10 Makeup Brushes Everyone Needs

9:00 AM

You may or may not know that my background isn't strictly in the beauty realm but I actually have a degree in industrial design. One thing I learned from my shop days is how important it is to have the right drill bit, a sharp saw, and a good pair of safety goggles (I know, really sexy) to maximize efficiency and technique. Really, makeup application is no different. Simply getting the most expensive tools isn't necessary but having the proper tools can have a big impact on the finished result.

I've gone through so many years trying out all shapes and sizes of makeup brushes, from the biggest kabuki to the tiniest precise liner, that I've found a really nice rhythm of which brushes work best. That's why I thought it would be helpful to share a list of the standout must-haves from each category and what I use them for.

Face Brushes

1. Powder Brush
You'll want to look for something large enough so you don't need to constantly pick up more powder and small enough that it fits into the contours of your face. Being super soft like this Sephora one is also imperative!

2. Foundation Brush
I love synthetic, dense brushes for buffing liquid foundation in without any streaks. This one in particular has great reviews and works infinitely faster than traditional flat foundation brushes.

3. Angled Blush Brush
My favorite type of blush brush is one that is white and angled so that it hugs the apples of the cheeks plus you can see how much product you've picked up so you don't overdo it. 

4. Precision Highlight Brush
This one is technically a blush brush but it works so well at applying powder highlighters to just the tops of cheeks and high points of the face. It's also a super soft one!

Eye Brushes

5. Inner Corner Highlight
If you like adding that little pop to your inner eye corners to brighten your daily look, this is a must-have. Trust me, it's not easy to apply it properly without a teensy brush in your arsenal.

6. Smudge Brush
This short, dense brush is a must-have for smudging a dark color around lash lines. It's what I use daily to "line" my lower lashes with eyeshadow, which tends to last longer on me than pencil eyeliner.

7. Precision Blending Brush
I use this to apply the deepest color to the outer crease area. LOVE this one for those with limited lid space!

8. Lid Brush
I use this to put on my main lid color. It's larger than my crease brushes so it can smooth on shimmery shades really nicely.

9. Blending Brush
Ah, the infamous 217! This brush has a cult following for good reason. It's the perfect density and size to blend out shadows for that perfect transition. Sometimes I just use this brush and nothing else on simple makeup days. The white bristles are also a great indicator for when brushes need to be washed again. 

10. Large Shadow Brush
I love these kinds of larger fluffy brushes for applying my browbone highlight since you just need one big sweep to get the right amount of soft color down.

If you want to see how I use these brushes in action (plus a few extra brushes like what I use for mineral foundation) check out the video below:

I realized that my bronzer brush mentioned in the video isn't available for purchase anymore so anyone with bronzer brush recommendations will be my hero. If there are any other brushes that you can't live without let me know in the comments so I can check it out!

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  1. i would like to add the MAC 239 for packing color on the eyelids. it is really a good brush !
    I also love ELF brushes! really great for the price !

    Claire From http://www.clairetalksbeauty.com/

    1. Oh my gosh I LOOOOOVE the Mac 239! I was debating between sharing that and the 217 but the 217 is more popular and 239 was redundant with my Sephora Pro 14. But I totally agree, that is one of my favorites for packing color, especially brights or shimmery shades!

  2. Thank you for your informative review on these wonderful brushes. I hope I get an opportunity to try MAC brushes one day.


    1. You're absolutely welcome! MAC brushes are wonderful and classic, definitely worth their money over time.

  3. The sephora airbrush foundation brush sounds amazing. Seen so many people talking about how good it is recently. I love morphe brushes.


    1. I heard so many good things before I got mine and it definitely didn't disappoint! And I haven't tried Morphe myself but I've heard they are fantastic too. I'll do some more research on Morphe!

  4. I have yet to try any of the Nars brushes but I do love sigma and mac brushes!

    Typically Linda || Instagram

    1. NARS brushes are really fantastic quality and I love the design of them! I know you can't see from these photos but it's like Louboutins... red on the bottom. :)

  5. I hear so many good things about the Mac 217. I think it's finally time to get it. Lovely post!


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  7. Would the Sonia Kashuk #17 brush be similar to what you show here as the bronzer brush?
    By the way, do you happen to have any pictures of you during your 'shop days'? I can't really imagine you with a drill and safety goggles. LOL.

  8. Would love to know what you're wearing on your lips, colour is so pretty!