The first set of makeup brushes I ever owned was a Bobbi Brown set that my mom bought for me, and this was in 2012 or 2013 when I started getting into makeup. The set was perfect for a beginner like me, because each brush had a label for a certain type of product. But being the pasaway girl that I am, I never really followed what was on the label. I just used whatever brush I felt like using, especially if it was serving its purpose. It was only after learning more and more about makeup that I realized what type of brush was best used for a certain product, like how synthetic brushes are best for creams and liquids while goat’s hair works better with powders, eye shadows, and blushes.
Through the years, my portfolio of makeup brushes expanded so I decided to write an article on what makeup brushes to use for what. If you’re a beauty beginner, I hope you find this helpful because makeup brushes shouldn’t be intimidating! And just because a certain brush is labeled for one kind of product, doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself with that. Makeup may have its rules and what-not’s, but I like to think of them more as guidelines to help me get creative with my looks!
For my primer, I don’t really like using a brush. I like applying it gently using my fingers. In fact, you can use your fingers to apply foundation, and even applying and blending eye shadows! There were several instances where I forgot my makeup brushes at home, and I felt like wearing makeup at work, so I’d use my hands to apply my base and eye shadow. I would use my pointer to dab color on my lids, while my ring finger worked best for blending.
L-R: Buffing Brush, Flat Foundation Brush, Stippling Brush, Flat Foundation Brush, and Beauty Blender
There are different kinds of foundations, as well as techniques on how to apply them. For me, these are the five brushes I normally use. The Stippling Brush and the Flat Foundation Brush, I often use with liquid foundation. Stippling brushes give a really nice, even finish. With a stippling brush, I usually blend out my foundation in circular motions like in my tutorial in partnership with L’Oreal below:
For cream foundations, I like to use either my Beauty Blender or the Buffing Brush to gently dab on the product and blend it out.
My favorite? The Beauty Blender! I use this to blend out my RCMA Five Part “Series Favorites” Palette in KO, which I always, always use for big events like weddings. The finish is just flawless, and I never have to worry about it caking.
CREAM/LIQUID CONCEALER, HIGHLIGHTER, AND CONTOUR
Synthetic Concealer Brushes
For cream concealers, highlighters and contour products, it’s best to use a synthetic flat brush so that you really get a hold of the product. These are the brushes I use to apply cream concealers (my liquid concealers usually come with a wand/applicator). To blend out both cream and liquid concealers, I use my ever handy-dandy Beauty Blender!
Similarly, these are the brushes I use for cream contour products. It’s easy to control, especially around the cheekbones and nose.
POWDER CONTOUR AND HIGHLIGHTER
L-R: Eye Contour Brush, Angled Blush Brushes, and Fan Brush (all Goat’s Hair)
For powder contour, these are my go-to brushes. The Eye Contour Brush, I always use to blend out the contour on my nose while the Angled Blush Brushes are for my cheekbones, jawline, and forehead. The Fan Brush works great to highlight your cheekbones, but I also use it to brush away eye shadow fallout on my under eyes (especially whenever I do a dark or smokey eye look).
SETTING POWDER (FACE)
Goat’s Hair Powder Brushes
These are the powder brushes I use for setting my cream or liquid foundation. I also sometimes use them to brush away fallout when doing my eye shadow.
SETTING POWDER (UNDER EYES)
Goat’s Hair Fluffy Brushes
Whenever I “bake” my under eyes using RCMA’s No Color Powder or Ofra’s Translucent Highlighting Luxury Powder, I like using these fluffy brushes because they’re soft, provide precision, and are gentle to use for under eyes.
POWDER BLUSH AND BRONZER
Goat’s Hair Blush Brushes
My blush brushes are slightly smaller than my powder brushes, which make it easier to use on the apples of my cheeks. The one on the right is slightly tapered, so it’s also convenient to use on the forehead.
Here’s where it gets a little complicated, but to simplify everything, I grouped my brushes into three: transition color, crease, and blending.
L-R: Transition Group, Crease Group, and Blending Group
For my transition or base color, these are my favorite brushes to use (all goat’s hair). I especially like the second to the left, because it’s soft and very easy to control. Notice how the brushes aren’t as “fluffy”? These are excellent for people like me with hooded eyes and monolids, where the space of my lid (from the waterline to the brow bone) is pretty limited, if that makes any sense. Basically, these are the brushes that fit. Haha!
For my crease, I like using smaller brushes so that I can be more precise with my eye shadow application. Whenever I apply a “V” shape on the outer corner of my lids, the brush on the left is what I use.
To blend everything together, these are my preferred brushes but the one in the middle is my favorite. It blends out my eye shadows nice and easy, and when I need to add more, I just go back to either my Crease brush or my Transition brush.
On the rare occasions that I wear eyeliner, these brushes are perfect. I specifically use the one in the middle for gel eyeliners because it’s very small and easy to control.
So those are the makeup brushes I use to create all of my looks! The brushes featured are a mix of my Bobbi Brown set, Sigma set, Trina set, and Suesh set though not included are the Pro Studio Beauty Exclusive brushes I recently purchased from BeautyMNL, which you can read about here.
Now, what brushes do I recommend? If you’re ballin’, I highly recommend Sigma or ZOEVA (I’m dying to have my own set from ZOEVA—all the beauty vloggers I follow constantly rave about it). But if you’re on a budget, you can check out these brands: Real Techniques, Suesh, ECOTOOLS, Pro Studio Beauty Exclusives, Artist Studio (which you can find in Landmark and SM Beauty stores), Riot Brushes, Katch Beauty Supplies, and Marionaud.
Got any questions or clarifications? Have your own brushes to recommend? Do share them in the comments!