The 20 Best Makeup Brushes That Professionals Swear By
Whether you apply makeup every day or only on special occasions, a trusty set of makeup brushes should always be on hand. Shopping for the best makeup brushes, however, may feel like a complicated process while browsing through page after page of online beauty retailers—especially with the many, many different types of brushes available. But selecting the perfect brush doesn’t have to be complicated.
When looking for the best makeup brush set, there are a few things to keep in mind. Chief among what to remember is to find quality brushes that are best suited for your needs. For example, if you’re someone who uses full-face foundation and bronzer on the daily, you’ll need different brushes from someone who only applies a bit of eyeshadow and concealer. Another factor to consider is the amount of space in your makeup storage for brush kits. Someone with lots of space can purchase multiple different brushes and brush sets, whereas someone with less may want to consider snagging brushes with multiple uses.
In short: There are a ton of options out there for you to choose from, with different features among each of them. A brush can differ in what type of application it’s best for, between its bristles, brush head, versatility, and price points. Some will give you an airbrushed finish while others are meant to leave you with just the right amount of setting powder and so on.
Regardless of which you select, it should be something you’ll be comfortable using day after day. A good brush collection, brush cleaner, and a makeup bag for your brushes will help extend the life of your brushes and help achieve the makeup look you want. And even though shopping for high-quality makeup brushes may seem daunting, there’s no need to fret—especially when you can follow the advice of professionals. Below, find a range of expert-approved makeup brushes for every type of makeup application. And to make the process of finding the best ones a bit less overwhelming we sourced them from top beauty retailers like Sephora, Ulta, Amazon, Nordstrom, and more.
Best Brush for Prepping Skin
For better makeup application, prepping your skin is essential. Makeup prep brushes will help you apply the necessary serums, moisturizers, or primers.
It Cosmetics Heavenly Skin Perfecting Brush
Your makeup routine begins with prep and Emma Willis, Mane Addict stylist, dubs this one from IT Cosmetics her absolute favorite. “Not only does this brush look pretty—it also has nourishing skin benefits infused in its bristles,” she tells SELF. “I love using it to apply skin prep, which for me usually consists of a serum mixed with an illuminating moisturizer blended into the skin, and this brush works wonders.”
Best Brush for Foundation
When looking for a foundation brush make sure to grab one for the type of foundation that you use—whether that’s liquid, cream, tint, or powder.
Real Techniques Setting Brush
For a foundation application that’s soft and precise, pick up this face brush from Real Techniques. “I love this brush because it’s small and fluffy,” Lindsay Kastuk, a bridal, commercial, and editorial makeup artist based in New York City, shares with SELF. “It applies foundation so softly and precisely, which is perfect for a light and natural foundation application.”
Make Up For Ever 106 Medium Foundation Brush
Willis adores using this brush for applying cream and liquid foundation onto the skin easily and quickly. It has a tapered head and flat, wide bristles for accurately applying and blending foundation.
Best Brush for Concealer
Whether you have high-end concealer or drugstore concealer, you don’t want to waste any product. Using the right concealer brush is key for precision since concealer tends to target the small areas of your face.
Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Concealer Brush
When selecting a concealer brush, it’s best to select one with a smaller, more precise shape like the half-moon of this one from Hourglass Cosmetics. This one specifically is a top pick of Brittany Lo, professional makeup artist and founder of Beautini and Beia, because it gently applies concealer and leaves an airbrush finish thanks to its soft bristles. “The bristles are so soft and it’s one of my absolute favorites for applying concealer to the skin,” she tells SELF.
Make Up For Ever 144 Precision Highlighter & Concealer Brush
Make Up For Ever’s 144 brush is another favorite of Lo’s for applying concealer. “For more control and precision, this brush is a great option for concealers,” she explains to SELF. “It allows you to pinpoint and cover blemishes and redness on the face while keeping coverage light, which is especially important since concealer can be thick.”
Sephora Collection Pro Concealer Brush #71
This brush is so uniquely tapered that it almost mimics your fingertips for concealer application, Willis tells SELF. “It leaves a soft smooth finish and has dual sides: one to place and smooth and the other to sheer out and blend,” she says. “It’s definitely one of my kit staples.”
Monika Blunder Call Your Buff Angled Brush
The popular angled makeup brush provides precision and easy concealing. Monika Blunder, celebrity makeup artist and founder of Monika Blunder Beauty, considers this contouring brush to be a powerhouse for cream complexion products. It makes quick work of foundation, concealer, cream contour, and cream blush, blending them seamlessly with a cohesive finish, she tells SELF.
Best Brush for Powder Blush
There’s nothing like finishing up a look with a bit of blush. In order to avoid two heavy red spots on the apple of your cheeks look for a blush brush that will evenly distribute the blush powder.
Gloriest Blush Brush
“Truth be told, there is some trial and error when it comes to ordering brushes online because you can’t feel the bristles before purchasing,” explains Lo. She considers this Gloriest brush one of her go-tos. “The bristles are super soft so it doesn’t irritate your skin, it has an affordable price, and allows you to build your blush without it looking blotchy.”
e.l.f. Cosmetics Blush Brush
“This brush comes at a wonderful price point and has lasted me such a long time,” Kastuk tells SELF. “It applies powder blush as lightly as a real hairbrush would and is the perfect size to use on the cheeks.”
Sephora Collection Pro Blush Brush #96
If you’re looking for a blush that’s great for both powder and blush, Lo recommends using this one from Sephora Collection. “The tapered, dome-shaped bristles allow the brush to be applied and blended evenly,” she tells SELF. “I mostly use this brush with powder but it can easily be used for cream blush as well.”
Best Brush for Cream Blush
Cream blush will give you that beautiful dewy look and a buffing dense brush helps with any hard lines from the cream blush.
Sephora Collection Pro Blush Brush #99
Lo recommends this blush brush for seamlessly applying cream blushes. “This brush is dense enough to apply cream blush while still being light and fluffy to allow the blush to apply lightly and build onto the skin.”
Best Brush for Highlighter
Gone are the days of the fan brush, instead fluffy angled brushes make a great highlighter brush .
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Brush
This double-ended brush is a two-for-one brush, says Lo. “One side is for blush and the other size is for highlighter,” she tells SELF. “I like the size of both brushes on this because they allow you to apply blush or highlighter in a focused area while not being overly dense or applying too much product.”
Surratt Artistique Highlight Brush
Willis loves using this cheek brush to dust highlighters all over the high points of the face or add a flush of color to the cheeks. “This is one of my absolute favorite brushes since it has hand-tied natural fibers that make it feel ultra-soft to the touch.”
Best Brushes for Bronzer
For a bronzer brush look for round, densely-packed buffing brushes.
Hourglass Veil Powder Brush
This bronzer brush is another one of Blunder’s favorites: “It’s been in my kit since it came out,” she says. “It’s dual-ended and perfect for applying blush and bronzer.”
Luxie 530 Flat Top Kabuki Rose Gold Brush
The Luxie 530 Flat Top Kabuki Brush is a new favorite of Willis—but equally as amazing as old favorites and it comes in a beautiful rose gold color. “I’ve been using it a LOT to apply cream bronzers to the face, neck, and décolletage prior to foundation.”
Best Brushes for Eyeshadow
With the right eyeshadow brush you can lay down pigments and blend beautifully for a perfect eye makeup look every time.
Mac Cosmetics 217S Synthetic Blending Brush
For a brush that’s perfect for creating almost any eye makeup look, Blunder recommends using this one from Mac Cosmetics. “It’s soft and densely packed without being too stiff.”
Makeup by Mario E 4 Makeup Brush
Makeup by Mario comes from the celebrity makeup artist behind the looks of Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Chrissy Teigen, and others, so it’s no surprise that one of its brushes is a favorite of consumers and Blunder. “This brush is great for eyeshadow and creating a cut crease, but I also love it for applying concealer before I go in to blend it out,” she tells SELF.
Monika Blunder Tulip Blending Brush
If you’re looking for an eyeshadow brush that can double as a lip brush this blending brush is for you. Blunder dubs this brush as the most versatile one in her kit. “This little densely packed pencil brush is great for everything from eyeshadow to concealer and (my favorite) for lips.”
Best Brush for Eyebrows
If you’re using an eyebrow pencil then an eyebrow brush should be able to give you a natural finish, whether that means filling in your eyebrows or creating an arched look.
Bdellium Tools Golden Triangle 716 Smoky Liner Brush
When choosing an eyebrow brush to fill in the sparse area of your brows, Katsuk likes to opt for one with incredibly small bristles that almost mimics drawing hair strokes. “It’s the best for filling in your brows and making them look more natural,” she says.
Best Brush for Self-Tanning
For the perfect fake tan you’ll want a brush that will distribute self-tanner in all the nooks and crannies of your face or body.
La Mer The Powder Brush
Although one might not think of grabbing makeup brushes for self-tanner application, Willis highly recommends it. “I use this La Mer brush to apply self-tanners to the face and body,” she tells SELF. “I just love the airbrush finish instead of a mitt and the synthetic bristles of this brush make it soft with just the right amount of sturdiness for control.”