If you're already familiar with our beginner's guide to makeup brushes, you're probably now wondering how to assemble the best of the best.
When it comes to brushes, pricey doesn't always mean quality. Price points vary from a $14 foundation brush from wallet-friendly Real Techniques to a $98 brush from pro-brand Kevin Aucoin. Both tools have garnered equally positive reviews with similar application results.
There's a lot to consider when purchasing makeup brushes. What are your application goals? How is your face structured? What products are you using? That being said, trial and error is the best way to determine what works best for you, but it doesn't hurt to be aware of the most highly regarded brushes on the market.
As far as we're concerned, if the Oscars for makeup brushes existed, these would be the top contenders.
1. Best foundation brush: Sephora Collection Pro Flawless Airbrush #56
This brush from Sephora keeps popping up on everyone's list of favourite makeup tools. This brush is great for powder or liquid foundation.
If you're not a makeup artist and don't require a separate brush for powder and liquid, the Pro Flawless Airbrush does a solid job playing double duty. Frequent travellers will appreciate the mini version of this brush as well, which will only cost you $25.
Buy it here: Sephora, $40
2. Best powder and bronzer brush: Tom Ford Bronzer Brush
At $150, this Tom Ford bronzer brush is definitely a luxury product. If you're wavering, we don't blame you, but hear us out. Tom Ford's brushes are well-known for being super dense, which means they absorb less product and leave you with an airbrushed finish. Plus, this is the kind of brush that could last you five to 10 years!
Buy it here: Nordstrom, $150.16
3. Best contour brush: MAC Cosmetics Large Angled Contour Brush #168
Creating a natural-looking contour is no easy task. You need the right products and the right tools that will blend out harsh lines. MAC's Large Angled Contour Brush receives consistently good reviews for its versatility, quality and ability to pick up the right amount of product. It's labelled a contour brush, but it can also be used for highlighting and blush, which makes it the ultimate multitasker.
Buy it here: MAC Cosmetics, $35
4. Best beauty sponge: BeautyBlender
Beauty sponges are not brushes, but they've revolutionized how makeup is applied. Therefore, they deserve their own category. No surprise here, but the original BeautyBlender wins. When it comes to applying foundation, concealer and blending out your contour, no one can replicate what the BeautyBlender is capable of. If you can't fathom shelling out $26 for a sponge, a close second goes to the little orange beauty sponge that could from Real Techniques.
Buy it here: Sephora, $26
5. Best eye shadow brush: Hourglass All Over Shadow Brush
This is a medium-sized brush for applying eye shadow all over your lid area. This PETA-friendly brush is ultra soft and does a fantastic job of picking up and depositing colour. It even makes your cheap eye shadow look pro.
Buy it here: Sephora, $40
6. Best blending and crease brush: Smith Cosmetics Quill Crease Brush
Smith Cosmetics brushes are a hidden gem. Their crease brushes are the perfect blending tool and are great for building up colour in the crease area. This brush is made of pure goat hair and is incredibly soft, which is important for a sensitive area like your eye. Smith offers two quill crease brushes — one small and one large — depending on the shape of your eye.
Buy it here: Smith Cosmetics, $27
7. Best blush brush: IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe French Boutique Blush Brush #4
The plush bristles on this blush brush will make you feel like you're sweeping a chinchilla across your cheek — seriously. The angled, precision-cut shape ensures the brush effortlessly applies the right amount of pigment to the apples of your cheeks. You'll barely have to do any work with a tool like this.
Buy it here: IT Cosmetics, $42
8. Best precision eyeliner brush: Rae Morris Deluxe Eyeliner Brush #13
If you're a fan of gel liner to create a cat-eye or winged liner look, you should invest in a precision eyeliner brush. Rae Morris brushes are under the radar, but can do the job better than some of your favourite high-profile brands. Their Deluxe Eyeliner brush is sleek and refuses to fray, which is necessary for a liner brush.
Buy it here: Rae Morris, $50
9. Best angled eyeliner brush: MAC Brush #266
Synthetic brushes typically work better for eyeliner because they tend to be stiffer. This means the bristles won't flare out and ruin your handiwork. An angled eyeliner brush, particularly the MAC #266, is a fan favourite with the pros.
The shape is great for those just learning to execute winged liner because it provides a bit of a natural guideline. This brush is also great for filling in sparse brows because you can draw in precise hair-like strokes.
Buy it here: Hudson's Bay, $24
10. Best lip brush: Make Up Forever #302 Precision Lip Brush
Applying dark lipstick is an art, and for that you need the perfect paintbrush. This happens to be the Make Up Forever Precision Lip Brush and it does exactly as advertised. The shape of the brush makes it easy to achieve a sharp, defined shape. You can also use it to apply concealer around the edges of your mouth to make your lip line extra crisp.
Buy it here: Sephora, $25
11. BONUS! Best overall brush set: Best of Sigma Beauty Brush Kit
The best bang for your buck if you want all your basic brushes in one shot is offered by Sigma Beauty. Sigma brushes are popular for being on par with professional quality brushes without the unreasonably hefty price tag. The Best of Sigma Brush Kit will definitely fulfill all your makeup application needs.
Buy it here: Nordstrom, $120.13
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