Makeup brushes can be quite the rough terrain to navigate. Questions of which specific ones you need for your everyday kit, to the even more pressing question of do you really need to drop a pretty dime on high quality versions that will require almost a full week’s paycheck, will linger somewhere in the shallows of your mind. Basically, is it really necessary? Yes, it is, and no, it is not. Recently I was cleaning my own brushes on a lazy Sunday, and when lining them up to dry I took a good scan at every single one of them realizing that almost each are drugstore brushes. Many will profess that investing in high quality brushes will give you a return on invest in terms of longevity, bristle quality – overall the majority opinion is that drugstore brushes are accompanied by a set of sacrifices. I call bullshit on that.
Anywhere from a $3.00 e.l.f. brush to the basics set by Real Techniques, each of my brushes live up to the quality that a higher-end brush supposedly is manufactured with. Below I listed my top favorite brushes out of my current collection that I use on a daily basis and could not picture doing my face without otherwise.
Real Techniques – Powder Brush, $9.99
I own two of these, one is to apply all-over bronzer and the other to blend at the end to avoid any harsh edges/lines of demarcation, etc. One of the softest brushes I have used, the bristles are synthetic taklon and are hand-cut providing an even application with ultimate pigment pickup. The tapered end rests nicely in the hand making the overall experience uncomplicated and comfortable. I swear, sometimes I truly believe when I apply my Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick the brush I designated for bronzer gives the most flawless application ever – it looks amazing.
I have washed both brushes quite a few times since owning them starting in 2013, maybe one has lost a stray bristle here and there – but nothing out of the ordinary. Both have maintained their shape and quality was not forfeited.
Real Techniques – Blush Brush, $8.99
And you guessed it, I use this for blush. The overall review can be correlated to the powder brushes in above paragraph. It is the perfect brush to apply blush with because it fits the cheek apple size making the deposit easy as you simply dust product on.
Real Techniques – Contour Brush, – brush was part of the Core Collection, $17.99
It says Contour brush but I have never used it for contouring one day in its life since I owned it. The dome shape is actually perfect to apply setting powder with, and that’s what I designated this specific brush for. It picks up product very well and evenly distributes it over the areas that I want to set. Other brushes I have used for this purpose in the past always either seem to overdose on pickup or don’t pick up enough, this one picks up just the right amount so there’s no product build-up that leads to creasing. Gives the highlighted areas a nice, soft focus.
Just like the other two brushes by Real Techniques, this one as well is ultra-plush, synthetic taklon bristles are hand-cut and 100% cruelty-free.
Real Techniques – Detailer Brush, brush was part of the Core Collection, $17.99
I’m just going to stay on Real Techniques for a bit and continue with the Detailer Brush which was part of the Core Collection as well. The purpose is in the name, I use this brush to conceal my acne scars with the NYX Color Correcting Concealer palette prior to foundation, and it does its duty like no other. I love that I can achieve proper coverage with the concealer so I can go in with my foundation and Beautyblender. This brush can also be used to apply lipstick, but I personally don’t utilize it for that.
Real Techniques – Accent Brush, brush was part of the Starter Kit, $17.99
One of the hardest areas to find a proper brush for is the lower lash area, especially when applying eyeshadow there for a smokey effect. When I purchased the Starter Kit, I immediately thought about that when I saw this brush because its design is aligned perfectly to contour and smudge along the lower lash line. I also use the brush to highlight my inner corners, as well as dab product to the center of my eyelid for precision application.
E.L.F. – Angled Contour Brush, $3.00
The only way I will ever apply my cream bronzer is with this brush. The product deposit is bar-none, surprising for a $3.00 brush, but it also gives me optimal control of where I want product since the bristles are a little stiffer and don’t sway all over the place during the application process. When I don’t feel like using the Ita brush, I will use this brush to apply my powder contour as well. It’s all-round one of the most amazing brushes I have ever used. And yes, in certain terms I do think it beats the Ita for contouring purposes, i.e.; I noticed that product deposit is much more abundant, it distributes better and more evenly, plus – I’ve never had one hair falling out during the cleansing cycle as opposed to the Ita which sheds like a Golden Retriever.
E.L.F. – Fan Brush, $3.00
Holy grail highlighter brush. I have experimented with other brushes to apply my highlight and nothing beats the E.L.F. Fan Brush. It glides onto the areas where I want highlight and flawlessly lays down the product. Despite how soft the bristles are it picks up pigment more than I’d need for the application process so I need to tap off quite a bit back into the compact. All-in-all, I could never live without this particular brush, my highlight looks off without it.
Studio Basics -Eye Blending and Smudging Brush, $7
I purchased this brush about 2 years ago at Ulta and have not seen it in a long while, I can’t find it online either. The dual-ended brush is the only one I use to blend and smudge eyeshadows, it completely rids the lines of demarcation crease brushes can leave behind. The bristles are lush and soft, I love how it hugs my eyelids when I am blending shades together. The brush did fall apart on me after I first got it but I was able to super-glue the smaller brush head back on and it has been fine ever since.
Studio Basics – Angled Eyeliner and Shading Brush, $6.29
Ulta has the newer version available on its website, I have the older one and I own two of them – one for smokey eyeliner application and the other to fill in my brows. Once again, the general construction was flimsy and the shader portion let loose and fell off, but nothing that super glue could not fix. I love using both for their intended purposes. Product pickup is fine, blending proportions are fine, lays nicely in the hand, has precision detailing, keeps up wash after wash and honest to shit has neither have ever lost a hair.
Japonesque – Crease Blending Brush, $20.00
The most expensive I use on the daily, the Crease Blending Brush is my holy grail smokey eye brush since it gives me controlled deposit and blending capabilities. The bristles are silky, natural fibers that taper off into a dome shape. What I love the most is that the results are always geared towards the soft and smokey side, a nice blur effect if you will with the focus never being too harsh. I simply love it. I did wash this brush however and it did loose quite a bit of hairs which was kind of disappointing – but nothing too serious.