For most of us, we are our own makeup artist. And of course, no self-respecting makeup artist would show up to work without the right toolkit.
You might have the most beautiful makeup case, filled to the brim with luxurious organic makeup. But if you don’t have the best brushes, you’re doing yourself (and your makeup) a huge disservice.
Different products require different brushes. Ever tried contouring without a contour brush? Or a smokey eye without a fine, soft eyeshadow brush? Clue: It doesn’t end well.
Take it from us, spending just a little time and money on exquisite makeup brushes will revolutionise your daily makeup routine.
We’ve curated the best makeup brushes that’ll elevate you from makeup amateur to accomplished pro, with just the sweep of a brush.
15 best makeup brushes of 2020
To help you find the best makeup brush for your need, check our beauty guide after the list.
Artis Brush Oval 6: Overall best makeup brush
Hello, perfection: From Artis Brush’s ‘Next Generation’ collection, may we present the Oval 6 brush.
With a modern aesthetic completely unlike the makeup brushes of times gone by, the Oval 6 promises total flexibility: Like any makeup aficionado, the Oval 6 has an impressive skillset. It can expertly apply foundation, concealer, or contour makeup. However, it can also turn its elegant hand to powder and eyeshadow.
Of course, being the size it is, precision lines will require a smaller brush. Hey, you can’t have it all. But for broad, sweeping strokes, the Artis Brush Oval 6 is simply a must-have.
Great for sensitive skin, the brush is packed with CosmeFibre filaments for smooth, even coverage. Plus, complete with a glossy, curved handle, you’re bound to enjoy your makeup routine a whole lot more.
Best for: The ultimate all-rounder makeup brush you’ll want to take everywhere.
SURRATT Beauty Artistique: Best luxury makeup brush
Every artist, makeup or otherwise, knows the final strokes are the most important. Those last sweeps can make or break a look. Fortunately, the Artistique face brush by SURRATT Beauty is all about making the looks.
The dense, ultra-soft bristles are irresistible to the touch. Not to mention, the sheer volume allows for perfectly even distribution. You might even be tempted to over-apply, simply because of the heavenly feeling the Artistique face brush offers.
The Artistique is perfect for adding finishing touches to your makeup. So, think bronzer, translucent powder, or finishing powder. Plus, it’s handmade. Yep, this brush is the ultimate in luxury makeup tools, with the utmost attention paid to every detail:
Right down to the conical-shaped, ergonomic handle, the SURRATT Beauty Artistique face brush embodies luxury.
Best for: Applying the most exquisite finishing touches to your makeup artistry.
EmaxDesign: Best value makeup brush set
The EmaxDesign makeup brush set is the whole nine yards of makeup tools. You’d as easily reproduce the Mona Lisa as do your daily makeup with the span of brushes in this kit. Well, not really. But you could certainly replicate her makeup look. And heaps more.
With the 12 brushes included– from an array of eyeshadow brushes to a concealer brush to eyelash and blusher brushes– the makeup world is truly your oyster.
Despite the absolute bargain price, the brushes are all crafted from bamboo. Yep, they’re biodegradable (mostly). So, when the time comes to replace them, you can be sure they won’t end up in the nostril of an unsuspecting sea turtle.
Plus, the dense brushes are super soft and come with the promise of no shedding.
Essentially, this EmaxDesign makeup brush set has everything you need to masterfully complete your look from start to finish.
Best for: Those who desire an appropriate makeup brush for every eventuality, all in one kit.
Real Techniques: Best makeup brush set for beginners
This might just be the cutest makeup brush set on our list. The Real Techniques makeup set looks like it’s been stolen from Sleeping Beauty’s bed-chamber, with the brushes crafted in Disney princess shades of feminine pink and lilac.
The makeup set is a minimalist’s dream, too. There are two larger brushes for bronzers and powder, with two smaller sizes for eyeshadow and highlighter. Truly, the four brushes and one Miracle Complexion sponge are everything you need to achieve a flawless makeup look.
The lightweight makeup brushes are super easy to clean (and please, do clean them). Plus, they fit comfortably in your hand for ultimate precision and control.
So, whether you choose a smoky-eyed vibe for date night, or a ‘no makeup’ makeup look, the Real Techniques Set will make sure you do it with finesse.
Best for: For graduating your own at-home beauty school with first-class honours.
RMS Beauty: Best makeup brush for eyeshadow
If our eyes truly are the windows to our soul, they’d better look as mesmerising as possible. The RMS Beauty Eyeshadow Brush makes that task much easier.
A sleek, modern design, this is one of the best eyeshadow brushes we’ve come across. With its slim handle, you can enjoy calligraphic precision.
The compact, dense bristles collect eyeshadow pigment gradually, so you can slowly and artfully build the colour to your desired effect. So, even if you’re a little overzealous,
you’ll still be safe from any Gene Simmons comparisons.
And, if you’re into all-vegan makeup products, you won’t cause a revolt when you throw this in your makeup case, either: It’s vegan-friendly and free of animal hair.
Plus, with a touch of water, the RMS Beauty Eyeshadow Brush is perfect for blending different shades on your lids.
Best for: Achieving enchanting eyeshadow looks with the stroke of a brush.
Rae Morris: Best makeup brush for foundation
Foundation is so important. It lays the… well, foundation, of the rest of our makeup. So, you’d better make sure you apply it correctly, with a proper brush that’s up to the task.
The Rae Morris Radiance brush has been happily updated to a neat little travel size, so it’ll fit in the smallest of clutch bags. Crafted specifically for on-the-go applications, this brush makes expertly applying your foundation super simple.
Whether you’re a powder princess or a liquid lover (or both!), the Rae Morris Radiance brush is designed with both mediums in mind. The plush bristles are crafted from vegan materials, and with quick, sweeping strokes, you can easily achieve an airbrushed finish. So much so, you might even wave goodbye to your favourite Insta filters.
Plus, with its slick and professional look, other foundation brushes simply can’t compete.
Best for: Achieving flawless foundation for an Insta-ready complexion.
E.l.f Sculpting: Best makeup brush for contouring
Contouring has exploded onto the makeup and beauty scene in recent years. With the right know-how (and makeup brushes) we can now transform and beautify our faces, with minimal effort.
Yes, it is an art form. As such, proper contouring requires the best makeup tools. That’s where the E.l.f. Sculpting brush comes in.
This is a company that truly knows their stuff. Their Sculpting Brush is crafted with a curved design that sweeps naturally along every arc of your face, to create the perfect contours. Show off a sculpted nose, a defined jawline, and apple cheeks, all with one brush.
Tried and tested by professionals, the E.l.f. Sculpting brush can be used with liquids, powders, cream blush, and illuminators.
Best for: Creating contoured looks that wouldn’t look out of place at the Met Gala.
Charlotte Tilbury: Best makeup brush for bronzer
How many of us can say our bronzer brush is handcrafted in Europe by a master brushmaker? Well, anybody who owns the Charlotte Tilbury Bronzer Brush certainly can.
To create perfect year-round radiance, a great bronzer– and a great bronzer brush–is imperative. With its deluxe, velvet-soft bristles, sweeping shimmery bronzer over your face with the Bronzer Brush is simply a joy.
With bronzer, even distribution is of the utmost importance, lest you end up looking more Umpa Lumpa than Amal Clooney. Fortunately, the Charlotte Tilbury Bronzer Brush possesses a rounded, dome-shaped tip, which builds colour smoothly. So, you can develop the perfect, buoyant glow.
Plus, the handle– aside from looking 100% professional– is crafted from sustainable wood that’s super comfy to hold.
Best for: Getting your glow on with a plush brush, gilded in glimmer.
Vapour Beauty: Best powder brush
There are few things more satisfying than applying those final sweeps of powder on to your immaculately painted makeup. Powder sets our makeup, increases its staying-power and brings everything together beautifully.
However, a good powder is worthless without the best powder brush to apply it with:
The Vapour Beauty Brush was born to blend powder. Its soft, curved bristles (fully synthetic, may we add) feel like a dream, not to mention being perfect for even blending. Plus, it’s handmade, so every single brush is crafted with love and true attention to detail.
But the perfection doesn’t end with the bristles: even the slim handle is created from sustainably-sourced birchwood. So, when it comes to earth-friendly makeup brushes, the Vapour Beauty Brush is the real deal.
Best for: A mindfully-made makeup brush to powder your nose (and face) in sumptuous softness.
Kjaer Weis: Best makeup brush for brows
Thankfully, the days when rocking a full eyebrow was as rare as spotting a Sumatran Rhinoceros are gone (#throwback to over plucked brows… Never again). So, now we have eyebrows, we must look after them.
The Kjaer Weiss Brow Brush is a twofold tool of brow greatness. At one end, you have the spiralled brush to tame any unruliness. On the other, you have slanted bristles to fill in and create definition. For full, defined brows that’d make Cara Delevigne weak at the knees, the Kjaer Weis Brow Brush is a no-brainer.
Of course, being double-ended, you save precious space in your makeup case. Armed with this brow brush and a quality brow powder, you can enjoy expressive eyebrows wherever you are. Believe us, no makeup kit is complete without it.
Best for: Creating expressive, Hollywood brows with perfect definition.
Estée Lauder: Best makeup brush set
The Estée Lauder Brushed by Fame kit is the ultimate curated collection of luxurious and impactful makeup brushes. As part of a collaboration with Estee Lauder’s great-granddaughter, Danielle, this makeup brush kit is a result of generations of beauty expertise.
First things first: As per the brand’s penchant for opulence, the handles of the four brushes are forged with real marble. This reason alone is enough to indulge, but there’s so much more…
The Estée Lauder Brushed by Fame kit is super inclusive of everything you need for a full face of fabulousness. Aside from the face brush and the cheek and highlighter brush, you also receive a duo of eyeshadow brushes:
The fluffy eyeshadow brush is perfect for an even colour wash on your lids. However, you also benefit from the sharply-angled precision brush to create more delicate makeup artistry.
Best for: The perfect makeup toolkit to maximise your chances of really being brushed by fame…
Sigma Beauty: Best professional makeup brush set
If you’re a professional makeup artist (or if you pretend to be one for 15 minutes every morning) you’re going to need top-of-the-range makeup brushes such as the Sigma Beauty
The set comes with 5 brushes crafted from the highest-quality fibres to make professional-standard makeup artistry just that much easier.
Featuring individual brushes for foundation, concealer, powder, contouring, and eye shadow, this kit has everything you need for a profile-pic-worthy makeup look.
The brush designs are a result of innovations in science and beauty. The cruelty-free and vegan Sigmatech fibres are designed to hold, apply, and blend your makeup products to the highest standard.
Plus, it’s no good having the finest bristles if they’re shoved on the end of a mediocre handle. As such, the waterproof, polymer-based handles on the Sigma Beauty Brush set are built to last.
Best for: Professional standard makeup artistry that’ll put Kylie Jenner to shame.
Lilah B: Best makeup brush set for travel
The Lilah B. Let’s Face It brush set makes looking and feeling beautiful in transit much easier. The set comes with 5 hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, vegan brushes encased in a chic, faux-leather case.
Of course, we tend to minimise our makeup routine when we’re travelling. However, you’ll still feel fully-equipped with the brushes the Lilah B. Let’s Face It kit offers:
The Retractable Bronzer Brush is perfect for adding glow to tired-out travel faces, and the Retractable Foundation Brush works wonders for jetlagged panda eyes. Plus, the lip-and-eye liner brush and the two eyeshadow brushes mean you can be restaurant-ready as soon as you hop off the plane.
Best for: The perfect mini makeup brush set for picture-perfect makeup on the road.
EcoTools: Best makeup brush for sensitive skin
Sensitive skin requires a little more TLC and a little more forethought in terms of what makeup tools you use. The EcoTools Makeup Brush is super friendly to both your skin and the earth:
Crafted from recycled aluminium, and packaged in tree-free packaging, the brushes are even PETA-certified for the ultimate cruelty-free accolade. The synthetic bristles are softer-than-silk, thus avoiding any irritation of the sensitive skin on your face and neck.
The EcoTools Makeup Brush comes with a handy cap, so you can even decant a little of your favourite powder to take with you on-the-go, without sacrificing precious handbag space.
Plus, this brush can turn its eco-friendly hand to all of your makeup powders; from setting powder, to bronzer, to foundation.
Best for: Earth-conscious makeup brushes for gentle, kind makeup artistry.
E.l.f. Ultimate Blending: Best budget makeup brush
You’ve spent your budget on the best natural and organic makeup. Now, you need to find the best cheap makeup brushes to do your gorgeous makeup products justice. The E.l.f. Ultimate Blending Brush is on hand, with professional-grade makeup brushes for those with tighter purse strings.
The Ultimate Blending Brush is designed with advanced makeup techniques in mind, even if you’re a newbie. It features ultra-fine synthetic bristles which are hand-cut, and crafted by makeup artisans for a true luxury experience, no matter what your budget.
This brush is perfect for those seeking an all-rounder makeup brush, as it’s suitable for powder, liquids, and mousses. So, it really is a one-size-fits-all.
Plus, the E.l.f. Ultimate Blending Brush is cruelty-free, vegan, and free from undesirable chemicals. All packed into one sleek, neat, and multipurpose blending brush. Safe to say: We love it.
Best for: Budget beauticians with sky-high standards for their beauty brushes.
Makeup brushes guide
Okay, so you’ve decided to elevate your artistry and invest in some of the best makeup brushes on the market. Now, make sure your makeup brush mastery is on point with our tips and tricks:
Types of makeup brushes
There are innumerable types of makeup brushes, each with different specialisms. If you’re a little confused on what’s what, you’re not alone. Read on to brush up on your makeup brush basics:
You won’t find a well-stocked makeup brush set without one of these. A powder brush is a large, rounded brush with thick bristles. The beauty of powder brushes is they can work with bronzer, foundation, or even blush for flushed-cheek effect.
Dip your powder brush into pressed or loose powder, and tap lightly to get rid of excess product. Swirl in broad circles and sweeping strokes until you’ve achieved your desired coverage.
Foundation brushes are typically tapered, and work best with liquid or mousse foundation. They’re usually angled to better mimic the natural contours of your face.
Apply a little of your foundation to the tip of the foundation brush. Start in the middle of your face, and work outwards in even strokes, making sure to blend so you don’t leave any obvious lines.
Big and beautiful, bronzer brushes are plush, soft makeup brushes which are fabulous for applying broad strokes of bronzer. The wide, rounded brush is perfect for creating an even distribution and streak-free effect.
Coat your bronzer brush in your favourite bronzer, then tap off any excess. Apply in sweeping strokes to your forehead, the bridge of your nose, and your cheeks for an all-natural glow.
Eyebrow brushes are far smaller than general face makeup brushes. Their rounded bristles are brilliant for adding swathes of colour to your eyelids and upper eyes.
Dip your brush into your eyeshadow, tap off any excess, and brush liberally over your whole lid for all-over colour. For stronger colour, mix with a little water.
Angled eyeshadow brush
A makeup kit with one eyebrow brush simply won’t do. An angled eyeshadow brush, with its flatter bristles, is perfect for adding definition to your lash line and adding more detailed colour to your lids.
Build up the colour on your brush, and apply light, feathered stroked to your lash line and outer lids. For a more sculpted look, use a slightly darker shade where your eyelid ends and your brow bone begins.
No makeup look is complete without full, expressive brows. A double-ended brow brush will have one mascara-like comb to tame your brows into submission, and an angled brush to apply brow products to fill and define.
Firstly, use the comb to brush your brows into their natural shape. Then, using the angled brush, apply gel or powder that’s as close as possible to your natural eyebrow shade. Make sure you use small, staccato-style strokes and paint in the natural direction of your brows.
Frequently asked questions about makeup brushes
What is the best brand of makeup brushes?
While there are plenty of brilliant makeup brushes out there, we tend to trust the veterans when it comes to the best makeup brushes. Estée Lauder, RMS Beauty, and Charlotte Tilbury all create fantastic makeup brushes, making professional makeup artistry accessible to all.
What are the best makeup brushes for beginners?
The Real Techniques 2.0 set is the perfect makeup brush set for beginners. It has everything you could need, all in a cute, feminine colour scheme.
Are makeup brushes worth it?
There’s nothing wrong with applying makeup with your fingers. However, if you desire professional-level makeup, you will need a good set of makeup brushes. You simply can’t achieve the same precision with your fingers.
Is synthetic brushes better than natural?
Nowadays, synthetic brushes can easily rival natural makeup brushes in quality. Plus, they’re typically cruelty-free and vegan. That said, natural brushes tend to be better for applying loose powders (as they’re very soft), while synthetic brushes are great for foundation, eyeshadow, and brows.
What are the most expensive makeup brushes?
Artis lays claim to the world’s most expensive makeup brush. They’ve created a super-luxury version of their best-selling Elite Mirror Oval, crafted from white gold and bedecked with rubies or diamonds. However, check out our list for Artis’s more affordable (but no less effective) makeup brushes.