It’s no secret that my obsession with makeup runs pretty deep. In high school, when I made the jump from tomboy to girly girl and discovered the magic of foundation, mascara, and bronzer, I was convinced I wanted to be a makeup artist when I grew up. I obviously chose a different path, but my love for makeup has not faded. I am a serious product junkie and have tried and tested most products from most brands, which is evident by my bathroom vanity area. My girlfriends have all seen my cosmetic pouch in my purse which olds at least 15 light pink lip glosses and lipsticks. The pouch contents have become a joke and they think I’m literally delusional because “they’re all the same color”. Ummm….no…they’re soooo very different, guys. And I need them all. Get with the program.
One of the most important things to great makeup technique is great brushes. I have gone through so many brushes throughout the years in search of the ones that make application as easy and beautiful as possible. Having started with cheapies from CVS in the beginning, I’ve seen the power of investing in high quality brushes as I’ve graduated to nicer ones and built my collection of favorites. I’ve done lots of trial and error with different shapes, sizes, density, and bristle type, and I’m always trying the newest brushes to see if it’s time to replace an old favorite with something that does the job even better. I recently visited Sephora and thought to myself how hard it is to know which brushes to buy unless you’re a hardcore beauty junkie because there are soooo many to choose from and there are lots of reputable brands making brush lines. Who does which brushes best? With so many different ones available, which ones do you really need for a solid everyday makeup application? What do certain ones even really do? Since I’ve wasted lots of my time and money finding these answers, I’m sharing it with you by breaking down the ten most essential brushes in my makeup kit that I find to be the most valuable, versatile, and important. Let’s go!
10 MAKEUP BRUSHES EVERY GIRL NEEDS:
1) FOUNDATION BRUSH – Marc Jacobs Face Brush III
I have always been a sponge girl and thought a foundation brush was a total waste of money and time. Oh how wrong I was! I went into Sephora for a new foundation match earlier this summer because I had developed a tan at least 2 shades lighter than my regular foundation. The makeup artist put the product on my face and started buffing it out with this Marc Jacobs brush. I could not believe how quickly and easily the foundation blended and that ZERO product was left on the brush. Unlike a sponge, this synthetic bristled brush does not absorb a single ounce of your foundation. I have never had so much ease blending my foundation before welcoming this brush into my life and it has never looked more natural. It is my everything.
2) CONCEALER BRUSH – Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Brush
I’m a big fan of using my fingers to blend my concealer because I like how the warmth of my hands melts the product into my skin. However, for product placement, no brush is more precise and perfectly tapered than this LM concealer brush. I always use a slightly yellow toned concealer to counteract redness in the areas around my nose, chin, and blemishes, so I don’t want it all over the place because it’s not a perfect match with my skin and foundation, but it’s lightness and yellowness does work in the small targeted areas I need it. This brush helps me place the concealer in just the right spots, so I can just lightly press my ring finger into it to blend/melt it into my skin.
3) POWDER BRUSH – Bobbi Brown Powder Brush
Like the foundation brush, a powder brush was a revelation for me. I was always a velour puff girl because I felt like it concentrated more product onto my face. Pressing it into my skin was more effective than brushing it on, right? Wrong! This brush deposits the perfect amount of product and allows for much better blending and a much more natural finish. I don’t get that matte cakey-ness from my powder application that you can sometimes get from a puff when I use this brush. I use this for both loose and pressed powders and it works extremely well with both. It is also perfect for layering coverage and I always give my final makeup look a gentle sweep with this brush at the end so any remaining powder can lightly blend and diffuse the entire look so my contour, bronzer, and blush meld more seamlessly together into one cohesive layer.
4) BRONZER BRUSH – Cover FX Powder Brush
This isn’t specifically a bronzer brush, but it IS meant for application of any powder to the face. I love this for bronzer because it has a large enough head to evenly bronze the skin without leaving any muddy streakiness or depositing too much color in one spot. Of all face powders, I feel bronzer is the most important to blend, blend, blend and the even dispensing of this velvety soft brush is absolutely perfect for diffusing bronzer. I like an all-over bronzy glow and I have a hard time achieving that when working with the more traditional packed, stubby, stiff bronzer brushes because they tend to deposit too much color in one place that is hard to blend out once it’s on. I also use this brush as my highlight brush after my blush, to apply my highlight to the tops of my cheekbones, bridge of my nose, and cupid’s bow area. If you’re on a budget, this brush is also fabulous as a multi-use for blush too.
5) BLUSH BRUSH – Bobbi Brown Blush Brush
The rounded head of this brush is the perfect perfect perfect shape for depositing color right on the apples of your cheeks. It’s full, soft fibers pick up a lot of product and allow you to apply a pop of color and blend it out extremely well. You will never worry about harsh lines or that obvious blush look with this brush. And it’s super soft bristles feels ultra luxurious on your skin!
6) ALL OVER EYE SHADOW BRUSH – Sephora Pro Small Shadow Brush #15
This is a soft, rounded brush soooo perfect for all over color application. I love the smaller shape for more control and the way it administers an even, smooth wash of color to the entire lid. This is perfect for your base color before contouring your crease and also perfect for applying a highlight to your brown bone and tear duct area. This brush is small enough to use as a smudger and even a contour if you are looking to build your brush collection slowly. I have used this brush for an entire eye look when traveling – base, transition, crease, smudge, blending, and highlight – and it works beautifully. Of all the eye brushes to recommend, this one is the most useful for its versatility, shape, and size and it doesn’t break the bank which is always nice.
7) CREASE BRUSH – Hourlgass Crease Brush
Be still, my heart! This brush has def upped my eye technique game for the better. I have a very hard time working with crease brushes on the larger, fluffier side as so many are. This one is small and dense enough to allow for much more control in color application to the crease only without spreading the color onto the rest of the eyelid or above the socket (I can’t stand shadow above the socket…drives me nuts with my eye shape). It is slightly stiffer than traditional crease brushes, which I love because it makes blending seamlessly an absolute breeze. You will always have a well defined crease without any harsh lines as your end result with this brush.
8) SMUDGE BRUSH – Bobbi Brown Eye Smudge Brush
This is another big winner from BB! This brush has the best taper for densely depositing dark shadows with precision and control for the easiest smoky eye application ever. I use this brush for my darkest shade at the outer corners of my eye and also over my eye liner to smudge it out and make it less of a “perfect” line look. I have tried so many smudge brushes because I’m a big smoky eye fan and this makes achieving that look the easiest, by far.
9) EYE LINER BRUSH – Laura Mercier Flat Eye Liner Brush
Control in small areas, specifically eye liner, is one of my most difficult skills to master. When I bought this brush, my eye liner application became SO much easier. It’s flat shape helps you draw color perfectly along the lash line. The most fool proof way to use it (and the way I do) is to dip it in a bit of water (I actually spray my brush with Mac Fix+) and dip it into a dark shadow to make a wet powder liner OR dip it into a cream or cake liner pot (I use Bobbi Brown and Laura Mercier – both are fantastic and super long lasting). Then simply press the brush into the lash line and repeat all the way across until you have a fully drawn lash line. I do it this way versus drawing the brush with color straight across because I tend to have a shaky hand and draw a crooked line, but the dotting motion repeated across the lash line results in a much straighter and more perfect line for me. It is so precise for a very tight line, which I can then smudge out using the smudge brush above if I’m going for a more smoked out look.
10) BROW BRUSH – Anastasia Beverly Hills Brush #14
I first want to note, I can’t stand dual ended brushes because they make zero sense for storage. When you keep your brushes in a brush cup as I’m pretty sure 99.9% of women do, one side of the brush is face down in the cup and gets totally misshapen and dirty. But this brush avoids that problem because one end is a stiff spooly that doesn’t change shape or get affected by being on the bottom of the cup.
This dual ended brush is everything you need for brows! You can use the perfectly angled flat side for drawing on a cream or powder brow formula and the spooly side for shaping and taming brows. I also use the spooly after applying brow gel even though most brow gels have a spooly applicator because I prefer to go back over with a dry one to remove any excess and make the gel a bit more evenly dispersed. I never cared much about brows until my mid twenties and I’ve learned they can completely change your entire face.