Makeup Brushes 101

Makeup Brushes 101

I was inspired to write this article by my many wonderful clients that I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the years. To my surprise, 9 out of 10 of the clients I’ve worked on didn’t know anything about makeup brushes, let alone use them. Some would have one or two brushes somewhere in the depths of their makeup bag but many didn’t have any at all. How they managed to get their makeup on I’ll never understand. In this article I’m going to tell you all about makeup brushes; why you need them, how to care for them and which ones are which. Because I know, for the average woman it can be a bit confusing.

Why do we Need Makeup Brushes?


In my opinion it is absolutely necessary to have at lest a basic set of makeup brushes. Not only do they help with a smooth and even application, they’re also more sanitary (as long as you wash them regularly, we’ll get into that later). Who knows where our hands have been or what’s crawling around in that little powder puff or sponge in your makeup compact. Think about this, every time you apply your makeup with one of those gungy sponges or puffs, you’re putting yesterday’s oils and dirt back onto your face! Some of my clients would complain about breakouts and I always asked them what they were applying their makeup with and more often than not they were using a nasty sponge or puff full of old oils and dirt! On top of that, those sponges and puffs don’t even work that good and they apply the makeup either too thick or uneven and no one wants that. Instead invest in a few makeup brushes, wash them regularly and they will last a lifetime.

But then the problem becomes which brushes to use, what do all the various brushes do, how do you wash them, how often do you wash them, how do you keep them looking new, and a million other uncertainties. Well don’t panic, I’m going tell you all the basics you’ll need to get started. Of course this is info for the average person or makeup beginner.

Basic Makeup Brush Set


A very basic makeup brush set should have at least 5 different brushes; a foundation brush, powder brush, blush brush, and at least 2 different eyeshadow brushes. Then you’ll need a brush case to keep them in. This will keep them safe from damage and prolong their life as well as keep your makeup bag clean and sanitary. These are the very bare bones necessities when it comes to makeup brushes which will get you started.

Foundation Brush: These are usually denser than the average brush, made of synthetic hairs (not animal hair) and dome shaped. Some foundation brushes are wide and flat, like a big paint brush, but I’m not a fan of this kind so much. When applying your foundation you can apply it directly onto the brush and then onto your face or you can blob it on your face and then blend. You’re going to work from the center of your face outward, using small circles to buff it into the skin. Don’t forget to blend it down onto your neck, otherwise you’ll have that very unattractive line which makes it look like you’re wearing a mask.

Powder Brush: Powder brushes are usually large and fluffy. They’re often made of animal hairs but now a days you can find some pretty nice synthetic ones if you prefer. Application is pretty self explanatory, dip into powder and dust all over your face. Simple! If you applied concealer you want to make sure you gently smooth out any creases with you finger before powdering under your eyes.

Blush brush: Pretty much the exact same as the powder brushes only they generally much smaller. I usually prefer ones with a bit of an angle to them as well as I find it easier to apply to the rounds of the cheeks.

Eye shadow Brush: I Personally can never really have enough eyeshadow brushes but for the average person you’ll only really need 2, 3 if you wear a lot of different eye shadow colors.

There are hundreds of different brushes and if you ever feel like expanding your set, a few others that are good to have are an angle brush, pencil brush, concealer brush and a lip brush.

Angle brush: This brush is good for applying and/or smudging eyeliner and is also used to fill and and shape eyebrows.

Pencil Brush: This brush is good for applying your eyeshadow on your bottom lash line, inner corners and for smudging eyeliner. It’s best to find one that’s soft but still a bit dense.

Concealer brush: This one is pretty self explanatory. I personally like to apply the concealer where I want it using a brush and then blend it out with a sponge. You can use a damp beauty blender type sponge or a regular makeup wedge. The beauty blenders can be reused (you need to wash them regularly) but the makeup wedges aren’t, use it and toss it.

Lip Brush: Lip brushes are very similar to concealer brushes in that they are usually made from synthetic hairs, flat and rounded. It’s best to have one with a lid otherwise it can make a mess in your brush case or makeup bag, not to mention all kinds of dirty.

Caring for your makeup brushes:


As a makeup artist it is absolutely necessary to sanitize and clean your brushes regularly with a brush cleanser or alcohol. I personally prefer to use 91% rubbing alcohol between clients and then an anti-bacterial soap and water once a week to keep them soft and clean. But it’s not necessary to wash makeup brushes this often for the average person. I’d say I wash my personal brushes once a month with soap and water. My favorite is to use a gentle dish soap because it really cuts the oils and cleans the brushes thoroughly. You can also use shampoo and conditioner on any brushes that are made from animal hair, this will help keep them nice and soft. After washing the brushes you want to tap out the access water, reshape the bristles and lay them flat to dry over night.

Where to get brushes without breaking the bank?


Makeup brushes can usually cost a fortune especially if you’re shopping at Sephora or MAC. Their brushes are amazing don’t get me wrong. But for the average person it’s not necessary to have super luxury brushes that cost you upwards of $50-75 dollars a brush. But you also don’t want to have cheap brushes that feel like steel wool on your skin. OUCH!! I have searched high and low for quality brushes that are also affordable and I have found the answer. Real Techniques is a line of beautiful makeup brushes that you can find at most drug stores. They’re cruelty free, soft and very affordable, I love this line of brushes.

Another great place to buy affordable, quality brushes is at My brush set is about 90% Morphe brushes because they are great quality, affordable and look nice! I just love them so so much! They have HUNDREDS of brushes so to save you countless hours of hunting and straight up confusion, I’ve done the work for you. The Babe Faves Face Brush Set a great set to get you started. It comes with 9 brushes and one of their awesome makeup sponges. It’s only $60, which is a great price point for brushes.

Another great affordable makeup brush set is the Arbonne Cosmetics Brush set. It comes with  6 basic brushes and a little travel case, which is cute. They are very high quality, cruelty free brushes and only $40, which mind blowingly cheap.

That about sums up everything you’ll need to know regarding brushes. If you have any further questions or comments feel free to let me know. I hope you learned something useful.