Have you ever walked into Sephora for a new bronzer brush, seen the plethora of fluffy utensils with exorbitant price tags (and names that make absolutely zero sense) and just walked straight back out?
Then you go home and think ‘oh I’ll just order online then, much easier’ before hopping onto Morphe and realising there are 24 pages of brushes to choose from (no joke, go look).
I feel ya sista – the struggle is real.
Anyone with a Youtube account now thinks they’re a makeup expert and it gets beyond frustrating to watch a tutorial that recommends so many brushes you’d have to sell a kidney in order to accumulate them all.
So I’ve had a good ol’ sift and figured out the best brushes, depending on your level of beauty knowledge – and don’t worry, you won’t be getting 16 versions of the same flipping brush for one eye look.
PLUS, I know a lot of you will be wondering if you need to spend a bucket-load of cash on brushes; so I’ve covered the costs too. You might find great brushes for crazy cheap prices (or scarily expensive ones), so let me know what your favourite is in the comments!
Must-have brushes for the low-maintenance beauty fan
Foundation brush – ZOEVA 104 Busher, Sephora $32
So you like looking good but certainly CBF spending an hour blending out your contour, I got you. At your level, you only need five decent brushes up your beauty sleeve.
Now for a sheer, everyday look, I actually recommend using your fingers! If you wash your hands, it’s not gross at all and the warmth from your fingers blends the formula out to create the most natural finish.
But when you want a helping hand, I always recommend reaching for a buffer brush (the ZOEVA one is ACE) as the flat top makes it super easy to apply foundation and the dense bristles leave the product blended with absolutely no streaks. You can use this bad boy for powder foundations too.
Concealer Brush - Napoleon Perdis, G12 full coverage brush eyes, $28
This is great for women who want minimal brushes loitering in their beauty case as you can use it to conceal imperfections by lightly packing on spots and it’s also great for getting eyeshadow pigments on your eyelids.
I always reach for this Napoleon Perdis brush as the shape is perfect for both uses and the bristles don’t splay (when they go all higgledy-piggledy) while still being soft on your skin.
Big Fluffy Brush- Airbrush mega powder/bronzer brush, Manicare, $44.95
You need one of these up your beauty sleeve for all powder products. It’s perfect for powder, bronzer, and blush. Talk about a triple threat.
And if you want to try your hand at a contour, simply pinch the bristles together to create a smaller dome-like shape and sweep just under your cheekbone.
Brow Brush- Benefit angled brow bush and spoolie, Sephora, $20
This Benefit brush is actually on my ride-or-die list and I couldn’t recommend it more to even the noobiest of beauty novices.
Use ANY brown-y product that matches the shade of your brows and use the angled side to feather colour into your brows, filling in any scraggly gaps. Then use the spoolie end to brush through them.
The angled brush can also be used as the perfect tool, should you ever attempt a winged eyeliner.
Small Fluffy Brush - Eye blending brush, Mecca, $32
Perfect for blending in eyeshadow and dusting a bit of highlighter on if you’re up for a glow. Make sure you choose one with bristles that aren’t too dense as you don’t want to pack the product on, you want to sweep and blend like a boss.
5 brushes for the moderately engaged beauty fan
If you’ve pretty much mastered all the basics and like your makeup to look polished and effortless, add these bad boys to your beauty arsenal.
Contour Brush - NARS contour brush 21, Mecca, $61
This fellow will help find the hollows of your cheekbones and angles to shade them and create the allusion of sharper cheekbones. It’s also great for dusting under your jawline and along your hairline for a diminished jowl and forehead.
Blush Brush - Airbrush soft focus blush brush, Manicare, $39.95
Basically just a smaller, more tapered BIG FLUFFY BRUSH – the Artiste Blush Brush makes it easier to sweep pops of pink shades onto your cheeks in a more controlled amount (no clown cheeks, win!).
Fan Brush - Smashbox fan brush No. 22, Mecca, $26
This is a brush that stumps many a beauty aficionado but once you bring it into the fold, you’ll never look back. The perfect way to lightly dust highlight onto the high points of your face without getting too heavy-handed, leaving you with luminous, lit-from-within skin.
Oh and if you have immense fall-out after going crazy with your eyeshadow, this clever chap will gently sweep it away without disturbing your makeup underneath.
Smudge Brush - Smudge brush, Nude by Nature, Priceline, $16.95
The perfect tool for getting eyeshadow on your lower-lash line and buffing darker shades in on top. It’s small and precise, which is exactly want you want for such a fiddly area. The Nude By Nature version is a bloody steal and works a treat.
Beauty Blender - Stila double-ended blending sponge, Mecca, $17
I know this isn’t a brush but beauty blenders are sometimes better than brushes at applying cream products.
The great thing about makeup sponges is the airbrushed effect they leave your skin. You can use the chubbier end to pounce in your product on larger areas, and the tip is great for nooks and crannies!
Always use these bad boys wet - either with a splash of water or a few spritzes of your setting powder.
Professional brushes for the avid makeup addict
This is the woman who watches endless tutorials and has honed her winged-liner so perfectly a makeup artist would be impressed. If you like getting up early for work so you can perfect a burgundy-based smokey eye on the reg – you’ll love these.
Sculpting Brush - Powder and sculpt brush, Charlotte Tilbury, $75
If you want an intense contour or a brush that you can use to buff out product in tricky areas – this is for you. It’s also great at highlighting more pinpointed areas like the tip of your nose and cupid’s bow for a flawless finish.
Lip Brush - Revlon lip brush, Chemist Warehouse, $5.69
I used to think these were so unnecessary until I saw a makeup artist use one to create a really bold, perfect pout. It’s great for concise application of liquid lipsticks that tend to dry super quickly with less time to clean up mistakes.
I just dip in the tube and CAREFULLY paint the hue on. Pick up one from Priceline or your local chemist, I honestly haven’t ever noticed much difference between the high-end and budget brands.
Tapered Eye Brush - Urban Decay eyeshadow contour brush, Mecca, $36
Whether you’re after a sharp cut-crease or just some subtle definition under your transition shade, this precision eye contour brush is the tool for you. Crafted to fit perfectly into the creases of the eyes, this artistry brush effortlessly applies and diffuses shadow in the contours of the eyes.
Liner Brush - 16 Brand liner brush, Mecca, $11
This is for my wing-loving ladies out there. Achieve the perfect feline flick with this ultra fine eyeliner brush. Perfect for those seeking sharp lines, precision and control. The shape of the brush makes wing mastering (almost) foolproof.
Stippling Brush - ZOEVA 125 stippling, Sephora, $28
It may look uber fancy with the different coloured bristles, but it’s actually a pretty simple and effective tool for creating a natural looking base.
The white synthetic fibers at the top pick up the product and help deposit it on your skin, while the black natural fibers at the bottom are denser to help reduce wastage while buffing product into your complexion.
Can't I just buy a complete set?
Why YES. Yes you can.
If you’re starting from scratch, I HIGHLY recommend the Classic Brush Collection by Bobbi Brown. She’s a true artist and this curated collection of incredible quality brushes features her six essentials for doing a full-face of makeup. Buy one here or add to your Christmas wish-list as it’s something we’d all like to open.
Bobbi Brown classic brush collection, David Jones, $350
Makeup brush set in black and rose gold (25 pc), Showpo, $59.95
If you’re inspired by these sorts of eye looks but don’t want to break that bank buying every eye brush available, the Showpo set is perfect. I was a bit apprehensive at first due to the extremely low price but they’re actually really soft and do a bloody good job.
Tom Ford travel brush kit, David Jones, $1400
And you know… a gl can dream about these luxe Tom Ford beauties that would look REALLY pretty on my vanity and I am SURE they work wonders, but alas, I will NEVER be able to afford them.
For more beauty related articles, read: