Different types of makeup brushes and how to use them

12 Types of Makeup Brushes and Their Uses

What are the types of makeup brushes and how do you use them? Makeup brushes are crazy important if you want a flawless, airbrushed look. Not only do they make the process quick and easy, but they help your makeup go on smoothly and evenly, so you get the best finish. Yup, a good set of brushes makes the process that much easier.

There is a downside too though. There are so many different types of makeup brushes out there it can be intimidating. Yet it’s still important to know which ones to use and for what. So we’re breaking down the most basic brushes and telling you what they’re for and how to use them.

How to choose makeup brushes

A good makeup brush will have densely packed bristles and will apply and blend your makeup smoothly and evenly. It should also transfer your makeup effectively. And it definitely shouldn’t lose a lot of the makeup before it gets to your face.

Choosing a quality makeup brush usually takes a bit of trial and error. There are so many different types of makeup brushes and so many options. Some brushes will be too rough and others will be useless after only a few uses.

Remember to choose synthetic options if you’re vegan or have allergies.

Related: 12 Vegan makeup brushes we’re loving

Makeup brushes made with animal hair are natural brushes and are more expensive than other types of makeup brushes. Synthetic brushes are man-made and usually made of nylon or polyester fibres.

Just remember that regardless of your budget or the type of makeup you use, finding the perfect brush is all about what you like and what feels good for you.

Which makeup brushes do what?

Powder brush

What is the powder brush used for?
You use it to apply your loose powder, to set your foundation or buff and blend out powder foundations. A powder brush has fluffy and soft bristles that distribute loose powders evenly across your face without making your makeup look cakey.

How do you use a powder brush?
Use it to pick up a small amount of loose powder and dust it over your T-zone and under your eyes. Use it to also set your makeup or use a light dusting to quickly set your foundation or concealer.

Tip: remember to tap off any excess powder before you set your makeup.

Blush brush

What is the blush brush used for?
You use a blush brush to apply powder or cream blush. Blush brushes have super soft bristles that will blend your blush pigments evenly so it looks more natural.

How do you use a blush brush?
Use the brush to swirl a small amount of blush on the apples of your cheeks and blend it toward your cheekbones. Keep adding colour and blending until you get the desired effect (this will create the most natural look).

Tip: Using short sweeping motions (like you would a broom) start at the apples of your cheeks and blend upwards toward your ears.

Contour brush

What is the contour brush used for?
Use it to apply your powder or cream bronzer. You can use a brush with blunt bristles and a sharp edge for a sharp contour, or use one with a softer slanted shape for a subtle contour.

How do you use a contour brush?
Swirl the brush into your contour powder, tap off the excess, then gently glide the brush back and forth below your cheekbones to emphasize the natural contour of your face. You can apply to your temples, the sides of your nose, or your jawline as well.

Kabuki brush

What is the kabuki brush used for?
Use this brush to apply your powder, liquid or cream foundations, blush, highlighter or bronzer or as a finishing step to blend everything together. You can use a Kabuki brush for just about everything.

Tip: use circular motions, starting at the center of your face and moving out toward the perimeter.

Foundation brush

What is the foundation brush used for?
Used to apply your liquid or cream foundation and gives your foundation a flawless finish. A good foundation brush will have straight, flexible bristles and give you a seamless blend.

How do you use a foundation brush?
To apply your foundation, start by dotting the product onto your forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin, and then use the brush to blend it over your entire face.

Tip: Use small, circular motions and always start at the center of your face and blend outward.

Fan/Highlight brush

What is the fan/highlight brush used for?
Used to apply your powder highlighter or to clean up any stray bits of makeup. Shaped like fans with thin bristles so you can apply your highlighter evenly.

How do you use a fan/highlight brush?
To use, take a small amount of product with the brush and sweep it back and forth over the tops of your cheekbones, moving side to side. You can also apply highlight to the tip of your nose and your cupid’s bow.

Concealer brush

What is the concealer brush used for?
You use this brush to apply your liquid or cream concealer. Concealer brushes are small foundation-like brushes that are ideal for targeting small, specific areas.

How do you use a concealer brush?
Start with a small amount of concealer, then lightly dab onto your skin until it blends in with your foundation. Continue using small amounts until you have the desired effect.

Tip: great for cleaning up messy eye makeup or lipstick mistakes.

Flat eyeshadow brush

What is the flat eyeshadow brush used for?
Used to apply eyeshadow to the top of your lids. This brush is flat, compact and shaped like a foundation brush. This brush works great for applying eyeshadow to your lid and blending it out.

How do you use a flat eyeshadow brush?
Use the brush to pat the eyeshadow onto your lids, applying multiple layers if needed.

Eyeshadow crease brush

What is the eyeshadow crease brush used for?
Used to apply your eyeshadow precisely into the crease of your eyelid for a natural blended look. These brushes are small and slightly more pointed at the tip. This helps you to apply and blend your eyeshadow into the crease of your eye.

How do you use an eyeshadow crease brush?
Start by dabbing and swirling the brush into your eyeshadow, don’t forget to tap off any excess product. Then starting at the outer corner of the crease of your eye, blend back and forth like a windshield wiper. Work from the outer corner of your crease to the inner corner, and repeat until you get the desired look.

Eyeliner brush

What is the eyeliner brush used for?
Use it to apply your powder or gel eyeliner. An eyeliner brush works well with gel or liquid liners.

How do you use an eyeliner brush?
Start by dipping the brush into the liner. Then, using as much control as you can, move the liner to create the desired line.

Tip: Start at the inner corners of your eyes until you reach the outer corners.

Brow brush

What is the brow brush used for?
You use a brow brush to help you draw individual brow hairs usually with a brow cream, gel, or powder.

How do you use a brow brush?
Use to fill in any sparse areas with eyebrow powder, cream or gel. Then use the spoolie to comb through your brows to soften any harsh lines and make them look more subtle and natural.

Tip: you can also use the spoolie part of a brow brush to comb, tame, and de-clump your lashes.

Lip brush

What is the lip brush used for?
Use your lip brush to line and fill your lips with colour. A lip brush acts like a paintbrush and can make applying your lipstick so much easier. This small brush will help you get crisp, defined lines.

How do you use a lip brush?
To use, you’ll want to start by applying a lip liner in a colour similar to your lipstick. This makes it easier to get a clean line with your lip product. Then, just use the brush to paint in your lips.

Tip: use to soften up harsh lines of your lips or blend two lip colours together

Now that you know some of the basic types of makeup brushes and what they do, go and create some awesome makeup looks!

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