Our Guide to the Different Types of Makeup Brushes
In the video above, Colleen and Michelle give you a little overview of makeup brushes, but for more detail, read on, and let me help you figure out the best makeup brushes to use for your eyes, lips, and face.
Angled Liner Brush
Other names: angled eyeliner brush, small angle brush, slanted eyeliner brush
Use it for: lining the eyes
They can be used for powder liner, or when you need a straight edge, such as when you’re tracing lips with concealer or filling out the brows.
Other names: liner brush
Use it for: precise eyeliner application
This brush has a precision tip which makes it perfect for a thin, smooth stroke along the lash line. Use it with liquid or gel eyeliner, or dip it in brightly colored eye shadow for a bolder look.
Other names: smudger brush
With its dense bristles, it is used to apply and blend bold bursts of color. Create a smoky eye by using it to smudge pencil or gel eyeliner.
Other names: blender brush, eye blender brush, eye shadow blender brush
Use it for: softening and blending eye shadow
This fluffy brush with soft bristles is designed not to apply color, but to blend it.
Eye Shadow Brush
Use it for: bold application of eye shadow
Whether you want an office-friendly pop of eye shadow or an evening look, this brush is what you'll use for shadow application.
Eye Shadow Sponge
Other names: sponge applicator, sponge-tip applicator
Use it for: applying pressed or lightly pigmented eye shadow
Not really a brush, a sponge applicator is a good tool for applying shadow that's prone to fallout, so you won't get speckles of shadow on your freshly blushed cheeks, as well as chalky cosmetics that brushes can’t pick up.
Use it for: grooming and shaping eyebrows
This brush is designed specifically for the eyebrows, making quick work of brushing brow hairs into place and applying brow gel. If you use it after filling your eyebrows.
Brow and Lash Comb
Other names: lash/brow groomer, lash comb and brow brush
Use it for: shaping and grooming brows, and separating lashes after mascara application
Use the bristle side to shape and groom the eyebrows or to blend brow color for a more natural appearance.
Angled Eyebrow Brush
Use it for: defining and filling in brows
This brush looks nearly identical to the angled eyeliner brush (which you technically could use for the same purpose) with one difference—these bristles are stiff and densely packed. The stiffness makes it easier to apply heavier color underneath the brows. Use the slant to your advantage:
Use it for: controlled application of lipstick and lip liner
This pointed brush plays a number of roles, besides applying lip color all over the lips. The brush's precise, tapered bristles can blend lip liner inward and create a more natural-looking base for lipstick. You can also dip this brush into your liquid lipstick and use it to line your lips.
Other names: concealer blending brush
Use it for: applying and blending concealer
This densely packed brush is made to evenly distribute opaque liquid and cream formulas.
Use it for: precise application of blush, contour, or bronzer
With firm bristles and an angled tip, this brush is designed to create a more defined line than its softer, rounder brush counterparts.
Other names: highlight brush, tapered brush
Use it for: light application of highlighter, blush, or shimmer powder
With loosely packed, soft bristles, this brush is designed to apply products that need to go on sparingly, such as brightly colored blush and intense shimmer.
Other names: large powder brush
Use it for: applying a light dusting of face powder
This big, fluffy brush full of loosely packed bristles will pick up just the right amount of pressed or loose powder.
Other names: stipple brush, foundation stippling brush
Usually a hybrid brush with finer fibers near the tip of each bristle, the stippling brush has a knack for creating an airbrush-style finish with liquid or cream foundation. Start by pouring a small amount of foundation on the back of your hand and gently tapping the brush into the liquid.
Other names: flat foundation brush
Use it for: applying liquid foundation
Like the stippling brush, the foundation brush is primarily designed to apply foundation. Like a paintbrush, this one has bristles that are tightly packed together, making it perfect for picking up and applying foundation.
Other names: tapered blush brush
Use it for: a natural application of blush or bronzer
This soft, fluffy brush, which was designed for applying blush to the apples of the cheeks, creates a more subdued finish than the
Other names: blending brush, face blending brush
Use it for: naturally blending makeup on the full face
Despite its name, this brush can be used to apply foundation, blend makeup, or both. Like eye shadow, face makeup should always be blended for the most natural appearance possible.
Use it for: applying a light dusting of powder, highlighter, or shimmer
This gentle brush with sparse, soft bristles works well for sheer applications. Use it to apply a light touch of blush, shimmer, or bronzer on the cheeks, or even brush a clean one under the eyes to remove any leftover flecks of shadow.
Other names: buffer brush
Despite its name, the kabuki brush is all about subtlety. Soft and fluffy, yet usually compact, the brush may be used to apply finishing powder or blush with a feathery finish. Its softness also lends itself to blending—simply swirl the brush in circles to soften any harsh lines in your foundation, blush, or contour.
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