There are a million kinds of makeup brushes out there: It can be overwhelming and a little intimidating. How do you know which one to use for which product? Do you really need a brush for applying your foundation or BB cream? Do you need to invest in expensive brushes or can you find decent ones at the drugstore? How many do you really need?
We posit that the casual makeup enthusiast only needs four basic beauty brushes in her collection. That's right: four. That's it. That may not seem like a lot, especially if you wear makeup regularly, but think about it. You really don't need half a dozen brushes to do a smoky eye, you're probably doing just fine putting on your BB cream with your fingers, and most brushes can serve at least two different purposes, if not more. Besides, if you have fewer of them, you'll be forced to clean them more often. (That's a good thing, we promise.)
If you're still not inspired to pare down your stash, consider this: It’ll let you spend a little more on them. Quality should be the goal here: A good brush will make $5 drugstore makeup look a million times better.
What makes a good makeup brush, anyway? Sonia Kashuk, makeup artist and founder of Sonia Kashuk Beauty (you may have seen her gorgeous brushes at your local Target) would know: “It’s in the type of hair used, the way the brushes are made, how the hair is cut, the amount of hair used, the softness, the denseness, and the durability. If properly cared for, a great brush can last years. I have brushes in my case from when I first started my line over a decade ago!” The takeaway? Clean them regularly, try to buy them in person so you can see how they feel, and always strive for quality over quantity.
If you're on a tight budget, don't worry: We have high-end and budget recommendations waiting for you, ahead. Click through to see the four truly essential makeup brushes that made the cut, as well as where to buy them and how to use them.