When it comes to makeup, knowing the tools of the trade is one of the fundamentals that can be the most intimidating. There are so many options and factors to consider. Price is also something to consider, especially if you’re balling on a budget like I usually am. Hopefully, I can offer some guidance on brands, prices, and other factors. I will also give you my top 10 makeup brushes that I cannot live without. Enjoy!
Natural vs. Synthetic
Makeup brushes are made from either natural or synthetic bristles, and in my opinion, both types are needed for different products and purposes. Most of the time it is easy to tell which material a brush is made from by the look and feel of the brush.
Synthetic bristles are soft and have a slight waxy texture. They are usually black or gray. They are perfect for packing on color due to how easy they are to clean and their smooth texture. They also do not absorb products the way natural brushes do, which makes synthetic brushes the more ideal option for any cream products.
Natural bristles are a little more coarse and are used more for powder products. Typically, these brushes are white or black. If you are looking for a light dusting of powder or a light wash of color, you should opt for a natural hair brush.
Popular Brands and Prices
One of the cult favorites in the makeup brush world is MAC cosmetics. While on the higher end of the price range, you always know you are getting good quality brushes with MAC. Individual brushes range from $16-$53 dollars. Most face brushes are in the $30 range and most eye brushes are in the $20 range with plenty of natural and synthetic options to choose from. If you are in the market for a full set of new brushes, this can get very pricey very quickly. MAC does not have brush sets regularly available that can help cut down on the price. Typically, they will release holiday collections which will allow you to buy brush bundles, but these are not available throughout the year. However, if you are looking to treat yourself or you need just one or two specific brushes, they are a great option. These brushes can be found at your local MAC counter or store or online.
Another brush brand that falls in more of the mid-price range is Sigma Beauty. My first major brush purchases were brush kits from Sigma. These brushes individually range from $14-$34. They also have a wide range of natural and synthetic hair brushes that are high quality and will last. I have some Sigma brushes in my collection that are as much as 5 years old and they have stood the test of time. To truly get the most for your money, my suggestion is to go with the brush sets that Sigma has to offer. They have a wide range of brushes that should have what you need whether you are just starting out or looking to add to the collection you already have. These brushes are available online.
Last, but certainly not least, is Morphe brushes. These are the most affordable of the brands that I have used, ranging from $3-$25 for individual brushes. They also have a wide range of brush sets that are perfect for newbies. Most of my current favorite brushes are from Morphe, mainly due to the price point. They are extremely high quality and have excellent customer service, which can’t be beat at this price. These can again be found online, or even at your local Ulta store.
My Top 10
Without further ado, here are my top 10 brushes that I cannot live without. Any time I travel, these are always in my bag because I typically cannot do my makeup without them. It should also be noted that most of these brushes were bought as part of a brush set, making them less expensive.
- My top choice is my Real Techniques beauty sponge. Yes, I know I’m cheating because this is not actually a brush, but it is always the first thing I reach for. This is my favorite tool for foundation and concealer because I feel I get a much better application than from a brush. I have used other sponges, but I always come back to this one due to its affordability and firmer texture. One tip for using is to actually soak the sponge under the sink and then squeeze out the excess water before using. I also will use this for my under-eye setting powder.
2. The Morphe E41 is my next brush. This is a big, fat synthetic powder brush that is perfect for setting my entire face after I put on my foundation. I use this with any transclucent setting powder. It is available for $25.
3. Another brush that I have to have is a bronzer brush. I have several in my collection that are both natural and synthetic, but the one that I reach for the most is my Morphe R2. It is a synthetic brush that is full, which is great for applying bronzer when you’re looking for that fresh from the beach look. This brush is also only $16, and mine has been well-loved for two years without any issue.
4. My next must have is my blush brush, the Morphe E34. This is another synthetic brush and is a little fatter, which I like because it applies blush quickly and smoothly. If you prefer a smaller blush brush, this one may not be for you. This is available for $18.
5. This next brush is my contour brush, which for some may not be necessary. Not everyone feels the need to contour their face, but I’ve always been a little extra like that. I have two versions of essentially the same brush- the Morphe R10 and the Morphe M523. These are not typical contour brushes, but I have found the shape and density to be perfect for carving out the forehead and cheek bones. This is a natural bristle brush, which makes it easier to build up your contour and make it as light or as intense as you like. Both of these brushes are $16.
6. My last few brushes are eye brushes. The first one that I have to have for almost every eye looks is a natural haired blending brush. I typically opt for a white, long bristled blending brush for a soft wash of color in the crease, like the Morphe R37 or the Morphe M441. Both of these options are only $7. Another comparable brush is the Sigma E40, which is a tad more expensive at $17, but can be purchased as part of a starter eye kit.
7. A flat shader brush is another essential for eye makeup. These come in many shapes and sizes, depending on what you are looking for. I have several in my collection, but the one that I have to have is a smaller synthetic option that can be used for shimmer shadows, pigments, cream shadows, or glitter. The cult favorite for this is the MAC 242, priced at $25. I have found a much more inexpensive dupe in the Morphe M167 at only $6.
8. Multiple blending brushes may seem excessive to some, but when you are working on more intricate eye shadow looks, you can never have too many. Another one that I use on a daily basis is a smaller, more tapered blending brush that is also natural haired, like the Morphe M433, which is also $7. Another option that I have in my collection is the Sigma E25, which is $16. I have multiple of this style of brush on hand so that I always have a clean one when I need it.
9. If you are obsessed with inner corner highlight like I am, then you need a small precision brush that can make it happen. The one that I use is the Morphe M213. This tiny little brush is perfect for precision application of any shimmer or highlight to the inner corner of your eye. This the cheapest of the bunch at only $3.
10. Last, but certainly not least, is a pencil brush. These have multiple uses, but what I typically use mine for is smoking out the lower lash line with eye shadow. I have more than one in my collection, but the one that I reach for the most is the Morphe E18. I love how soft the bristles are on the delicate eye area. This brush is priced at just $7.
Hopefully, if you made it through all of that, you have found some information that is helpful for your makeup brush needs. Thanks for reading.