No matter how good your makeup products are, you’ll need the right brushes to bring them to life. The best makeup brushes can be the difference between a flawless rainbow ombre eye and a muddy puddle of colour. If you’re serious about makeup application, you’ll know that you need a selection of different brushes: tapered for precision, fluffy for powders, dense for liquid, domed for buffing, and more.
If you want to brush up (pardon the pun) on your makeup brush knowledge, scroll down for our A-Z of the essential makeup brushes you need in your kit.
Angled Contour Brush
Contour brushes are usually cut straight across or in a ‘S’ shape, desiged to fit into the contours of your face, such as your cheekbones, temples, and jaw. They usually have a sharp edge and firm bristles so apply pigment quite densely – you’ll need a loose, fluffy cheek or powder brush to diffuse the pigment.
Ideal for targeting small, specific areas such as around the eyes or over a blemish, a concealer brush helps to give concentrated coverage where it’s needed most. Focus product on the specific area to begin with and then blend around the edges to diffuse the pigment.
Designed to apply blushers and bronzers, cheek brushes have long, soft bristles and a domed shape to evenly diffuse colour pigment. The softer and fluffier they are, the less powder they’ll pick up, which is ideal when you need a soft wash of colour.
Domed Foundation Brush
These traditional foundation brushes are perfect for buffing cream, powder, or liquid formulas into the skin. The domed heads are ideal for ensuring a seamless finish and full coverage in hard to reach areas such as around the nose.
Eye Blending Brush
Designed to blend out colour once it’s been applied, these brushes have a long, tapered shape and loose, fluffy bristles that allow you to blend, blend, blend, without irritating your eyelids. Perfect for creating smoky eyes or diffusing too strong pigment.
Eye Shading Brush
Key to packing colour onto the lid for a really opaque finish, most makeup artists will have multiple versions of these brushes in their kit. They’re typically quite flat with densely packed bristles and a rounded shape.
Eyeshadow Detail Brush
With a small, firm tip (similar in size to a pencil), these brushes can be used for anything from tightlining the water line to smudging out liner or creating more detailed, artistic looks. You can also use to pinpoint pigment into small areas like the inner corner.
Fan Highlighter Brush
With their very long, loose bristles, these brushes deposit pigment lightly for a really diffused effect. They’re perfect for targeting small areas such as the brow bones and tops of the cheekbones. If you want a brighter highlight, spritz the brush with setting spray beforehand to enhance the pigment.
Flat Foundation Brush
These brushes typically have long, dense bristles, like a paintbrush. They work best with thick liquid and cream foundation formulas. As they tend to apply product quite thick, you should always start from the centre of the face and work outwards.
Easily recognisable by its short, densely packed flat-top bristles, this brush is perfect for applying liquid foundation for a medium-full coverage. It only requires light pressure and should be used in circular buffing motions.
Lip brushes do double duty, applying lipstick not only to the lips (best in short, patting strokes), but also around, in place of lip liner. They have sharp edges so are perfect for achieving a clean, even effect.
Designed to lightly diffuses loose powder over your skin, powder brushes are typically quite large, with a domed shape and long, loose bristles that result in a fluffy feel. Always tap off excess powder before applying – in quick, ‘dusting’ motions.
This duo fiber brush is made with two different lengthens of bristles so that it’s loose at the top and more compact at the bottom. This makes it great for a soft and sheer finish and works perfectly with light and thin textures like BB creams and liquid highlighters.
Winged Liner Brush
With firm, slanted bristles, these traditional eyeliner brushes are ideal for creating bold lines and cat-eye flicks and work as well with cream and liquid formulas as they do with powder. They can also be used to apply pomade or powder to the eyebrows – in short, quick strokes to replicate hairs.