One of the most often asked questions from my readers are about makeup brushes and their uses. For beginners especially, most of the makeup brushes look very similar other than very small variations in width or shape. So today I’m going to do a Makeup Brushes 101 which will help shed some light on all the questions you’ve had about them. Without proper brushes and tools it is not possible to achieve a flawless makeup look. Brushes help spread the product evenly and it is gentle on the skin. And it is not true that only expensive brushes can help with great results. Opt for brushes that doesn’t have scratchy bristles as it might hurt the skin. Before we get into the types of makeup brushes and what they do, the first thing you should know when choosing the right brushes is the 2 types of bristles: Natural bristles and Synthetic bristles.

Makeup Brushes 101

The natural bristles are made out of different animal hair and fur like horse, boar, goat and squirrels. These are often dark in color, not super soft, sheds, hold pigments better and difficult to wash. As the natural bristles are very porous they pick up more pigments and distributes them evenly. The natural bristled brushes best applies powder products and it is best to avoid liquid or cream products as they will drink up most of the products.

Synthetic bristles are man made fibers usually made from nylon or polyester. The synthetic bristles do not shed, pretty soft, easy to clean. Unlike natural bristles, the synthetic bristles are not porous so they can be used with liquids and creams. If you are allergic to natural bristles then synthetic bristled brushes are your way to go.

Now that you know the different types of bristle, let’s get into the list of makeup brushes and their uses. To make it easier, I will divide them into face makeup brushes, eye makeup brushes and lip makeup brushes.

Different Types Of Face Makeup Brushes-

Flat Foundation Brush


This is a pretty basic brush that most of you might have seen and probably you might even own one of these. The bristles of this brush is usually made up of synthetic fibers and they are flat with slightly tapered ends. It best applies liquid and cream products like moisturizer, face primer, foundation and concealer. It applies the product sheer so it provides light coverage.

Flat Top Kabuki Brush


This is the best brush to apply full coverage foundations. Most flat top kabuki brushes are made with synthetic fibers and they are densely packed. It best applies liquid foundations and it provides full coverage.

Angled Kabuki Brush


This is the slightly angled version of the previous brush but this applies cream products beautifully. Again the bristles are densely packed in this type of brushes. The synthetic fibers are super soft and they do not shed. It blends cream blush and contour seamlessly into the skin.

Stippling Brush-


This is one of my favorite brushes a stippling brush has duo fibers which gives an airbrushed finish to the foundation application. It is super soft and the synthetic fibers do not shed. It can also be used for a variety of different uses and products. I like to apply cream blushes with this brush as it provides the most natural flush to the cheeks.

Buffing Brush


This brush looks like the smaller and rounder version of the flat top kabuki. This brush is again made with synthetic fibers and is densely packed. It can be used with different products and purposes. It beautifully buffs in the product making it look as natural as possible. I like to use this brush with my powder foundations and also mineral foundations.

Medium Concealer Brush-

I like this brush to apply cream contour and highlighter on the face. The synthetic bristles are aligned perfectly to also contour the nose. I like to blend them in using a damp Beauty Blender for the most natural look.

Flat Concealer Brush


This brush is made out of synthetic fibers it is usually small and flat. This brush looks like the smaller version of the flat foundation brush. It applies concealer precisely and packs the product on.

Small Kabuki Brush


I love this brush to blend the concealer out that has been applied with the previous brush. This brush doesn’t dilute the coverage and it buffs out evenly which is great. It is usually made out of synthetic fibers.

Fluffy Powder Brush


This brush is usually made out of natural bristles and it lightly applies powders. It is usually large and fluffy so it picks up little product at a time. The bristles in this brush is fanned out so it is not possible to build coverage with this brush unlike the buffing brush which is versatile.

Angled Blush Brush


The only brush I like to apply powder blush with is a good angled blush brush. These are usually made with natural bristles and has an angle to it which sits perfectly when applying blush on the cheeks. The bristles are nicely packed but not too much so it adds the perfect amount of color without adding too much.

Flat Contour Brush


I like this brush when I want a dramatic cheek contour who doesn’t like those chiseled cheeks and strong jawline. Anybody can get the modelesque face using the right technique.

Tapered Contour Brush


This brush is often made with synthetic bristles and it blends out the contour product seamlessly and gives it a natural effect. It works well with both cream and powder products.

Bronzer Brush


This is the same as the powder brush but a tad smaller in size. It is again made with natural bristles and is fluffy in shape. It applies powder bronzer beautifully and distributes the product evenly on the skin. One can also use this brush to apply face powders if you find the normal powder brush too big to use.

Tapered Highlighter Brush


This brush is usually made out of natural bristles and is considerably small in size. The tapered but elongated bristles makes it perfect to apply powder highlighter on the highest points of the face. The tapered bristles while applying makes it evenly distributed on the skin. I like to also apply under eye powders with this brush.

Fan Brush


I like the fan brush to dust off any fall outs and also to apply highlighter on the highest points of the face. A large fan brush is usually made out of natural fibers and is fanned out 180 degrees that covers a large perimeter of the face.

Different Types Of Eye Makeup Brushes-

Flat Shader Eye Brush


This brush can be made either with synthetic or natural fibers and is flat in shape. It is used to pack on powder and cream eyeshadows evenly on the lid area.

Angled Shader Brush


This brush is made out of natural fibers and it has an angle to it. It is used to apply darker shades on the outer corner for a more detailed look.

Fluffy Blending Brush


Usually blending brushes are made using natural bristles and is fluffy in appearance. It is used to blend out any harsh edges for a seamless effect. It works best with powder products because of the natural fibers.

Crease Brush


This brush can be made either with natural or synthetic bristles and has a tapered cut to it. It is much smaller than the previous blending brush and it beautifully blends out the crease color without moving it too much. This brush is perfect if you find the fluffy blending brush too big for your eyelid area works best with powder products.

Pencil Brush


This brush is a much smaller version of the previous blending brush and it is usually made with natural fibers. The pencil brush can be used to add colors to smaller areas and also to blend them in without spreading the pigments too much. One can also add browbone and inner corner highlights it works well with powders.

Smudger Brush


No eye look will be complete without smudging a little color on the lower lashline. This brush is perfect to do that job perfectly without giving you a raccoon eyes. This brush is again made out of natural bristles for even application and is best used with powders and creams.

Duo Brow Brush


This is a multitasking brush as you can line your upper lash line using the angled end and also fill in your eyebrows. This brush is usually made using synthetic bristles. It could be used with powders, liquids and creams. The spoolie end of this brush helps with blending in the brow product to make it look as natural as possible.

Pointed Liner Brush


This brush is my trustee liner brush when I want to achieve that perfect feline flick. It is made out of synthetic fibers and has a tapered end to it with barely any bristles which helps with the sharpest winged eyeliner. With practice and steady hands one can achieve flawless eyeliner in just one go.

Lash & Brow Comb


I like this brush to keep my brow hairs in place using the brow comb. And the lash comb helps remove mascara clumping together on the lashes to get rid of the spidery lashes.

Different Types Of Lip Makeup Brushes-

Lip Liner Brush


This brush is little bigger than the fine liner brush and is used to get a crisp outline on the lips.

Lip Brush


This brush is used to fill in the lips using the lip color of one’s choice and it provides an even application.

Other Tools That I Cannot Live Without-

Beauty Blender Original


The most coveted latex free makeup sponge which is super soft and fluffy. I like to use this damp to blend in any liquid or cream products and it does the job wonderfully.

Beauty Blender Pro


This is more porous than the original sponge and is a tad bigger too. I like to use this sponge damp with liquids, creams and powders. This sponge helps provide airbrush finish to the makeup and removes excess product that might crease later on.

Real Techniques Miracle Sponge


If you find the Beauty Blender to be too expensive then this is your best bet. It gives the same results for quarter the price.

Makeup Wedge Sponges


If you are someone who uses baking technique to help the concealer from creasing a makeup wedge will be the most useful tool. It not only easily packs loose powder but it also cleans up the cheek contour for a crisp look.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money buying expensive makeup brushes instead buy good quality but affordable ones that works equally well like their expensive counterparts.

I have some favorite brushes and other tools that I have included below:

Brush Sets-

  • Real Techniques Core Collection Set
  • Real Techniques Sam’s Pick Set
  • Real Techniques Bold Metals Set
  • Real Techniques Eyelining Set
  • Coastal Scents 22 Piece Brush Set
  • Sedona Lace Vortex Synthetic Professional Brush Set
  • BH Cosmetics 14 Piece Party Girl Brush Set
  • Individual Brushes-

  • BH Cosmetics Brush 12 Blending Brush
  • Coastal Scents Classic Angled Kabuki Stick Synthetic
  • Coastal Scents Classic Buffer Small Synthetic
  • Coastal Scents Classic Flat Buffer Natural
  • Coastal Scents Classic Tapered Kabuki Stick Synthetic
  • Coastal Scents Classic Stippling Synthetic
  • Coastal Scents Kabuki On A Stick
  • Coastal Scents Pink Kabuki
  • Coastal Scents Classic Kabuki Dome Synthetic
  • ELF Stipple Brush
  • MAC 217 Blending Brush
  • MAC 246 Synthetic Fluffy Eye Brush
  • I hope you found the post about makeup brushes and what they do useful.
    Do let me know what you think in the comments below and what other topics you want me to cover in the ultimate makeup guide series.
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    See you in my next post. Until then, stay beautiful.
    Love you xo

    Yours truly,

    Makeup Martini CEO

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    4 Comments on The Ultimate Makeup Guide – Makeup Brushes 101

    1. kiransingh
      May 20, 2016 at 12:12 pm (6 years ago)

      Thank you so much for this blog about your favorite brushes…I have been really wanting to try some new ones, so thank you again for this… 🙂

    2. Yamini
      May 23, 2016 at 1:43 am (6 years ago)

      hey Pavithra…I stumbled upon your blog today and I am in love with it already.This is an awesome post and such detailing….OMG…I loved it to bits.Will definitely try some brushes from your recommendation….for sure…Thanks for sharing dear.


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