Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

A guide to makeup brushes: Every kind you need and how to use them

There is a unique terror attached to attempting to seek out just the right makeup brush in a world of so very, very many. This is understandable — sure, you can tell what brushes are for, but determining the correct ways to use them is a different story entirely.

Brushes for your face, brushes for your eyes, brushes for your brows: They’re all out there, and they’re all pretty much essential for getting your makeup on just right. So, as a public service, we’ve rounded up a guide to makeup brushes you’ll want to get your hands on post haste. (And, of course, how to use all 18 of ’em.)

More: 11 Cheap Makeup Brushes to Buy ASAP

1. Fan brush

Fan Brush
Image: Elf Cosmetics

The unassuming fan brush has several key purposes: You can use it to sweep on blush, blend other makeup, clean up excess powder, and brush a light layer of highlighter along the cheekbones. (e.l.f. Fan Brush, $2)

2. Brow brush

Brow brush
Image: Ulta

Necessary for filling in your brows with powder — a good brow brush should be angled so that you can tackle even the thin tail-ends. (Japonesque Pro Angled Brow Definer Brush, $14)

3. Powder brush

Powder blush

The most ubiquitous of all brushes, the powder brush should be in every makeup collection—use it to apply any type of powder product. (Real Techniques by Sam & Nic Chapman Powder Brush, $7.99)

4. Eye blending brush

Eye blending brush
Image: BobbiBrown Cosmetics

The name is a dead giveaway: This brush is a must-have for blending eyeshadow into your lids. (Bobbi Brown Eye Blender Brush, $34)

5. Lip brush

Lip Brush
Image: Charlotte Tilbury

Use the tiny squared-off tip of a lip brush to get a crisp, defined line of color. (Charlotte Tilbury Lip Brush, $26)

6. Kabuki brush

Kabuki brush
Image: bareMineral

With its wide rounded bristles and super soft feel, the kabuki is perfect for applying everything from loose powders to bronzer and highlighter. (bareMinerals Full Coverage Kabuki Brush, $28)

 7. Angled eye brush

Angled eye brush
Image: Target

Use a small angled eye brush with gel liner or powder shadows to get a perfectly defined eye look. (Target  $5)

8. Eyeshadow brush

Eyeshadow Brush
Image: Jane Iredale

The tapered but soft bristles of this brush make it perfect for precise shadow application. (Jane Iredale $20)

9. Angled face brush

Angled face brush
Image: Ulta

The easiest way to add definition to your face—just sweep on some bronzer in the hollows of your cheeks using a fluffy angled brush. Perfect for applying blush or highlighter, too. (Ulta $26)

10. Concealer brush

Concealer brush
Image: Nordstrom

Firm, narrow, and tapered at the end, concealer brushes are the best way to put concealer exactly where it needs to go. (Nordstrom $25)

11. Smudge brush

Smudge brush
Image: Nordstrom

Score a smokey eye with a soft-bristled smudge brush. (Nordstrom, $24)

12. Brow brush and comb

Brow Brush and Comb
Image: Sephora

You can use this multipurpose tool for grooming both your lashes and brows—comb through your lashes to get mascara clumps out, and use the brush to perfect your brows. (Sephora, $15)

13. Blending sponge

Blending Sponge
Image: Beautyblender

Not technically a brush, but an essential tool nonetheless. Perfect for using with liquid foundations, concealers, and pretty much anything, it leaves skin with a smooth, flawless finish. (beautyblender, $20)

Originally posted on

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.