When it comes to applying your makeup, fingers and sponges certainly get the job done, but nothing works quite as well as quality brushes. Think of it this way — have you ever seen a professional makeup artist who didn’t have loads of brush options in their kit? When you want your makeup to look precise and beautifully blended (and who doesn’t?!), the best makeup brushes are a must, and that goes for eye shadow, foundation, blush, contouring, bronzer, brows and practically every other makeup category out there. In other words, quality brushes are the secret ingredient to looking like your face was put on by a pro.
Regardless of where you’re using them, all of the best makeup brushes are built to last, aim for precision, and are sharp yet fluffy and soft. Sometimes it can be confusing to figure out what each brush does exactly, so we picked the best makeup brush in each category to take out all the guesswork. Whether you’re a YouTube-worthy pro at doing your makeup or still figuring out how to contour, these brushes work for everyone.
1. Artis Elite Mirror Oval 8 Brush
Artis makeup brushes have a cult following and for good reason. What makes them unique is they’re designed for self-application, which explains their unusual shape. For example, the ergonomic handle ensures a comfortable grip while you use it anywhere on your face or neck. Incredibly versatile, another reason it’s one of the best makeup brushes out there is because it can be used to apply and blend anything, from liquid to cream to powder, as well as range of makeup, including foundation, blush, bronzer, highlight and contour. It’s easy to justify the price when you think about how many other types of brushes it can replace. Unsurprisingly, the bristles are super soft and blend like a dream.
2. IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Wand Ball Powder Brush #8
BEST POWDER BRUSH
IT Cosmetics is known for making some of the best makeup brushes in the beauty biz, and their Heavenly Luxe Wand Ball Powder Brush #8 is certainly in the top ranks. The delightfully soft and tapered brush is specifically designed to pick up just the right amount of powder to give you an airbrushed finished. The soft-touch handle makes it comfortable to wield while the luxurious bristles are cruelty-free and cut into a precision brush head.
3. Charlotte Tilbury Powder & Sculpt Brush
BEST CONTOUR BRUSH
No longer just a mainstay of Kardashians and drag queens, contouring has entered the mainstream and is here to stay, thanks to the endless palettes and tutorials across practically every social media platform. The best contouring makeup brush will help you ace the look of chiseling and defining your face. Whether you want just a hint of definition or a jawline and cheekbones that can cut glass, Charlotte Tilbury’s Powder & Sculpt Brush gets the job done with its sculpting capabilities. Use the tapered end to shade the hollows of the cheeks and temples as well as apply highlighters to the tops of the cheekbones and nose. Handmade by expert brush makers in Europe, the ergonomic and sustainable wood handle works with you. Bonus: The twofer can also be used for blush.
4. Anastasia Beverly Hills Brush #12
BEST BRUSH FOR BROWS
Anastasia Beverly Hills has undoubtedly won the eyebrow market, so of course she has the best makeup brush for brows. Most brow kits come with brushes of their own, but upgrading to a professional level one will make all the difference. This dual-ended option has a spoolie on one side to brush even the most stubborn hairs into place and help brows look perfectly groomed and defined. The other side has a dense brush with a tapered, angled tip and firm synthetic fibers to apply pigment wherever needed to fill in sparse spots and fake full arches with hair-like strokes.
5. Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Full-Bodied Foundation Brush 110
BEST BRUSH FOR LIQUID FOUNDATION
Among other things, Fenty Beauty is famous for having one of the best foundations on the market with Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, so no surprise the brand has an excellent foundation brush to apply it with. Designed for liquid foundation, it gives full coverage with an airbrushed finish to leave your base looking natural. Like any good foundation brush, the bristles are flat-topped at its peak to allow for buffing makeup right into the skin. Unlike many foundation brushes, its tapered shape at the end allows for maximum blending. Super dense, it boasts more than 140,000 fine synthetic brushes that are soft as a feather.
6. Make Up For Ever 304 Lip Brush
BEST LIP BRUSH
A bold lipstick always looks daring yet cheek — and requires precision to get it that way. That’s where a lip brush comes it. It’s practically impossible to get that exacting application straight from the tube. The subtle angling of the densely packed bristles makes it a cinch to define the natural lip line and capture the curve of the mouth. Since the lip brush comes with a metal cap, it’s perfect for on the go applications and touch-ups.
7. Sigma E55 Eye Shading Brush
BEST EYESHADOW BRUSH
Anyone who has attempted to do a smoky eye using only their fingers as the applicator knows what a mess that can make — eyeshadow seems to stick to fingertips much more readily than eyelids and blending can be a challenge, to put it mildly. This brush is equally excellent at applying both powder and cream formulas, making it the best eyeshadow makeup brush. Its synthetic bristles evenly apply eyeshadow with medium to full coverage. It can even be used to apply primer to your lids first, ensuring everything stays put.
8. BareMinerals Supreme Finisher Brush
BEST BRONZER BRUSH
Bronzer is notoriously tricky to apply, since the wrong brush can leave you with dark blotches that look anything but sun kissed. BareMinerals is all about powder formulas so they know how to create makeup brushes that make the most of them. Their Supreme Finisher Brush ensures your bronzer will look flawless, thanks to its synthetic fibers that ensure an even application. The domed shape picks up and leaves just the right amount of powder for sheer, natural looking application.
9. Tarte SEA the Airbrusher Double-Ended Concealer Brush
BEST CONCEALER BRUSH
Get twice the concealing power in one brush with this multitasking pick that covers practically anything you want to hide, whether that’s breakouts, redness, dark circles or hyperpigmentation. The dual sider features a small precision brush on one end to tackle hard-to-reach spots like the inner corners of the eyes with its fluffy tip, as well as acne and dark spots. The opposite side has a larger brush for camouflaging and buffing out hyperpigmentation, redness and other broader areas. True to Tarte’s ethos, the brush is cruelty-free and vegan.