Bristles are dense for better control during application. Brushes hold up to everyday use and cleaning. They have a well-balanced design with decent weight.
Expensive set, so it's most appreciated by makeup artists and experienced makeup wearers.
Brushes come in a small pouch with a hook key ring for easy access. They're small yet easy and comfortably to hold. Bristles are soft and flexible. Cruelty-free.
Some consumers would have preferred metal or plastic handles.
Set includes a cut crease tutorial. Packaged in a pebbled faux leather case. Brushes sweep across the skin and deposit color easily. Mid-range option that will outlast others.
A few consumers found the brushes were subpar at spreading high quality shadows.
Best option for full-face makeup application. Bristles are better quality than some other Sephora brush sets. Travel case zippers closed to keep out dust.
Some people may find themselves in need of specialty brushes besides these.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
A good quality makeup brush will make your face look smooth and well-contoured. This is a must for any avid makeup wearer or makeup artist. Scratchy, low-quality makeup brushes not only work poorly, but can also scratch your face and cause other skin irritation.
While on the hunt for your next set of brushes, keep an eye out for the variety of the set; a good makeup brush kit should contain, at minimum, a powder brush, concealer brush, foundation brush, blending brush, and an angled brush. If you have sensitive skin, also consider the bristle material, as natural hair bristles are typically better for your skin than synthetic ones.
Our reviews will cover all these features, plus price point. We’ve suggested some of the best makeup brushes on the market, suitable for a range of price points. Once you’re ready to make a well-informed purchase, we invite you to take a look
When shopping for a makeup brush set, try to learn as much as you can about the quality of the brushes themselves. Quality brushes with lush, soft bristles will hold and distribute makeup better, helping you avoid that “streaky” look. A scratchy brush signals poor manufacturing and could cause skin irritation. Low-quality brushes are also more likely to shed, losing their shape and eventually becoming unusable.
We advise potential buyers to search for a set that includes a variety of both face and eye brushes. Otherwise, you may find yourself making multiple separate purchases to get what you need. A well-rounded set typically includes all of the following:
Foundation/all-over face brush
Eye blender brush (sometimes called an eye contour brush)
Basic eyeshadow brush
Some of our favorite makeup brush sets (some of which are makeup kits) go beyond the basics to include non-essential brushes that, though not a requirement, are really nice to have in your collection. These may include the following:
Angled eye brushes
Small precision eye brushes
Liner smudging brush
Eyebrow-combing brush (aka spoolie)
Makeup brush bristles come in two types: natural hair and synthetic.
Natural hair bristles are sourced from animals — commonly goats and horses. We encourage consumers to look for companies that are environmentally friendly and obtain the hairs in a cruelty-free manner.
The perks of natural hair brushes include the following:
They’re softer on the skin.
They absorb oil from the skin.
They contain a cuticle that’s perfect for picking up powder products.
They distribute pigment evenly across the face.
Synthetic bristles are made of microfiber materials like nylon and polyester.
The bristles hold tightly together to help create a sharp, clean, streak-free line in one swipe.
Their lack of a cuticle means they don’t soak up and waste liquid and cream products.
They are perfect for basic eyeshadow brushes.
When shopping for makeup brushes, you may come across the term “kabuki brush.” This simply means that the bristles in these brushes are very densely packed together. They may contain natural or synthetic bristles.
Traditional kabuki brushes were dome-shaped. Today, however, there are a wide variety of shapes available.
The longevity of makeup brushes depends on two things: the quality of the manufacturing and user upkeep. With proper care, any half-decent brush should last you at least a few years, while a high-quality brush could last up to a decade.
Handmade brushes are crafted more carefully than machine-manufactured brushes, and they’re far less likely to shed. But they also tend to cost more.
The cost of a makeup brush set depends on several factors, including the manufacturing method (handmade or not), the number of brushes in the set, and whether the set includes a carrying case. A collection from a trusted brand name may also cost a bit more.
If you find a set of makeup brushes for under $10, in most cases you’re going to discover they are of low-quality. Makeup brushes in this price range tend to shed a lot. They may also scratch and irritate your skin.
For this type of money, you’ll find a plethora of machine-made makeup brush sets, many of which cost about $30. You may come across some makeup brushes with handmade handles.
Sets in this price range tend to be hit or miss. You might find a set on the lower end of the range ($15 or $20) that works well, and you might find a set in the $45 to $50 range that disappoints you with its subpar quality.
Most makeup brush sets in this range cost under $200, and they almost always come with a very nice carrying case. These are the types of brushes that a makeup artist may view as a career investment.
That said, you can find high-end makeup brush sets for as high as $500. These brushes are usually handmade and produced by a luxury brand.
To use an eye blending brush, move in short circular motions at the outer corner of the eye and in windshield wiper motions within the crease. These techniques help distribute color evenly and blend colors together.
A basic eyeshadow brush with synthetic bristles is great for packing shadow onto the lid and creating a cut-crease. If you aren’t getting the pigment payout you want, especially with shimmer or metallic shades, try adding a little bit of water to the brush first.
To clean a makeup brush, first rinse it with lukewarm water until the loose makeup is gone.
Mix a gentle cleanser (like a baby shampoo) with water in a shallow bowl and swirl the brush in a circle. You can swirl the brush in your hand, too, if you want a better lather, but try to shield the base of the bristles (where they connect to the handle) from direct contact with the water and soap as much as possible to protect the integrity of the glue.
Rinse the brush under the faucet once again.
Repeat this process until you get a satisfying clean.
Q. Is it better to buy makeup brushes with natural or synthetic bristles?
A. Each bristle type offers distinct advantages and functions. Therefore, the best makeup brush sets contain a mixture of both types of bristles. Ideally, the foundation and concealer brushes should contain synthetic bristles and the blending brushes should contain natural hair.
Q. Are handmade brushes always the better buy?
A. Handmade brushes are often higher in quality, and they tend to shed less than their machine-made counterparts. But they also typically cost a lot. Handmade is nice, but it isn’t essential for a good experience. There are many machine-made brush sets that not only get the job done well, but also feel good on the skin and last a long time.
Q. How many makeup brushes should I have?
A. That is entirely up to you. Some basic essentials are a foundation/all-over face brush, concealer brush, powder brush, blush brush, eye blender brush, basic eyeshadow brush, eyebrow brush, and a small angled brush. However, many brushes can have multiple uses. For instance, you could use a blush brush to apply bronzer.
If you are a makeup artist or enthusiast, you may wish to own a large collection of makeup brushes, each of which is tailored to a specific use. But if you just want a set of makeup brushes for everyday use, a well-balanced kit of ten to twelve brushes would likely suit your needs just fine.