11 Different Types Of Make-Up Brushes Explained

For nearly every make-up product, there’s a brush to match it. But with so many on the shelves, how do they all differ? To help you curate your tools correctly, we’ve broken down 11 of the most popular to explain their key uses.
Blush Brush, £7.99 (was £9.99) | Real Techniques

Blusher Brushes


Even the best blusher on the market will look streaky and flat if not applied properly. The aim of these brushes is to blend any formula (creams or powders) for a more natural finish. Look to spade-shaped brushes that hug your cheeks and ones with softly packed bristles – less-dense brushes are good for blush and they’re softer when it comes to blending.  

V10 Vegan Brow Duo Brush, £3.25 | BH Cosmetics

Brow Brushes

You may think a brow brush is an unnecessary step, and if you’re blessed with naturally full arches, they may well be. But these are ideal for anyone with a slightly wayward shape, who’s prone to hairs standing upright. The best brushes will come with both a spoolie and slanted brush – this will allow you to first comb through the brows, before filling them and blending them in with the other end. Top tip: If time is at a premium, try spritzing your spoolie with hairspray, comb through the brows, and they’ll set into place for the whole day. 

Concealer & Buffer Brush, £9.50 | Zoeva

Concealer Brushes

Sometimes a dab of a finger will do, but when you’re trying to conceal with precision, the right kind of brush is key, providing you know how to use it. Whether you want to cover dark circles, red patches or blemishes, the best technique is to apply a small amount of product onto your concealer brush and dab it on in small, patting motions for streak-free coverage – it’s the easiest way to layer product too, without depositing too much. 

Flat Top Marble Contour Brush, £9.99 | Spectrum

Contour Brushes

Given contour can be a bit hit or miss, a dedicated brush is considered essential by many make-up artists. The denser the bristles, the better, as this will ensure the brush holds onto the pigment and allows for firmer buffing. Never apply contour straight from the stick (or palette) as it causes colour to get stuck on fine hairs on your face, making it harder to blend. Instead, apply your formula onto your brush first before working it into the skin lightly. Look to brushes that are angled too – this just helps to follow the bone structure with ease.

Crease Brush, £2 | Wet N Wild

Eyeshadow Crease Brushes

These types of brushes are designed to precisely apply and blend eyeshadow directly into the crease of the lid for an expert finish. Usually available with a tapered tip, they work to add contour and depth too, which is particularly useful for when you want to wing out colour at the inner or outer corners of the eyes.

Pro Fan Brush, £14 | NYX Professional

Fan Brushes

One of the most versatile brushes, these are typically used to apply blush, highlighter, bronzer and even skincare – they’re a great one-stop-shop if you can’t afford to buy a whole set. The only downside is they are much flimsier than other styles, so are more suitable for creating lighter beauty looks and finishes as they only deposit a small amount of product. Aside from that, they’re an ideal tool for sweeping off excess powder or stray flakes of make-up, too.

Eyeshadow Brush, £9.99 | The Body Shop

Flat Eyeshadow Brushes

Put simply, you look to these for all-over colour on the lids. Think eyeshadows and glossy balms – the wider brush surface means they can cover your whole eye with ease, while the softer bristles pick up just enough pigment and blend colour seamlessly. 

Dual Airbrush Foundation Concealer Brush, £35 | IT Cosmetics

Foundation Brushes

Some prefer finger application, but here at SL, we’re all about a densely packed brush for applying your liquid or powder foundation. They enable you to buff product into skin for an airbrushed finish, don’t leave your hands covered in make-up and reach every little area of your face to create the most even canvas.

Baby Buki Brush, £17 | Fenty

Kabuki Brushes 

Just like fan brushes, these are incredibly versatile. The difference? Kabukis are much thicker with far more bristles, making them the go-to option for days where you need fuller coverage. Typically, they were created to apply powder make-up on large surfaces of the face, but they’re now used for everything from loose powder and liquid foundation to cream and mineral blushers. Thanks to their design, they allow for smooth coverage, while the large head means you can cover bigger surface areas of skin, such as the neck, chest and even the body. They’re also brilliant at smoothing flyaways – versatile indeed.

Sponge, £16 | Beauty Blender

Make-Up Sponges 

There’s a reason make-up artists and influencers are so obsessed by sponges – they provide a streak-free finish and their porous texture really holds make-up, so you can go back in and use it to dab out mistakes. Their smooth surface means you won’t have any bristles leftover post-application, while the damp surface allows you to sheer out any texture you apply for a more natural finish. As for cleaning it, try saturating it with warm, soapy water, then squeeze out all the excess and leave it to dry. 

Ambient Powder Brush, £35 | Hourglass

Powder Brushes 

An obvious one, but powder brushes are still considered a staple to many make-up artists. Their loosely packed bristles are also ideal for sweeping minimal product across the face, including mineral, loose and blusher/bronzer powders. Use it in light, sweeping motions for the smoothest effect. Remember to use a light hand and only apply white face powder to areas that actually need it – think T-zone and nothing else. 

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