At last count, I was the not-so-proud owner of 63 makeup brushes. And aside from having nowhere to store that absurd number of products, having so many at my disposal has made figuring out which ones to use unnecessarily confusing. To help me suss out which are actually worth holding onto, I chatted with celebrity makeup artist Megan Lanoux, who revealed that I really only need seven of them to master the art of a flawless finish.
No matter what type of brush you’re buying, a few general rules apply. “When looking for a makeup brush, I recommend ethically sourced and cruelty-free brushes—I prefer synthetics because they are easiest to sanitize and extremely durable,” says Lanoux. “A good makeup brush is soft and gentle on the skin, and brushes that you use around the eye should be soft but pliable enough to blend creams and powders.” Below, she shares the seven brushes you need for a seamless application in every step of your makeup routine (and thankfully, you can shop them right from this page).
1. Foundation brush
The way your foundation looks as a final product all comes down to how you apply it. While a damp Beautyblender will give you a light touch, for anything heavier, you’ll want to use a brush. A dense, paintbrush-style brush, like the one above, is great for layering on product for full coverage, while a round Kabuki brush will allow you to buff and blend for medium coverage.
2. Blush brush
A blush brush is great for adding a swath of color to your skin. If you’re using a powder product, MUAs recommend using a soft, fluffy brush, like this one, and dusting and blending out from the apples of your cheeks toward your temples.
3. Flat eyeshadow brush
A flat shadow brush, like this one, allows you to sweep a base layer of shadow. Start with a single shade, and sweep it all over your lid from your lashes to the crease.
4. Blending eyeshadow brush
After your base-level eyeshadow is applied, use a blending brush to finish off the look. “It’s very important to blend your eyeshadow in order to avoid any harsh lines,” celebrity makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic previously told Well+Good. “I like to take a clean, fluffy brush with a small amount of translucent powder to blend the shadow—this also helps to avoid any creasing and keeps your shadow lasting longer.”
5. Liner detail brush
The key to perfecting the elusive cat-eye is in the brush. Lanoux suggests using a liner detail brush, which will help you apply liquid liner in an ultra-targeted fashion. Makeup artist Jenny Patinkin suggests using your lash line as a guide, and sweeping on product in short, flicking strokes. And if all else fails? You can use the brush to smudge the look for an undone take on the look.
6. Bronzer brush,
With bronzer, you’ll want to find a soft brush in order to ensure you’re not overdoing it on product. If your brush is too dense, it will pick up too much pigment, and make blending it into anything resembling “natural” damn near impossible. Look for something soft that has fine bristles that move easily to make depositing color onto your skin a cinch.
7. Contour brush
“Contouring” may seem like an intimidating art, but with the right brush, it’s surprisingly easy to master. Use a narrow or angled brush, which will allow you to apply product only to the places you want it (aka the hollows of your cheeks and under your chin) without making you look overdone. Use the brush to blend, and you’ll be shocked at how subtle the results will be.
Need a little help getting glammed for your next Zoom session? Follow along with the tutorial below.