An artist is only as good as their tools, and we’re not just talking about painters. The same rule applies in the realm of cosmetics: Your makeup can only be as good as your applicators, which is why you should upgrade your collection to include the best makeup brush sets — to ensure that your every beauty need is met.
Expertly curated makeup brush sets come stocked with high-quality options that cater to the face, cheeks, eyes, brows, and more, but if you’ve yet to master the art of contouring, defining, shading, highlighting, no worries; you don’t have to be a professional to operate this fine equipment. According to celebrity makeup artist and brow expert, Danielle Kimiko Vincent, founder of KIMIKO, everyone from beginner makeup moguls to celebrity artists can benefit from investing in a complete set.
“I love a good brush set because it can encourage you to start experimenting with new techniques that you might not have otherwise considered,” Vincent tells WWD over email. “For example, an angled eyeshadow brush can be used in many more ways than a standard flat brush. You might learn to create a color wash with the wide section of the brush, and then use the narrow side to create an accent with a darker color.”
It also helps that there’s “usually a price break,” when you opt to purchase an entire set versus individual brushes, Vincent adds. “Even if one of the brushes doesn’t become a favorite, you’ll likely make use of most of them, so the value is there.”
How To Shop for the Best Makeup Brush Sets
While makeup brush sets are an excellent investment, like anything else, not all sets are created equally. Ergo, when shopping for the best makeup brushes, there are some key details to consider.
Synthetic vs. Natural Hair
In an exclusive interview with WWD, global makeup artist for Jane Iredale, Nechelle Turner explains that bristles on makeup brushes are either natural (sourced from animals like squirrels, goats, and ponies) or synthetically made from nylon, polyester, or other synthetic fibers. Natural hair brushes, Turner says, have cuticles, making them porous, therefore, they attract and keep the product in the brush, which ultimately results in a more sheer application. “Their porous nature can also make them a breeding ground for bacteria,” Turner says, adding that natural hair brushes also tend to be a higher price point and their longevity is questionable.
Synthetic brushes feel more like natural hair brushes and are nonporous, therefore they “pick up and distribute more product on the skin for a more defined and more precise application,” Turner tells WWD. That being said, because synthetic brushes pick up and distribute more product, Turner advises using a lighter hand. It’s also worth noting that synthetic brushes that are stiff or have a shiny coating can result in a streaky makeup application, so you want to look for fluffy, softer bristles.
“In either case look for shedding,” Turner warns. “Shedding or lack of shedding bristles is a good indication of the quality of the fibers in both cases.”
Be realistic about how many brushes you need and how many brushes you’ll actually use. “If you’re advanced and like to try new techniques and looks, then a larger set with a wide range of variety will suit you best,” Vincent tells WWD. “If you’re relatively simple with your makeup, then an edited set will be great for you.”
Handle Material & Length
Vincent tells WWD that as far as length goes, for a personal makeup bag, medium or shorter handles work well overall, but for a professional makeup artist, longer handles are ideal for powder and blush application. “This allows me to view my client from slightly further back, giving me a fuller picture of what I’m creating,” she says.
As for handle material, there are two options: wooden or plastic. “This may not be important for everyone,” Vincent prefaces, “but specifically for natural brushes, I prefer a beautiful wooden handle and brush hairs that have been hand cut and tied. This usually means high attention to detail has been taken with the taper and placement of the brush hairs, which I find translates to a more refined lay-down of powdered products.”
With sets geared towards beginners, pros, and every mastery level in between, the best makeup brush sets accommodate a wide range of beauty abilities with their basic, essential, and expert brush pairings. Below, find the best makeup brush sets that will satisfy every beauty buff’s skillset and budget.
1. BS-Mall Premium 14-Piece Brush Set
The BS-Mall Premium 14-piece brush set is one of the best makeup brush sets on amazon. With over 79,000 reviews (the majority of which are 5-star) to date, customers rave BS-Mall synthetic hair brushes are “soft,” “high quality,” and “comparable to high end brushes.” The 14-pc collection includes nine precise eye makeup brushes, as well as five chunky kabuki brushes for blush, bronzer, foundation, and other face product application. A travel case is also included with every purchase for easy storage.
2. EcoTools Start The Day Beautifully Brush Set
One of the best affordable makeup brush sets on the market, EcoTools brushes are also (as its name would suggest) eco-friendly. Each tool is constructed from 100% recycled, vegan-friendly, cruelty-free materials and the collection comes packaged in tree-free paper made from cotton and bamboo fibers. The Day Beautifully Brush Set consists of the brands core collection of five brushes (including an angled foundation brush, blurring brush, defining crease brush, angled liner brush, and full blush brush), as well as three how-to beauty look cards to help simplify your routine.
3. Kimiko The Essential Brush Collection
Vincent tells WWD her brand’s essential brush collection is particularly excellent for “stepping up your brush game while keeping your makeup bag curated.” Each brush included in the set is hand cut, constructed with cruelty-free materials, and is designed to be multifunctional, ensuring you can create more looks with limited tools: “Three of the four brushes are dual-ended (with caps), so you’re actually getting seven brushes; a do-it-all brush for face, two essentials for eyes, a synthetic concealer and lip brush, and a brow and lash brush.”
4. EIGSHOW Jade Series 15-Piece Makeup Brush Kit
Bridal and celebrity makeup artist, Cara Lovello tells WWD this set from EIGSHOW is one of the best makeup brush sets for beginners available on Amazon. “The brushes are affordable and good quality,” Lovello says, adding, “they don’t shed or fall apart.” The brand’s 15-piece Jade Series kit includes all the tools needed to create precise, flawless looks, from a foundation brush to various eye makeup tools. The brushes are made with vegan-friendly bristles sourced from corn silk fibers and birch wood handles, and come packaged (and separated) in a cosmetic bag made from recycled clothing and linen fibers.
5. Tarte Cosmetics Goal Getters Contour Brush Set
The Tarte Cosmetics Goal Getters Contour Brush Set features five complexion brushes the brand guarantees will “sculpt, strobe, and perfect” your complexion. Inside, you’ll find the Bronzer Brush, Contour Brush, Foundation Brush, Concealer Brush and the Highlighter Brush, all decked out in rose gold sequins and topped with baby pink bristles. Reviewers give the set just shy of a 5-star rating, and love the set for its quality, as well as its overall aesthetic.
6. Bestope Makeup Brush Set
A number-one bestseller on Amazon, the Bestope Makeup Brush Set is stocked with 16 brushes that cater to the face, lips and eyes. Available in five colors and featuring soft and dense synthetic fiber-made brushes, this versatile set ensures that you have everything you need to contour, highlight, blend and shade.
7. Real Techniques Everyday Essentials
Perfect for beginners, the Real Techniques Everyday Essentials makeup brush set covers all of the basics with its pro-curated pairings. Featuring brushes for the face, cheeks and eyes, the set includes the brand’s RT 400 Blush, RT 300 Deluxe Crease, RT 402 Setting and RT 200 Expert Face brushes, plus the Miracle Complexion Sponge.
8. BH Cosmetics BH Signature Rose Gold Brush Set
Designed to achieve a flawless full-face glam, the BH Cosmetics BH Signature Rose Gold Brush Set is best makeup brush sets for anyone on a budget. It comes equipped with 13 brushes, covering the face, eyes, lips and brows. Created to sculpt, shape and define, these vegan, cruelty-free synthetic brushes seamlessly blend makeup to deliver airbrush-level results.
9. Morphe Mua Life Brush Collection
Valued at $217, Morphe’s Mua Life Brush Collection will make you feel like a pro with its curated selection of artist-inspired brushes. Housed inside a handy portfolio case, the 20-piece set includes eye and face brushes for softly applying color or shimmer to lids, blending foundation lines, contouring and much more. The collection even comes with a smudger brush for creating the perfect smokey eye and a two-in-one angle liner and spoolie brush to help you achieve sculpted brows.
10. Sigma Beauty Basic Eye Brush Set
Created with the eyes in mind, the Sigma Beauty Basic Eye Brush Set features seven brushes designed for eyeliner, eyeshadow and brows. Made with the brand’s exclusive synthetic antimicrobial fibers, securing them as one of the best vegan makeup brush sets on the market, these quality brushes are engineered to better hold, apply and blend products. The set includes the E40 Tapered Blending Brush, the E55 Eye Shading Brush, the E60 Large Shader Brush, the E70 Medium Angled Shading Brush, the E30 Pencil Brush, the E65 Small Angle Brush and the E05 Liner Brush.
11. Artis Elite Makeup Brush Set
Renowned for their exceptional blending, innovative Cosmefibre technology and ergonomic construction, the Artis Elite Makeup Brush Set is easily one of the best professional makeup brush sets available. It features the brand’s best-selling brushes for seamless, expert-level application. Inside, you’ll find the Oval 10, Oval 8, Oval 6, Oval 4, Oval 3, Linear 6, Linear 3, Linear 1, Circle 1 and Circle 1R brushes.
12. Jenny Patinkin Luxury Six-Piece Vegan Cosmetic Brush Set
Jenny Patinkin’s Luxury Six-Piece Vegan Cosmetic Brush Set includes a curated collection of multipurpose, multiuse makeup brushes that can be used with cream, liquid gel and powder products. According to the brand, the brushes features synthetic fibers that are finer than natural hair alternatives and packed with 2.5 times more bristles than conventional brushes for a soft feel and seamless application. The set also comes with a stylish vegan croc-embossed case for travel.
13. Spectrum Collections Jet Setter Makeup Brush Set
A travel-sized makeup brush collection that is available in five colorways, the Spectrum Collections Jet Setter set ensures that you’ve got all of your makeup tools in one convenient place. The eight-piece kit includes the B01 Buffing Foundation Brush, the C03 Tulip Power Brush, the A05 Angled Blush Brush, the B08 Magic Wand Powder Brush, the B06 Tapered Blender Brush, the B04 Angled Shader Brush, the A16 Precision Crease Brush and A24 Double Ended Brow Styler Brush.
14. e.l.f. Cosmetics Flawless Face Brush Collection
Designed with the face, cheeks and brows in mind, the e.l.f. Cosmetics Flawless Face Brush Collection includes the Concealer Brush, the Eyeshadow “C” Brush, the Small Angled Brush, the Small Stipple Brush, the Eyebrow Duo Brush and the Ultimate Blending Brush.
15. Chantecaille Ultimate Six-Piece Brush Set
Crafted from high-quality synthetic fibers and featuring an array of artist-inspired tools, the Chantecaille Ultimate Six-Piece Brush Set offers perfect application, seamless coverage and expert definition. The set includes the Cheek Brush, the Foundation & Mask Brush, the Concealer Brush, the Eye Definer Brush and Eye Liner Brush, all housed in a chic roll-up case.
16. MyKitCo. My Essential Brush Set
A favorite for makeup artists and beauty lovers alike, the MyKitCo. My Essential Brush Set is stocked with the necessary tools for smoothing base products, defining eyes and blending eyeshadow. The five-piece set includes the 0.7 My Flawless Foundation Angled, 0.8 My Flawless Powder, 1.10 My Sharp Angle, 1.12S My Tapered Crease and 1.23 My All Over Shadow brushes.
17. Shany The Masterpiece Pro Signature Brush Set
Fully stocked with 24 makeup brushes that cover the face, cheeks, eyes, lips and brows, the Shany The Masterpiece Pro Signature Brush Set was designed for professional makeup artists and glam enthusiasts who want a full range of brushes and tools at their disposal. In addition to filling the holes in your makeup brush collection, this value set also comes with a leather roll-up pouch and storage box for added convenience.
18. Jane Iredale Must-Have Brush Kit
Turner tells WWD Jane Iredale’s Must-Have Brush Kit is ideal for pros and beginners alike. The set includes three tools: a white fan brush for blush and bronzer, a retractable lip brush for lip color application and touch ups, and an eye shader brush for eye shadow application. In terms of make, the brushes are vegan-friendly and hand tied to mimic the shape and feel of natural hair, and are built to last without shedding, breakage, or porosity. It’s definitely a smaller collection compared to others on this list, but don’t be fooled. Limited tools doesn’t necessarily translate to limited opportunities for gorgeous makeup looks; this would be a great addition to any collection, or the making of a solid minimalist collection.
A Note On How To Clean Makeup Brushes
Tedious though it may be, it’s important to get into a weekly (or daily) routine of cleaning your makeup brushes. Luckily, it’s not a terribly time-consuming task, and the list of products needed to clean your makeup brushes properly is relatively short, depending on your preferred method.
For example, Vincent is a fan of brush cleansers, like the liquid blender cleanser by Beauty Blender, but you can also use any gentle cleanser, such as baby shampoo, she tells WWD. “I like using a nubbly silicone cleansing pad to get brushes extra clean, particularly eye brushes with darker pigment on them. I use tepid water, wet the brush first, then swirl it in the cleanser solution, wash out surface product, and then go back with the silicone pad and cleanse again (a brush double cleanse!).”
If you’re committed to cleaning your brushes daily, Turner recommends using a quick-drying brush sanitizer, such as the Botanical Brush Cleaner from Jane Iredale. “The Botanical Brush Cleaner contains witch hazel and citrus extracts. These ingredients not only work to sanitize but also break up oil.”
It’s also crucial to rinse your brushes extremely well after cleansing, as soap residue can interfere with makeup application as well as irritate the skin. “[The last step is to] take a clean microfiber towel and gently squeeze out excess water, reshape the brushes, and lay them flat over the sink’s edge to dry,” Vincent says. “Laying flat ensures no water seeps into the handle and damages your brushes. I also ensure brushes are bone dry before storing upright, for the same reason of preserving the life of my beautiful brushes”