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The Best Makeup Brushes

Daria Minaeva/Shutterstock.com
🕚 Updated June 2023

Are you tired of trying to make do with just one or two makeup brushes? These brushes are the best way to upgrade your makeup application game.

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  Best Brush Set Best for Blending Best for Eye Shadow Best for Brows and Liner Premium Choice
Elite Cosmetics Brush Collection
Flat Top Kabuki Foundation Brush
12 Pcs Rose Gold Eye Makeup Brush Set
Wet 'n Wild
Essential Makeup Brow & Liner Brush
30 Rose Gold Vegan Pink Makeup Brush Set
Our SummaryA great starter brush set for the budding makeup lover.A brush ideal for applying and buffing foundation and contour.Brushes perfect for creating the most enviable eye looks.Get precision when you need it to create the perfect brow.A comprehensive makeup brush set that beauty lovers will appreciate.
Pros✓ 18-piece set
✓ Includes foundation and eye brushes
✓ Synthetic and natural
✓ Convertible case
✓ Synthetic
✓ Ideal for powder, cream, and liquid products
✓ Provides precision
✓ Larger size option
✓ 12-piece eyeshadow brush set
✓ Synthetic
✓ Wooden handles
✓ Dual-ended brush for liner and brows
✓ Synthetic bristles
✓ Inexpensive
✓ 30-piece set
✓ Includes bonus items
✓ Synthetic
✓ Comes with carrying case and tutorials
Cons✗ Several similar foundation brushes
✗ No fan brush
✗ Single brush✗ Doesn't come with storage or carrying bag✗ Only a single brush
✗ White bristles may absorb pigment more
✗ Tutorial in e-book format
✗ Not for pros
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The Best Makeup Brushes

Makeup brushes in a glass with makeup in the background.
Daria Minaeva/Shutterstock.com

Whether you’re an amateur, beginner, or a full-on makeup extraordinaire, having a good set of makeup brushes can help you achieve the glamorous, natural, edgy, sophisticated, or whatever kind of look you’re after while making sure your makeup is applied evenly and smoothly.

Buying Guide for Makeup Brushes

set of brushes for makeup sticking out of a small canvas drawstring bag on wooden background.

Why should you buy makeup brushes?

In theory, you can use your hands or sponges to apply makeup. But if you’re trying to create more detail or if you want to keep your fingers clean, a good set of makeup brushes is essential. When properly cared for, they can last for a long time and significantly elevate your makeup application skills.

What you should look for in makeup brushes

  • Material: Your two options for makeup brushes are natural and synthetic hairs. Natural hairs include boar, horse, and even mink. While effective, these brushes usually cost more. Alternatively, synthetic brushes are more affordable, cruelty-free, and less likely to absorb makeup.
  • Style: Think about the type of makeup you’re trying to apply, and pick accordingly. For example, foundation brushes tend to be larger or wider to help apply product to larger areas of your face. Meanwhile, eyeshadow brushes can vary in size depending on whether you’re blending, trying to apply to a specific small space, or trying to create a specific shape.
  • Set vs. Single Brush: If you’re just starting with makeup, opting for a makeup brush set can ensure that you have the core brushes you’re most likely to need. However, people who already have a brush collection may find that they’re better off shopping for single brushes, whether to replace a brush or add to their collection.
  • Durability: When shopping for brushes, check the bristles and the ferrule (the metal clamp that connects the handle and bristles). The ferrule should be securely attached. Similarly, your bristles shouldn’t fall apart after using or cleaning them.

How should you care for makeup brushes?

Technically, you should wash your brushes after each use. In reality, few people do this. However, it’s good to clean your brushes at least once a week, especially if you wear makeup regularly. This is because bacteria can build up and grow in the brush. Be sure to only get the bristles wet and use a gentle soap to lift and remove dirt and makeup. Squeeze the bristles to remove excess liquid. For the best results, hang them to dry with the bristles facing down. Lying them flat to dry also works. Additionally, avoid being unnecessarily rough with your brushes when using them.

Our Picks for the Best Makeup Brushes

Best Brush Set

SHANY Elite Cosmetics Brush Collection

A great starter brush set for the budding makeup lover.

Pros: There are a lot of makeup brushes out there, each designed to tackle a specific section of the face. But budding makeup lovers will love this 18-piece set of synthetic and natural brushes from SHANY with everything you need to apply foundation, concealer, eye shadow, and more. You get the perfect brushes to sculpt, blend, and buff. Plus, they come with an upright brush holder that keeps the brushes organized and can convert into a carrying pouch for travel, one that happens to be both water- and dust-resistant.

Cons: Although this brush set contains most of the brushes you need to complete a full face of makeup, you’re still missing a fan brush—an item many people feel is essential for applying a highlight. Additionally, more experienced users may feel that there are too many similar foundation brushes.

Bottom Line: This is a great starter set for beginners just starting to build their makeup brush collection, especially since it comes with a handy convertible carrying case. The brushes with synthetic bristles add to the overall durability of this set. However, some shoppers may feel that some of the brushes feel like duplicates.


Best for Blending

Keshima Flat Top Kabuki Foundation Brush

A brush ideal for applying and buffing powder and contour.

Pros: If you’re looking for a foundation brush that allows for more precision, you can’t go wrong with this flat-topped foundation brush from Keshima. While it offers a fluffy brush head, it’s still small enough to get into areas where you need more control, like under the eyes, on the nose, and on the eyelids. If you prefer a wider brush for larger areas, like the cheeks and forehead, there is a larger version available for purchase as well. This synthetic brush is vegan-friendly and incredibly durable, and the bristles are easier to clear since they won’t absorb the makeup. It’s ideal for blending in contour and liquid, powder, or cream foundation.

Cons: It’s a single brush purchase. So, those looking to create a complete brush collection will find purchasing single brushes each time to be more expensive.

Bottom Line: For clean, streak-free makeup application all over your face, especially with foundations that require plenty of blending, Keshima’s Flat Top Kabuki Foundation Brush is an effective solution for liquids, creams, and powders alike.


Best for Eye Shadow

MSQ Synthetic Eye Makeup Brush Set

Brushes perfect for creating the most enviable eye looks.

Pros: If you’ve spent time watching makeup videos on social media, you likely know that there are a wide array of eyeshadow brushes used to achieve breathtaking looks. The MSQ synthetic eyeshadow brush set is designed to help you do that. You’ll get 12 brushes with real wooden handles and rose gold ferrules. You can easily pack on color, blend it, and define your eyes with their help.

Cons: While these brushes offer plenty of versatility, they lack a carrying case or organizer. Although that’s not a major drawback, some people may find this annoying. Additionally, some shoppers noted that these brushes had a strong smell upon opening the package. So, you might want to air them out before use.

Bottom Line: If you’re focused solely on boosting your eyeshadow application skills, this 12-piece set is a great way to refine your technique. You’ll likely appreciate the real wooden handles and synthetic bristles.


Best for Brows and Liner

Wet 'n Wild Essential Makeup Brush Brow & Liner Brush

Get precision when you need it to create the perfect brow.

Pros: If you’re trying to create trendy fluffy or soap brows, you need a good eyebrow brush to make that happen. The Wet ‘n Wild dual-ended Brow & Liner Brush is the perfect tool for the task. The spoolie end helps to tame brows, while the angled stiff bristle brush head allows you to frame and fill. The angled brush head also works well for achieving the perfect winged eyeliner.

Cons: While effective, white bristles can be a bit harder to clean, depending on the products you’re using. Don’t be surprised if it’s a struggle to fully remove all dark pigment from the bristles on wash day.

Bottom Line: A good dual brow brush is essential for creating beautiful brows, and this option from Wet ‘n Wild is perfect. However, the white bristles, while pretty, may show wear faster.


Premium Choice

Glownique Aura 30 Rose Hold Vegan Makeup Brushes with Travel Case

A comprehensive makeup brush set that beauty lovers will appreciate.

Pros: Whether you’re looking to upgrade or start afresh from your existing makeup brush set, the Glownique Aura brush set is a nice pick. With 30 beautiful vegan rose gold brushes, plus makeup sponges, a headband, and even tips on how to apply makeup like a pro, this set has pretty much everything you need to apply your makeup to perfection. It’ll make a nice gift to the makeup lover in your life.

Cons: The product page shows a physical book of tutorials, but many reviewers noted that what you actually get is a card with a QR code which must be scanned to access a digital version of the tutorials. Additionally, more experienced makeup fans may feel that these brushes are better suited for beginners.

Bottom Line: If your brushes need a refresh or you just feel like treating yourself to a complete set with bonus goodies, the Glownique Aura brush set is a smart investment. Meanwhile, more experienced makeup wearers might not be as impressed with this brush set.

Final Thoughts

If you love makeup, you’ll need a good set of brushes for proper application. These options should serve you well for frequent use and help you achieve a smooth, sophisticated face of makeup.

Alesha Billie Alesha Billie
Alesha Billie is a momma to three kiddos (unless we count the furry ones) who has been writing and researching for over 15 years. After a start as a romance ghostwriter, she's written countless full-length novels in addition to articles, blog posts, advertorials, memoirs, and eBooks. Read Full Bio »
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