Makeup Brush Breakdown

Happy Tuesday everyone!!! SO. Today’s post is technically a part two of a post I did last summer on brushes (you can read part one here). It is a previous breakdown of brushes, but I know new techniques now, and have learned how to use other important brushes that have changed my makeup game so I wanted to do an updated brush post for all of you who have been following along on my makeup journey. Let’s dive into this!

SHOP THESE EXACT BRUSHES:


MAKEUP BRUSH BREAKDOWN

OK. So, brushes are pretty much the bread and butter of makeup. Even an experienced makeup artist will have trouble doing makeup with crap brushes. LUCKILY good quality, high performing brushes don’t have to be incredibly expensive. There are several brands that have awesome brushes for a really good price. 

Makeup Brush Breakdown

BRANDS YOU NEED TO KNOW.

First things first. There are amazing brushes that are MUCH for expensive than the ones I’m going to be talking about here today. HOWEVER. I personally don’t use them (I’m talking $80 / brush or more), and I don’t think you need an $80 brush to do amazing makeup. So there are several affordable brush brands that stand out above the rest. They are: Smith Cosmetics, Sigma Beauty, BH Cosmetics, MAC, and Morphe. There are other brush brands, of course, but these are my favorite brands that sell quality brushes at a variety of price points. 

In price point order it goes: 

  1. Smith Cosmetics brushes run from $16.00-$35.00.
  2. MAC runs $15.00-$35.00. 
  3. Sigma Beauty runs from $15.00-$30.00.
  4. Morphe runs $5.00-$15.00.
  5. BH Cosmetics runs $3.00-$10.00. 

These brands are incredibly affordable for every price point. There is at least one brand for each price range — I’m sure that everyone could buy 6 brushes for $3/piece. Right now, I personally own 50/50 Sigma Beauty brushes and BH Cosmetics brushes. 

Makeup Brush Breakdown

BRUSHES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

There are a few brushes that are really important to have in your collection. Here are the KEY brushes you need to start your collection (and then you can build up from there): a dense shader brush, a crease brush, a fluffy blending brush, an eyebrow brush/spoolie, a blush brush, and a bronzer/powder brush. 

From there, you can add several other kinds of brushes: a highlighter brush, a contour brush, an eyeliner brush, a pencil brush, a detail shader, a small blending brush, a small angle brush and a large angle brush. I have all of these in my collection, and I find I reach for most of these often. There are obviously dozens and dozens of makeup brushes but they are mostly different versions of these types of brushes. 

Makeup Brush Breakdown

HOW TO USE YOUR BRUSHES:

We will start with the basics.

Dense Shader Brush: This brush is for packing on color, and applying base shadow. This is a KEY brush in your collection. You need a brush that will pack shadow well without spreading the powder spreading out all over the place, and you need a brush that will apply your base shadow seamlessly. The base shadow is important because it is the first layer of skin-tone shadow you need to be able to blend your other colors on your eye without patchiness.

Fluffy Blending Brush: This is really important brush because you need it to apply your transition shades. Transition shades are the color between your lid shade your crease shade. They allow for a seamless, ombre look on your eye and they blend your shadows out beautifully. 

Crease Brush: This is perfect for specific colors in your crease. I use this when applying my outer v color to my eye, and my inner corner color (especially if I am doing a halo eye). It’s typically a little more dense than a fluffy blending brush, and applies shadow in a specific location. 

Makeup Brush Breakdown

Eyebrow Brush / Spoolie: I use dip brow pomade for my eyebrows, so I need a brush to be able to apply the pomade to my brow. The spoolie is the little empty-mascara-brush looking thing you see on the end of brow brushes. I prefer a looser brush so I can pull the color through the brow hairs. 

Blush Brush: This is pretty self-explanatory. You need a blush brush. This brush should be loosely packed, fluffy and soft. It should spread the blush across the your face without sticking to your skin.

Bronzer / Powder Brush: This brush is important because you need a brush to evenly distribute powder across your skin, and to put bronzer into the hollows of your cheeks. It should be very large and very fluffy so that the color doesn’t get distributed in one specific spot, more like all over your skin. 

Makeup Brush Breakdown

Now we will get into the specific brushes:

Highlighter Brush: This should be a long bristled and tapered brush. I prefer synthetic bristles, and you just need to be able to pick up the product on the end of the tapered bristles to lightly go across the tops of your cheeks (and your cupids bow or nose). 

Contour Brush: If you are into contouring, this brush will be a godsend for you. It specifically places product in the hollows of your cheeks to carve it out (with powder contour — this brush does not work for cream contour). I typically will put a light bronzing powder with the powder brush, and then go in with a darker contour shade right under my cheek bones.

Pencil Brush: This is important if you are doing things like a cut crease, a very specific color in the v of your eye or shading out underneath your lower lash line. It is a dense brush, usually made of synthetic fibers that tapers to a very sharp point.

Makeup Brush Breakdown

Detail Shader Brush: This is much like the dense shader brush, but smaller and with more tightly packed bristles. I use this brush for halo eyes to get a very precise amount of product packed in one area.

Small Blending Brush: This is exactly the same as a fluffy blending brush except for the fact that it is tiny. It is for very precise blending, usually underneath your lower lash line for a smoked out effect. I also use it to apply highlight to my brow bone, like a little mini highlighter brush.

Small Angle Brush: This is often used for winged eyeliner in conjunction with gel liner in a pot. They can be very hard to use, and hard to find a really good one. I like mine short and dense, because the longer the bristles, the less control you have over the brush.

Large Angle Brush: This brush is typically used for eye crease contouring and applying crease colors in a specific area. I don’t really reach for this brush very often, but it does a good job when I do. It’s certainly not a necessary brush, however.

https://cadyboughtin.shootproof.com/gallery/4841238/favorites

THE IMPORTANCE OF BRUSHES:

SO. Why is this SO SO SO important? Like I stated earlier: even the most experienced makeup artist in the world will have trouble doing makeup with crappy brushes. You may actually be better at makeup than you think you are — your brushes could be holding you back!

Good quality brushes will distribute product more evenly, keep pigment in tack, last longer, and (as long as you clean them correctly) will hold their shape well. Bad quality brushes often fall apart quickly, apply product more patchy and won’t blend evenly across your eye.

https://cadyboughtin.shootproof.com/gallery/4841238/favorites

TRUE STORY: I had been using very poor quality brushes for a long time, and then a few years ago I bit the bullet and bought a high end brush set. I sat down to do my makeup, and when I was done, I actually gasped. NO I didn’t all of a sudden get better at makeup, I just used the right tools. My crease was well defined, my colors weren’t muddy, you could actually see my blend was several colors. Since that day, I have sworn never to use cheap brushes because they were all I could afford. There are other options  — GOOD OPTIONS — that don’t cost your right arm and do an amazing job.

PIN THIS FOR LATER:

Makeup Brush Breakdown


Alright, alright. I’m off my soap box. I know this has probably sounded like I was beating a dead horse, but it truly helps to see how important brushes are and what brushes are used for what style of makeup. NOT all brushes are created equal, and I hope I’ve convinced you to finally bite the bullet and get a nice set of brushes. I promise you’ll notice a difference in your makeup game.  

Makeup Brush Breakdown

Let me know if you liked this post, what your favorite brush brand is and if you are SOLD on getting new brushes in the comment section below! Also don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel for videos of me using these brushes in action so you can see for yourself how they work!

About The Author

Taylor Mobley

39 COMMENTS

  1. Nellwyn | 8th Aug 17

    This is such a helpful post for makeup beginners! I wish I’d read something this informative when I was starting to experiment with makeup all those years ago

    • Taylor Mobley | 8th Aug 17

      I am so glad it was helpful to you!!! I find it is easier to have everything in one place.

  2. Natalie | 8th Aug 17

    I own like, 2 makeup brushes so this post was very informative! Also I love your photography for your blog!

    • Taylor Mobley | 8th Aug 17

      Thank you Natalie!! I am so glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  3. Leslie@Peaches&Willow | 8th Aug 17

    This post wins me over because I never have any idea what make up brushes are for what. I spend hours standing in the make up aisles trying to figure out what brush I need. They all look so useful but i’m just lost so I’m pinning this post and the next time i’m out shopping for brushes I can look back at it and decide which one to get!

    • Taylor Mobley | 8th Aug 17

      Yes! Pinning it will definitely help next time you are out looking 🙂

  4. Jen | 8th Aug 17

    I love that you shared this! I knew I needed to get some new brushes but really had no idea what to get and what they all were actually meant for! Such a great post and really really helped me!
    Xo Jen – http://abeautifulinspiration.com

  5. Dominique | 8th Aug 17

    I desperately need some new brushes so this couldn’t have come at a better time! MAC Brushes are double the cost up here in Canada, so I splurge on those sparingly. Love Real Techniques! Great price and quality.

    • Taylor Mobley | 8th Aug 17

      I do like Real Techniques too! They are also an awesome brand!

  6. Eva | 8th Aug 17

    This is such a handy post – definitely getting bookmarked! As someone who is horrible at makeup application (I gravitate towards things that let me blend with my fingers for a reason), I really appreciate this breakdown. Love the idea of storing brushes in Moscow Mule mugs too!
    xo, Eva
    http://www.thecharliebird.com

    • Taylor Mobley | 8th Aug 17

      Thanks! They weren’t getting regular use with our drinking habits, and they were too pretty to hid on a shelf!

  7. Belle | 8th Aug 17

    I’ve always wondered about these! There are just so many brushes out there, it makes it confusing for people like me. LOL! Such a great post!

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

  8. Ashley Stephenson | 8th Aug 17

    This is so helpful because half the time I have no idea if I am using the right brush!

  9. Crystal // Dreams, etc. | 8th Aug 17

    This is a great breakdown of makeup brushes! I use a lot of MAC brushes, some Sigma and some from Real Techniques. I’ve had all of them for… a long time, I wouldn’t be able to say how long for sure. At least five years for all of them. If you treat them well and take care of them they will last forever and serve you well. Quality makeup brushes are definitely worth the investment!

    • Taylor Mobley | 8th Aug 17

      yes SO true. They will last SO long if you take good care of them.

  10. Megan | 8th Aug 17

    This post is brilliant. Probably the single most frustrating thing about watching make-up tutorials is them talking about all these brushes and products that I have never even heard of. So I’ll definitely be saving your graphic to reference later. You are a gem.

    • Taylor Mobley | 8th Aug 17

      YES I TOTALLY AGREE! I am so glad you found it useful!

  11. Kuleigh | 8th Aug 17

    Thank you so much for breaking this down. I have all the brushes but I know I’m using them the wrong way. Also, I have two of those IKEA carts! They’re perfect for everything?

    • Taylor Mobley | 8th Aug 17

      I love my IKEA cart. It was like the best purchase ever.

  12. Jenny | 8th Aug 17

    I only knew the basic brushes because those are the ones I have. This post was super helpful.

  13. Jessy | 8th Aug 17

    Such a fun post! I personally really enjoy Morphe’s brushes! I’ve never been let down by the quality and they have such a wide variety as well!

    xo, Jessy | http://www.currentbliss.com

  14. ShootingStarsMag | 8th Aug 17

    Totally pinned the brush guide for later. I have some makeup brushes that I really need to play with. They probably aren’t the best – but it’s a start since I don’t tend to use them often.

    • Taylor Mobley | 8th Aug 17

      I’m really glad you enjoyed it! Hopefully you can refer back to it later!

  15. Sam @ The Haunted Housewife | 8th Aug 17

    This is going to be so helpful for the beginners! I can’t stop buying makeup brushes, lol… I have SO many blending brushes. I haven’t tried Morphe yet, though. I need to try those!

    • Taylor Mobley | 8th Aug 17

      I love buying makeup brushes. I also can’t stop. LOL.

  16. Whitney | 8th Aug 17

    I’m so cheap when it comes to brushes! I need to invest one day!

    • Taylor Mobley | 8th Aug 17

      Luckily — the bh cosmetics and morphe brushes are SO affordable. $3 a brush!

  17. Marie | 8th Aug 17

    What an informative post that I DEFINITELY needed. I pinned that beginners guide for future reference.

  18. Rachel R Ritlop | 9th Aug 17

    danggg! this is so helpful and thorough! I never understood why people needed all the brushes haha

  19. Nazrin | 9th Aug 17

    This is acutally SUCH A HELPFUL POST you do not understand! All these brushes that I do not know the use of and all these brushes I am yet to buy because suddenly I now need! its an abolsute mess! Thank you for breaking it all down for us!

    http://www.nmdiaries.com

  20. Joy | 9th Aug 17

    Girl, I needed this! There are so many different options, sheesh! Someone needs to invent a “universal” brush lol. I pinned this to use on a daily because I am a makeup brush novice. I need to make a better investment when it comes to my brushes though for sure! So helpful, thank you!

    Joy
    http://www.basicallyjoy.com/

  21. courtney | 9th Aug 17

    This was such an incredible, in-depth, detailed post! I love makeup brushes and I have a bit of an obsession with buying them but it can be so hard to explain the differences and why each one matters. You did such a great job!

  22. Neha | 9th Aug 17

    This is so comprehensive! Awesome post!

  23. Monthly must-reads (and fighting my insecurities) | 30th Aug 17

    […] Make up brush breakdown […]

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