A Run Down of Makeup Brushes (which one to use for what!)


The wrong makeup brush can completely alter the effect of a particular makeup product. If you are using too small of a brush it can make the face look muddy, and if you are using too large of a brush it may not deposit enough product causing a bit of frustration.

I rounded up a few of my most commonly used makeup brushes and wanted to provide a rundown of which one I use for what product. In general, if you are searching for new makeup brushes, look for a similar shape to what I’m sharing here, but don’t feel walled into the exact brand. There are a lot of great makeup brush brands out there, from Sonia Kashuk to the Sephora brand.

One. Highlight Brush. I like using a smaller brush like this one for highlight as it allows me to really control where the highlight is placed. This could be used for blush as well, in terms of sizing, but I generally like to give my brushes a single product use so I’m not mixing product.

Two. Sculpt Brush. This is what I’ve been using for contour after replacing a very old Sonia Kashuk brush that was starting to lose hairs. It has a pointed tip, making it really nice for focusing on a specific part of the face. I apply contour under my cheekbones and around the edges of my face.

Three. Bronzer Brush. The fluffier and bigger the brush, the better when it comes to bronzer. I generally use a light hand when applying bronzer, and a fluffy brush is going to add a soft glow to the face without causing smears or smudges.

Four. Foundation Brush. A flat-top short bristled brush for foundation is my favorite. It allows me to buff the product in without losing the foundation deep into the bristles. I work in small circles, blending the foundation into the skin. A similar style is a kabuki brush, which is also a really nice option for foundation.

Five. Blush Brush. I like a smaller brush for blush because I can center it on my cheekbones, and then softly diffuse the blush outwards.

Six. Shadow Brush. Whether you use powder eyeshadow or cream, a basic shadow brush is essential. I like to blend out my eyeshadow starting at the center, covering the entire lid.

Seven. Crease Brush. This style of brush is best for a darker color to be placed in the crease of your lid. It has longer bristles so you don’t push the product in too severely. I sweep mine back and forth until I get the desired result.

Eight. Smudge Brush. I truly cannot do my eye makeup without a brush like this. The smudge brush I’ve had for years is no longer available, but this is similar. I smudge out my kohl liner on my upper lid and then use the leftover product to add a bit of a shadow to my lower lash line as well.

Nine. Eyebrow Brush. A brush like this is great for eyebrows because the angled end allows you to be really precise with the application of the product, and the spoolie end helps soften any strokes from the product so the brows look natural.

Ten. I have this exact brush set (not currently in stock) and I use every single brush except the fan brush. Fan brushes are nice to use with highlight, but I simply never find myself reaching for it! If you are looking for a complete set, I would highly recommend this set! And this set by Sonia Kashuk is great as well!

I shared a video talking through a few of these brushes on my IGTV. I also demonstrated how I clean them at the end of the video. The quickest and easiest option for cleaning is a bar of cleanser in a container like this. Another option is to use a liquid cleanser like the Cinema Secrets one that simply has you dipping the brush in and swiping it on a towel to remove the product.

P.S. if you liked this, you may enjoy this post on tools as well!


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Mishelle O says · 07.14.20

Completely agree on the smudge brush thing! I have one from Sonia Kashuk and I CANNOT do my makeup without it. I’ve had it for years, and it’s now discontinued. I’ve tried finding one similar but NONE do the trick! 🙁

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog says · 07.14.20

I currently just use my fingers to blend everything (and not very nicely, haha), so this is super helpful! ❤️✨

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

Tiffany says · 07.14.20

I’ve seen Sigma brushes around a lot lately and am wondering your thoughts on them. I noticed you don’t have any in your post.

Thank you,

Kate says · 07.15.20

they aren’t my favorite. I feel that the quality doesn’t compare to a sephora or even Sonia Kashuk brush!

Liz says · 07.14.20

Hi Kate! If I get this brush set, is there any of the other brushes that you’d recommend getting individually that’s not covered by the set? Also, does the Hourglass setting spray help get you that lovely glow? Thx!!

Peggy says · 12.17.20

Hi –
I wanted to know what brush you use/recommend for the Liquid Nars Blush – I know you said it can be done with fingers but you prefer the brush – I wanted to see if you can recommend a good brush for applying this particular liquid blush. Thank you so much

Alina says · 02.25.21

Recently on instagram I came across mehliza London . They claim handcrafted makeup brushes. They look really nice on the pics but I wonder if you came across that brand

Lindsey says · 05.25.21

I recently got the Sephora brush set you shared during the most recent Sephora sale and I love it! I’ve never had a set before. I also love the Sonia Kashuk smudge brush and have been loving using it with dark eyeshadow as subtle eyeliner! Thanks for all your great recommendations!

Pam says · 05.25.21

The brush set you recommended is no longer available.

Daily Life Forever52 says · 11.10.23

I absolutely loved your detailed review of the Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint in Uncensored! Your ten years of experience as a makeup junkie truly shines through in your analysis. The comparison with other well-known red lipsticks like MAC RED, RUBY WOO, RUSSIAN RED, LOVE WEAPON, and TRUE LOVE’S KISS provides valuable context for readers.

Your personal journey from not liking bold lipstick colors to embracing the power of red lips is a relatable and inspiring touch. It adds a personal dimension to your review and makes it more engaging.