Top 10 Best Makeup Brushes

It is often said that an artist’s skill is only as good as their tools, a sentiment that holds true in the realm of makeup artistry as well. High-quality makeup products, such as skin-like foundations, radiant highlighters, and smooth eyeshadows, require the right tools for optimal application. While some products can be applied effectively by hand, others necessitate the use of superior brushes. Consider, for example, how the Mona Lisa would have appeared had Leonardo da Vinci chosen to use his fingers instead of brushes.

To ensure that your makeup brushes are of the highest quality and durability, I consulted professional makeup artists for their preferred selections and criteria for identifying top-notch brushes. Additionally, I compiled my personal favorites from my extensive collection of over 100 makeup brushes, along with expert recommendations and best-selling products in the market, and subjected them all to rigorous testing.

Whether you are a beginner in makeup or an experienced professional, a remarkable brush can significantly enhance your application. Below, find our top picks, selected through extensive testing, vetting, and research.

Our best selections

  • IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Brush
  • Hourglass Ambient Soft Glow Foundation Brush
  • Makeup by Mario EF 2 Makeup Brush
  • Makeup Setting Facial Powder Makeup Brush
  • Westman Atelier Liquid Blender Brush
  • Flawless Face Brush
  • Dior Backstage Concealer
  • Sephora Pro Contour Brush
  • Sephora Collection PRO Foundation
  • Ultra Plush Blush Cheek Makeup Brush

1) IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Brush

What We Appreciate:

The brush features ultra-plush, dense bristles that facilitate effortless blending.

What We Find Less Favorable:

The double-sided nature of the brush can pose challenges in terms of storage and maintaining hygiene.

Personal Insights: This brush might very well be my all-time favorite. I value it so highly that I own four, always keeping one in my work bag for quick touch-ups. The bristles are not only densely packed but also incredibly soft, ensuring a smooth application that feels luxurious on the skin.

While primarily designed for foundation and concealer application, the brush excels in blending cream and liquid contour, blush, and bronzer, achieving a flawless yet natural-looking base. In urgent situations, the concealer brush can even double as a shadow applicator, making it a versatile, all-in-one tool.

I’m not alone in my admiration; numerous makeup artists and thousands of consumers have praised its effectiveness. However, with a price tag nearing $50, this brush represents a significant investment, particularly for those who are not deeply invested in makeup and beauty. Nonetheless, for individuals who value multifunctionality and quality, this brush is an obvious choice. I must concede, though, that while the dual-sided design is innovative, it does present some storage challenges.

Specifications:

  • Bristle Type: Synthetic
  • Shape: Double-ended dome
  • Intended Use: Foundation, concealer
  • Vegan: Yes

2) Hourglass Ambient Soft Glow Foundation Brush

What We Appreciate:

The distinctive shape and custom bristles are designed to replicate the precision of fingertip application while providing the benefits of a brush.

What We Find Less Favorable:

The brush is smaller than the typical foundation brush, which may result in a longer application time.

Applying foundation with fingers often leads to streaks of excess product on brushes, blushes, and bronzers. Ideally, any excess foundation should be wiped off before proceeding, but this is not always the case. The Hourglass Ambient Soft Glow Foundation Brush, with its unique custom shape, is designed to mimic the delicate and precise control of fingertips.

At first glance, the brush appears small for foundation application, with the bristle head roughly the size of a quarter. However, it compensates for its size with seamless application, flawless precision, and a skin-like finish without the need to use your hands.

The densely packed bristles and unique shape are ideal for reaching difficult areas, such as the nasolabial folds. The bristles are soft yet firm enough to ensure that the product is not merely moved around on the skin’s surface, allowing for streak-free application whether you’re stippling, blending, or pressing the product into the skin.

Specifications:

  • Bristle Type: Synthetic
  • Shape: Custom angled
  • Intended Use: Liquid, stick, and cream foundation
  • Vegan: Yes

3) Makeup by Mario EF 2 Makeup Brush

What We Appreciate:

The slender dome shape is ideal for highly precise application and blending.

What We Find Less Favorable:

Some users may consider it too small for highlighter application.

For years, I have utilized fluffy eyeshadow brushes for applying highlighter, and I was delighted to discover that Mario Dedivanovic (the renowned makeup artist behind Makeup by Mario and a key member of Kim Kardashian’s glam squad) employs a similar technique. This brush is slightly stiff for precise application yet fluffy enough to effortlessly blend the product into the skin. In my opinion, this is the perfect highlighter brush: it allows for total control over the placement of the product on my face and possesses a softness that aids in seamless buffing.

Specifications:

  • Bristle Type: Synthetic
  • Shape: Thin, fluffy dome 
  • Intended Use: Eyeshadow, highlight
  • Vegan: Yes

4) Makeup Setting Facial Powder Makeup Brush

What We Appreciate:

This versatile brush is both affordable and effective.

What We Find Less Favorable:

It may experience shedding over time if not properly maintained.

Celebrity makeup artist Alexx Mayo is an advocate for Real Techniques, stating, “An artist’s tools are just as crucial as the product itself, and I really admire the Real Techniques brushes. They offer a wide variety and at such an affordable price.”

Similarly, makeup artist Daniel Martin, renowned for his work on Meghan Markle’s makeup for her royal wedding, values this brush’s versatility and affordability as key advantages. It is compatible with creams, liquids, and powders. While some online reviews mention shedding over time, I have not encountered any issues with the brush in the year-plus that I have owned it.

Specifications:

  • Bristle Type: Synthetic 
  • Shape: Tapered dome 
  • Intended Use: Setting powder, powder highlight, cream highlight
  • Vegan: Yes

5) Westman Atelier Liquid Blender Brush

What We Appreciate:

This brush represents the pinnacle of luxury, handcrafted by artisans in Japan and specifically designed by a renowned makeup artist.

What We Find Less Favorable:

Apart from its high price, the brush’s short stature can make it prone to getting lost among other brushes when stored.

For those looking to indulge in a premium beauty tool, this liquid blender brush from Westman Atelier is the epitome of luxury. Constructed with cherry wood from Japan and featuring handmade, cruelty-free polyester bristles, it epitomizes opulence. The brush swiftly and evenly smooths products, achieving a flawless finish on the skin in just a few strokes. Its shape is reminiscent of a kabuki brush, but with slightly denser and shorter bristles, facilitating effortless attainment of second-skin-like coverage.

Despite the bristles being densely packed and firm, they remain soft to the touch and provide a plush feel on the skin, rather than a rough one. The rounded head is perfect for pressing product into the skin, while the dense bristles ensure a streak-free application. Additionally, the soft edges of the brush are ideal for reaching difficult areas such as the sides of the nose and under the eyes.

Specifications:

  • Bristle Type: Polyester 
  • Shape: Compact round 
  • Intended Use: Blending liquid makeup 
  • Vegan: Yes

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6) Flawless Face Brush

What We Appreciate:

This dual-sided brush features a flat side for seamless overall application and a skinny side for more precise placement.

What We Find Less Favorable:

The bristles tend to shed over time.

When I initially ventured into makeup, I opted for powder foundation, believing it to be the simplest to apply, as portrayed in movies. However, I soon realized that a flawless application depends more on the quality of the foundation brush than the foundation itself. After enduring years of mediocre brushes that resulted in a patchy complexion, I discovered this affordable gem.

This foundation brush effortlessly picks up the perfect amount of product with a simple swirl in the compact and blends it seamlessly. The brush’s dual nature is its standout feature: it has a flat edge for smooth, overall application and a skinny edge for more precise placement. I use the flat side to buff an even layer of foundation across my face and the skinny side to build up extra coverage where needed.

Additionally, this brush excels with other powder products, such as blush and bronzer, making it versatile. However, one area for improvement is the quality of the bristles: they tend to shed over time, but this usually occurs after several years of use.

Specifications:

  • Bristle Type: Synthetic 
  • Shape: Fluffy with flat and skinny sides 
  • Intended Use: Powder foundations, bronzers, and blush
  • Vegan: Yes

7) Dior Backstage Concealer Brush

What We Appreciate:

The flat, tapered “cat’s tongue” tip is perfect for precise application and smooth blending.

What We Find Less Favorable:

Achieving perfect coverage requires more effort to blend compared to larger concealer brushes.

Featuring a flat design with a tapered “cat’s tongue” shape and rounded tip, this brush excels at targeting specific imperfections, delivering professional results with a smoothly blended layer of concealer. Its flat edge enhances its versatility, allowing for stippling concealer under the eyes or applying powder in hard-to-reach areas. It is compatible with liquids, creams, and powders.

Due to its precision-oriented design, this brush demands more effort and attention to blend flawlessly compared to larger concealer brushes. However, for those seeking impeccable coverage, the extra time invested is worth it, as this brush consistently delivers flawless results.

Specifications:

  • Bristle Type: Synthetic
  • Shape: Tapered “cat’s tongue” tip
  • Intended Use: Cream and liquid concealer
  • Vegan: Unclear

8) Sephora Pro Contour Brush

What We Appreciate:

The cylindrical, tapered bristles facilitate strategic placement and expertly sculpt and blend the product.

What We Find Less Favorable:

It may be too large for use on the nose, and some users may prefer a denser brush for cream contour.

As someone who considers contouring an essential part of my makeup routine, I am always in search of the perfect brush. I typically layer cream contour with powder, and my preference oscillates between densely packed brushes for a quick buff and lighter, fluffier brushes for soft, buildable layers.

Initially, this brush appeared too soft and small for my usual contouring techniques. However, it has proven to be a game-changer. The tapered, fluffy bristles create a contour that is both softly diffused and precisely defined, making it effortless to sculpt the cheekbones. Reviewers also commend its versatility as an excellent highlight brush.

Specifications:

  • Bristle Type: Synthetic 
  • Shape: Long, tapered cylindrical 
  • Intended Use: Powder contour
  •  Vegan: Yes

9) Sephora Collection PRO Foundation

What We Appreciate:

The densely packed bristles of varying lengths smoothly apply and blend contour, offering buildable coverage.

What We Find Less Favorable:

Due to the brush’s density, the resulting contour tends to be more full coverage than subtle.

For those who prefer not to use a fluffy brush for blending cream contour, this foundation brush from Sephora serves as an excellent alternative. Although it is primarily designed for foundation, I have been using it for contouring for years.

The brush features bristles of varying lengths, which prevents product from settling into pores, resulting in a smooth finish. Despite being densely packed, the bristles are soft and adept at covering texture and irritation. The brush applies product in a slightly mottled fashion that blends seamlessly with circular motions.

Importantly, it does not disturb the underlying product when contouring. However, if you seek a more subtle contour, you may wish to consider using a different brush, as the outcome with this one is typically quite full coverage.

Specifications:

  • Bristle Type: Synthetic
  • Shape: Short dome 
  • Intended Use: Foundation 
  • Vegan: Yes

10) Ultra Plush Blush Cheek Makeup Brush

What We Appreciate:

The large, domed shape is ideal for all-over application, resulting in a smooth finish.

What We Find Less Favorable:

Over time, the bristles may become slightly scratchy.

Many esteemed makeup artists are fans of Real Techniques, and their tools truly stand out, not only for their excellent quality but also for their affordable price. Although this is technically a blush brush, I find it more effective for bronzer application. Its large head and fluffy shape are better suited for distributing bronzer evenly across the face, ensuring a streak-free finish and a natural, light tan that is never patchy.

After two years of use, my brush has started to feel a bit scratchy, but at $10, it still represents a great value. It continues to pick up the perfect amount of product and has maintained its shape remarkably well. Even if I were to consider purchasing a new one (which I don’t feel the need to do yet), $10 every few years is still more economical than many of its competitors.

Specifications:

  • Bristle Type: Synthetic 
  • Shape: Tapered dome 
  • Intended Use: Powder blush 
  • Vegan: Yes

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