A Guide to Makeup Brushes: Every Kind You Need and How to Use Them

Danielle Pistono
A Guide to Makeup Brushes: Every Kind You Need and How to Use Them
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There is a unique terror attached to attempting to seek out just the right type of makeup brush in a world of so very, very many. This is understandable. Sure, you can tell what brushes are for, but determining the correct ways to use them is a different story entirely. From how to use a blending brush from the best brushes to use for contouring, the learning curve can seem steep.

More: The 5 Best Ways to Clean Makeup Brushes

Brushes for your face, brushes for your eyes, brushes for your brows—they’re all out there, and they’re all pretty much essential for getting your makeup on just right. So, as a public service, we’ve rounded up a makeup brush guide you’ll want to get your hands on, post haste. And, of course, we’ve included how to use all 18 of ’em.

MORE: 11 Cheap Makeup Brushes to Buy ASAP

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Fan brush
The unassuming fan brush has several key purposes: You can use it to sweep on blush, blend other makeup, clean up excess powder, and brush a light layer of highlighter along the cheekbones. (e.l.f. Fan Brush, $2)

Brow brush
Necessary for filling in your brows with powder—a good brow brush should be angled so that you can tackle even the thin tail-ends. (Japonesque Pro Angled Brow Definer Brush, $14)

Powder brush
The most ubiquitous of all brushes, the powder brush should be in every makeup collection—use it to apply any type of powder product. (Real Techniques by Sam & Nic Chapman Powder Brush, $7.99)

Eye blending brush
The name is a dead giveaway: This brush is a must-have for blending eyeshadow into your lids. (Bobbi Brown Eye Blender Brush, $34)

Lip brush
Use the tiny squared-off tip of a lip brush to get a crisp, defined line of color. (Charlotte Tilbury Lip Brush, $26)

Kabuki brush
With its wide rounded bristles and super soft feel, the kabuki is perfect for applying everything from loose powders to bronzer and highlighter. (bareMinerals Full Coverage Kabuki Brush, $28)

Angled eye brush
Use a small angled eye brush with gel liner or powder shadows to get a perfectly defined eye look. (Sonia Kashuk Core Tools Angled Eye Shadow Brush, $4.99)

Eyeshadow brush
The tapered but soft bristles of this brush make it perfect for precise shadow application. (Jane Iredale Eye Shader Brush, $20)

Angled face brush
The easiest way to add definition to your face—just sweep on some bronzer in the hollows of your cheeks using a fluffy angled brush. Perfect for applying blush or highlighter, too. (Urban Decay Naked Flushed Double-Ended Brush, $26)

Concealer brush
Firm, narrow, and tapered at the end, concealer brushes are the best way to put concealer exactly where it needs to go. (MAC 195 Concealer Brush, $25)

Smudge brush
Score a smokey eye with a soft-bristled smudge brush. (Laura Mercier Smudge Brush, $24)

Brow brush and comb
You can use this multipurpose tool for grooming both your lashes and brows—comb through your lashes to get mascara clumps out, and use the brush to perfect your brows. (SEPHORA COLLECTION Pro Brow Comb, $15)

Blending spongeNot technically a brush, but an essential tool nonetheless. Perfect for using with liquid foundations, concealers, and pretty much anything, it leaves skin with a smooth, flawless finish. (beautyblender, $20)

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