Types of Makeup Brushes & their uses

Most makeup brands sell a range of makeup brushes to compliment their makeup. Good quality makeup brushes made from high quality fibres or hair can be pricey. You can either purchase all your brushes from your favourite brand or mix and match those you prefer or to get better value. So if you don’t know your contour blender from your smudge stick, brush up your tool knowledge with my tip top guide and brush recommendations to transform you from clueless to confident...

Foundation Brush

imageDesigned to achieve a smooth and flawless finish, the bristles are tightly packed with a tapered tip for fluid application. Dampen the brush first in warm water and firmly squeeze the excess into a towel or tissue, this will help achieve a more even distribution. You can also blend any brush strokes as you go with a damp natural or wedge sponge. Pictured: Clinique Foundation Brush

Concealer/Camouflage Brush

imageA soft bristled, flat brush with a wider base and a pointed tip. Use to apply concealer under the eyes, to spots and to camouflage problem areas such as broken capillaries and areas of discolouration. Pictured: Clinique Concealer Brush

Duo Fibre Brush

imageMade from a blend of goat and synthetic fibres this brush is ideal for buffing and blending colour. The flat, circular, feathery head provides lightweight and buildable coverage of liquid, cream or powder. Use to blend cream blush onto the apples of your cheeks or for a light dusting of shimmer powder to your cheek and brow bones. Pictured: MAC Due Fiber Face Brush

Bronzer/Powder Brush

imageSoft, full and rounded, this brush can be used for both compact powder and bronzer. The bristles pick up the perfect amount of colour and distribute flawlessly onto the skin. Load your brush with the powder and shake away any excess before sweeping onto the skin. Pictured: Laura Mercier Bronzer Brush

imageMineral Powder Brush

A thick bundled brush that can sometimes be used both wet and dry. It is expertly designed to buff mineral powder onto your skin for pure perfection. Apply in small circular motions for a faultless finish. Pictured: Elizabeth Arden Mineral Makeup Brush

Fan Powder Brush

imageCreated for use with loose powder, the fine fan sweeps a light dusting of powder onto the skin for a soft, velvety effect. This application technique avoids heavy coverage which can highlight fine lines and imperfections. These brushes are also used to remove excess powder on the face, particularly after eyeshadow application. Pictured: Benefit Fantail Brush

Blusher Brush

imageMade with fine, gentle fibres the blusher brush has a rounded head which is perfect for giving a pop of colour to the apples of your cheeks. Sweep and blend along your cheekbone drawing the brush up into your hairline. Pictured: MAC Blush Brush

Face Contour Brush

imageSlanted and rounded in shape, the contour brush mimics the angles of your cheekbones. This is ideal for highlighting and shading with bronzer or illuminating powder. Use with cream, gel or powder to contour a sculpted finish for a defined and dramatic makeup. Pictured: MAC Face Contour Brush

Eye Shadow Brush

imageLarge, flat, short and brimming with bristles for excellent coverage. The soft bristles have a bevelled edge for a smooth application without ‘dragging’ the eyelid. Use to apply all over colour. Pictured: Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow Brush

Angle Eye Shadow Brush


A long, round and tapered brush perfect for shading the eye socket. Just gently follow the natural crease of the socket blending back and forth to build up depth of colour. Pictured: Laura Mercier Angled Eye Colour Brush

Blending Eye Shadow Brush


Use this light brush to blend eye colours and to highlight the brow bone. Pictured: Estee Lauder Blending Shadow Brush

Fine Point Eyeliner Brush

imageThe extra fine tip of this brush delivers precise liquid and gel eyeliner application. A perfect line can be achieved in one stroke, or use the point to dot in between lashes for a more subtle effect. Pictured: Laura Mercier Fine Point Eyeliner Brush

Flat Eyeliner Brush

imageAllows eyeliner to be applied deep into the lash line for a richer and more distinct eye. Gently brush upwards to soften and blend the line for a smokey eye. Pictured: Benefit Hard Angle Brush

Smudger Brush

imageYou’re most likely to find these doubled ended with an eye pencil. The foam tip is used to soften the harsh line of the pencil giving a smouldering finish. Larger ones can also be used for applying eyeshadow such as The Body Shop's Smudger Brush.

Slanted Eyebrow Definer Brush

imageUsed to define and fill brows for a beautifully symmetrical appearance. The bristles are stiff and angled for precise control. Apply powder, liquid or cream in short strokes mimicking the hairs, fill sparse areas, shape and elongate for a perfect brow. Pictured: Bobbi Brown Eyebrow Brush

Spiral Eyebrow Brush

imageIdeal for taming unruly hairs, the stiff bristles smooth and comb eyebrows into form. When shaping, use to brush hairs upwards and trim the excess for neatly groomed brows. Pictured: Tweezerman for Benefit Brow Shaping Brush

Lip Brush

imageThe sculpted tip of a lip brush is perfect for achieving a flawless line. The bristles are short and firm for controlled application. Pictured: Laura Mercier Lip Colour Brush

Cleaning Makeup Brushes

Finally, don't forget your brush cleaner! You don't want to spend a lot of money buying high quality makeup brushes if you are not going to be able to look after them by keeping them clean and conditioned.  Foundation, eyeshadow and lip brushes should be cleansed after each use to stop bacteria spreading and therefore keep your skin clear; whilst other types of brushes such as powder and blusher can be cleansed once a week. Most brands that sell brushes also have a brush cleanser.