Makeup Brushes 101: A Complete Guide To Starting Your Collection

Makeup Brushes 101: A Guide To Starting Your Collection

Why are there so many makeup brushes?
What do you do with them?
What are the must-have’s?
Natural? Synthetic?
So. Many. Questions!

I’m here to answer some of your questions and also to hopefully help guide you in deciding what brushes you actually need and how to use them!

Makeup brushes 101: A guide to starting your collection

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There are sooo many makeup brushes available. An overwhelming amount, actually. I don’t even own close to the amount of types of brushes that are available, partly because I’m not filthy rich, but also because I don’t need them.

And you don’t either.

Especially if you aren’t a makeup artist and you’re just planning on using them for your day-to-day makeup routine and maybe the occasional Instagram induced eye shadow adventure.

Anyway, let’s get down to the basics.

Here are the 5 makeup brushes that you actually DO need as well as tips on how to use them to their full potential.

Powder Brush

This brush has long, soft, fluffy bristles that help evenly blend apply powders. You can use it with either pressed or loose powders, just pick up a bit of product, tap off the excess, and use sweeping motions to apply it all over your face.

I also like to use mine after I apply contour powders and blush to go back over everything and make sure it’s perfectly blended and there aren’t harsh lines anywhere.


1. Coastal Scents Classic Large Powder Brush $4.95
2. e.l.f. Total Face Brush $2
3. bareMinerals Perfecting Face Brush $28
4. Real Techniques Flawless Powder Brush $12.99

Angled Blush Brush

Angled blush brush

This slightly fluffy brush has long bristles that are tapered to one side. Where the bristles are longer, the brush will pick up more product and will create a deeper color where that part of the brush hits your face. It’s also great for applying blush to your cheeks and blending it out to flushed perfection.

The way this brush is shaped also makes it excellent to define your face using contour powder. Just sweep it under your cheek bones and then along your hair an jaw lines for expertly chiseled features.


1. Coastal Scents Classic Blush Angle Brush $4.95
2. bareMinerals Angled Face Brush $28 
3. e.l.f. Blush Bronzing Blending Brush $2
4. Bella and Bear “Bobcat” Blush Brush $9.99

Eye Shadow Brush

This brush is made of densely packed bristles that are then cut into a tapered oval shape. It’s great for packing both cream and powder eye shadow colors on to your eyelid.

Another use for this brush is to use it to apply and smooth out your eye shadow primer all over your lid and brow bone to give your eye shadow an amazing base to stick to!


1. Coastal Scents Classic Shadow Brush Medium $2.49
2. “>e.l.f. Eyeshadow Brush $1
3. bareMinerals Detail Shader Eyeshadow Brush $18 
4. NARS Wet/Dry Eyeshadow Brush #49 $28

Blending Brush

For the most part, this brush is a mini version of the face powder brush above. It’s also made of super fluffy bristles that are tapered into a rounded shape, the biggest difference is that it’s a fraction of the size of the face brush. You should use this brush in the crease of your eye to blend out any harsh lines in your shadow as well as using it to blend colors together on your eye to create a seamless transition.

It’s also great for blending highlight on to your brow bone and the tops of your cheek bones to really make them stand out.


1. Coastal Scents CLASSIC Blender Brush Synthetic $2.95
2. e.l.f. Blending Eye Brush $1
3. bareMinerals The Blender Brush $18 
4. NARS #42 Blending Eyeshadow Brush $32

Angled Eyeliner Brush

This brush is made of short bristles that are packed densely as well as cut in to a sharp angle. This is the perfect shape for creating thin lines with your makeup, like what you would need for precise eyeliner application as well as brow shaping.
I like to use it to define my brows, the thin application line makes it perfect for powder, cream, and liquid applications, especially in tight areas like the brows.


1. Coastal Scents Classic Angled Liner $1.95
2. e.l.f. Small Angled Brush $3
3. bareMinerals Angled Definer Brush $22 
4. NARS #47 Angled Eyeliner Brush $28

In conclusion, makeup brushes are definitely the most important tools for a flawless makeup application. They do take some practice, but patience coupled with the right tools for the job will have you looking fabulous in no time.

Additionally, if you’re looking for an all-inclusive set, this 8-piece brush set has all 5 of the must-have brushes we talked about above PLUS a flat buffing brush for foundation, and foundation brush to easy apply foundation to your face before blending, and an extra eyeshadow brush in a smaller size for detailed precision. They also come in this cute black quilted carrying case, which doubles as a super cute brush holder for counter top storage.

You may also be wondering why I didn’t have a foundation brush on my list. And the reason is because I don’t really recommend a brush for foundation application! They tend to leave streaks and uneven coverage, at least for me.

Equally important is what I DO recommend and why, check out my previous blog post on it here.

As always, I am more than happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have!


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