There was once a time when we associated dedicated make-up brushes with professional make-up artists, while we daubed our foundation on with our fingers and splodged on our eyeshadow with scratchy foam applicators. However, thanks in part to the advent of Youtube tutorials and widespread blog readership, many of us are getting to grips with the tools of the trade. While it is tempting to try to curate a small army of brushes for a multitude of uses, there are really only a handful we need to get the best from our cosmetics on a daily basis.


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A buffing brush is probably the most effective tool one can use for applying foundation; paintbrush-style foundation brushes leave a streaky finish on the skin, while traditional sponges tend to absorb a lot of product. Ideally sized with a flat top, the Real Techniques Stippling Brush is an affordable option, and can even be used to buff in concealer and cream contour products. For greater precision when blending concealer over blemishes, a smaller option like the Blank Canvas F17 Camouflage Brush is great for blending spots and marks into thin air.


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For those of us who love a dusting of powder to lock everything down, a soft, large powder brush is ideal. The Zoeva 106 Powder Brush has a decent-sized head, making the powder step a one-swipe job. And for your blush and bronzer needs, realistically you could get by with just one brush; the Zoeva 127 Luxe Sheer Cheek Brush has tapered bristles which are perfect for fitting into the contours of the cheekbones while also working well for powder blush.


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One could very easily get carried away when it comes to brushes for eye products, but really there are three core brushes that will perform most tasks with ease. A flat eyeshadow brush is key for packing on colour with minimal fall-out, and the newly-launched Real Techniques Bold Metals 200 Oval Shadow Brush is a luxe take on a make-up bag staple. A blending brush absolutely essential for achieving a seamless finish to your eye make-up, and the fluffy MAC 217 Blending Brush has become an absolute hero in the beauty world for that purpose. Lastly, a fine angled brush will serve your gel liner and brow cream needs adequately; the Anastasia Beverly Hills Duo Brow  and Liner Brush even has a spoolie on the end to keep unruly brows in check.

Once you have the basics down, don’t forget to keep your brushes clean in order to prevent the spread of bacteria and to keep your brushes in the best possible condition. Baby shampoo and olive oil are great budget options, while the Dr. Bronner liquid soaps add a touch of luxury to a really dull task!


Emily O’Brien