14 Brushes You Need For Flawless Make-Up

For nearly every make-up product, there’s a brush to match. With so many on the shelves, where does one start? If your beauty tools could do with a bit of curation, keep reading to discover SL’s ultimate guide to make-up brushes and how best to use them...

UPDATED DECEMBER 2019

FOR YOUR COMPLEXION...

MAC 164 Duo Curved Sculpting Brush, £28

Best For: Contouring

Regularly spied backstage, this sculpting brush is soft but dense enough to deliver just the right amount of pigment. It spreads beautifully across the face and neck, with the curved edge hugging the cheeks and any angular areas for chiselled results.

Available here

IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection Brush, £35

Best For: Base

A make-up artist favourite, this double-ended brush provides a fingertip-like application (aka soft and weightless) with fluffy bristles that don’t deposit too much of your favourite base in one solid area.

Available here

Real Techniques Powder Brush, £12.99

Best For: Bronzer

Real Techniques does some of our favourite brushes. This one’s designed to work with all your powders (setting ones, bronzers and blushers) but we’ve found it works just as well with creamy, sheer textures for a dewy finish. 

Available here

Zoeva 142 Concealer & Buffer Brush, £10

Best For: Concealer

Designed to conceal dark circles and redness, this soft brush helps to push product into the skin so there’s never any flaking or creasing. It can be used to apply highlighter and eyeshadow too – in fact, it’s especially good for blending shades together for a more diffused effect.

Available here

Beauty Bay Rose Gold Glam Make Me Blush Blusher Brush, £6

Best For: Blusher

The wide surface of this affordable brush picks up all the colour you need in one sweep and prevents any product pile-ups thanks to its flexible bristles. The long handle means its brilliant for holding at a distance to build a softer, fresher colour. A make-up bag staple, it can be used with bronzers and setting powders too.

Available here

Smashbox Fan Brush, £20

Best For: Highlighter

One of the most versatile tools available, a fan brush is brilliant for dusting on different types of products – be it highlighters, oils or even cream textures. We love this one from Smashbox, which is brilliant for smaller areas but also for pigmented textures that require a softer finish. It’s almost impossible to apply too much product or mess up with this brush because it provides such a light touch. 

Available here

Too Faced Retractable Kabuki Brush, £52.70 (was £55.09)

Best For: All Over Buffing

In our opinion, everyone should own a small kabuki brush because it works with every texture of product. Too Faced’s is our go-to: made with cruelty-free teddy-bear hair, it buffs in blush and bronzer in seconds. Its portable case means it’s easy carry around and use on the go. 

Available here

FOR YOUR EYE MAKE-UP…

Tweezerman Folding Lash Comb, £11

Best For: Mascara

This is the tool you never knew you needed. Use it to up your lash game post-mascara for a pro, clump-free finish. Or try combing lashes through before sweeping on any product for a fanned-out, even finish.

Available here

Anastasia Beverly Hills Duo Brush, £18

Best For: Eyebrows

With cleverly angled bristles and a spoolie wand, this industry-favourite brush makes achieving flawless brows a breeze. Use the brush end to fill in any sparse areas with product, and the spoolie to comb up the brows for a bushy, buffed-up effect, and to soften any powder or pencil marks.

Available here

Morphe Flat Liner Definer Brush, £4.50

Best For: Eyeliner

Struggle to apply liquid liner with accuracy? This flat brush makes light work of drawing feline flicks, and allows you to control gel and liquid liners with ease.

Available here

Huda Beauty Smoke & Smudge Shader Brush, £14

Best For: Blending

One side of this clever brush has been created to ‘pack on’ shadow; the other end is brilliant for both dusting and blending your product out over the entire lid. If you can only afford one eye make-up brush, make it this – it’s got all your eye enhancements and looks covered.

Available here

FOR YOUR LIPS…

Elf Cosmetics Retractable Lip Brush, £4.50

Best For: Sculpting

It looks like a liquid liner brush, but is actually created solely for the lips. You can use it with both wet and dry lip formulas to fill in fine lines, sculpt the outer rims of your lips, or to apply all-over colour. The tapered bristles are brilliant for extra control, allowing you to create with optimum precision.

Available here

Clinique Lip Brush, £16

Best For: Painting

This one hugs the lip line for a precise finish and can be used with either lipsticks or gloss, thanks to some densely packed bristles that help product to adhere properly. The retractable brush is a bonus for keeping it hygienic and clean.

Available here

Sigma Beauty L05 Lip Brush, £11.95

Best For: Blending

The flat head of Sigma’s covetable lip brush spreads colour evenly and allows you to keep layering up your shade for extra intensity. Its defined edges also mean it sculpts the lip line perfectly for an even finish.

Available here

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