The 12 Essential Makeup Brushes You Should Have

Published Categorized as Makeup Tips

What are the essential makeup brushes?

More numerous than fine dining cutlery and more complicated than a Rubik’s cube, makeup brushes come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. It can be confusing enough just to know which one you should use for which purpose, but hopefully this handy guide can help shine some light on the matter.

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Table of Contents

You can also check out our more thorough guide on what makeup brushes to use for what.

1. Angled Brush

The angled edge of this brush makes it perfect for precision work, especially around the eyes. Use it to fill in sparse brows or draw wings from your eyeliner (although an eyeliner brush is preferable for this latter job).

wet n wild Angled Liner Brush, 1 Fluid Ounce

Wet n Wild Angled Brush

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Antonym Small Angled Brush #13

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2. Blender Brush

Blender or blending brushes are perfect for evening out harsh lines and combining multiple shades of eye shadow together in one.

Its soft and fluffy bristles are ideal when a delicate touch is needed.

Real Techniques Eye Shade + Blend Set, Makeup Brush Kit For Powder & Cream Eyeshadow

Real Techniques Blending Brush Set

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Sigma Beauty E25 Blending Brush

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3. Bronzer Brush

With its big round head and soft, fine bristles, a bronzer brush allows you to easily achieve an even distribution over the entire surface of application. Ideal for imitating the sun-kissed chic of post-holiday tan.

Real Techniques Powder & Bronzer Brush, Helps Build Smooth Even Coverage

Real Techniques Bronzer Brush

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Julep Bronzer Brush

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4. Concealer Brush

Concealer brushes do exactly what the name suggests – they conceal unwanted spots and other blemishes.

Their fine tip allows you pinpoint precision, while their rounded edges lets you get into nooks and crannies around the eyes and nose.

Real Techniques Expert Concealer Brush with Ultra Plush Custom Cut Synthetic Taklon Bristles & Extended Aluminum Ferrules Uniquely Shaped (Packaging May Vary)

Real Techniques Concealer Brush

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Sigma Beauty F70 Concealer Brush

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5. Contour Brush

With slightly stiffer bristles and a more angled tip than other brushes, contour brushes are specifically designed to help you sculpt and shape the contours of your face.

As such, they’re nigh-on irreplaceable when it comes to tackling this kind of makeup application, even if many people do try to substitute with an inferior alternative.

e.l.f. Sculpting Face Brush, 0.4 Ounce

e.l.f Contour Angled Brush

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Sigma Beauty F40 Large Angled Contour Brush

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6. Eyeliner Brush

With a tip that’s nearly as fine as a needlepoint, eyeliner brushes are perfect for creating intricate works of art around the eyes. Don’t try to replicate those impressive winged eyeliners you’ve seen on social media with anything else!

Eyeliner Brush Fine Angled - PRO Precision Eye Liner Makeup Brush -Ultra Thin Slanted Flat Angle - Premium Quality - Cruelty Free Synthetic Bristles - Apply Gel Powder Liquid Cream

EIGShow Eyeliner Brush

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Sigma Beauty E11 Eyeliner Brush

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Looking for good eyeliner brands? Check out our post on oily skin friendly eyeliners.

7. Eye Shadow Brush

Regardless of whether you prefer a cream or a powder eye shadow, you’ll need a good brush to ensure you pick up a sufficient amount of the product and minimize any spillage between the tub and your face.

EcoTools Eye Enhancing Duo Brush Set, Define, Blend, & Smudge Eyeshadow & Liner

Ecotools Multi Eyeshadow Brushes

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Eyeshadow Brush

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8. Foundation Brush

Designed to facilitate the easy and even application of a base foundation layer to your face, a top-quality foundation brush should let you work the product into your skin and achieve the most natural aesthetic possible.

You can get affordable foundation brushes, too!

Start from the center of your face and work outwards to avoid nasty blotches or lines at the edges.

Real Techniques Makeup Blender Brush for Liquid Foundation, Versatile for Cream and Powder Foundations

Real Techniques Kabuki Foundation Brush

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stila #33 One Step Complexion Brush

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For more foundation tool options, check out our posts:

9. Highlighter Brush

The bristles on a highlight fan brush are more sparsely distributed to allow you to pick up a smaller amount of product, thus resulting in a subtler application to pick out cheekbones or other facial features.

It’s best to tread lightly when dipping in to the product to avoid over application.

For more tips on how to apply highlighter, click the link!

wet n wild Fan Brush

Wet n Wild Highlighter Fan Brush

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Sigma Beauty F35 Tapered Highlighter Brush

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10. Mascara Brush

All mascaras come equipped with a brush, but to achieve real precision, it’s a good idea to invest in a purpose-built mascara brush capable of curling, defining, lengthening and volumizing your lashes as the situation warrants.

Go for a 2-in-1 eyebrow and eyelash brush like the one below!

2Pcs Eye Brush with Cap for Travel Eye Brow Eyelash Mascara Brushes Wands Applicator Portable Cosmetic Brushes
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11. Powder Brush

A good powder brush will have soft, long and fluffy bristles that work to diffuse loose powder fragments from the surface of your skin, without upsetting any of the base foundation or other makeup already on it.

wet n wild Powder Brush

Wet n Wild Powder Brush

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stila #24 Double Ended Illuminating Powder Brush

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Learn more about powder brushes through the link!

12. Smudger Brush

A smudger brush is the supreme choice when you want to give your eyes a smoky and sexy appeal.

Lightly drawing the brush across eyelashes which have already been lined will gently disturb the product, resulting in an irresistibly sultry look.

Palladio Smudge Brush

Palladio Smudger Brush

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SENNA Rondo Smudger 48 Pro Makeup Brush

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How many makeup brushes do you really need?

It actually depends on your makeup routine. The more products go onto your face, the more you need tools.

Generally, you need a base brush (foundation and concealer), a few eye brushes (eye shadow and eye liner), and a cheek and contour brush (blush and bronzer and highlighter brush).

Lip brushes can be optional and eyebrow brushes can be found on the product you’re using.

Check out our post on how do I choose makeup brushes.

Organize Your Accessories

With so many makeup brushes to keep track of, it can be difficult to know where to put them all… and to remember where they’ve gone the next time you come to use them.

Avoid the ordeal by keeping your makeup accessories organized with one of our large cosmetic bags, specifically designed to make sure your powders, blushers and brushes don’t escape on you. What are you waiting for? Check out our range here.

What are your essential brushes?

By Ellis James

We design luxuriously glamorous bags, organizers and life essentials for you. At Ellis James Designs, it’s all about YOU. Your bag, Your way. Our exclusive designs are timeless, indulgent and most importantly inspired by you. What will be your first Ellis James Design?