The Make-Up Brushes The Experts Swear By

These days there seems to be a different brush for virtually every make-up product out there. With so many on the shelves, how do you know which ones you really need? To help you choose your tools more wisely, we asked seven industry insiders for the three brushes they think everyone should own…



1. MAC 217 Blending Brush, £21

Everyone should try this brush. It’s brilliant for applying powder shadows (creams can always be done with your finger) and highlighter too. The bristles are loose and flexible, making application seamless and lightweight. 

2. Zoeva Winged Liner Brush, £9

Eyeliner brushes are great for liquid liner novices or those who want more accuracy. This pointed brush makes light work of defining your eyes with gel and liquid textures, and can be used to fill in your brows too. 

3. Louise Young Flat Lip Brush, £9 

A good lip brush is more versatile than you think. My go-to is this one from Louise Young which has a small head with firm bristles to help you deposit product and build a plumper appearance. It works with lipsticks, glosses and balms to shape lips with ease. Plus, it’s cruelty free and vegan.

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1. Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Perfection Foundation Brush, £50

If you’re looking for a brush that gives you a flawless application of your foundation every time, this is it. It has densely packed bristles that provide a seamless and firm blend. Try to use it in a stippling motion to build up your coverage gradually – focusing on the areas that need it most. Despite its tight brush hairs, it’s still super soft and gentle against the skin – it’s also cruelty free and synthetic.

2. Real Techniques Setting Brush, £7.99

This is the best multifunctional brush in my kit. I like to use it under my eyes for precise application of powder, and around my nose, but it works with other textures too. It’s also really affordable, yet it goes the distance with high-quality brush hairs. I have multiples of this in both my personal and professional make-up kit.

3. Hourglass Veil Powder Brush, £58

Double ended, this one works overtime to give you great coverage while saving space in your make-up bag. The larger size sets all your make-up in place, while the smaller end works on those hard-to-reach areas – under the eyes, chin and nose. It’s also a great brush for contouring, using blusher or a bronzer. Plus, it’s incredibly soft and doesn’t ever irritate the skin.

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1. Zoeva Luxe Highlight Brush 105, £15

It’s brilliant for highlighting the cheekbones and high points of the face, but this brush does so much more. It has delicate, feathery light bristles that never tug the skin, while the tapered head is great for precision. You can use it to blend eyeshadows out and, as it’s so soft, it’s great for a soft-focus finish, or when you want your eye make-up to look more diffused and smudged. 

2. Shiseido Hanatsubaki Hake Brush, £59

This is the brush when it comes to applying foundation. It doesn’t matter what product you use, it will make any formulation glide onto the skin, leaving behind a flawless, creamy finish. The 100% animal-friendly synthetic bristles are a bonus.

3. Tom Ford Bronzer Brush, £84

This is expensive, but the synthetic bristles don’t ever drop and are easy to clean. It’s just the right size and bristle length for blending bronzers and blushes – and all textures and formulations. The wide head means you can cover larger surface areas, and it’s great for accentuating cheekbones with cream or powder highlighters as well. 

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1. Space NK Brush 203, £18

Although this is meant to be used for highlighting, it’s perfect for blush and contouring because it’s not too big – which means you really get your money’s worth. The slanted edge helps you achieve even results, while the soft and flexible bristles mean you never deposit too much pigment in once place. 

2. Real Techniques 402 Setting Brush, £7.99

These are brilliant to use with concealer, blush and powder, as the bristle heads are densely packed and really hold onto product. Plus, the brush doesn’t fray fast like others on the market. It’s also small and easy to use – which is key because it helps create detail and a more refined complexion. 

3. Beauty Pie All-Over Face Powder Brush, Pre-Order

This would be my pick if you could only afford one brush. It’s super lightweight and distributes bronzer and blusher (and most formulas for that matter) directly onto the skin with a soft, airbrushed finish. It’s a great price point and cruelty free too. 

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1. Wayne Goss Brush 18 Eyeshadow Blending Brush, $27

This is my ultimate eyeshadow blending brush. It gives a seamless blend every time thanks to the stiff bristles that deposit product evenly without any creases. Despite its firmness, it is incredibly soft and never feels too harsh when applying product. You can use it to blend concealer too. 

2. Crown Brush C405 Angled Contour Brush, £9.99

Nothing beats this angled brush for applying both bronzer and blush. The clever, tilted head means you can sculpt the cheekbones to perfection and blend out any product properly. It also works well along the jawline to shape and define your face. 

3. My Kit Co Pro My Tiny Angle Brush, £13

This brush is exactly what it says it is. The tiny head is great for perfecting areas around the lip, as well as liner and brow make-up. Think of it as a definer tool that cleans everything up and helps to create razor sharp precision. 

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1. MyKitco My Smoothing Concealer, £12

This synthetic brush is cut like the shape of a ring finger, making it great for applying and blending out concealer under or around the eye. It works well in other small areas like around the nose and on patches you want to conceal speedily.

2. Suqqu Smudging Brush, £38

Soft and fluffy, this smudger brush makes light work of blending kohl pencils and eyeshadows for a flawless look every time. Great for make-up novices, or anyone wanting a more diffused finish to their eyes, it works with all textures too – be it creams, powders or liquids. 

3. Hakuhodo Angled Finishing Brush J100, $147

This brush cups cheekbones like no other to sculpt and deposit the softest veil of colour that’s natural and even. You can use it with all textures and formulas, but it works particularly well to blend out your bronzer beautifully for a warm, chiselled finish.

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1. Clinique Foundation Buff Brush, £29
The Clinique Buffer Brush is one of the most versatile and handy tools to own. It’s sturdy and effective, while the densely packed brush hairs create the perfect canvas seamlessly. It works amazingly well with liquid textures, gel formulas and also powder. 

2. BareMinerals Shade & Diffuse Brush, £20
I love this does-it-all brush for so many areas of the face. It’s the perfect size and shape to buff concealer, blend out eyeshadow and gently smooth powder highlighter onto the higher planes of the face. It also has two types of synthetic fibres combined, to grab the product properly and also to blend your product seamlessly. It’s the perfect tool to have in your kit. 

3. MAC 219S Pencil Brush, £21
The MAC 219S brush is my favourite for blending eyeshadows seamlessly. It fits perfectly into the crease of the eye while also working like a dream with liquid concealer. Plus, unlike other brushes, it washes up like brand new when you give it a good clean. I've had this in my tool belt for over ten years and it always performs beautifully.

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