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Types of Makeup Brushes Explained

Clueless about makeup brushes? We can explain. Here's what all those different brushes can do

Learn what each type of makeup brush is used for

There are hundreds of types of makeup brushes out there, but which ones should you add to your toolkit? It all depends on what makeup you use, and how you use it. Different brushes serve different needs, and different makeup brush sets contain different configurations of brushes. While you could rely on nature’s tools for makeup—also known as your hands and fingers—a brush can make application easier and more precise. Using the right brushes will definitely level up your makeup look.

Makeup brushes are made with either synthetic fibers or natural animal hairs. Natural brushes have bristles that move more freely, making them perfect for picking up and diffusing product. They’re usually more durable (especially if they’re sewn together instead of just glued) and get better and softer as you use them. Animal-hair brushes are best used for powder products as the textured bristles help your makeup look more natural and blended. Synthetic brushes are great for liquid and cream products. Their man-made bristles blend out liquids or creams without trapping any product. These brushes have fibers that gravitate towards each other, making them great if you need a more precise application. Synthetic brushes also tend to be cheaper than natural ones, so they’re good for makeup beginners.

Foundation Brush

Foundation brushes can come in several shapes: flat, angled, domed, and fluffy. The most common one is a flat foundation brush with a tapered end. This flat brush is great for spreading liquid and cream foundations evenly onto the face. It's easy for many people to learn how to use a foundation brush because of its shape. They are often made with synthetic fibers so as not to absorb a lot of the product.

Powder Brush

This type of brush has long, soft, and fluffy bristles. Powder brushes are made to disperse powder products, such as powder foundation evenly and lightly. The large size of the brush makes it easier to apply powder on larger areas of the face without making the skin look cakey. A powder brush can also be used to dust away excess powder after setting the under-eye area and jawline.

Blush Brush

Blush brushes are smaller than powder brushes so that you can concentrate the color onto the cheeks. They are round- or dome-shaped with long, soft bristles for easy blending. The not-so-dense bristles are great for adding pigment a little at a time.

Concealer Brush

These tiny brushes are perfect for spot correcting or for use in small areas like around the nose and underneath the eyes. The bristles of a concealer brush are usually flat with a pointed tip so that you can pat the concealer on instead of spreading it around. The pointed tip helps blend out the sides so it merges with your foundation.

Contour Brush

Contour brushes are often angled and have soft, dense bristles. This is so that they can blend out dark powders or creams smoothly to look like natural shadows on the face. The size and angled shape of the contour brush make it fit perfectly underneath the cheekbone for precise contouring.

Kabuki Brush

What is a Kabuki brush? Kabuki brushes are versatile and have soft, dense, and voluminous bristles with a flat or slightly rounded top. They’re quite large which make them good for applying powder foundation or loose powder all over the face. They can also be used to apply highlighter or bronzer on the body. The super-soft bristles are great for blending out or applying makeup so you can use the kabuki brush for a variety of products.

Flat Eyeshadow Brush

There are many different types of makeup brushes that can be used for eyeshadow. But the most versatile would be the flat eyeshadow brush, which has soft, fluffy bristles and a flat side. The tip is slightly rounded. It’s great for blending out an eyeshadow base all over the lid. It’s not too small or densely packed so that you can diffuse color across the eyelid.

Eyeshadow Crease Brush

As the name suggests, a crease brush is for applying eyeshadow onto the crease of your eyelid. This brush is slightly smaller than a flat eyeshadow brush and has a tapered or pointed tip for more precision. A crease brush is perfect for blending out small areas of the lid for a seamless transition between colors. It can be tricky to learn how to use an eyeshadow brush with ease, but practice makes perfect.

Eyeliner Brush

There are several types of eyeliner brushes out there, but the two most common would be a fine liner or an angled brush. A super-fine liner brush is shaped like a pencil’s point, making it perfect for thin and precise lines along the eyelid. An angled brush can be used to line the eyes and make a wing at the corner or to draw hair-like strokes on your eyebrows.

Lip Brush

Even though you can usually apply lipstick straight from the tube it comes in, having this type of makeup brush in your kit is still necessary. The lip brush is shaped like a thin paintbrush with a pointed tip. The shape allows for even and precise lining and filling in of the lips.

There are many more types of makeup brushes out there, but these are great to get you started on creating a variety of awesome makeup looks.

Resources— StyleCraze, Colorescience