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Step-by-step guide to makeup brushes to make you a pro

From face to eye brushes, we have all the makeup brush info you need to know to get the perfect flawless look.

Updated

If you’re trying to figure out the beautiful and overwhelming world of makeup brushes, we don’t blame you. It can be incredibly tricky trying to figure out what the purpose of each individual brush is.

Luckily, we’ve taken all the hard work out of it and created a handy makeup brush bible. Everything you need to know is here.

Read on to learn more about your beauty blender and figure out what you should actually be doing with your kabuki brush.

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Makeup sponge

These little guys are one of the hottest items of the moment for a reason: They’re great for blending.

Makeup sponges are perfect for applying foundation, concealer, primer or any other products with a creamy texture. They’re incredibly versatile and work best when slightly wet. One drawback to makeup sponges is that they tend to waste more product than a traditional brush, so proceed with caution.

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Foundation kabuki brush

This is most likely the brush you want to use for your foundation. Although there are paddle brushes that you can use to swipe the foundation onto your face, this leaves a really streaky look.

You’re much better off using a buffer brush with dense bristles in order to seamlessly blend your liquid foundation over your face. Don’t forget to blend down your neck too!

Some kabuki brushes are designed for powders and some are designed for liquids. Those designed for powders are poofier, while the ones intended for liquid foundation usually come to a tip.

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Concealer brush

The next step in your makeup routine is your concealer. You can either choose to use a beauty blender or a concealer buffer brush.

Similar to your foundation brush but much smaller, this brush effectively works the same way. Rather than placing your foundation onto the brush and then onto your face, try placing your concealer directly on your face and then blending it in with the brush.

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Stippling brush

A petite stippling brush is one of those brushes you don’t realize is useful until you get one. It’s not a dense brush, so it’s perfect for blending in cream products.

This brush is useful for applying a cream blush or even working in your darker contour shade. And it’s brush is perfect because it doesn’t waste product and it applies lightly to the skin. Since it’s so small, it keeps the product exactly where it needs to be.

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Setting brush

Here is the perfect brush for setting your problem areas. Its shape is perfect to lightly dip into your setting powder and place under your eyes as well as your forehead, nose and chin.

This brush isn’t too bare or too dense. It has the perfect level of bristle density in order to pick up product and pat it into the skin without packing it on and making your face look cakey.

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Bronzing brush

Obviously, this is a brush intended to apply your bronzer. Depending on the size of your face or the amount of product you want to place, the size of the brush is up to you.

You’ll want this brush to lightly brush your bronzer onto your cheeks and the sides of your forehead. Make sure you don’t choose a brush that’s too dense, or you’ll end up looking a little too much like an Oompa Loompa.

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Angled contour brush

The shape of this brush allows you to really work powder contour products into your cheekbones to give the illusion of a sharper more angled face. These brushes tend to be more dense than a bronzer brush but less dense than a foundation kabuki brush. And a happy medium is a good thing: You still want some flexibility in your contour brush or you’ll end up with lines on your face.

Trish McEvoy 65 Angled Contour Makeup Brush
Trish McEvoy 65 Angled Contour Makeup Brush

Amazon

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Angled eyebrow brush

An eyebrow brush can look similar to an eyeliner brush. It’s angled but a little more flexible. Good eyebrow brushes also have a mini brush on the end that looks sort of like a mascara brush.

This allows you to place the product in your eyebrows in a sharp line then brush it through for a natural look. You can use the angled side of the brush to outline your brows and add dimension.

Bobbi Brown Dual Ended Brow Definer / Groomer Brush
Bobbi Brown Dual Ended Brow Definer / Groomer Brush

Amazon

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Large blending brush

Blending brushes are probably one of the most frequently used makeup brushes. Using these for your eyeshadow is always important: patchy eyeshadow or harsh lines definitely don’t look good.

This brush is perfect for applying your transition shade as well as blending different shades together after applying them to the eyelid. Press lightly when blending back and forth, similar to a windshield wiper motion.

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Crease brush

Similar to the above brush, this is simply a blending brush for a smaller area such as your eye’s crease or outer corner. It allows you to pack the eyeshadow color inside the transition color and blend the two together.

This will help you create a seamless gradient and flawless look with no harsh lines. Again, while blending try to brush back and forth like a windshield wiper.

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Shader brush

A shader brush helps bring intensity and color. For instance, maybe you’re placing a shimmery shade onto the top of your eyelid or you’re trying to create a dark smokey eye.

The flat and dense nature of this brush allows you to pick up a lot of product and place it on your lid. Remember to blend the edges with your blending brush.

Make Up For Ever 226 Medium Eye Shader Brush
Make Up For Ever 226 Medium Eye Shader Brush

Sephora

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Small pencil brush

Here’s another brush that comes in handy because it’s so multipurpose. A pencil brush looks exactly as it sounds: a pencil. It’s a small dense tapered brush that comes to a slight point.

You can use this brush to highlight smaller areas like your nose, brow bone, inner corner or cupid’s bow. Also, use it with shadows on your waterline or under your eye to complete your eyeshadow look. The dense and small nature of this brush allows precision for carefully applying product.

Sephora Collection Pro Tightline Liner #32
Sephora Collection Pro Tightline Liner #32

Sephora

Tarte Etch & Sketch Double Ended Bamboo Liner Brush
Tarte Etch & Sketch Double Ended Bamboo Liner Brush

Sephora

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Eyeliner brush

Talking about eyeliner can make any makeup lover feel dread. It’s one of the more challenging makeup moves to master — but it’s a lot simpler using a good eyeliner brush.

They’re usually quite small, very thin and sharply angled, allowing you to create a precise line and wing. These brushes tend to be on the more dense side so they’re easier to control and don’t spread the product too thick.

Sephora Collection Pro Angled Liner Brush #22
Sephora Collection Pro Angled Liner Brush #22

Sephora

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Tapered highlighting brush

The trick to a good and glowing highlight is a fabulous highlighting brush. Getting one that’s the right size is incredibly important.

You want to place your highlight on the tops of your cheekbones. You’ll need to be precise to highlight this small area. A medium to small sized tapered brush is perfect to apply a powder highlighter.

Choose the density depending on how you like your highlighter. If you want to be beaming, go for a more dense brush, but if you want a subtle glow, something on the fluffier side will keep it lighter.

Sephora Collection Pro Flawless Light Powder Brush #50
Sephora Collection Pro Flawless Light Powder Brush #50

Sephora

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Fan brush

One of the most popular brushes, the fan brush is a viral sensation. But you may find yourself asking “What is this actually for?” The short answer is that it’s simply another type of highlighter brush. Since the brush is so thin, it’s easy to disperse your highlighter across your cheeks without it looking cakey or clumped together.

Make Up For Ever 120 Medium Powder Fan Brush
Make Up For Ever 120 Medium Powder Fan Brush

Sephora

Tarte Fan Brush - Rainforest Of The Sea Collection
Tarte Fan Brush - Rainforest Of The Sea Collection

Sephora

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