There are so many different ways to apply makeup, and using makeup brushes remain to be the most professional and satisfying way of doing it.
The problem is that it can be very daunting to anyone who’s just starting out.
That is why I created this ultimate handbook to help people who are just starting out with makeup. By the time you’re done reading this makeup brush guide, you should no longer be overwhelmed by these tools. In fact, you’ll feel very much excited the next time you go to your favorite makeup counter or buy makeup online.
Even if you already know how to use them, this Makeup Brushes 101 can still be a valuable resource if you’re looking to buy a new one, whether high-end, drugstore or even dupes. You can also share this with your friends who are new to doing makeups.
- Makeup Brushes For Beginners
- Makeup Brush Types: The Basic Ones You Need To Know
- Makeup Brush Material
- Cleaning Makeup Brushes
- DIY Makeup Brush Cleansers
- Makeup Brush Drying Tips
- Top Makeup Brush Brands
- Makeup Brush Dupes: Are They Worth It?
Makeup Brushes For Beginners
When I was still a newbie, I couldn’t help but stare in awe how makeup artists ‘paint’ someone’s face using these in such a fluid way, effortlessly. The transformation that follows is just as equally amazing.
So when I finally started out, I was excited to get my hands on these and use them. But it was so overwhelming for me. During that time, there was no guide about how to use makeup brushes for beginners, so I had to learn the hard way. I tried to stay away from them for some time and settled with just using lipsticks, pencil eyeliners and those that came along with my eyeshadows.
Back then, I used my fingers when applying concealer, and sometimes when applying and blending my eyeshadow. I thought I was doing great back then, but I just couldn’t get the same finish I wanted.
Furthermore, I came to learn that using fingers are a big no-no when it comes to maintaining a healthy skin. I wouldn’t want to add more bacteria to a zit that I was trying to conceal.
To keep yourself from being overwhelmed, I suggest not to buy makeup brush sets. Instead, you need to ease your way into using them one by one. When you’re already comfortable with your current routine, you can add another type.
This is an ordered list, so it’s best to buy and start getting comfy into using them based on the sequence listed above.
As you continue to get more confident using these, you can then start purchasing other types. You can also start experimenting with variations of these four.
Makeup Brush Types: The Basic Ones You Need To Know
If you’re new to doing makeup, you need to get yourself up to speed on using these. Before you start ordering online or going to the store, you will have to get acquainted with the different types first.
I’ll also be highlighting the best makeup brushes you can buy for each type from different popular brands. That way, if you’re already familiar with these types, you can as soon as possible pick the one you want. So here are the different types and their uses.
If you want to get that flawless finish you’re so wanting to achieve, you need to have a foundation brush. Using your fingers just won’t do. Besides, you don’t want to go about clogging your pores and spreading bacteria all over your face in the first place. If applying makeup is an art, then it’s best to do finger painting on an actual canvas and not your face.
There are different types of foundation brushes. The quicker way in choosing which one to get will largely depend on the type of foundation you’re using.
Are you using liquid or cream foundation? The best type for this is a tapered foundation brush. You can easily apply and blend with this one. So how do you know if it’s a tapered foundation type? Just check the edges, they should be tapered, whether at an angle or not.
Personally, though, I prefer to use Tom Ford Cream Foundation Brush for cream foundations like the brand’s own Traceless Foundation Stick. The has super soft, natural hair bristles that perfectly blends cream foundation into the skin for a streak-free, flawless finish. The trick when using a cream foundation with this is to buff it in small circular motions.
Because of its small size, the application may take a bit of time. But it’s definitely worth it, considering the flawless, natural-looking and perfect finish. It can also be used to apply either powder or cream blushes. I’ve tried it with Chanel cream blushes, and it works well!
A cheaper version would be Real Techniques Expert Face Brush.
If you’re using a powder foundation, it’s best to get a rounded foundation one. The rounded edges and the densely-packed bristles are able to pick up the powder easily and able to spread them evenly on your face. They don’t just spread the product, they evenly and smoothly blend them as well.
Another great thing about this dome-shaped brush is that it can also be used for liquid and cream foundation as well.
So how do you actually use this? Well, it’s a sort of different strokes for different folks kind of thing, but here are the most common steps on how to use it:
Aside from using tapered foundation brushes to apply foundation, did you know that you can also use it to apply primers? I use my Chanel foundation brush #6 with Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizer Primer and it works better than just using my fingers.
The Best Foundation Brushes
So what if you’re not using foundation for your base makeup? A lot of people use BB or CC cream instead. How do you apply it? Do you use your fingers or a cream foundation brush like the one from Tom Ford? Or do you use one that’s specially made for BB/CC creams like Japonesque BB/CC Cream Brush?
This is one of my most favorite. It’s definitely a must-have makeup tool. Even if you’re not doing a full-on makeup, you can just apply powder foundation using this and put on a bit of color on your lips and you’re good to go.
My favorite type of powder brush is the densely-packed kabuki brush. Aside from its cute mushroom shape, they’re just so soft to the skin. If you’re going to get one, be sure to buy the retractable ones so you can bring it with you anywhere. Or, you can buy both a regular-sized and a retractable version so you can have one within your reach anytime.
You can easily discern from the name that this one originated from Japan. In a Japanese theater, a kabuki brush is used to apply white powder evenly on the actors’ faces. This just shows more proof on how good this can blend, as some irregularities with the actors’ white face can be easily seen on stage.
Obviously, we’re not going to cover our face with white powder. Think about its blending capability, though, and you can get a clear picture of how your foundation or blush would look like on your face. Because of the its nature, you can blend your powder in less time and with a beautiful even finish.
A kabuki brush is best used for blending powdered makeup products like foundation, blush or face powder on the face. You can easily achieve a natural-looking coverage with this tool. In fact, it is so good that you can also use it with liquid and cream makeup products.
Another more important reason why this is one of my faves is because of how versatile it is. This can actually replace a lot of other ones in your collection. It can function as a foundation, a blush, and even a powder brush. That’s why it always has a special place in my bag for those emergency retouches.
Do you want to see more proof of how versatile this is? You can use it to apply foundation to your shoulders quickly and evenly. Now it’s time to flaunt those shoulders 😉
The Best Powder/Kabuki Brushes
Is it really important to use a concealer brush? Why would you use one to apply concealer? Or to hide the dark circles under your eyes? You can hide your blemishes and dark spots with pinpoint accuracy using your fingers anyway.
This is a common misconception that some people would still argue over.
I can’t blame them, though. I used to do that as well. I think it’s maybe because when I was still in my teen years, I would naturally apply acne-busting products directly on my pimples with just my fingers. Take note, I don’t do that anymore as I now use cotton swabs.
The crime of dabbing concealer using a finger is not an obvious one until you look closely. Your finger can actually worsen the condition of the blemish. It can deposit oil and bacteria in the area. It may look like you’re able to cover it successfully, but as soon as you remove your makeup you might find your blemishes in an even worse condition.
Using a concealer brush solves this, plus it can help make your blemishes truly invisible. In fact, when applied the right way, even bumps become almost unnoticeable.
Aside from hiding dark spots and pimples, it can help apply makeup to specific areas of your face that need extra coverage. This can include the nose area near the upper lip, which oftentimes overlooked.
Using a good concealer brush is not enough, though. You also need to use the right product. For instance, if you’re going to neutralize the reddish color of your acne, you will need to use a concealer with green undertones. Tips like this deserve an article of its own so I’ll make sure to create one later.
There’s another wonderful use for this tool, which is to perfect your lipstick application. You can actually use this and a small amount of concealer to clean up messy lipstick edges. Pretty neat huh?
It’s best for reaching the small corners around the nose and eyes. You can also use it to pat and blend concealer under the eyes. Bigger ones can also be used to apply makeup.
But for concealing small blemishes, especially the really tiny ones, I don’t use this at all. I usually opt for an ultra fine eyeliner brush like the Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine eyeliner brush ($29) or the Chanel Pinceau Eyeliner Ultra Fine eyeliner brush #13 ($28). Their precise, pointed tips are ideal for covering small imperfections.
What Is The Best Concealer Brush?
There’s not much to say about this one, except that it’s the most commonly used in almost every movie with a makeup scene. Come to think of it, the first image that comes to my mind when I think about applying makeup is an actress sweeping her blush brush on her cheeks.
Well, on second thought, lipstick comes first. Touching up lipstick either in the car or even in restrooms during lunch break at work or in between classes. Those are the images that first come to mind when I think about makeup.
Anyway, this is a type of powder brush but is more compact. The compact bristles allow this to easily pick up pigment at the right amount. Its dome shape helps to make the blush color pop out naturally, without making you look like a clown.
There’s no special way to use this except that you apply the makeup on your face in a sweeping motion. It’s that simple yet it can be so effective in making you look a lot younger.
Make sure to choose a color that would complement your skin tone, because a wrong color may make you look haggard or worse, older. You should also make sure not to overdo it. A natural-looking blush is the most wonderful thing you can put on your cheeks.
To use, simply swirl it around the powder blush to pick up enough color then tap the excess. Apply on the apples of your cheeks and lightly blend it outward along your cheekbones.
Another option is to use an Angled Blush Brush. Personally, though, I don’t see much difference between using a regular and an angled one. Simply hold it at an angle when applying blusher and you’ve got yourself an angled version! 😉
The Best Blush Brushes
One of the most overlooked types, in my opinion, is a fan brush. This multi-faceted tool may not be that essential at first glance, but as you continue to do your makeup every day and as your makeup demands increase, you’ll get to understand how invaluable this type is.
Did you know that you can use this to actually to sweep excess particles of stray makeup, eye makeup fallouts or even excess powder? The shape itself makes it look like a miniature flat broom.
Gone are the days of makeup products leaving stray flakes when applied. Well, at least to most brands. However, this one still proves to be of great use.
Even up to this day, I still sometimes experience flecks of excess eyeshadow falling on my face while applying it. Most of the time it’s because I haven’t tapped the eyeshadow enough to get rid of excess products. Fortunately, I can easily sweep these away by lightly swiping with my fan brush.
Did you know that it can also be used to apply a blusher if you want to create a soft blush or sheer effect? Its flat shape can prevent you from applying too much color, even if you’re the heavy-handed type. So you can use it if you want a sheer application of blush, highlighter, powder or bronzer.
There are more creative ways to use this brush and I’m sure you can think of some of your own too. You might ask, why? Because us girls who are into makeup are naturally creative in the first place. Some of my friends even use theirs to even out the mask or face peel they apply on their faces.
Perhaps its best use, if we are to focus on just one, is for highlighting. With its delicate way of creating mild tones, this tool is just perfect for those subtle highlights that look so natural.
The Best Fan Brushes
Here’s another overlooked type, which is considered to be a hidden gem to those who love to wear lipstick. Now that I think about it, almost everyone who wears makeup loves to wear lipstick. So I guess a lip brush is everyone’s hidden gem after all.
We’re so used to applying lipstick directly from the tube that this tool is easily taken for granted. If you want to make your application perfect, more artsy, cleaner and more stunning, using a lip brush is definitely the way to do it. It can bring out the real artist in you.
Since it’s all about applying color on your lips from a pan, pot, palette, or a lipstick itself, its bristles are smaller than some of the concealer brushes. Just enough for your lips. The bristles are soft and are typically tapered for precise application. The handle is long and thin, like a small wand, for easy control.
Now, just when do you actually use this? There’s no hard-set rule on when and when not to use it. I would use it on very important business meetings or at formal gatherings. If I’m going to the club, though, I’d rather use a lipstick.
The best way to know when you should use this is to understand how to use it in the first place, here are the some of them:
The Best Lip Brushes
I was not planning to explain much about eyeliner brushes because I think that they’re not as important as other types. Especially if you’re using liquid eyeliners where you don’t need to have a separate tool to apply it. (I usually use pen-type liquid eyeliners because they make it easier for me to wing my eyeliner.)
But if you’re one of those people who prefer using gel eyeliners, then you definitely need to use a good eyeliner brush.
There are 3 distinct types of eyeliner, and while most of us are already content with just using one shot pens, others want a better way of defining their eyes. This is the perfect tool for precise eyeliner application. You can easily create the eye makeup you want with this tool.
I, too, had been a slave of pencil-type eyeliners for years and do still use them from time to time. But when I started using one, oh wow, it became my most preferred way of doing my eyeliner. It just feels so satisfying, especially those times when I’ve perfected that elusive cat-eye look.
Before buying your first eyeliner brush, or upgrading to a new one, you need to know exactly how you’re going to use it. You will need a specific type for the specific eye makeup look you’re trying to achieve.
There’s no harm in using pencil eyeliners. In fact, I learned to apply eye makeup this way. But for those date nights that you want to achieve that eye-catching look, you should certainly use an eyeliner brush.
The Best Eyeliner Brushes
A stunning eye makeup cannot be achieved when your brow is out of whack. Don’t you agree? Even if you have the most beautifully blended eyeshadow, your disheveled brows, or the lack there is, will still grab most of the attention.
Can you imagine someone with a beautiful cat eye look with almost no eyebrows? Supermodels at Fashion Week can get away with this, but definitely not us. So to me, having a brow brush is really essential for us who are into makeup.
Even if you already had your eyebrows perfectly shaped from your favorite brow bar, it still doesn’t give you the license to completely take it for granted. Your makeup steps will be significantly lessened, but you still need to fill in your brows to complement your entire eye makeup.
There are actually 2 subtypes, each focused on a different purpose. You can have one or the other, but it’s best that you have both:
Fortunately, you don’t really need to buy these 2 different types separately. You can always get a duo or dual eyebrow brush, which has the angled on one end and the spoolie on the other. They are more practical and gets the job done in a nifty way.
The Best Brow Brushes
An eyeshadow brush is a collection of its own. If a single duo brow brush is enough for your eyebrows or a single kabuki enough to become a powder, blush and foundation brush all at the same time, you’ll need all of the types below for you to achieve the stunning eye makeup look that you’re yearning for.
The different types may look overwhelming at first, but once you start using them regularly, identifying them becomes so natural. It’s good thing their names are so descriptive, you’ll already have a good idea on what they’re used for beforehand.
Knowing these brushes might make things more confusing. In fact, everyone including beauty bloggers and makeup brands seems to have their own way of calling them. The best way to sort it out is to just understand that you’ll need different types for the following purposes:
The Best Eyeshadow Brushes
Makeup Brush Material
With the information you’ve already read from the previous sections, you should be well on your way to becoming proficient in choosing the right ones for your makeup needs. However, having knowledge on the types of bristles used in a product can also affect your buying decision.
The bristles can be either of these 2 types: natural or synthetic.
Natural bristles are very soft, and well, very natural. It can be made of squirrel or goat hairs, with red squirrel hair being the rarest of them all. Brands like MAC, Tom Ford, etc usually make use of pony hair for their natural brushes.
On the other hand, synthetic bristles are manmade and are usually from Taklon fibers or nylon. They are also hypoallergenic. Your initial impression might be that they are not soft at all. Well, it all depends on the way they were manufactured. In fact, a synthetic one can be even softer than other natural ones.
Here’s a quick rule of thumb in choosing which material is best for your bristles based on the makeup product or formula you’re going to use:
Makeup brushes with natural bristles are best used with powder products. On the other hand, those with synthetic bristles are best used with liquid or cream products.
What makes natural bristles bad for liquid or cream products? Natural hair has that inherent quality to absorb moisture. This will keep the products from sticking to your skin. Consequently, they are able to pick up, hold and deposit powder on your skin better than synthetic.
Manufacturers solved the issue with natural bristles by using synthetic. Synthetics don’t have cuticles, which are responsible for moisture retention. This means that liquid or cream products will not get trapped and can be easily applied.
Here’s another rule of thumb, regardless of the type of material:
The denser the bristles are, the more product it can hold and deposit.
How can you tell the density? You can measure it by the number of bristles packed. Denser ones are good for applying eyeshadow, foundation, and powder. On the other hand, those which are not too dense are great for blending purposes, and also for applying blush, bronzer, and highlighter.
If you’re looking to buy makeup brushes for sensitive skin, then you should consider all the things I mentioned above. You can opt to go for hypoallergenic ones. You should also take into consideration if you have any allergies to the materials used for the bristles.
For people who are allergic to nylon, they should stay away from those that are made of synthetic material. They might be better off using those that are made with natural bristles. While those who are allergic to a certain animal hair should consider using synthetic ones instead.
Cleaning Makeup Brushes
To ensure proper care of your makeup brushes, it’s so important that you keep them clean. You don’t want them to be culturing acne-causing bacteria!
Of course, it would be so impractical to clean them thoroughly after every use. In fact, a small product buildup doesn’t necessarily mean they’re contaminated. It’s when the buildup has accumulated too much that you need to wash them.
If you have time to clean them once a week, then that would be ideal. Anyway, here’s a simple table so you can easily remember when to clean them. This is not etched in stone so you can modify them depending on your usage and condition.
|MAKEUP BRUSH||CLEANING SCHEDULE|
|Concealer||At least once a week|
|Foundation||At least once a week|
|Eyeshadow||At least twice a month|
|Eyeliner||At least twice a month|
|Brow||At least twice a month|
|Lip||Once a month|
|Others||Once a month|
The best way to clean them is actually the most inexpensive way as well. I recommend using baby shampoo because the bristles are just as soft and delicate. Here are the general steps to follow:
- Rinse the brush head with running water, making sure they are pointing downwards at an angle.
- Gently massage and work a small amount of baby shampoo onto the damp brush head. Pretty much like washing your hair, but don’t mess up its natural shape.
- Alternatively, you can swirl them in a pan with diluted baby shampoo.
- Rinse it gently and thoroughly under running water.
You can also use a product like the Sigma Spa Express Brush Cleaning Mat ($25) which is a great tool for cleaning. This newly redesigned device features 7 patented textures so you can more effectively wash your tools with ease, and in half the time. Its unique design can fit most sinks, but you can also opt to use it on any flat surface possible. Another convenient feature of this cleaning mat is having suction cups at the back so you can secure it in place.
The cleaning mat sure is small enough for travel, but there is another innovative tool from Sigma Beauty that is a much better option for travel. The Sigma Spa 2X Brush Cleaning Glove ($39) can also aid you in cleaning fast and easy. Designed with 8 advanced cleaning textures, it also features raised silicone for a deeper clean. One side of the glove is for face makeup brushes while the other side is for eye makeup brushes. Both ends can fit the thumb so you can easily transition from one side to the other. The thumb end can be used to squeeze out water from, and for reshaping, the bristles.
It even comes with a microfiber insert glove that you can use to keep your hands protected from the silicone material. This is especially important for people with sensitive skin on their hands.
This cleaning glove from Sigma Beauty is so convenient to use. It’s truly heaven sent! If you’re going to use baby shampoo, then I recommend that you get either the cleaning mat or this glove. You definitely need this as it’s a really wonderful tool that can deep clean even the densest of all makeup brushes.
To remove stubborn makeup residue from foundation brushes that have been used with liquid or cream products, you can use an oil-based cleanser like The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil before doing the above steps. Some people even use plain old olive oil for this purpose of removing oil buildup and makeup remnants.
If you want to use a brush cleanser instead of a baby shampoo, there are lots of available products to choose from. My favorites are MAC Brush Cleanser and Sigma Beauty SigMagic Brushampoo. But there are also other antibacterial cleaners from brands like Dior, Laura Mercier, Estee Lauder, and Bobbi Brown.
Using these safe and gentle yet effective cleansers extend the life of high-quality brushes. They’re able to deep clean bristles while disinfecting and conditioning the fibers. All traces of makeup are completely removed, while the bristles are left sanitized and smelling fresh.
Most of these cleansers have a quick-drying formula which helps shorten drying time. They can be used to clean, disinfect and condition natural and synthetic brushes without damaging them. To be sure, follow the instructions of a specific product when using it.
When you’re traveling or in a rush to clean your tools, the steps outlined above may not be possible to do. As a quick solution, you can purchase a cleaner spray like this handy one from Clinique (Clinique Makeup Brush Cleanser). Just pump 1 spray on each side of the brush you’re cleaning. Then, gently wipe it on a clean paper towel or tissue until all makeup residue is removed. Air dry for about a minute or two and it’s now ready to be used again.
Another antibacterial brush spray that you can use is Trish McEvoy Makeup Brush Cleaner. When you need to clean and sanitize tool in an instant, this is another option. It’s safe to use for both natural and synthetic types. You can use it for cleaning in between uses – when you don’t have time to wash them thoroughly.
DIY Makeup Brush Cleansers
If you’re into DIY (do-it-yourself) everything, then you can try this recipe for makeup brush cleaner DIY.
- bottle container
- 1 cup distilled water
- 1 tbsp shampoo of your choice (choose a shampoo with little to no harmful chemicals)
- 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
In a bottle container big enough to hold all ingredients, simply pour the water and shampoo. Shake it well until the shampoo is completely dissolved. Then, add in the rubbing alcohol and shake it again to fully mix all the ingredients together.
You might need to heat up the water a bit if the shampoo you’re using does not dissolve easily in water. You can even add a little bit of pink food coloring to make it resemble MAC brush cleanser. However, it’s best to omit the coloring step because it will only incur additional expenses.
Use it as you normally would a cleanser. Remember to shake it well before each use as they may separate again in storage.
Another recipe that I found useful is this DIY Brush Cleanser Spray which you can spray in between uses. It will disinfect and sanitize your makeup brushes while keeping them soft and conditioned. You will need four items for this recipe.
- spray bottle
- 3 oz slightly hot (not boiling) water
- 3 oz alcohol
- 1 tsp hair conditioner
Combine hair conditioner and slightly hot water in the bottle. Shake it until the conditioner is completely dissolved. Make sure that the water is not boiling hot, especially if you’re using a plastic spray bottle. Otherwise, your bottle might melt from the heat. The water only needs to be slightly hot in order to thoroughly dissolve the conditioner. Add the alcohol and shake again until the ingredients are totally mixed.
Spray it on your makeup brushes after each use. The easiest way to do this is to apply the mixture on the center of a piece of paper towel. Depending on your spray bottle, you might need to spray around 2-3 times. Then, run both sides in the soaked area a few times. You can repeat the process until you’re satisfied with the result.
Remember to shake it well before using!
Makeup Brush Drying Tips
Cleaning your makeup brushes doesn’t stop after washing it. You also need to dry it the right way so that it retains its shape.
Here’s a method more oftentimes used:
- After washing and rinsing, squeeze any excess water off using a clean towel. Do this gently and only squeeze around the bristles. Let the towel absorb most of the water and reshape the bristles as needed.
- In a flat surface like a table or your dresser, lay out another clean towel. The towel must reach the edge of the surface.
- Lay them flat on the towel. Make sure the bristles are hanging over the edge of a table or counter as this will allow them to preserve their shape while drying.
- After a couple of hours, they should be good to go.
Remember to AVOID drying them in an upright position, where the brush head is at the top or pointing upward. Do NOT do the common mistake of drying them in a cup. It may look cool but it will ruin them.
The bristles will spread and excess water will drip towards the glue that holds the bristles together. It will ruin the shape while it’s drying up and worse, it will ruin the glue itself. This will cause the bristles to fan out and eventually shed. The handle can also become loose or even crack due to this.
That being said, duo makeup brushes can only be dried by laying them flat on a clean towel. That is if you washed both ends. But if you washed only one of the heads, then you can use other methods of drying as well.
Here’s an alternative method which I personally prefer. It’s quite funny, but I feel like a professional makeup artist, if not a painter, doing this:
- After squeezing excess water, hang them dry with the use of a clean cutting board and some rubber bands.
- Hang them upside-down with the bristles pointing down, at an angle of 45 degrees. This will prevent the water from messing up with the glue.
- Lay down a few paper towels at the bottom to catch any water dripping from the bristles.
- They should be all set after a few hours.
There’s a much easier method for drying them, though. Sigma Beauty Dry’n Shape Tower Face & Eye Set can help you in drying and shaping them after washing them. It can hold 20 face and 24 eye brushes at once – for a total of 44! Drying and shaping even those with very dense bristles will be an easy task with this cutting edge tool.
Another option is the Sigma Dry’n Shape Tower Full Set. The two towers can hold up to 92 Brushes!
Another groundbreaking tool from the brand is the Sigma Dry n Shape Spa. With this gadget, you get all the tools you need to take care of your makeup brushes. How so? Well, if you’ll look at the pink core of the tool, you’ll notice that it does have the same cleaning textures as that of the Sigma Spa Brush Cleansing Mat. So aside from shaping them while they dry, you can also use the core to deeply clean them.
The only downside with these Sigma Dry’n Shape towers is that they cannot accommodate every type available in the market. Especially the large ones and the ones with not-so-normal shapes.
Top Makeup Brush Brands
Here’s a quick trivia for you. Did you know that all cosmetic brands do not make or manufacture their own brushes? They pass their specifications and designs to a couple of common manufacturers. Sometimes, even competitors use the same manufacturer.
Additionally, no makeup brush manufacturer create them exclusively for one brand only. That’s why you would sometimes see the same flaw occurring between different brands.
That is also the reason why dupes exist, which we will discuss in detail at the end of this article. Here’s a secret surprise for you, I will also be providing you with links to dupes which are actually credible.
The top brands below made it to the list because they’re popular and are trusted by both professional makeup artists and makeup addicts like us. I’ve also listed a couple of their bestselling makeup brushes, in case you’re interested.
MAC is one of the makeup industry leaders, so it’s pretty obvious why anyone who’s into makeup, beginners or experienced alike, would have an inkling of using their brushes. For one, most of them are known to last even for a decade!
Perhaps the quality gives more than enough justification why you should spend more than lower priced versions. You get more bang for your buck in the long run.
If you’re just starting out, I would normally suggest getting from e.l.f. or Real Techniques for practicality’s sake. To be honest, though, my first buy was a MAC foundation brush.
Aside from MAC seemingly to last forever, they’re very soft as well. Personally, if I’m to choose between e.l.f. and MAC, even if they’re of the same quality, I’d go for MAC mainly because I feel more confident with this makeup brand.
Are you into luxe and high-end brands? You can never go wrong with Tom Ford. Unlike others I’ve tried, they don’t shed like crazy and the bristles are very soft and densely packed. If you have the money to shell out, these Tom Ford brushes are definitely worth it.
Some people get intimidated by the price of Tom Ford, but you really get great value for your money.
What makes them really special is that they’re handmade in Japan. Makeup brushes from Japan are known to be very soft and have excellent quality.
If you can afford to buy premium ones without ruining your budget, then I highly suggest getting them from Tom Ford.
The moment the bristles touch your face, you already know you’re getting more than your money’s worth. Especially with the fact that they don’t shed, lose shape or color even after washing.
Sigma Beauty is an American company established less than a decade ago, in 2009. This company is heavily focused on makeup brushes. They do have a small number of cosmetic products as well, but not as popular.
As part of their marketing techniques, Sigma offers great affiliate programs to beauty bloggers. This helps increase the company’s presence in an industry dominated by makeup giants such as MAC. Unfortunately, this can also affect some product reviews by other bloggers to be biased. My advice is to be sure to get second, or even third opinions and check other reviews for consistency.
They’re known to be of high-quality and super soft as well. Sigma Beauty’s Sigmax collection holds the limelight among their other products. Some of their most popular products are mentioned above.
Real Techniques is another popular and inexpensive makeup brush brand. Some of their face brushes are comparable, if not seem to be better than the high-end brands. Unless you compare them to those with natural bristles, their synthetic bristles are one of the softest there is.
If you really want value for your money, you can go and get their sets which are sold for around 13 dollars. Individual prices are still affordable, which is why I believe this is the best drugstore brand.
If you have a small face, though, you’ll find your choices limited. Most of their products are catered for medium to large face. One of their distinctive characteristics is their brightly-colored handles (I find this very attractive), which have rubbery ends and sturdy metal parts that seem to be scratch-proof.
Sephora brushes are not as expensive as high-end brands, but they are also not as cheap as drugstore brands. They come in between and yet their products are of high-quality and very soft. They even have a set specifically designed to be hypoallergenic and antibacterial.
The Sephora Collection Pro is a crowd favorite. They were actually made for professional makeup artists, but with an affordable price. Every tool in this collection is hand made. Even the lettering on the handle is etched to prevent it from fading.
This brand will make you think of some fantasy movies like The Lord of the Rings, which I still believe to be one of the best in its genre. This brand is an abbreviation of Eyes, Lips, and Face. Where else would you really use makeup and makeup brushes?
This is one of the most popular drugstore brands with items as cheap as $2. Cheap doesn’t mean low-quality with e.l.f., though, as most of them surprisingly last for a long time. They range from very soft to very scratchy.
You’ll also notice that some of them are copycats or dupes of brands like MAC and Sigma Beauty, but I don’t think it’s such a big deal. In fact, I would recommend this for newbies until they are quite decided which MAC brushes to get.
Makeup Brush Dupes: Are They Worth It?
Cheap dupes can definitely apply products to your face but it’s more of a question of being able to do it well and with ease. Some leave streaks while others make blending so frustrating it looks like you’re giving your wrist a strenuous workout.
Even if they do apply the products well, another thing to worry about is if the bristles will hold. Will they start falling off literally after the 2nd or 3rd time you use it? Will they have a bad hair day after washing, permanently?
With that being said, cheap ones are still okay for small or flat synthetic ones like concealer or angled brow types. The differences with higher priced products are not so obvious. However, When it comes to larger types like foundation brushes, the comparison is more obvious.
If you’re planning to buy cheap ones, then you should go for dupes. Most of these dupes are manufactured by the same companies that create the original brands. They use the same molds and design too. The major difference is the quality of the material used.
I personally don’t go for dupes. Their worth depends on current circumstances so it’s very much subjective. However, since this is an ultimate guide I decided to add these as well. Here are some makeup brush dupes that are almost like their original counterparts.
And now we have reached the end of this very long yet very extensive guide about makeup brushes. I do hope this would be of great help to you. I suggest bookmarking this page for easy reference later on.
Aside from all these brands that I’ve mentioned, some of the best ones are Japanese brands. Hakuhodo, Chikuhodo and Suqqu, are just some of them. But I’m going to talk more about them in a separate article, so keep an eye out for it.
This makeup brush guide is just the first of my series of extensive makeup and beauty guides, so be sure to visit Ang Savvy often or, better yet, subscribe and follow. If you have any experiences you want to share, please feel free to drop by in the comment section below. Let’s have a chat and some bonding time!
Alyssa Melanie is a certified MUA – a Makeup Addict. While her favorite high-end brands are Chanel and Dior, she just can’t resist falling in love with a lot of drugstore brands too, like Revlon and NYX. Her motto: “When I feel good about myself, I feel beautiful. Putting on makeup and taking care of my skin, makes me feel oh-so-good.“