The best brushes to take your makeup to the next level
10 highly-recommended makeup brushes you need in your kit
Beauty Crew Contributing Editor / September 23 2018
Makeup brushes are the unsung heroes in our beauty kits. So many of us simply rely on our fingers to get the job done (hey, they’re free!), but we’re missing a trick by not using a makeup brush. However, with so many different brushes (for starters, there are different shapes and materials, not to mention one for every step of your makeup routine), it’s hard to know where to begin building your perfect collection of tools. While your dream line-up will depend greatly on the steps you have in your entire makeup routine (day, night and special occasions) and the types of formulas you like, here are some great all-rounders to get you started. Because once you try a great makeup brush, you’ll wonder how you put up with mediocre ones for so long.
#10 / Lancôme Dual-Ended Cheek & Contour Brush #25
Two brushes are definitely better than one, and this Lancôme brush doesn’t disappoint on either end. You’ve got soft, flowing bristles for natural definition, and the short, tighter shape to get in close for a more precise result – just what you need when applying concealer.
Best for: Contouring and highlighting
The specs: Oval-shaped, natural hair bristles
The review: “I am a huge fan of Lancôme Dual-Ended Cheek & Contour Brush (sometimes even mineral powder and bronzer!). It's just so versatile. It has lovely bristles and gets me from A to B really quickly and I'm off out the door.” Nicole, SUPERcrew member
#9 / Shiseido Foundation Brush
If you’re the type who chops and changes between foundation formulas, then you could do with some stability in your makeup kit – and a foundation brush that works with all kinds of formulas is just the thing. This Shiseido brush can help build your foundation to a high coverage, if you so need, and delivers a beautiful natural finish every time.
Best for: Liquid, cream and compact foundations
The specs: Flat, tightly-packed, synthetic bristles
The review: “My favourite is Shiseido’s Foundation Brush, which I have been using for years. It’s a bit pricey but the soft angled brush head makes it quick and easy to apply both liquid and powder foundations with no fuss. The bristles never fall out and its compact size makes it great for on-the-go.” Dina, SUPERcrew member
#8 / Rae Morris Jishaku Pro Powder Brush
Soft, flexible brushes make for a beautiful powder application, which is why we love this brush. Created by one of Australia’s leading makeup artists, Rae Morris, the price tag might be steep, but the brush is worth the splurge. Morris explains on her website that she specifically designed the brush’s shape for when you just want to powder certain areas of the face, such as when you don’t want to powder all over. “I love using it on the nose corner, centre of the forehead, and under the eyes,” she says.
Best for: Powder makeup
The specs: Cruelty-free PTT and goat hair bristles
The review: “It’s perfect for applying powder only in the areas you want due to the elongated pointed shape..… super soft brush for a soft application. I love that it is cruelty-free.” Mia Hawkswell, professional makeup artist
#7 / Nude By Nature Mineral Brush
Also cruelty-free, as well as PETA certified, your conscience will feel as good as your complexion looks. Polished perfection, coming right up.
Best for: Powder makeup
The specs: Short, tightly-packed synthetic fibres
The review: “This is great quality for the price. I actually ended up buying three and use it for many different types of makeup like mineral powder, blush and bronzer. It has a gorgeous soft feel, disperses powders evenly and lightly so I can build up my coverage gradually, and is easy to clean.” Georgia, SUPERcrew member
#6 / Napoleon Perdis Camera Finish Kabuki Brush
Another vegan brush, this one may look small but it delivers a mighty outcome. The short, fluffy bristles will bring you that natural glow you want from your blushes and highlighters; a sculpted look with the sweep of a bronzer; and an airbrushed complexion with the help of your favourite powder foundation.
Best for: Finishing powders, blushes and bronzers
The specs: Short synthetic fibres
The review: “My favourite makeup brush would have to be my Napoleon Kabuki Brush, a multipurpose brush that blends beautifully. The bristles are high quality and it distributes my beloved bronzer and blush like a professional. A really gorgeous product and a must for every makeup kit.” Graeme, SUPERcrew member
#5 / Real Techniques Your Base Flawless Powder Brush
Do you like your brushes silky soft and extra bushy? Sweep this one on for size. Like all the Real Techniques brushes, this one feels luxe, without the hefty price tag, and delivers high definition coverage with ease.
Best for: Powder makeup
The specs: Soft, loose, synthetic bristles
The review: “The best makeup brush is the Real Techniques Your Base Flawless Powder Brush. It is a real multitasker so goes with me everywhere. Use it to touch-up any powder products from mineral powders to blush to highlighters – it's a one brush wonder!” Kylie, SUPERcrew member
#4 / Zoeva #223 Petit Eye Blender Brush
This vegan brush got a double tick of approval from two of our favourite Australian makeup artists when we asked them what their go-to eye makeup brushes were. Why? Because its small tip allows for a super precise application. If you want to step up your game to pro status, this brush will get you there.
Best for: Eyeshadow
The specs: Densely-packed synthetic bristles
The review: “Being made of synthetic fibres, it’s really great at blending out pencil liners and shadow sticks, and layering powder shadows. It’s even small enough to do pin-point detail such as highlighter on the inner corner of the eye (to brighten) or intense detail in the contour.” Nicola Burford, professional makeup artist
#3 / IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Flat Top Buffing Foundation Brush #6
88,400 hairs – that’s what you’ll find in this brush. Why does that matter? It helps distribute your makeup evenly for a flawless coverage. The flat, tightly-packed shape lets you buff product into your skin so it doesn’t just look natural, but melts into skin for a weightless, undetectable finish.
Best for: Powder and foundation
The specs: Flat, densely-packed, synthetic bristles
The review: “My favourite makeup brush is definitely the Heavenly Luxe Foundation Brush from It Cosmetics. It’s a flat top brush that is densely packed and blends foundation into the skin effortlessly. It is also super soft and very well made, I’ve had mine for years and the bristles never shed (even when washing).” Ruby, SUPERcrew member
#2 / L’Oréal Paris Infallible Foundation Brush
Our most-reviewed makeup brush on Beauty Crew, this one comes with a 4.5 star rating. What makes it such a crowd pleaser is the no-streak natural finish it delivers, and how the bristles don’t hog all the product for themselves (read: they put it where you want it most – on your face).
Best for: Liquid foundation
The specs: Soft, dense, synthetic bristles
The review: “This foundation brush does an amazing job when applying foundation and works nicely with a lot of the foundations that I own. The brush is soft and does not leave streaks and doesn’t absorb much foundation either. It is very durable and the bristles don’t have fall out even when I use it daily. Definitely a good purchase!” Helen, Beauty Crew member
#1 / MAC Cosmetics 217 Blending Brush
You can’t apply your eye makeup without a little blending and shading, and this MAC brush sets the bar high. This is a does-so-much makeup brush that you will use A LOT. The ultra-soft bristles are a dream on skin.
Best for: Eye makeup (creams and powders)
The specs: Oval-shaped, synthetic fibres
The review: “My all time fave makeup brush is the 217 Blending Brush from MAC, it’s pricey but I have many other blending brushes in my arsenal and none come close to this one! It’s soft so even after an intense blending session, it doesn’t feel scratchy or make my eyelids feel sore. It just diffuses the eyeshadow out really well, and always comes back to its original shape and colour when I wash it.” Bree, SUPERcrew member
What is your favourite makeup brush in your kit? Share with us your top pick below.
Main image credit: Getty
Chelsea is BEAUTYcrew’s Contributing Editor. She has a sweet spot for anything that claims to make skin glow and won’t leave the house without a slick of mascara. Chelsea has 10 years of experience as a beauty editor and her words can be found on BEAUTYcrew, Women’s Health, Daily Addict, The Joye and Primped.