Makeup Brushes: when to splurge and when to save!

When it comes to makeup brushes, the sheer quantity of options is enough to make your head explode! But what about the quality? How do you dig through all the brands and sizes to find the BEST brush for each product? I think it starts with a basic knowledge of how to use each brush to get the most out of your makeup!

Today we're going through all the brushes I recommend, where to get them and how to use them!

makeup brushes

Makeup brushes 101

A rule of thumb when it comes to brushes: fluffy brushes will make powder products go on SHEER, but will make liquid products go on with MORE coverage. The opposite is true for stiff brushes, such as synthetic foundation brushes. These will apply powder products with MORE coverage but will SHEER out liquid products. For example, if you want your foundation to be more full coverage, use a Kabuki or other densely packed, natural fiber or fluffy brush!

You can also use that same foundation with a synthetic brush (the ones that look almost like paint brushes!) to create a totally natural look! Brushes are the BEST way to get the most out of every product because they can change the usage, application and finished product!

best makeup brushes

Budget friendly brushes

I really love the idea of having a couple sets of brushes so that when you clean them or travel, you always have a backup! These Amazon brush sets are such an affordable way to have multiple brushes without breaking the bank!

This makeup brush set on Amazon has over 13,000 positive reviews!! It's an AMAZING value for only $10!!! It literally has everything you could need to create a makeup look that is uniquely YOU! There is also this 20-piece set from the same manufacturer that has 600+ amazing reviews! I LOVE that the colors are so chic and they match my bathroom. Which may seem silly but aesthetics amiright?!

Another thing that is SO helpful is that the set comes with a guide that explains the use for each brush! I always recommend getting a set that delineates how to use the brushes! Unless you're a skilled makeup artist, it can be so confusing to figure out what to do with all the different brush sizes and shapes. So having either a key to reference or (even better!) the names printed on each brush is super helpful.

Another inexpensive option that I use all the time is this e.l.f. fluffy eye blender brush, which is only $4!!! I love the phrase, “Blend like your Wifi depends on it!” and this brush does that perfectly!! I love having a few of these around in case of an eyeshadow blending emergency.

blending brush
best makeup brush set
eye makeup

Investment brushes

Sigma brushes are my very favorite high-end brushes!! I love that the use of the brush is scripted on each brush so you don't even NEED a cheat sheet. The tapered face brush is one I always have on hand and it is the best for contouring or bronzer! It is shaped to mimic the hallows of the face to be precise in product placement!

sigma tapered face brush
sigma brush

The small contour brush is also great, especially if you're using a small palette and don't want a large makeup brush getting the different colored powders everywhere! Try using this for blush or smaller contour areas to avoid lots of product fallout.

The Sigma Kabuki brush is the BEST out of all the ones I've tried! My ultimate favorite way to apply foundation is with this Kabuki brush. Then I go back over it with a Beauty Blender to perfect it!

sigma kabuki brush

Makeup Brush Sets

Buying individual brushes that are good quality can get pricey! I love that this set is available right now for only a fraction of the price of buying them all separately.

This three-piece Sigma essential set is the best starting kit and is only $50! Use the Kabuki for foundation and powder, the contour brush with bronzer and blush (just clean in between!), and the fan brush for a perfectly placed highlight.

Another option is getting this set that has the Kabuki brush and eye shadow brushes! It has SEVEN full-sized brushed for only $92!! This is an INSANE deal and literally gives you almost everything you need for a full face of beautifully blended makeup, including the soft blend concealer brush pictured below!

small concealer brush

I've used Urban Decay brushes in the past and have always been impressed with the quality. This is a great deal on a set that would give you a perfect head start at a collective price that is way better than buying them individually. Get this 5 set brush for only $99 ($160 value)!

sigma sets

What is essential?

I don't think it's necessary to have tons of brushes, especially if they are redundant or they sit in your drawer! It's better to have a few really good brushes than a whole bunch of junky ones that you don't love!

There are just a few brushes that I consider to be absolutely essential. This includes a foundation brush, bronzer/contour brush, and blush brush for the face. For the eyes, I think having a flat brush to apply a base color and a fluffy brush for the darker crease color is a great place to start!

Specialty brushes

If you're using the IT Cosmetics CC cream or Bye Bye Foundation, I really believe that using their foundation brush is a MUST!! The first time I tried the IT Cosmetics foundation I didn't love it. But I ran into someone who had the most flawless foundation and guess what she was wearing?! IT Cosmetics!! She told me the secret is using their brush and once I finally bought it it was LIFE CHANGING!!!

If you're wanting to try the Bye Bye Foundation, you can get a set with the foundation and brush right now for only $42.48 ($87 value)!

IT cosmetics bye bye foundation

Lancome brow brush

If you're going to use this eyebrow gel, THIS brush is a MUST. The brow gel is one of my very favorite eyebrow products (guys, it's waterproof!) but the brush makes it that much more magical! I've tried applying the brow gel with other brushes and it's just not the same. So if you're going to jump all-in on this brow gel, don't skip getting the brush too!

lancome brow product

Why so expensive?

Most brushes from the department store cost more because they usually utilize natural hair fibers and are handmade. Just like hair on our heads, expect these natural haired brushes to shed! But if you take care of these brushes they will last you YEARS.


Take care

Brushes (and makeup sponges) can be a breeding ground for bacteria! Make sure to deep clean them at least once a week!

You can also clean in between uses with a fast-dry brush cleanser. Simply squirt some cleanser onto a paper towel and rub your brush back and forth across the paper towel until the makeup is gone. Reshape the brushes when you're done cleaning them and make sure you lay them FLAT to dry! If you let them dry standing up, the water can drip into the base, causing the glue that holds the brush together to loosen.


I love this gold and clear container to store all my brushes in on my counter! It's such a pretty addition to my bathroom and can hold all your brushes, inexpensive or pricey. And as you can see, it holds A TON of brushes.

gold and clear container

Compartment Organizer
BESTOPE 20 PCs Makeup Brushes
e.l.f. fluffy eye blender brush
F25 Tapered Face Brush
F05 Small Contour Brush
It Girl Brush Set
F80 Flat Kabuki(TM) Brush
Best of Sigma Beauty Brush Kit
IT Cosmetics Luxe Brush Set
IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer with Luxe Brush
IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection & Blush Brush Duo
IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Foundation Moisturizer with Brush
Lancome Sourcils Gel Dual-End Eyebrow Brush
Sourcils Gel Waterproof Eye Gel Cream
Urban Decay 5-Piece Face & Eye Brush Set
MAC brush cleanser
Dr Bronners Castille deep cleanser

Brush it off

Choosing makeup brushes can be confusing, but if you focus on your specific makeup needs, buying them can be fun! You don't need 5 foundation brushes or a bunch of weirdly shaped eyeshadow brushes you'll never use! Decide what you need and buy accordingly.

There are so many options in all price ranges, don't be afraid to ask questions at makeup counters or stores. Most brushes can be multi-purpose, and if you're splurging, you want to make sure to get the most bang for your buck. Take care of your brushes and you'll be set for years to come.

Corrine Stokoe

Corrine Stokoe is a blogger, podcaster and content creator behind the brand Mint Arrow. She and her husband Neil live in South Orange County with their 5 kids, she runs her blog and business with 7 team members, where they find the best daily deals and share favorite finds in fashion and beauty. They also run a podcast called Mint Arrow Messages. Mint Arrow has been featured in Forbes, Women's Wear Daily, Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal, AdWeek and Allure. Corrine is passionate about sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ as often as she can and teaching others to use social media for good.

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Hi, I’m Corrine and it’s pretty simple. I think you deserve to buy the things you want at a price you can afford. Here you can find the best deals and steals on high end fashion, as well as beauty and wellness tutorials.

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