Makeup brushes are an indispensable tool when it comes to creating a flawless makeup look that lasts all day. Quality brushes maximize the benefits of application, and they last longer than cheaper brushes. However, brushes can be a big investment, and with so many types to choose from it can be difficult to judge just which are the essential makeup brushes to own.
That’s why we compiled a list of the recommended makeup brushes, which will allow you to create everything from natural daytime looks to more dramatic nighttime looks. Plus, there’s recommended brushes from renowned Japanese Kumanofude brushes, Chikuhodo and Koyudo, and some tips on how to use the brushes.
1. Foundation/ Stippling Brushes
When applying foundation, using your fingers can cause oiliness and shine, while sponges absorb more foundation which uses it up more quickly. Foundation brushes and stippling brushes are the perfect solution to this problem, offering better coverage with less waste. The shape of the brush head also makes a difference, with a rounded brush head being better suited to layering and flat brush heads being better suited to lighter foundation applications. To use a foundation or stippling brush, squeeze one or two pumps of foundation onto the back of your hand, dip the brush in lightly, and then buff it onto your face in circular motions. Start from the center of the face, working up and out towards the hairline for flawless even coverage.
Chikuhodooffers a wide selection of foundation brushes made with both premium quality natural hairs or synthetic bristles, which soak up less product than natural hair brushes and even less than sponges.Koyudofoundation brushes come in three main shapes: rounded, flat, or with angled heads to fit all levels of coverage. They’re perfect for blending and buffing foundation into the skin, creating a smooth airbrushed finish.
Powder brushes are an essential makeup brush for applying powder foundation and loose powder, especially as they use less product than puff applicators. To use a powder brush, dip the head of the brush in loose powder and tap off the excess, then apply it lightly over the face in a sweeping motion, following the contours of the face. For a more natural look, stick to the T-zone and inner cheeks, leaving the outer face alone.
The large, soft, rounded-bristle brushes from theChikuhodo Z Seriesare made with the highest grade of gray squirrel hair. They have the perfect density for holding just the right amount of powder for application over the entire face.Koyudopowder brushes can be used to apply the base layer of powder foundation, or to set liquid foundation with loose powder.
A concealer brush like theChikuhodo RR-CO1is an essential makeup brush for applying and blending product for flawless coverage that conceals blemishes, pigmentation, scars, and discoloration such as redness or dark circles under the eyes.
To use, apply a light liquid concealer to the under eyes to highlight and brighten dark areas and a concealer that’s the same color as your foundation to cover imperfections. Tap the concealer on with your brush and blend very gently so as not to wipe your foundation away.
Blush brushes have an airy and rounded brush head, which allows the color to be deposited slowly, so that it can be built up for a natural effect. The most basic application of blush is to swirl your brush in rouge and then dusting it on your face. However, the best shape and placement for blush really depends on your face shape. For heart-shaped faces, sweep over the apples of the cheeks, moving upwards towards the temple. Oblong face shapes will also want to apply rouge to the apples of the cheeks, but blend towards the nose and ears, while round faces will want to apply rouge to the apples of the cheeks but blend only toward the temples and ears and staying away from the nose, which can make the face look even rounder. Square faces should apply blush across the cheekbones, sweeping color lightly from the low to high sides to soften the strong angles of the face.
Medium-sized eye makeup brushes such as theChikuhodo G-4eyeshadow brush made with squirrel fur, andKoyudo eyeshadow brushes made with Kolinsky sable-hair have smaller, stiffer, flat bristles that are perfect for all-over color that gives lids a smooth finish and more intense pigment than fluffy brushes. Use this type of brush to get definition your eyeshadow, such as when applying bold pigments or working in the crease of the eye.
For applying all-over color, press the pigment onto the eyelid below the crease rather than with a sweeping motion to prevent color fallout, particularly when working with bold or vibrant pigments. For crease work, dip the tip of the brush in eye shadow, tap off excess product, and apply pigment into the crease working from the outside edge of the eye inward along the crease.
In addition to your main eyeshadow brush, you’ll want a fluffier blending brush to create a seamless finish, such as the such as theKoyudo BP027andChikuhodo T-6. These work with both cream and powder eyeshadows.
Use a light sweeping stroke for blending shadows from the inner to the outer edge of the eye, but the tip of the brush for working in the crease, working from the outer edge inward.
Smudging brushes are essential for smudging out eyeliner but are also practical for packing intense color onto the lids and pressing eyeshadow along the lash line. Brushes like theChikuhodo R-S5sponge tip brush are effective at blunting harsh lines, while theKoyudo CW-11has short, rounded bristles that are perfect for smudging.
Use a smudger brush with a gentle rubbing motion similar to an eraser, taking care not to wipe any of the pigment away.
Brow brushes and spoolie wands are essential makeup tools for defining lashes and taming unruly brows. TheChikuhodo R-B2brush and comb is made with soft, strong bristles that are excellent at creating a beautiful brow line. TheKoyudo C017Plash brush and brow groomer is a spoolie wand, which looks similar to a mascara wand minus the mascara, is a multi-purpose brush that can be used for both brow grooming and to help define lashes.
Use the spoolie wand or the comb side of the brow brush to comb your brow hairs up away from the nose before grooming or filling them in with brow powder. The spoolie can also be used after filling in brows to soften any harsh lines for a more natural look.
Lip brushes are a useful alternative to applying lipstick straight out of the tube that allows a more accurate application and prevents smudging, which is essential especially when applying bold lip colors. Brushes like theChikuhodo PS-7lip brush have flexible bristles that make precise applications of lipstick and gloss a breeze. TheKoyudo M007 is made with soft Kolinsky sable hair, and bristles are packed with just the right density to give a perfectly soft stiffness for application and spread pigment evenly.
To use, apply lip color with a brush from the center of your lip, blending outward towards your lip line. Then use the tip of the brush to define the cupid’s bow (that dip at the middle of your upper lip) and the corners of your mouth. Adjust the amount of product and pressure to get a more defined line or a softer line for a more natural look.