes cruelty free.
However, if you are a professional makeup artist looking for a complete set – Morphe Brushes offer an amazingly valued Morphe Brushes 30 Piece Kit for $179! They are superior in quality and their affordable price allows you to maintain a complete assortment; with everything you need to achieve a full face of flawless makeup on not only yourself but your clients too.
Cleaning Makeup Brushes
Finally, don’t forget your brush cleaner! You don’t want to spend a lot of money buying high quality makeup brushes if you are not going to be able to look after them by keeping them clean and conditioned. Foundation, eyeshadow and lip brushes should be cleansed after each use to stop bacteria spreading and therefore keep your skin clear; whilst other types of brushes such as powder and blusher can be cleansed once a week. Most brands that sell brushes also have a brush cleanser. We recommend Cinema Secrets Professional Brush Cleaner Starter Kit ($24).