Makeup brushes: They're the bedrock of your makeup routine — unless you're one of the talented few that can
put your cosmetics on with just your fingers. We try our best to take good care of them, because they take good care of us. But, with that said, some do the job a little better than others.
Ahead, we round up the best makeup brushes that hold a significant place in our hearts — and makeup bags. From the ultra-luxe to on-the-cheap scores, there's something for every routine, every price point, and everybody. Click through and get in touch with your new favorite bristles.
Invest in this double-ended brush from Kat Von D and you'll never have to buy another contour, blush, powder, or highlighter tool ever again. Use the angled end to sculpt cheekbones and apply pigment to the apples of your cheeks and the tapered end to dust on highlighter or setting powder.
Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Brush, $34, available at Sephora.
Undereye circles, acne, discoloration, and dark spots don't stand a chance against this blending master. Its synthetic bristles are gentle on the skin, so you won't see brush strokes or dry patches when you're finished.
Sephora Pro Airbrush Concealer Brush #57, $24, available at Sephora.
This could be the only eye brush you need — at least for daily use. It has soft bristles and a fluffy texture, plus it's dense enough to pick up just the right amount of pigment.
Bobbi Brown Eye Blender Brush, $37, available at Sephora.
Let us introduce you to the bronzer brush that all other bronzer brushes should bow down to. Great for cream or powder formulations, the large brush head is crazy soft and works well with loose powder and blush, too.
Marc Jacobs Beauty The Bronze Bronzer Brush No. 12, $78, available at Sephora.
It's a Roomba, it's a mushroom, it's a ridiculously amazing handle-free brush that gives your makeup an airbrushed finish!
Artis Palm Brush, $65, available at Artis.
Angled brushes can make applying gel liner easier — but, any time that's not the case, you can always flip this brush around to the straight and pointy end. Life's all about options, you know?
Tarte Etch & Sketch Double Ended Bamboo Liner Brush, $15, available at Sephora.
This soft (but still stiff) brush makes foundation application a breeze — and perks up your
vanity Instagram snaps, too. Skinny Dip Marble Foundation Brush, $16, available at Skinny Dip.
If you love mineral makeup, this dense brush is made for you. It packs on the pigment, then blends it in seamlessly.
Tarte Airbuki Bamboo Powder Foundation Brush, $28, available at Sephora.
Our editors love this soft, vegan blush brush — and for good reason. It feels incredibly luxe and is perfectly sized to apply blush, bronzer, contour, and highlighter with serious precision.
Antonym Contour Brush #3, $22, available at Antonym.
Urban Decay’s Good Karma Optical Blurring Brush is vegan, in case you’re in the market for a great vegan brush. It was originally developed for use with Urban’s Weightless Liquid Foundation, to ensure easy use when blurring out a light liquid, and it does the job well. But it also works for powders and creams due to the densely packed hairs — it’s a great “do it all” face brush for your kit.
Urban Decay Good Karma Optical Blurring Brush, $26, available at Sephora.
This is that ideal crescent-shaped brush for getting into the crease of your eye and blending out the perfect smoky look.
Pixi Crease Brush, $14, available at Target.
The Triangle Foundation Brush from YouTube gurus Sam and Nic Chapman is a must-have. From the duo's newly launched Bold Metals Collection, the dual-function brush helps to cover large areas of the face with the flat edge, and then you can get up-close-and-personal with the angled tip.
Real Techniques Bold Metals Collection Cosmetic Triangle Foundation Brush, $19, available at Target.
If you’ve ever struggled with blending your smoky eye, you need an Artis brush to help. The now infamous oval brushes may be unusual-looking, but they blend like a dream — and the Oval 3 is perfect for those creases.
Artis Oval 3 Brush, $40, available at Net-A-Porter.
For a brush that rings up at $3, it, surprisingly, doesn't disappoint on quality. The bristles are super soft and it applies blush beautifully.
Studio Blush Brush,
On a budget? This drugstore kabuki brush applies powder and liquid foundation like a champ.
e.l.f. Studio Kabuki Face Brush, $6, available at E.L.F..
NARS' Kabuki is a great option for just about everything. It applies contour like a breeze, works for setting powder, and has soft, easy bristles that feel as soft as cotton.
Yachiyo Kabuki Brush,
This foundation brush will help you get achieve all-over coverage without any weird streaks.
Airbrush Finish Bamboo Foundation Brush,
This lip brush has a genius rounded shape that makes following the outline of your lips supremely easy. Plus, the synthetic bristles are soft to the touch, yet maintain their shape for precise application. Bonus? The handle has an antibacterial coating to keep germs at bay.
Smith Cosmetics 302 Lip Brush, $20, available at Smith Cosmetics.
This brush will not only gently and evenly swipe on your bronzer (body bronzer, too), the bristles are so soft that brushing it over your face feels is a like a calming stress reliever in its own right.
Heavenly Luxe Mega Fan,
Brush novice? This kit is for you. It includes every type you need to complete a full makeup look, from a blush brush, powder brush, to dense shadow brushes. And at under $15, you'll definitely be surprised at how soft and easy-to-use these are.
EcoTools Lovely Looks Brush Set, $14.99, available at Target.
"I'm in the slow-going process of growing out my eyebrows — from the '90s — and am committed to not touching them until Bob Scott, eyebrow guru, gives me the green light," says our deputy fashion & beauty editor, Anne-Marie Guarnieri. "This brush helps keep them from getting too out of hand, until the glorious day that they will be once again professionally groomed. Bless."
Core Tools Spoolie Brush,
Found: an on-the-go, do-it-all brush that won't get gunky in your purse.
Retractable Complexion Coverage Brush,
Fan brushes are good for applying pigment around your cheekbones, but they're also great for cleaning up messes. Sonia Kashuk's version is perfect for sweeping up wayward specks around your eyes.
Core Tools Duo Fibre Fan Brush,
That raised zit that doesn't seem to want to get covered? Shiseido's concealer brush helps the stuff stick to even the hardest-to-hide spots.
The Makeup Concealer Brush,
A lip brush, like this one from MAC, is perfect for making sure your lipstick stays in place all day.
316 Lip Brush,
This brush buffs your face so well, you look airbrushed IRL.
From concealer to powder, this travel brush does just about everything.
Double-Ended Complexion Brush,
Brows on fleek? This angled number pops pigment onto your set in a snap, without being too heavy-handed.
Beauty Is Life
Softest. Blush. Brush. Ever.
Blush Brush Angled 3,
Unlike other fan brushes, this one has jagged little bristles that work great with cream and liquid products. It's also also strangely good for drawing in details with the side tip.
Make Up For Ever
402 Artistic Fan Brush,
The dipped center of this brush makes applying liquid foundation a snap. Just squeeze it into the reservoir and buff it on.
Perfecting Face Brush,
Did you know there is such a thing as an ergonomic makeup brush? Well, Beautycounter weighs down the bristles of their brushes so you can apply your makeup in the most comfortable way possible. We particularly love their eye crease brush for blending in eyeshadow seamlessly.
Crease Eye Brush,
We know, the price point is kind of crazy. But, one feel of this über-luxe brush and you may start pinching your pennies.
Face Powder Brush,
Lip brushes are great for super precise looks, but purse-friendly? Not so much. This compact retractable version, however, is perfect for application — as well as not completely ruining your Chanel bag.
e.l.f. Retractable Lip Brush, $3, available at e.l.f.
This is the ultimate traveling brush set. And for those of us who live by the less-is-more makeup mantra, the ultimate life brush set. With everything from a foundation to a contour to a brow brush, plus a few more, it’s really all you need whether you’re heading out of town or just out.
Travel Kit Make Me Cool,
Sonia Kashuk's brushes are industry leaders among professional makeup artists — probably because they were create
by a makeup artist. They're affordable, are soft, and last for years. This blush brush makes an even, diffused pop of color easy. Sonia Kashuk Domed Blusher Brush No. 29, $17.99, available at Target.
This setting brush is an editor favorite for its incredibly light touch when applying powder. Tip: It's also excellent for applying powder highlighter.
Real Techniques Setting Brush, $8, available at Real Techniques.
The dense, soft bristles and domed shape of this brush make sweeping on the perfect amount of powder blush and bronzer
so easy. Benefit Hoola Bronzing & Contouring Brush, $24, available at Benefit Cosmetics.
This soft bristled highlight brush is a treasure with a small price tag. Once you start applying highlight, you won't want to stop.
How could you
not love a brush that has a bow-tie? But seriously, this big, fluffy one is perfect for dusting on powder-to-cream foundations, or sweeping blush on the apples of your cheeks. Too Faced Mr. Right Perfect Powder Brush, $36, available at Too Faced.
If you’re serious about trying to trick the world into thinking you were born without visible pores, this skin-perfecting brush is a must-have. The soft, fluffy hairs (which are synthetic and cruelty-free, FYI) are perfect for sweeping powder all over to blur enlarged pores, fine lines, and imperfections for an airbrushed finish.
It Cosmetics Heavenly Skin Bye Bye Pores Brush, $58, available at It Cosmetics.
We know, we know... the unicorn trend is tired. But you can't help but feel a little magical while sweeping on your boring ol' face powder with this pink bristled beauty.
Tarte Magic Wands Brush Set, $39, available at Tarte.
Thanks to the dense bristles, you'll never have to be worried about noticeable brushstrokes in your foundation again.
Fenty Beauty Full-Bodied Foundation Brush 110, $34, available at Sephora.
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