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The Best Makeup Brushes: A Guide to Fit Every Budget

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Hello, Beauties!

Let’s talk makeup brushes!

As you may already know, brushes are an essential component of flawless makeup application. These tools of the trade can make a huge difference in how your makeup turns out. More often than not finding the perfect brush or set of brushes comes down to two things – quality and personal preference. 

For example – you may prefer an angled eyeliner brush when your best friend likes a flat tip. The quality of the brush can make or break your entire look. Brushes that don’t blend well and shed all over the place have no business being in your makeup bag.

Budget is also a factor of course. Some brush sets retail at $650… Yes, you read that correctly. No worries, though I am not expecting you to pay that much, haha. So, here is a comprehensive guide of some of the best brands out there to fit every budget, as well as, information on how to clean and care for your brushes.

Click an item in the menu below to skip to a specific topic or continue reading the entire review.

Contents

Makeup Brushes 101

Even though it seems like there is an overwhelming amount of brushes available, there really are only two types – natural and synthetic. It is true that the style of brushes and how you use them varies. Knowing the difference between these two materials is very important.  Let me break it down for you –

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Natural brushes

Typically made from animal hair or fur such as squirrel, mink, pony or goat hair. Natural bristles are best suited for use with powder based products because the individual hairs contain little “teeth”.

Pros –

  • Super soft and fluffy
  • Really hold onto pigments
  • Great for blending powders (i.e. eyeshadow, blush, bronzer, etc.)
  • Goat and pony hair brushes are cruelty-free

Cons –

  • Tend to shed a little bit
  • They can be expensive
  • Squirrel and Mink brushes are not cruelty-free, so I personally don’t recommend them.

Synthetic  brushes –

Are man-made from polyester or nylon. Synthetic fibers work best with cream or liquid based products because they are less absorbent.

Pros –

  • Provide a smooth application of liquid or cream products
  • Doesn’t shed as much
  • Easier to clean (because the fibers are less absorbent)
  • Cruelty-free
  • Less expensive

Cons –

  • Not as soft or fluffy
  • Does not work as well with powder-based cosmetics

For best results look for a set that contains both synthetic and natural bristle brushes.

Brush Care Guide 

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It is good to wash your makeup brushes once a week to keep them clean and hygienic. Professional makeup artists usually wash theirs more often, especially if they are using the brushes on multiple clients each week. But once a week is sufficient for general use.

To clean you will need a very mild soap or baby shampoo. Brush cleaners are available, just make sure you check the ingredients to ensure they are not full of harsh chemicals. Here are a couple of suggestions –

Benjabelle Organic Brush Shampoo (8oz) 

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Gentle and Effective for your brush cleaning task.The perfect alternative to other harsher brush cleaners; Cleans without alcohol (which dries out bristles), does not contain any artificial colors, fragrances, preservatives, animal byproducts, and absolutely NO Animal Testing. Made in the USA.

Ingredients: Saponified Organic Oils of Coconut, Olive & Jojoba, Vegetable Glycerin, Guar Gum, Rosemary Extract, Aloe Vera to provide a gentle yet thorough cleaning.

Dr. Bronner’s 100% Organic Baby Super Mild Castile Liquid Soap

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This soap is completely natural, organic and cruelty-free. It contains coconut and olive oil which will help condition your brushes and keep them soft. It is a concentrate which makes it an economical choice as well.

Ingredients: Water, Organic Coconut oil*, potassium hydroxide, organic palm kernel oil*, organic olive oil*, organic hemp oil, organic jojoba oil, citric acid, tocopherol

* fair trade certified

How To Wash Your Brushes

  1. Run the bristles of the brushes under lukewarm water. Do not submerge the ferrule (the metal piece that holds the bristles in place) under water since this may loosen the glue and cause shedding or the bristles to fall out altogether.
  2. Squirt some brush cleanser into your palm.
  3. Gently swirl the brush in your palm a few times.
  4. Rinse the brush under lukewarm water until it runs clear.
  5. Pat the bristles dry and reshape them.
  6. Let the brushes air-dry by setting them on a paper towel with the brush heads hanging over the edge of the countertop.

I personally prefer to use a brush tree, which is a holder designed to dry your brushes while keeping them protected from dust and dirt particles.

Greatstyler Crystal Base stainless Steel Post Makeup Brush Holder

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Features – 

  • Professional makeup brush dryer.
  • 26 different size holes will make it easy to use with a variety of different brushes and help keep them organized.
  • Holds 4 large
  • 6 medium-size
  • 16 small-size
  • Detachable top for storing
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 1.6 x 5.1 inches ; 12.2 ounces

Benjabelle Tulip Brush Tree

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By drying your brushes vertically, you protect their bristles and keep water away from the ferrule which keeps them like new for a longer period of time.

Features – 

  • Holds 2 large brushes
  • 4 medium-size brushes
  • 8 thinner (smaller) size brushes
  • Collapsible for easy and compact storage
  • The super soft silicone grippers are peroxide-free and meet FDA safety rules. They will safely hold your brushes without damaging them.
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 7 inches ; 10.4 ounces
  • Made and assembled in the USA

Once brushes are completely dry, store them in the case they came in or use a dust-free covered holder.

iNINJA(TM) Large Anti-Dust Clear Acrylic Cosmetic Brush Holder 

The crystal clear brush holder is not only beautiful it will help keep your makeup brushes clean and dust free.

Features – 

  • Hinged lid prevents dust particles from entering the holder thus avoids dirt from making contact with your makeup.
  • Pearl beans effectively keep the brushes standing straight and organized for easy access.
  • Product Dimensions: 12.5cmx14cmx24cm

Best Sets Under $50

Here are my picks for the best sets if you are on a budget. I will start with the least expensive ones first and work my way up. These are great for beginners and pros alike.

BS-MALL(TM)  Premium Synthetic Makeup Brush Kit

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This is a great basic starter set. The premium synthetic bristles are dense, well-shaped, super soft, and will not shed.

Set includes –

  • Angled Blush/Bronzer Brush
  • Tapered Concealer Brush
  • Flat Foundation Brush
  • Flat Angled Foundation Brush
  • Round Powder Brush
  • Small Angled Contouring Brush
  • Small Tapered Concealer Brush
  • Small Flat Stipple Brush
  • Small Flat Angled Brush
  • Small Round Eyeshadow Brush

Professional Core Makeup Brush 12 Pcs Set

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Brushes are made from a mix of high-quality synthetic, goat and pony fibers. The set comes in a beautiful faux-leather case with a care guide.

Set Contains –

  • Powder Brush
  • Angled Contour Brush
  • Blush Brush
  • Medium Shading Brush
  • Concealer Brush
  • Eyeshadow Brush
  • Eye Contour Brush
  • Angled Brow Brush
  • Angled Eyeshadow Brush
  • Lip Brush
  • Foundation Brush
  • Mid-eye Shadow Brush

EmaxDesign 12 Pieces Makeup Brush Set

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This sleek set was hand-crafted by professional makeup artists and is made from premium synthetic fibers with polished bamboo handles. The brushes are incredibly soft and will not shed. A drawstring carry bag and product manual is included.

Set Contains –

  • Foundation Brush
  • Big Eyeshadow Brush
  • High Light Brush
  • Eye Smudge Brush
  • Concealer Brush
  • Eyebrow Brush
  • Small Eyeshadow Brush
  • Blusher Brush
  • Eyelash Brush
  • Multifunction Foundation Brush
  • Multifunction Blush Brush
  • Mini Kabuki Brush

ECOTOOLS 6-Piece Starter Set

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This 6 piece set has got it all! Handles made from sustainable, natural bamboo, the soft bristles are made from Taklon and the ferrules are made from recycled aluminum. Comes in a convenient carrying case made from natural cotton and hemp. It has everything you need to apply your makeup like a pro and is cruelty-free.

Set includes –

  • Blush Brush: 6.5″
  • Shading Brush: 6.3″
  • Angled Eye Liner: 6.2″
  • Concealer Brush: 6.3″
  • Lash & Brow Groomer: 6.6″
  • Case: 6.14″ x 4.26″

Coastal Scents 22 Piece Brush Set

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This is an excellent and very comprehensive set. Perfect for makeup enthusiasts and professionals alike. The brushes are made from a mix of synthetic (nylon) and natural (goat and pony) fibers. They are cruelty-free of course and come in a beautiful leatherine case.

Set includes the following –

  • Large Fan (Synthetic).
  • Powder Buffer (Synthetic).
  • Round Powder (Synthetic).
  • Flat Buffer (Synthetic).
  • Angle Blush (Natural Hair).
  • Foundation (Natural Hair).
  • Concealer (Synthetic).
  • Large Shadow (Natural Hair).
  • Blender (Natural Hair).
  • Doe Foot Blender (Natural Hair).
  • Dome Shadow (Natural Hair).
  • Dome Blender (Natural Hair).
  • Medium Shadow (Natural Hair).
  • Detail Shadow (Natural Hair).
  • Lip (Natural Hair).
  • Detail Concealer (Synthetic).
  • Pointed Blender (Natural Hair).
  • Eyebrow Brush (Natural Hair).
  • Smudge Sponge (Rubber).
  • Large Liner / Brow (Synthetic).
  • Medium Liner / Brow (Synthetic).
  • Small Liner / Brow (Synthetic).

Best Professional Grade Brush Sets

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On the higher end of the price spectrum, these brush sets are top-quality and designed for serious use. If you are a beauty professional or hard-core makeup user then you already know that you need a set that will last and last.

BeautyKate 10 Pcs Professional Oval Makeup Brushes Set

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This beautiful oval set has all you need for daily or pro application. They can be used with liquid, cream or powder.The super dense and soft bristles will give you flawless makeup in seconds. The bristles don’t absorb too much product, which will save you time and money. Package includes 10 pcs, rose gold with black handles.

  • Gorgeous rose gold with black handles, the latest fashionable toothbrush design with 1 makeup blender sponge or 1 silicone brush cleaner included
  • High-quality hair, super soft and dense bristles blend your makeup effortlessly for a beautiful and even application
  • Will not irritate. You can use a small amount of liquid foundation, primer, BB/CC/DD Cream, Moisturizer and many more liquid products easily with this set. Sponge blender will help with hard-to-reach areas (i.e. corner of eyes, sides of nose)
  • Lightweight ergonomic rubber-type grip on the handle, helps you keep a good grip on the brush
  • Whether a beginner or a seasoned pro, this brush set will leave our looking like a pro

SHANY Pro Signature Brush Set 24 Pieces 

Purchase Here – Shany Enterprises Inc.

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Made with a premium blend of Premium Sable,Goat badger hair, Pony hair and microfiber bristles, these brushes are soft, resilient and long-lasting. During their unique design process, the company tested and selected over 220 brushes. Only 24 of those brushes made the final cut and became the Signature Collection. The Signature Collection is specially designed for the professional makeup artist or makeup enthusiast who wants their most essential brushes in one beautiful, convenient set.

With beautiful oak and rosewood handles and a sleek, black finish, these brushes are the ultimate in sophistication. Each set includes a faux leatherette roll-up case for keeping your brushes in great condition at home and during travel. With hypoallergenic, antibacterial-treated bristles, these brushes will also help you avoid breakouts. Create flawless makeup looks with the one and only Signature Collection from SHANY.

  • Hair materials : Sable, Goat, Badger, Pony , Synthetic Laser Cut Microfiber – All Handmade
  • Designed in the USA with a team of Makeup artists & fans, Proud member of PETA and against animal cruelty.
  • Oak wood handle, Anti-Bacterial treated bristles – Collection of 24 most essential brushes
  • Our best seller cosmetics brush set comes in an elegant travel makeup storage box & roll-up pouch

Bella & Bear Professional Makeup Brush Set & Hard Travel Case

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The 15-piece professional cosmetic brush set made from the highest-quality natural and synthetic materials, soft cruelty-free bristles which distribute any product evenly and effectively.

  • This set will become your go-to for all occasions, even travel, it contains a brush for every use.
  • Comes with a chic high-quality hard travel case & a color guide detailing the best use for each brush.
  • A unique set – brushes are named after the world’s wild cats, many of which are endangered. They donate a percentage of each purchase to the preservation of these beautiful creatures all over the world.
  • Backed by Bella and Bear’s LIFETIME WARRANTY.

Premium PK001  Kit from Sigma

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The Premium Kit contains fifteen signature quality brushes for the face, eyes, and lips. These brushes are as unique as they are versatile, and will be the perfect addition to complete your brush collection. They are made from synthetic and natural fibers that are cruelty-free. Comes with a beautiful zippered travel case and free two-year warranty!

Included –

  • E10 – Small Eye Liner
  • E15 – Flat Definer
  • E20 – Short Shader
  • E25 – Blending
  • E35 – Tapered Blending
  • E45 – Small Tapered Blending
  • E50 – Large Fluff
  • F10 – Powder/Blush
  • F15 – Duo Fibre Powder/Blush
  • F20 – Large Powder
  • F25 – Tapered Face
  • F35 – Tapered Highlighter
  • F65 – Large Concealer
  • F75 – Concealer
  • L05 – Lip

Extravaganza Complete Kit from Sigma

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The name really says it all. This is a lavish assortment of hand-crafted cruelty-free, synthetic and natural fiber brushes, that is probably the last set you will ever need. The Extravaganza Complete Kit features twenty-nine of Sigma’s best-selling brushes and comes in a deluxe carrying case, perfect for traveling and storage. Everything you need for a luxurious makeup application experience. Plus, a free two-year warranty is included!

Brushes Included – 

  • E05 – Eye Liner
  • E10 – Small Eye Liner
  • E15 – Flat Definer
  • E20 – Short Shader
  • E25 – Blending
  • E30 – Pencil
  • E35 – Tapered Blending
  • E40 – Tapered Blending
  • E45 – Small Tapered Blending
  • E50 – Large Fluff
  • E55 – Eye Shading
  • E60 – Large Shader
  • E65 – Small Angle
  • E70 – Medium Angled Shading
  • F05 – Small Contouring
  • F10 – Powder/Blush
  • F15 – Duo Fibre Powder/Blush
  • F20 – Large Powder
  • F25 – Tapered Face
  • F30 – Large Powder
  • F35 – Tapered Highlighter
  • F40 – Large Angled Contour
  • F50 – Duo Fibre
  • F55 – Small Duo Fibre
  • F60 – Foundation
  • F65 – Large Concealer
  • F70 – Concealer
  • F75 – Concealer
  • L05 – Lip

The Best Travel Brush Set

Let’s face it, we don’t always have an extra 5 minutes to do our makeup. between rushing off to work, trying to catch that train or airplane and/or juggling family duties some days it just doesn’t happen. Looking for a small brush set that you can toss in your handbag or luggage? Having a good travel set is a must for any beauty who is on the go.

Real Techniques Travel Essentials Set

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A perfect set for tossing in your bag when you are on the go.The hand-cut hair design allows for an even and streak-free makeup application. Made from synthetic Taklon bristles, which are non-porous and do not trap or absorb product, bacteria and dead skin cells. These bristles are less prone to breakage or damage and are easy keep clean and maintain. Brush names on the handles make for easy reference when creating your favorite look.

Includes

  • Essential Foundation Brush
  • Multi-Task Brush
  • Domed Shadow Brush
  • Panoramic 2-in-1 brush case/stand

5 Piece Travel Makeup Brush Set + BONUS Compact Mirror Case

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All Be You, BEAUTIFULLY products are made from the highest quality materials. This set features super-sturdy handles paired with Vegan synthetic bristles for maximum durability as well as hygiene. The set also comes in a bonus Compact Mirror Case that is small and light. It will fit in right your purse, keeping your brushes clean and protected while you’re on the go.

Includes –

  • Eyeshadow, Crease, & Blending Brush
  • Eyeshadow & Blending Brush
  • Powder, Blush, & Contouring Brush
  • Eyeshadow, Detailing, & Brows Brush
  • Detailing, Lips, & Concealer Brush

Backed by a LIFETIME Money-Back Guarantee:

All Be You, products are backed by their Lifetime Money-Back Guarantee. If for any reason you’re not happy with your order, let their friendly Customer Service team know and they will give you a full, no questions asked refund of your entire order. That’s how much they stand behind their products and when you try them.

SHANY Ombre Pro 10 Piece Essential Brush Set with Travel Pouch

The SHANY OMBRÉ Pro Essential Brush Set features medium-sized brushes perfect for daily use. This set includes 10 synthetic brushes for powder, foundation, blush, bronzer, eyeshadow, concealer, and contouring. The set comes with an elegant travel pouch, that will tuck neatly into your handbag or luggage, and also includes detailed brush use instructions. Designed by makeup professionals in the US, this product is cruelty-free. SHANY is a proud member of PETA.


Includes –

  • Powder Brush
  • Blush Brush
  • Buffed Bronzer Brush
  • Foundation Brush
  • Rounded Concealer Brush (2)
  • Eye Shadow Brush
  • Flat Eyeshadow Brush
  • Contour Brush

The Best Brushes For Contouring

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The secret to flawless-looking makeup? Blend, blend, blend! If you are really into contouring and highlighting and need a fantastic blending brush or two then check out these babies!

IT BRUSHES FOR ULTA Your Contour Must-Haves Brush Set

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The Airbrush sculpting & highlighting 2 piece brush set is designed to effortlessly sculpt and highlight your features. These must-have brushes are designed to perfectly apply any contour shade –  and to seamlessly blend your highlighter, bronzer, blush, foundation and concealer for a flawless looking complexion. Comes with a beautiful travel case.

The Slenderizer Bamboo Contouring Brush from Tarte

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Use this dual-ended brush to create that professional contoured look you want in seconds. Crafted with sustainably harvested bamboo and soft, synthetic bristles. This easy-to-use brush seamlessly buffs the perfect contour using the denser, domed side of the double-ended brush. Blend away any harsh lines with ease using the fluffy, angled side for a flawlessly finished look. Vegan-friendly.

REAL TECHNIQUES Sculpting Brush Set

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Only 3 steps to expert contouring with this kit! Accentuate your favorite features and create defined contours for added depth, or simply enhance your natural bone structure with this sculpting set.

Includes –

  • Sculpting Brush
  • Fan Brush
  • Setting Brush

Which makeup brushes do you prefer? Are there any that you just cannot live without?

Much Love,

Valora

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Ursi

Ursi is a native Californian currently living in the Southeast. She is an artist, designer, blogger and nature lover. Her hobbies include herbalism, cooking, baking, creating DIY aromatherapy recipes, sipping wine and listening to music. She also loves to go hiking and camping.

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