Seasoned beauty lovers know that a flawless makeup look comes down to application—and that means focusing on brushes. Distinguishing between different types of makeup brushes and their uses is a foundational skill, whether you’re just getting into makeup or looking to improve your application technique.
We know what you’re thinking: What makeup brushes do I need? What types of makeup brushes work best for my skin? Learning about the different types of brushes for makeup takes time, but we’re here to walk you through the essentials.
Meet Your Makeup Brushes
When it comes to makeup, complexion is everything. A soft, dense brush with plenty of surface area is a wise choice because it’s so versatile. The right powder brush picks up enough product to provide smooth, even coverage without a lot of flyaway pigment. Use it all over with a powder foundation or setting powder for a soft, natural finish. This handy tool can do double-duty as a blush brush when you’re striving for a rosy, flushed glow. Apply blush with a light hand and think about building layers of color instead of trying to blend out a lot of product at once.
Professional-looking eyeshadow isn’t always easy to achieve. Like any other makeup step, it’s all about the application. In the case of eyeshadow, you want to be able to balance packing on the pigment and buffing out harsh lines as needed. A blending brush is one of those essential makeup brushes—a small tool that makes a big difference in your application. Pinch the bristles to make them denser for more intense pigment application, or leave them fluffy for a soft transition shade application and seamless blending between layers of color.
Who’s a multipurpose MVP? The thin angled brush is perfect for lids and brows, whether you’re after a clean, precise line or a smudged look that still has shape and structure. Dip it into your favorite powder or cream pigment for your next eyeliner look. Draw that sharp AF cat eye or create the perfect smoked-out style.
A sculpted, polished brow can bring even the simplest makeup look to life. An angled brow brush will help you soften brow pen strokes and customize your pomade application for the right amount of coverage. You can also use the brush with concealer to clean up around your brows for a flawless finish.
The thin pencil brush has a million tricks up its sleeve, especially if you’re after a precise application. It’s best known as a liner brush—meaning it’s perfect for graphic eyeliner—and the densely packed bristles are perfect for getting pigment into small spaces, like your inner and outer eye corners, the lid crease, and the lower lash line. This one brush can help you pull off plenty of high-fashion looks with little to no effort.
Full, pouty lips are the goal for every beauty lover, and you don’t have to reach for plumpers to get the look. A lip brush gets the job done right every time. Use it to line your lips and blend the product for a soft, natural transition—even if you’re using a lip liner pencil, the brush gives you added control over your shaping. Or dab your lip brush into your favorite bullet lipstick for an ultra-precise application.
Need to clean up a mistake? Dip your lip brush into makeup remover for a quick correction, like it never even happened.
No gorgeous makeup look is complete without a healthy dose of glistening highlighter. From the bridge of your nose to your cheekbones and cupid’s bow, a bit of glow can take your look from drab to completely fab in an instant. For perfectly placed highlighter, a fan brush can’t be beat. These essential makeup brushes pick up just enough product to create that delicate, natural-looking glimmer.
Whether you’re a beauty newbie or a longtime enthusiast, there’s no denying the power of a good makeup brush. With so many different brushes to choose from, there are plenty of opportunities to perfect your technique and get creative!