Pro Dish: The Five Makeup Brushes You Actually Need

Whether you're a beauty newbie or a makeup veteran, you've probably found yourself confounded by the amount of different makeup brushes available for your face-painting needs. I mean, seriously, how many different sizes and shapes of brushes could we possibly need to get the job done? To get the dish on the top makeup brushes that we actually need, we reached out to Sonia Kashuk, makeup artist and founder of Sonia Kashuk Beauty. If you've never tried Kashuk's tools before, let us just say that you are missing out — her inexpensive yet extremely high-quality brushes have been our go-tos for years. Whether you're a beauty newbie or a makeup minimalist, there's no need to go out and purchase a huge pro set of makeup brushes and tools. With only five brushes, you can create most basic makeup looks — and then some.
For Foundation:
If you thought a sponge was where it's at for your base application, think again. Nothing creates a more even finish (with less product!) than a foundation brush. "A more domed-shaped brush is great for foundation because it helps alleviate streaks, evenly buffs foundation and concealer into the skin, and is perfect for targeting specific hard-to-reach areas," Kashuk says. (That's why she designed her Pointed Foundation Brush.) To get the most natural finish, Kashuk recommends tapping (not wiping) the foundation brush, building the product as you go, and to keep application as sheer as possible under the eyes.
For Blush and Bronzer:
For application of powder blush (or for applying setting powder or bronzer to larger areas, like your forehead or neck), Kashuk recommends a fluffy powder brush: "The hairs are soft, supple, and feel luxuriously soft on the skin, plus it delivers just the right amount of color for a more sheer application. Apply in a circular motion to control the movement and overall application." We like Sephora Collection's version, made with goat hair bristles.
For Shadow: For more detailed powder work, Kashuk relies on a small, fluffy shadow brush (try this one by MAC) to do double-duty. "A shadow brush is one of my favorite tools because it offers a sheer application that’s perfect for a light dusting of shadow over the eye," says the makeup artist. Plus, Kashuk says that this small wonder is perfect for strategic mattification (without dousing your whole face in powder): "Look for a dome-shaped tip. It's great for contouring and applying powder to specific areas."
For Brows:
When it comes to your brows, you may decide to leave well enough alone, but trust us: brushing your brows into place with a spoolie brush is best things you can do to 'wake up' your face in the morning. Says Kashuk: "I prefer to use a spoolie because it latches to the brow hairs for better control. When brushing the brows, follow the growth of the hair and natural contour of the brow line. The motion should go up and out toward the hair line, with the spoolie slightly bent."
For Liner:
To finish off your eye look (especially if you're going for a smokier look), you'll want one last brush in your kit: a smudge brush. "This tool adds the perfect definition to the eye's great for blending pencil or gel liner, and can create a softer smoky eye." The best part about this type of brush is that it can be used to create a variety of looks; simply wet the brush to create a bolder look, or use it dry for a more smudged, diffused effect.
Feel free to add to your collection as needed, but if you want to get more adventurous (and have everything you need in one cute, matching set), we love Kashuk's Deluxe Travel set — a perfect deal at only 20 bucks, and is there anything cuter than its portable, futuristic white case? We think not.
Sonia Kashuk Deluxe Travel Brush Set, $19.99, available at Target.
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page!

More from Makeup


R29 Original Series