It doesn’t really matter where you are with your makeup skill level—beginner, advanced, or professional makeup artist—everyone who dabbles in cosmetics ought to own a few key makeup brushes! They bring your best glamorous eye looks to life, allow you to apply foundation flawlessly, and can help you masterfully conceal dark under-eye circles and blemishes.
With so many makeup brush options to choose from, though, it can be difficult to know what to look for, how much to spend, and which brushes are best for your needs. Our makeup brushes guide covers all that and more!
What Are the Most Common Types of Makeup Brushes?
The makeup brush market is expansive, but these are the most common types you’ll find:
This type of makeup brush is meant to apply your foundation. You’ll find a few varieties in this category, including some made specifically for powder foundation (usually these are buffing foundation brushes with flat tops and densely packed bristles) and others made for liquid foundation.
A concealer makeup brush features a small and narrow brush head. This allows you to more precisely conceal blemishes, under-eye circles, and other discolorations.
Ideal for applying powder products—including bronzer, blush, and finishing powder—powder makeup brushes feature large, rounded brush heads that pick up loose or pressed powder easily.
Kabuki brushes consist of a large, rounded, and soft brush head with a very short handle. They, too, can be used to apply any sort of powder product.
As you probably guessed, a blush brush is designed specifically to apply blush. Though you can technically use a powder brush to apply blush, a blush brush features an angled brush head that allows for a more precise application to your cheeks.
The fan makeup brush gets its name from its unique, fan-like shape. It’s typically meant to apply bronzer and highlighter with a soft-focus, airbrush-like finish.
Like foundation brushes, you’ll find many different types of eyeshadow makeup brushes. Some have fluffier ends that are great for blending, some are designed specifically for smudging (for a smokey eye effect), and others are intended for all-over application.
Shadow Liner Brush
With its teeny-tiny brush head, the liner brush allows for the precise application of your favorite cream, gel, powder, or liquid eyeliners.
A small, tapered tip that makes for simple lipstick or lip gloss application is what makes the lip brush so special. Often, lip brushes are retractable so you can carry them with you without worrying about creating a mess in your bag.
What’s the Difference Between Synthetic & Natural Brushes?
While natural brushes are often made from an animal source (such as goat, sable, or badger), synthetic bristles are constructed from human-made sources. All IT Cosmetics makeup brushes are high-quality synthetic, which means they’re cruelty-free and durable. The bristles feel soft, won’t shed, and do the makeup work for you!
Why Do Makeup Brushes Cost So Much?
Generally speaking, high-quality makeup brushes can cost anywhere from $10 for small brushes (like lip and liner brushes) to $75 for larger types. Their cost can be attributed to a few different factors, including the quality of the bristles themselves, the handle material, and the overall construction. High-quality brushes are less likely to fall apart or shed and will deliver beautiful results for many, many years.
Not to mention, you’ll see the difference in the way they apply makeup. They’re built to gather the right amount of product—without absorbing too much—which can actually save you money on product in the long run!
How Do I Know if My Makeup Brushes Are High Quality?
Nobody feels good spending their hard-earned cash on a product that doesn’t live up to its promises. One of the biggest giveaways of a subpar makeup brush is bristles that are rough and scratchy or look uneven. The bristles should feel soft-to-the-touch and appear impeccably uniform.
The brush head itself should also be securely attached. For a quick test, run the makeup brush back and forth over your hand to see if any brush hairs fall out. You can also gently tug the brush head to make sure it’s set firmly inside the ferrule (the silver part between the bristles and handle). If the brush head wobbles or moves around, it’s not a high-quality makeup brush.
Another way to check for the quality is to inspect its handle. Makeup brush handles are made with many materials, but what’s most important is that the brush feels good in your hands. For example, a makeup brush with a rough wooden handle isn’t ideal, but one with an ergonomic, soft-touch grip will definitely be a pleasure to use every day!
What Kind of Makeup Brushes Should a Beginner Buy?
If you’re new to the world of makeup brushes (or makeup in general), then we recommend starting with the following types. You’ll reach for these makeup brushes the most often to complete your makeup looks:
Foundation & Concealer Brush
We recommend picking up both a foundation and a concealer brush, which you’ll use day after day. For a dual-ended option, try the Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection Brush #7. On one side you get an ultra-luxe, super-plush brush head that allows you to effortlessly build foundation coverage, while the other features a micro-end for precise concealer application.
Multi-Use Eyeshadow Brush
Whether you’re into minimal makeup and want to do a simple wash of color across your lids or want to try a glam makeup look, having a petite fleet of eyeshadow brushes at your beck and call is a must. The Superhero 4-in-1 Eye-Transforming Super Shadow and Liner Brush delivers four brushes in one svelte tool, including an all-over shadow brush, crease brush, smudge brush, and liner brush.
A powder brush is another versatile brush you'll get lots of use out of. You can use it to apply blush, bronzer, highlighter, or finishing powder. One of our favorites is the Heavenly Luxe Wand Ball Powder Brush #8. It has a luxuriously soft, rounded brush head that delivers airbrushed perfection.
How Do I Take Care of My Makeup Brushes?
As is the case with anything you invest in, you’ll want to take proper care of your makeup brushes. Ideally, they should be cleaned once every 10 days with a gentle cleanser and laid flat to dry (here’s a more in-depth tutorial on how to clean makeup brushes). We also recommend storing your makeup brushes in a sealed bag or container to prevent them from accumulating dust or getting smushed.
Looking for more beginner’s guides? Read through our overview on how to choose the right mascara, then check out this tutorial on how to do eyeshadow with a smokey effect.