The best make-up brushes for all budgets to fill your beauty tool kit

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  • The industry-approved edit of the brushes you need to get your paws on, stat

    Ask any good make-up artist and they’ll tell you that, for the perfect finish, you need the best make-up brushes you can get your hands on.

    But it’s a bit of a minefield out there, kids, and you may be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of brush choices on the market. That’s where we, your handy make-up brush testers, step in with this shoppable guide to the best buys.

    From the best vegan make-up brushes to the best make-up brush for powder, blush, eyes and more, we’ve handpicked this edit for all budgets for your shopping. Keep reading for your induction to the very top tools out there.

    Best make-up brush sets

    Spectrum 10 Piece Pink Essential Brush Set, £39.99, Boots

    best make-up brushes set Spectrum

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    Of course, the best way to kit yourself out with new brushes is to save up and invest in a kit from one of the best make-up brush brands (although, you can never have too many brushes in your arsenal).

    Sisters Hannah and Sophie set up Spectrum Collections from their home in Wales a few years ago, and they’re already the go-to brushes for many a pro make-up artist. The 10-piece set above is a great starter set of staples if you’re only just building a collection, while the bumper 30-piece set will set you up with all the essentials for face and eyes – both working out as less than £4 per brush. Not on board with the milennial pink theme? They also offer less colourful brushes in white, and the whole brush range is vegan and cruelty-free. Dreamy.

    Another must to check out are RealTechniques, founded by make-up artist sisters and YouTubers Sam and Nic Chapman, aka ‘Pixiwoo’. The brushes have created a huge storm in the industry as they’re pro quality tools without sky-high prices. Their Flawless Base Set and Enhanced Eye Set are both £20 for four or five brushes and are great starters for both face and eyes.

    Best make-up brushes for eyes

    best make-up brushes for eyes

    It doesn’t matter how much time and effort you put into your eye looks, everyone needs at least one good, basic shadow brush. This should be dense enough to pick up pigment, but loose enough to blend shadow across the eye. Illmasqua’s Eyeshadow Brush is a pretty perfect example. An angled version is also useful for applying darker colour into the outer corner and crease of your lid.

    The last absolute essential is a blending brush, a more feathery option that softens the edges of your look and blends different shades together seamlessly. Two best-selling examples that pros love are Morphe’s M441 Pro Firm Blending Crease Brush, and Zoeva’s Luxe Soft Crease Brush (and did I mention they’re both £10 or under?).

    Of course the more advanced your shadow skills are, the more brushes it’s worth picking up for your toolkit. Having different sizes shadow brushes to play with gives you loads of options for what you can create, so it’s well worth checking out the full ranges of the bands mentioned here for more application and blending options. You can never have too many brushes, really…

    Best make-up brushes for foundation

    Zoeva Buffer Brush 104, £17, Lookfantastic

    best make-up brushes Zoeva

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    While some make-up artists actually prefer finger application for the best foundation, for the rest of us a brush is a must-have, whatever the chosen formula.

    Zoeva’s Buffer Brush (104), above, is their best seller, a flat-topped brush with feather-light bristles that’s great for blending product an all-over flawless finish, whether you like tinted moisturiser, powder or liquid make-up. We also love their Silk Finish Brush (102) is great for building up cream or thicker liquid formulas wherever you need coverage.

    Another personal favourite is Bobbi Brown’s Full Coverage Face Brush, £33 at Lookfantastic, which also doubles as a great cream blush or bronzer brush. Its short handle and densely packed brush head makes it the perfect base tool.

    Very fluid foundations marry well with good quality paddle brushes, which are flatter and more paintbrush-like in shape. Try either the MAC 190 Foundation Brush or Chanel’s Pinceau No6 and blend your liquid from the centre of your face outwards.

    Best make-up brushes for blusher

    Bobbi Brown Blush Brush, £37, John Lewis

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    When it comes to blusher, you’re probably not looking for a brush that packs on the colour straight away. Bobbi Brown makes a great one, for powder above; its spherical brush head is perfect for swirling a pop of colour onto the apples of your cheeks, and is loose enough to distribute colour evenly for just a hint of colour. Prefer an angled brush for your powder blush? Spectrum’s A05 Precision Blush Brush will hug the contours of your cheeks for more definition.

    On the other hand, cream blush fanatics should give NARS #23 Wet/Dry Blush Brush a go – it’s great for stippling colour for a healthy flush and seamless blending.

    Best way to clean make-up brushes

    You’ve spent all your money on these beautiful tools, now you want them to last. And one of the best ways to prolong their life is by ensuring you clean them – properly and regularly. If you use your brushes on the daily, washing at least once a week is a must, refreshing them in between with something like NYX On the Spot Brush Cleanser Spray. Swot up with our guide on how to clean make-up brushes to make sure you’re doing it right.

    Almost ready to splurge? Keep scrolling for a few more brush heros to consider when shopping for your kit. Enjoy!

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