Build the perfect beauty tool kit with our industry-approved pick of the best make-up brushes
As any good make-up artist will tell you, a great finish can depend entirely on your tools. You might have primer that makes your skin as smooth as stone and foundation that feels like silk, but without the best make-up brushes you can get your hands on, you won’t get a flawless finish.
Of course, your make-up brush life will be significantly lengthened if you look after your kit clean your brushes regularly. It may seem like it requires a lot of effort, but in reality it’s pretty easy and is worth the time – some people have been putting their brushes in the wash, which (as a make-up artist confirmed) is not OK.
From the precision of a pencil to super soft and fluffy brushes, equip yourself with these beauties in your tool kit and you’ll have a winning finish every single time. Trust us, the best make-up brushes are worth the spends.
Best make-up brushes for foundation
Of course, there are some cases where you won’t need a brush to apply your foundation; some, like NARS’ All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation, are designed to be warmed slightly in your hand and then applied with the fingers. But for the most part, you would probably rather have some sort of tool to hand to get that flawless finish.
So which type of brush should you go for? It’s all dependent on the kind of foundation you use.
For super liquid-y formulas, a flat paddle brush like Chanel Pinceau Fond de Teint, £30, Boots, will help to evenly blend your base from the centre outwards. For cream formulas, however, you want a denser packed brush for good coverage with a seamless finish. When it comes to these, Bobbi Brown Full Coverage Face Brush, £32, fabled.com, is a real hero and one of the softest brushes we’ve ever come across. Technically a foundation brush, but this can be used for pretty much any cream formula – blusher, bronzer, highlighter…
Then there are powders, which require (usually quite huge) brushes that get an even coverage all over your face. The denser the brush, the better the coverage, so if you’re just setting your base with powder, go for a loose brush like Lancôme Powder Brush 1, £29, fabled.com.
Best eye make-up brushes
It might seem like there are endless eye brushes on the market, so let us break down the big ones. First things first, your basic shadow brush should be dense enough to pick up pigment, but loose enough that shadow can be easily blended across the eye, like Illamasqua’s Eye Shadow Brush, £19.50, Debenhams. Meanwhile an angled version is useful for applying darker colour into the crease – give Estée Lauder’s Contour Shadow Brush, £20, fabled.com a go.
A blender brush is essential for smudging out a smokey eye to finish it off, or for a light touch of shadow. Try Charlotte Tilbury’s Eye Blender Brush, £25, charlottetilbury.com on for size. Not only is it the perfect addition to your eye brush collection, but who doesn’t love rose gold?
Just above the eyes, a dual-ended brow brush is also an absolute must – one end for combing out your brows and the other for defining with your brow product of choice. Benefit’s Angled Brow Brush and Spoolie, £15.50, fabled.com, is a good example and very reasonably priced.
Best make-up brushes for blusher
Powder blushes require a looser bristled brush to help evenly sweep blusher across your cheeks – but be sure to choose one with a full brush head, like The Body Shop’s Blusher Brush, £12, thebodyshop.com. For cream formulas, we reckon you’ll get on well with NARS #23 Wet/Dry Blush Brush, £32, fabled.com, which is great for stippling colour. However, some women prefer an angled brush for blush, like MAC’s 168SH Large Angled Contour Brush, £28, maccosmetics.co.uk, as these hug the contours of your cheeks when applying colour.
Need a new blusher? Our sister site Powder will pair you with the perfect blush to make your cheeks flush!
Best make-up brushes set
Addicted to make-up brushes? You can never have too many, we say. That’s why (if you don’t own one already) you’ll probably want a separate, smaller brush kit you can take on the go. Mac have an amazing Basic Brush Kit, £49, maccosmetics.co.uk, that’s an absolute steal, complete with shorter handled versions of all of your favourite full-sized tools.
If you’re a bit of a beginner to the make-up brush game, a basics set will set you up with the fundamentals for your kit, but be warned: it’ll probably start your make-up brush addiction, too. Real Techniques, founded by YouTube sensations the Pixiwoo sisters, are a great brand to look to if you’re just getting started and they have some great brush sets to boot. The Flawless Base Set, £22.99, Boots, has four of the face essentials (contour, concealer, powder and foundation) and comes with a brush holder to keep your tools together on your dressing table.
Best make-up brushes holder
Of course, your kit will last you much longer if you know how to clean make-up brushes and store them properly. You should wash your brushes at least once a week if you use them every day, and try to cleanse with a brush spray between uses. Ideally, they should always be stored upright in a pot (or similar container) or lay flat in a brush case. Check out our guide on how to store make-up for some more innovative ideas of how to store both your brushes and make-up. Trust us, they’re genius.
So there you have it; your complete guide to the best make-up brushes, plus how to clean and store them properly. We guarantee your make-up routine will benefit from the read.
Words by Natalie Lukaitis and Sarah Barnes
The thin tip gives extra control when drawing precise, sharp lines. The perfect companion to your favourite gel liner.
Tapered hairs naturally fit the shape of your face for flawless contouring and highlighting, making this brush a game-changer for really defining your face.
The dense bristles of the Oval 7 allow you to blend and buff in liquid products with no creasing whatsoever.
The soft, rounded head of this Illamasqua number makes light work of swooshing colour on to cheeks.
The flat top of Dior's no. 15 brush deposits just the right amount of powder for a barely-there dusting.
Fine hairs easily buff in product and allow you to build up light layers for a flawless base.