There is a bevy of brushes out there, but do you really need seven different eye shadow brushes? Unless you’re Pat McGrath backstage at Paris Fashion Week, probably not. Quality makeup brushes can be expensive so it’s important to know what you need. One distinction to note is the difference between synthetic and natural bristles. Natural bristles hold and distribute pigment evenly. Opt for natural bristle brushes when applying anything powdered. Liquids will soak into natural bristles and cause them to clog or degrade. So reach for synthetic bristles when applying foundation or any cream formulas.
Now that you’ve mastered the makeup brush basics, I recommend you stock your beauty arsenal with these essential brushes…
Foundation: A synthetic brush. Can also be used for applying cream blush.
Concealer: A narrow, synthetic brush with a slightly tapered edge.
Powder: A big, soft natural-fiber brush.
Contouring: A soft brush with a flat, angled edge. Also used for bronzing.
Blush: A soft medium-full round brush. Natural fiber is best.
Eye Shadow: A tapered, flat brush that is good for blending.
Fan Brush: A light brush that is great for highlighter. It’s also good for brushing away loose eye shadow.
Eyeliner: A narrow, angled brush for applying gel liner or shadow as liner.
Eyelash and Brow Comb: The side with the small, plastic comb is used for removing mascara clumps from lashes. The bristled side is for grooming eyebrows.
Eyebrow: A firm, angled brush used for filling in eyebrows with brow powder. Go for something with coarser bristles.
And never underestimate the power of the original makeup brush—your fingertip. Because of the heat of your skin, fingers make unbeatable blending tools. For covering under eye circles, I like to use a clean ring finger (the ring finger applies the least amount of pressure) to blend away the edges of the concealer.