9 Basic Brushes for Your Makeup Kit

Good quality makeup brushes are essential for creating an effortless, polished makeup look. Even if you’ve got an amazing collection of high-end makeup, it’s hard to achieve a good result without the right tools. Brushes do so much of the hard work for you!

The post includes affiliate links which means I’ll earn a small amount if you use them to make a purchase. This does not affect the price you pay. Many of the products listed are available from Look Fantastic. Use the code LFTFLAURENELLE to receive a discount on your purchase. When you do, I’ll earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting my small business.

Makeup Brush Dos and Don’ts

You never want to be able to see where your makeup stops and starts at the edges of your face, around your hairline or on your neck. Even if you’re a diehard fan of applying foundation with your fingers, going over the top with a fluffy/duo-fibre brush will buff in any harsh lines and take your makeup look to the next level.

Foam eyeshadow applicators are a no-no! Not only are they unhygienic because they’re harder to clean, but they’re also rarely substantial enough to apply and blend product efficiently. Even an experienced makeup artist like me would struggle to create a smoky eye with foam applicators! If you’re currently using the ones that came with your eyeshadow palettes, investing in a couple of brushes will really transform and elevate your eye-makeup.

You don’t need to spend masses of money. Compared to when I started out 15+ years ago, there are so many affordable brands and brush sets available these days. Having said that, if you’re looking at sets, consider whether you’ll use everything they include. While they can be amazing value, sometimes out of a complete set of 12-15 brushes, you might only use 6-8 of them. I prefer having multiples of individual brushes I love rather than one of every type of brush available.

9 Basic Brushes for Your Makeup Kit

1. Foundation Brush

The type of foundation brush you choose really comes down to personal preference. Personally, I like a duo-fibre or stippling brush. One that’s soft but fairly dense and a little bit fluffy to help me blend the product in and achieve an airbrushed look. This type of brush makes it quick and easy to apply foundation by buffing it into the skin. They are also great for multitasking as they will work for cream blushers, face powder and even bronzer too.

I tend to stay away from the more traditional flat foundation brushes that look like paint brushes. These were widely used when I first started out in makeup 15+ years ago, but they can sometimes leave lines on your face. Being able to buff and effortlessly blend the product is key.

Pro Tip

If you ever feel like your blush is too bright or you’ve got too much bronzer on, one of my favourite tips is to go back over the top with your foundation brush (preferably a fluffy/duo fibre style brush). Any excess foundation on the brush will soften and tone down the products you feel are too obvious. This will help pull the look together and banish any harsh lines. It will also help your makeup last longer as there won’t be any excess makeup to easily transfer.

Lauren Loves

IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection Brush #7 is a very new discovery for me, but honestly, I can’t believe how good it is! I love the fact it’s a 2 in 1 with a concealer brush at the end. I’ve been reaching for it every time I do my makeup and it gives an effortless, buffed in look. I would easily give it 5 stars!

2. Powder Brush

This is often the biggest brush in your collection. If you’re applying a setting powder and want to mattify your skin/set your makeup but you don’t want to add coverage, go for a soft fluffy brush. If you like applying powder all over, go for a bigger brush, and if you like to concentrate powder on the centre of your face, opt for a smaller brush.

Pro Tip

As a general rule, densely packed bristles will give you more coverage when applying products to your face. If you prefer lighter coverage, opt for a fluffier brush.

3. Concealer Brush

This should be a smaller brush that allows you to apply products with precision, whether under the eyes, either side of your nose or to disguise a blemish. A synthetic brush is ideal for the cream/liquid texture of concealer.

4. Blush & Bronzer Brushes

I often use the same style of brush for both blush and bronzer. They tend to be dome shaped and not as large as a powder brush. If I’m applying powder products, I’ll go for something fluffy. If I’m applying cream products, then I’ll opt for a brush that’s denser.

Pro Tip

If you want to achieve a wash of colour, go for a bigger brush. So, if you like applying bronzer all over for a sunkissed look, you might prefer using a typical powder brush. If you want to create more definition and shape, you’ll want to use a smaller brush for more precise application.

5. Highlighter Brush

I don’t consider this essential in a collection, but if you like to add a little glow to your makeup looks, having a brush dedicated to highlighter is a great idea. They are typically small and tapered, ideal for delicately adding highlighter to the high points of your face. A fan brush can be useful for dusting highlighter on, but I prefer a smaller, more precise brush.

Makeup Brushes for eyeshadow

6. Flat Eyeshadow Brush

This is a great all-rounder that distributes product nice and evenly. If you don’t know where to start with eyeshadow brushes, or you’re currently using the foam applicators I mentioned above, switch to this. It’s ideal for applying a wash of colour to the eyelid, packing on powder eyeshadows, and building up to a smoky eye. It works for matte or shimmer textures and it’s small enough to pop a lighter shade in the centre of the eye to create a halo/spotlight effect.

Lauren Loves

Zoeva 234 Smoky Shader Brush

7. Fluffy Eyeshadow (Crease) Brush

This type of brush is designed to fit perfectly in the crease of the eye. It’s usually slightly rounded/tapered at the top and can be slightly pointed at the tip, making it ideal for blending, adding soft definition to the eye, or transitioning from one colour to another. They can vary in size. Choose carefully – too small isn’t the best for blending and too big may not be precise enough.

Pro Tip

If you like applying multiple products to create an eyeshadow look, I recommend having multiples of the two brushes listed above, especially if you tend to switch between colours when creating a look.

Lauren Loves

Zoeva 228 Crease Definer Brush

8. Short Eyeshadow Brush or Pencil Brush

This multitasking brush is ideal for adding details to your eye-makeup. Apply highlighter to the inner corner of the eye, buff out eyeliner to soften or create a smoky look, or add definition by applying eyeshadow to the lash line.

9. Angled Eyeshadow Brush

When it comes to applying eyeliner, there’s masses of choice, but an angled brush is a great option for creating definition along the lash line or defining a sharp winged eyeliner. If you find applying a gel eyeliner with a super fine/pointy eyeliner brush too daunting, try an angled brush instead. As it’s more structured, this shape gives you a bit more stability.

Pro Tip

You can also use a clean angled brush (dampened with water or a touch of eye cream) to clean up any mistakes or sharpen the line of your eyeliner. This makes it much easier to get both eyes even!

Where to Buy Your Makeup Brushes

Now you know what to buy, here’s where to shop! Take a look at Zoeva, Morphe and Real Techniques. They’re all available from lookfantastic.co.uk and can be purchased using my discount code LFTFLAURENELLE.

Peaches & Cream is makeup studio based in Liverpool that has its own brush collection. I have them in my kit and personal makeup bag. They wash beautifully and last so well. They’re my go-to brushes for base makeup and they do an incredible offer where you can ‘pick n mix’ whichever brushes you want for a really good discount. You can also buy brushes individually or they have pre-made brush sets too.

Don’t Forget to Clean Your Brushes!

Brush hygiene is important! If you’re in a hurry, MAC Brush Cleanser is ideal. It cleans, conditions, and leaves your brushes dry and ready to use. Read How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes to learn more.

Find Out More

I fill my Bespoke Makeup Lessons with practical hints, tips and product recommendations just like this. Learn more and book your lesson here. I also share plenty of beauty inspiration and advice on Instagram.