Twelve Essential Makeup Brushes

brush storage!

Today, I’m going to take a moment to talk about my favorite makeup brushes.  I own a lot of makeup brushes – I counted them for this post, and I have 37 brushes in total.  However, I really only have twelve essential brushes, and those are the ones I’m going to show you today.  As you will see, I use a mix of high end and drugstore brushes, and I’m really happy with the quality of everything I use.

my favorite twelve brushes

Face Brushes

Sonia Kashuk Medium Angled Multipurpose Powder Brush

1. Blush & Contour Brush; Sonia Kashuk Medium Angled Multipurpose Powder Brush

I use this brush to apply blush and to apply my contour.  The angle makes it really great for contouring.

Another good option is the Elf blush brush, but I prefer this one as it has a slightly larger head. I do use the Elf for shimmery brushes, in order to keep this brush clean from stray particles of shimmer. 

Ecotools Bronzer Brush

2. Powder Brush; Ecotools Bronzer Brush

This is the softest brush ever – you have to feel it to believe it. It’s perfect for setting powder.

Elf Blending Eye Brush

3. Highlighter Brush; Elf Minerals Blending Eye Brush

I know it’s odd to use such a small brush to highlight, but I like to place my highlight really precisely (on my cheekbones, browbones, nose, & cupid’s bow). I frequently use another brush to blend my cheekbone highlight.

Sigma F80

4. Foundation Brush; Sigma F80

I cannot apply my foundation without this brush – it is FANTASTIC.  It gives a smooth, almost airbrushed finish. I highly, highly recommend this brush. I’ve tried a lot of highly-rated foundation brushes, and this is the best by far.

Lip Brushes

Maybelline Retractable Lip Brush

5. Retractable Lip Brush; Maybelline Retractable Lip Brush

This is really basic, but has a really nice design. The cap comes off, which you then put in the base to make the brush come out. Thus, the brush is always protected and keeps its shape. It’s perfect for on the go touch-ups. Love it. Note that this is a mini-sized brush, which you can’t tell from the photo since there isn’t anything around it.

Elf Concealer Brush

6. Regular Lip Brush; Elf Concealer Brush

The Elf Concealer brush works well for concealer (I have one dedicated to that purpose), but the small, square shape is even better for lipstick.  Since it’s synthetic, it’s easy to clean – though mine is a bit stained.  Since it’s only $1, I have several for my lips.

Eye Brushes

MAC 239

7. Basic Eyeshadow Brush; MAC 239

This eyeshadow brush is great at laying down color – it really packs it on. It’s not particularly unique, but it does the job really well.

Sigma E45

8. Crease Brush; Sigma E45

I have a very small crease area – one makeup artist described my eye shape as unusual – and I had a very difficult time putting color in my crease until I discovered this brush. As you can see, it’s more  tapered than most crease brushes, which makes it easy for me to lay down color precisely.

MAC 217

9. Blending Brush; MAC 217

The ever-popular MAC 217 is popular for reason – it’s a great brush. It’s too big for me to do crease work, but it’s great for laying down a base color, doing a wash of lid color, and for blending. I have several brushes that do this job well, but I tend to reach for this one, because it’s made so well.

Benefit Get Bent Angled Eyeliner Brush

10.  Eyeliner Brush: Benefit Get Bent Angled Eyeliner Brush

If I had to pick a favorite brush, this one would win. I even have a backup! I simply cannot apply gel eyeliner –  my favorite type of eyeliner – without an angled brush, and this one is amazing.  I get a perfect line every time. Unfortunately, it’s discontinued – but still available on ebay. 

Sephora Brow Filler

11. Eyebrow Brush; Sephora Brow Filler Brush

An eyebrow brush is definitely an essential, and this is my favorite one. Confession: I actually trimmed this brush to make it smaller; I like to have a lot of precise control over exactly where I put my eyebrow powder. I’ve posted a close up photo of this one, so you can see exactly how I trimmed it. This [modified] brush is now perfect for me.

Elf Small Precision Brush

12.  Small Eyeshadow Brush; Elf Small Precision Brush

I use this brush to go over my eyeliner with black eyeshadow to set it.  I actually have several small brushes that will do this job, but this is the one I reach for most often. Another one I sometimes use is the MAC 219 Pencil Brush, but that’s a little thicker, so it gives me a softer, less defined line – a look I sometimes want, and sometimes don’t.

What are your favorite brushes? 

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