All About Makeup Brushes!

We makeup artists carry a plethora of bristle-tipped tools. We’re not trying to show off. I actually use all of my brushes – not necessarily all in the same day or on the same person, but I do use them all. For every unique brush, there is a unique purpose.

Now you’re nervous because you think I’m going to tell you that you need a million different brushes in order to get a flawless look. Well breathe a sigh of relief because you don’t need nearly as many brushes as you think. You also don’t need to spend hundreds in order to stock up on the essential ones.

The brushes that are essential to you depend on…you. If you’re a sunscreen and Chapstick kind of girl, you don’t need a contouring brush. I like to keep it simple. If you know what different brushes do, you’ll know which ones you need.


The material a brush is made of matters. Brushes that are made from synthetic fibers, like foundation and concealer brushes, are meant to be used with emollients and creams. Synthetic brushes, usually made of nylon, do not absorb moisture from the product.

Most other brushes you will find will be made of natural hair like that of goat or squirrel. I know, it sounds gross, but think of it this way – you’ve been using them all along and you’re still okay. Natural hair brushes are used with loose/pressed powders and shadows.



Denser brushes will deposit more product in higher concentrations. Wispy brushes deposit less. If you’ve ever applied eyeshadow with a sponge-tip applicator and ended up with what looks like a layer of frosting – that’s why. Remember, dense applicator – dense application.


How to choose the right brushes?

Whether you choose to buy your brushes from a drugstore or a department store, spend some time testing them out:

1 – Make sure the bristles are firmly implanted into the handle. Cheap brushes will lose a lot of hair because the bristles are often glued into the base – eventually, they come loose and fall out. Good brushes have bristles that are folded into the handle, glued and pinched into the base. Sure, some hairs are bound to come loose but in general, they will not shed too much.

Department store brushes are undoubtedly more expensive, but they can last a lifetime. If you maintain them properly, you may never have to buy another brush ever again. Drugstore brushes might eventually need to be replaced.

2 – Hold the brush and see how it feels in your hand. Some people prefer long handles while others like the shorter ones. If you plan on carrying your brushes with you when you leave the house, you should opt for short handles. They’re more likely to fit in your purse or makeup bag.

3 – Feel the texture of the brush. Do you like how the bristles feel against your skin? How dense or loose is the brush? If you’ve got blemished skin, you might want a denser face brush for more coverage. If you like your eye makeup to look more subtle, make sure your brush is on the looser side.

*Note: Loose bristles on an eyeshadow brush can sprinkle eye shadow where you don’t want it. A loose all-over lid brush is best used with neutral colors.


Maintaining your Brushes – washing and drying

1 – Fill a bowl with warm water and mild shampoo (baby shampoo works well). Do not condition – it could clog pores.

2 – Point brushes downward into bowl and swish around. Do not dip the metal portion at the top of the handle into water. Doing so may weaken the bond and lead to loss of bristles.

2 – Rinse in a bowl of clean warm water. Gently squeeze out excess water.

3 – Lay brushes flat on a clean towel and allow to air dry.

*Note: Do not hold brushes upright while wet. Water will run into the handle and weaken the bond. Clean personal brushes once a week. If brushes are used on or by others, clean brushes after each use. Germs!


Here are some useful brushes:

Brush Type Material Bristle Density Purpose
Foundation/Concealer Brush Synthetic Tight Great for spreading liquid and/or cream foundation, concealer, primer, or moisturizer evenly over face.*Don’t want to spend money on this? Use a sponge instead. Soak in water, squeeze out and use.
Large Powder Brush

Natural Hair Loose Used to dust loose powders over face or body. Great brush for applying finishing/translucent powders. May be used for body shimmers.

Natural Hair Medium Used for applying loose or pressed powders to face or body.
Kabuki Brush

Natural Hair Medium/Tight Used for blending powders for a polished look.
Blush Brush

Natural Hair Medium Rounded tip helps in applying blush, bronzer or highlighter.
Mixed Fiber Flat Brushes

Synthetic and Natural blend Medium/Tight Used to blend and polish powders or creams for a flawless finish.

Angled Brow Brush

Synthetic or Natural Hair Tight Great for filling eyebrows. Can be used with shadows or creams. May also be used to blend out eyebrow pencils.
Fine-Tipped Eye Liner brush

Synthetic Varies Used with liquid or cream liners to create precise, defined looks, (ie. Winged look.)
Angled Liner Brush

Synthetic Medium Perfect for lining eyes with powders or creams. Easy to use, versatile.
All-Over Lid brush

Natural Hair Loose Good for shadows. Deposits sheer to medium coverage.  Can be used at an angle to shade crease. A must-have.
Shading Brush(s)

Synthetic and/or Natural Medium to Tight Deposits concentrated product. Good for use on lower lid or in crease, depending on desired look.
Blending Brush

Natural Hair Loose Blurs lines and blends edges. May be used without makeup to blend existing shadows.
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