The world of beauty products can be an absolutely mystifying one to the uninitiated. Even the foundational tools of makeup application – brushes – come in dozens of varieties nowadays. From small, pointy eyeshadow brushes to huge, fluffy kabukis, it can be confusing to know what each one is for. Ever been left wondering whether the brush in your hand is for concealing, blending, contouring, highlighting, or even which part of your face it’s supposed to be used on? Breathe easy, our essential guide to the basic brushes everyone needs in their makeup kit is here to help.
Liquid Foundation Brush
What it’s used for: Applying liquid and cream foundations
Features: The slim profile and dense bristles of this brush allow it to reach all the small contours of the face such as around the nose and eyes for smooth, all over foundation coverage. Great for when you’re looking for higher coverage, as the painting-like application of this brush means you can layer foundation on easily!
What it’s used for: Applying powder foundation, blush, bronzer or finishing powders
Features: A big and fluffy brush head is perfect for applying powder-based cosmetics – it picks up just the right amount of product and applies powder evenly across the face for an airbrushed look. Look for gently tapered designs – they’ll allow you to sweep along smaller crevices such as under the eye with greater accuracy, and also work well for contouring.
What it’s used for: Applying powder and cream shadows all over the eyelid
Features: The basic paddle-shaped eyeshadow brush is perfect for a sweeping wash of colour, as it can hold more product at one time before distributing it evenly over the whole lid. Use it when you’re applying a base colour before reaching for a finer brush such as a crease or smudging brush to create shading or apply highlights.
What it’s used for: Applying cream and gel eyeliners, particularly for defined lines
Features: This slim, finely tapered brush allows you to create perfectly precise lines along your eye line. Because it gives you a high level of control, you can create both subtle tight lines or bold winged looks with this versatile tool.
What it’s used for: Applying brow powder, gels, creams and pomades
Features: This dense angled brush allows you to create precise, defined looks – perfect for filling arches or creating shaped brows if your natural brows are sparse. While it’s a step up in difficulty from the humble brow pencil, it’s also a step up in appearance – bold, defined brows are great for more glamourous looks and eveningwear.
What it’s used for: Grooming, blending and softening brows, removing excess product, brushing out mascara clumps
Features: Is there anything this magical brush can’t do? The spoolie is an all-in-one for fixing eye makeup errors – this mascara wand-like brush is a go-to for taming unruly brow hairs and blending brow product if you’ve accidentally applied too much. Mascara looking a bit clumpy? Simply run a clean spoolie over your lashes and voila, clumps are teased out.