Everyone loves makeup brushes, and they are something you hear makeup artists and bloggers talk about all the time. Precisely because they are so incredibly important for a successful make-up.
But knowing which brush is meant for what can be a little confusing. This considering how many different types of brushes there actually are.
To help you travel, we have therefore created this guide to give you an overview of the different makeup brushes and what they are used for.
Before we dive into the different brush types, we first start with a basic lesson of makeup brushes. A makeup brush has three parts: the handle, the brush and the sleeve. The sleeve is the middle piece that connects them. On the brush end, the sleeve can be either round or clamped. A pinched hole gives a brush a flat appearance, where a round (will guess) gives your brush a more rounded shape.
The shape of the sleeve, together with the density, length and cutting of the brush is what gives each brush its unique properties. Understanding each of these elements and how they affect the application can help you determine if a particular brush is worth investing in.
For example, let’s say you’re looking for something to apply foundation with. If a brush is too thin, or has straws that are too long, it is likely that it will leave your liquid or cream foundation as a mess. A dense brush with shorter bristles spreads the product evenly on your skin. If you are looking for a blush brush, a slightly tightly packed brush is not ideal because you catch too much product.
No brush is good or bad in itself, it’s just good or bad to do different things with.
A general rule of thumb is that dense brushes are excellent for buffering, spreading and smearing. Fluffy brushes are better for mixing and dusting. Longer bristles tend to have a wider range and be more flexible, and shorter bristles tend to be more precise and rigid. With these things in mind, it is much easier to predict if a brush will work as you need. The second thing you should keep in mind is what the brush is made of.
Synthetic vs. natural brushes
Makeup brushes can also be roughly divided into two categories: those with synthetic brushes and those with natural brushes. However, some have a mixture of these two. Synthetic bristles are usually made of nylon or some other synthetic fiber, while natural bristles are made up of animal hair.
Because synthetic brushes cannot absorb makeup in the same way that natural brushes can, they are superior for applying mousse and liquid products (although they can also apply powder well). Natural brushes are often described as ideal for applying powder products, but they also raise some ethical questions about how to produce the natural hair for the brushes. Natural hairs are obviously not vegan, but they can be considered anti-, as the term cruelty-free only applies whether a product is tested on animals or not and not if it is made from them.
Ultimately, we must all make our own decisions about the brands we want to support. Many manufacturers of natural brushes claim that they come from fur that is extracted in a way that does not cause harm to the animals they came from, but it is up to you to investigate or trust. However, if you want to go 100% vegan with your brushes, there are more high quality synthetic brushes on the market than ever before.
Special makeup brushes?
There are brushes of all types.
Many brushes are good universal brushes and can be used in other ways than their name suggests. A fluffy angled eyeshadow brush can be perfect for nose contouring. A flat concealer brush works wonders to counteract wrinkles or apply pigment. If you want to get the most out of your makeup brush collection, stop looking at labels and start looking at shapes, cuts and sizes. Buying brushes that can be easily used for several functions is almost always a better investment.
There are a large variety of brushes in shape and size for makeup, from those that are best for mineral foundations, to those that are good for contours. These are some of the most popular brushes.
A foundation brush is wide and fairly flat, with a rounded tip and resilient fibers.
This brush is good for applying liquid founation over the face on the contours of the nose and eye sockets. You use this brush by applying foundation to the face first, then use the brush to melt out, from the center of the face and outwards.
This is a large fluffy brush, usually with a slightly rounded top. This brush is good for any powder products over the face, but usually perfect as a finishing step to set your makeup with transparent powder all over the face.
To set makeup, press the brush over the face. If you want to add blush or bronzer powder, swirl the brush over your cheeks.
A kabuki brush is a large, tightly packed brush with undade bristles. It is perfect for powder makeup and especially mineral foundation.
This is perfect for swirling around the face in circular motions when applying powder makeup, to give a flawless full coverage finish.
This brush has densely packed bristles usually with a duofiber brush. It is perfect for applying foundation or mousse products for a silk finish. Use the brush in circular motions.
This is a fluffy and tapered brush that is smaller than most powder brushes. This is good for applying powder blush on the cheeks and mixing. Swirl into the blush, tap off any excess and then swirl on the cheeks.
Angled liner brush
This brush is small and flat with an angled top. It is perfect for applying gel lining or eye shadow along the lash line.
Dip into your product and sweep along the lash line. Turn the brush so that the angle is always right for both eyes.
Fine liner brush
This brush has a nice, pointed tip. Fine precision brush for liquid and gel eyeliners. Dip into the product before lining along the lashes in sensitive strokes.
This is small and nice with a square tip. It is perfect for giving a really defined line to the edge of your lipstick.
Dip in a lip color to cover the brush with paint, pull the brush towards your hand to get rid of any excess before using it to put the edge on the lips and then fill them in.
This brush is small with firm, tightly packed bristles that are angled.
This brush is good for filling in the eyebrows with gel or powder products. You dip it in powder or gel and apply with it using small, fine strokes on the eyebrows.
This is a fluffy brush with an angled tip. This is good for applying powder bronzer or contour powder along the cheeks.
You use it by sweeping strokes just below the cheekbones and then under the jaw to define the face.
This brush is firm, flat and tapered at the top. It is perfect for targeted concealer application. Apply concealer on any problem areas.
This one looks just like it sounds -a fan.
The brush is perfect for fixing excess powder or eye shadow under the eyes. It is also fantastic for applying blush, contour or highlighter along the cheeks.
Use the brush by dusting over the face in a back and forth motion.
Eye and lip brushes
Whether you want to master a beautifully mixed smokey eye, pull on a delicate case or get perfect lips, these special brushes are what you need.
This brush has soft, tapered bristles that are quite tightly packed. Apply the eye shadow with the correct precision, in the crease and over the lids.
Perfect for mousse or powder shadows, just swipe over the lids.
This is a large, fluffy eye shadow brush, with a light tip. Shuffle all your shadows to prevent hard edges or rough lines.
Swirl it gently over the eyes, into the crease and over all edges to soften any hard lines.
This one has soft, small bristles with a rounded top. It is good for smearing eyeliner and shadow along the crease.