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A Guide to Different Makeup Brushes and Their Uses

The world of makeup can be a confusing one – especially if you’re a beginner. Finding the right shade of foundation or perfecting the ‘No Makeup Look’ is only half the battle; knowing whether you’re using the best makeup brushes for the job is another story. 

Whilst many makeup tools can be used interchangeably, it’s good to know the different qualities of each to achieve the look you want. That’s why we’ve put together a handy makeup brushes guide; enrich your beauty routine and make like a pro with these must-have makeup tools.


Makeup Brushes Guide

Natural or Synthetic Brushes?

First things first; you need to decide whether you want to use makeup brushes with natural or synthetic bristles. So, what’s the difference?

Natural makeup brushes are typically made from animal hair, like sable, badger or squirrel. They’re softer than synthetic brushes and are especially good at picking up powder products. Because natural brushes move more freely, you’ll find that they blend product beautifully too. Natural brushes are durable, and the consensus is that they get better the more you use them; they’re a little more expensive, but they do last. 

Natural makeup brushes have been known to trigger allergic reactions, so if you suffer from sensitive skin, they may not be the best option for you. And if you’re vegan, you obviously won’t be able to use natural brushes. However, there are plenty of synthetic alternatives available on the market.

Synthetic makeup brushes are typically produced with nylon, taklon or other manmade fibres. They tend to be flatter and sleeker than natural brushes, which makes them ideal for applying cream or liquid beauty products. Synthetic brushes are hypoallergenic too, so they’re suited to anyone with sensitive skin. They’re generally cheaper to buy than natural makeup brushes, but the quality and durability of synthetic brushes has really come a long way over the past few years – and they’re going to keep getting better. However, synthetic bristles aren’t as absorbent as natural ones, which means they can be less effective at picking up powders.

Both natural and synthetic makeup brushes come with plenty of plus points; choosing the right set of brushes really comes down to your personal preference. You may want to perfect your application skills using one set of brushes or mix it up by hand-selecting tools from different brands. 


Makeup Tools for Your Face

Whether you’re applying a powder, liquid or cream product, the aim is to get the smoothest, most even coverage possible. Here are the tools you need to create a flawless complexion with face makeup. 


Makeup Sponges

Blending sponges are perfect for applying liquid foundations, creams and concealers. They create a natural-looking, even finish.

For a flawless base, professionals recommend wetting the blending sponge with water before dipping it in makeup. This will prevent the sponge from soaking up too much product and help to smoothly blend out your makeup.


Makeup Brushes

No makeup kit is complete without a solid collection of brushes; here are the ones that you’re going to need.


Powder Brush

For mineral and powder foundations, or to apply setting powders, powder brushes work best. In circular motions, gently apply product over your T-zone to banish shine and – if your makeup tends to crease – under your eyes.



Angled Contouring Brush

Angled contouring brushes are designed to help define angles and areas on your face. This should be your go-to makeup tool if you want to showcase and define your cheekbones. To achieve killer definition, dip your brush into your bronzer or, if you’re working with cream contour, use another brush to apply the product underneath your cheekbones before blending the product using a back and forth motion with the angled contour brush. This brush is perfect for emphasising your bone structure and creating a natural contour. You can also use it to define your jawline, the top of your forehead near the hairline and your nose. Just remember: to avoid harsh lines, blending the product is key!



Rounded Blush Brush

A rounded blush brush is the perfect tool to give you a soft, healthy glow. When working with the deep pinks and peach tones of blushes, it is important not to apply too much colour to your cheeks. You should gently apply the blush to the apples of your cheeks before sweeping it up into your cheekbones and blending to give your skin a natural, healthy flush.



Kabuki Brushes

A kabuki brush is the best makeup brush for powder products. The tightly-packed bristles create an even and flawless finish, making this brush the perfect tool to seamlessly buff in your foundation. If a super contoured look isn’t for you, then kabuki brushes can also be used to apply bronzer for a naturally sun-kissed finish.



Makeup Tools for Your Lips

Lip Brush

Lipstick application can sometimes be tricky and very messy, especially if you’re working with bold colours. Don’t let the application put you off from rocking bright, statement lips; just use a lip brush instead! Lip brushes are a saviour when applying bold lipsticks. The small, angled bristles allow for a more precise application, giving an expert finish to your lipstick look.



Makeup Tools for Your Eyes

Blending Brushes

An eyeshadow blending brush is a must-have for creating fierce eyeshadow looks. The longer dome shaped bristles are perfect for gently blending out colours flawlessly, without dislodging any eyeshadow pigment. Blending brushes are perfect for creating natural, soft-finish eyeshadow looks.



Angled Shading Brush

Angled shading brushes can be used in conjunction with blending brushes to create dynamic eyeshadow looks. Angled shading brushes are ideal for highlighting the brow bone too.


Crease Brush

Crease brushes have dense, tapered bristles. The tightly packed bristles are great for creating definition in the crease of your eyelids, because you can add product precisely. Remember, after you’ve applied the eyeshadow colour to your crease, you need to blend it out using a blending brush so that there are no harsh lines. The crease brush is perfect for creating a natural depth to your look.



Liner Brush

An angled eyeliner brush is the best tool for creating a feline flick with gel liner. If you’re looking for a softer liner look, the tightly-packed, slightly angled bristles ensure that the brush works just as well with cream and powder formulas.




Lash and Brow Groomer

Perfectly groomed eyebrows really frame your face, and bold brows complete any makeup look – whether day or night. A double ended lash and brow groomer will transform and tame your eyebrows and lift your lashes.


How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

It’s important to clean your makeup brushes, but many of us don’t do it enough. Cleaning your makeup tools regularly keeps bacteria at bay and ensures that your brushes stay in tip-top condition – so no excuses! Here’s how to clean your makeup brushes quickly and easily.

  1. 1. Wet the brush with warm water – make sure it’s soaked through.
  2. 2. Add some brush cleaner or, if you don’t have a specific cleaner, a gentle soap to the bristles.
  3. 3. Gently work the cleaning product through the brush bristles.
  4. 4. Massage the brush bristles in the palm of your hand to work out any product build-up. 
  5. 5. Rinse and squeeze out any excess water, moulding the bristles back into shape.
  6. 6. Allow your brushes to dry by positioning them on the edge of a counter or table. This allows the bristles to retain their shape.


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