While there are plenty of different ways to apply your makeup — whether that be with your own (clean) fingers to pat on a cream blush, a beauty sponge to blend full coverage foundation or brushes to test out your new eyeshadow palettes — many experts will admit that makeup brushes will give you the most precision and are key to creating the perfect look.
The question is, which ones are the best? When we pondered over that question ourselves, we decided to chat with a handful of professional makeup artists to get the lowdown on where you can find the best quality makeup brushes online. But before we jump into the best brush brands, let’s talk about the importance of keeping your tools clean.
If you’re going to invest in good-quality brushes (even if they’re budget-friendly) it’s vital you keep them as clean as possible for multiple reasons. So, just like you would take the time to spring clean your home, it’s crucial to do the same with your makeup brushes to maintain the quality of the bristles and even your skin.
According to Lori Taylor Davis, global pro lead artist at Smashbox Cosmetics, “cleaning is essential to stave off the bacteria” that comes from the oils of your skin transferred to your brushes.
“If you start developing little breakouts here and there, and wonder why, ask yourself ‘when was the last time I cleaned my brushes,’” celebrity makeup artist Jessica Payne told The Post. “[When you don’t clean] your brushes you are letting oil and dirt get trapped in the [bristles] by constant reuse, which can cause breakouts and clog your pores.”
Payne recommends you wash your brushes as often as once a week. If your makeup isn’t going on as smoothly as normal then it’s likely time to clean them.
“Because makeup products can build up and destroy the bristles of your makeup brushes, your makeup application will not be as fluid when your brushes have product-buildup on them,” said Davis.
“If you take care of your brushes, they will take care of you. Intermittent washing and conditioning helps to extended the life of the brushes since they are predominately hair,” Davis said.
For those looking to clean their brushes every day, Nick Lujan, global director of artistry and education for Kevyn Aucoin, recommends you use one that says “quick-dry” on the label.
“To use, pour or spray a bit of brush daily cleanser onto a towel. Then gently swirl your brush over the saturated area of the towel. This will remove product and sanitize your brush for later use,” said Lujan. “Avoid hard pressure when cleaning your brush so that you don’t damage the bristles or shape of the brush.”
You can use a variety of different products to deep clean your brushes but ultimately all you need is soap and water.
“Deep cleaning your brushes help to remove creamier products or product that has worked its way deep into your brushes,” Lujan explained.
Here’s how to do it, according to the pros:
If you want to get a little fancier, most of the experts The Post interviewed use the Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush Cleaner on their clients.
Amazon features an expansive collection of brands that can fit basically any budget or need. Consider the Bestope Pro 16-piece set (especially if you’re a beginner) as it comes with brushes for eyeshadow, concealer, foundation, and powder. Plus, the synthetic fiber bristles are skin-friendly!
“The Make Up For Ever brushes are amazing,” said makeup artist Kelsey Deenihan. “I love their large foundation brush. It helps me achieve a flawless skin finish.”
Lujan is also a fan! “These brushes are handcrafted by a [company] with a history of creating the best artist brushes in the world,” said Lujan. “Although they are a bit more expensive, know that that quality is the best! These synthetic fibers are designed with the latest technology and mimic natural fibers.”
Each Anastasia Beverly Hills brush is sold separately and was designed to fit a specific application. If you’re okay with splurging a bit, this blush brush, domed Kabuki brush and dual-ended brow brush are just some of the many options that’ll help you get that professional-grade precision.
Smashbox is another brand that was mentioned amongst the hundreds of makeup companies available to cosmetic professionals.
“This brand has leveled-up makeup brushes. [They’re] cruelty-free and vegan. [Plus,] these high-end synthetic brushes come in multiple shapes that are specific to your [desired] makeup application,” said Davis.
No matter what you’re looking for MAC has probably got it. They have a range styles ranging from lip brushes to concealer brushes. You can also filter by shapes and usage to make sure you’re investing in the right type of brush every time.
If you’re willing to spend a little bit more money on your new tools, consider Nars.
“Always known for the artistry of the makeup application, Nars was one of the first to create the tools to assist in every makeup application,” Davis said. “These durable brushes are a mixture of natural and synthetic hairs [and] are known to last a lifetime.”
Benefit Cosmetics boasts a collection of brow brushes ranging from dual-ended styles to tweezers that’ll help shape and fluff your brows. They also have a multitasking cheek brush featuring a retractable blush, bronzer and highlighter that’ll provide quick application on those mornings when you’re rushing out the door.
Celebrity makeup artist Megan Lanoux highly recommends Sigma Beauty brushes — which have been a cult-favorite company since they were founded in 2009.
“They have a huge selection of sizes and shapes — there is a brush for every detailed step of your makeup application. The brushes are also synthetic, which makes them much more durable for a long period of time,” Lanoux said. “They have a reasonable price target, for such high quality I think the price point is easily justified.”
Payne also raved about Sigma Beauty. “I love Sigma brushes since they’re more affordable but also [don’t] lack in quality,” she said. “I [specifically] use their eye brushes, — the shader brushes, tapered and eyeliner brushes are my favorites.”
Tarte uses clean, vegan materials to craft together easy to use makeup brushes including a 5-piece set that includes all of the essentials. You can also find solo ones like this blur brush if you don’t need a complete set.
According to Lujan, the Sephora Pro brushes are designed by a full team of Sephora Pro Artists, which are made up of some of the “best artists in the industry” and have helped design these brushes to give the best results possible.
“These synthetic fiber brushes are also quite affordable and come in pre-made sets as well as individual,” he said.
Morphe is another brand that has worked with well-known beauty moguls like Jaclyn Hill, James Charles and Madison Beer and is known for their impressive makeup tools.
“Morphe brushes offer a large selection,” said Lanoux. “Although they are synthetic, they are extremely soft,” said Lanoux, who particularly likes the brand’s latest collaboration with Ariel Tejada, who is famously known for being Kylie Jenner’s makeup artist. “The face and eye set is my favorite because it has all the brushes you need,” she said.
Spectrum Collections Unlimited is an independent and a vegan, British company that sells high-end makeup brushes and cosmetics.
“Spectrum x Katie Jane Hughes brushes are extremely luxurious! You can tell they are high quality,” said Lanoux. “They are soft, reasonably priced and great for precision makeup. They are created so you can get creative with your makeup and recreate some of Katie’s beautiful looks.”
If you’re on a budget, Ulta Beauty has a range of brands for practically every price range and skill level. From a ColourPop brush set to a liquid and cream foundation brush, there is truly something for everyone.
According to many of the makeup professionals we spoke with, it’s rare to find a set of brushes that work for both personal use and professional use. Payne, on the other hand, says Charlotte Tilbury can do it all!
“Charlotte Tilbury has some great brushes,” said Payne. “Her entire line was really thought out very well, for consumers but also makeup artists which is a hard medium.”
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