The Essential Makeup Brushes You Need in Your Makeup Bag

A few weeks ago, I had a makeup lesson with a woman who wanted to learn how to do her makeup. She felt like she had been doing her makeup the same since 8th grade, and wanted to update her look as she was now a professional woman in her 30’s.

The first part of my makeup lesson is to go through a woman’s makeup bag and give it a makeover. I look at what she already owns, and help her throw out what’s old and what she doesn’t use, and then make a list of what she needs to add in.

My client had a ton of makeup! She had tons of brightly colored eye shadows, foundations and powders, and lipsticks. But I was surprised to see she hardly had any makeup brushes. She had 4 small eye shadow brushes, and she had gotten them from gift with purchases, or mini travel sets.

Now 4 eye shadow brushes may sound like a lot to you, but if they aren’t the brushes you need, or they aren’t of a good quality, then you might as well have none. And as we were going through our lesson, and she was able to play with my brushes, she realized the importance of having a few key brushes to help her makeup look pretty and natural.

Having the right tools, or brushes is so important when it comes to doing your makeup. Think about a chef: she needs to have the right knives to chop up ingredients to add to her dish. If she’s trying to use plastic knives, or cheap dull knives, it’s going to make her job a lot harder. Applying your makeup is similar. Having good tools can make your makeup go on easier and smoother, and look better than using poor quality brushes.

And while I prefer to invest money in my brushes, to make sure I’m getting great brushes that will make my job easier, and last a long time, you don’t have to spend your whole paycheck on new brushes. I have found some great quality brushes that are really affordable, and work great when it comes to applying makeup.

Here are the basic brushes that I recommend to all my clients that they have in their makeup bag. I promise you, they’ll make your life easier, and make doing your makeup more fun. Using brushes can also help you to feel more creative and artistic!


To create the look of beautiful skin, you’ll need at least 4 brushes: one for foundation, concealer, blush, and powder.

Foundation: You can eliminate the foundation brush if you want to keep it really simple, but I find I love applying my foundation with a brush. It helps it go on smooth and blends it nicely. I like brushes that have synthetic (not made of real hair) hairs, and are stiffer. I also like brushes that have a tapered or flat edge, so you can get under the eyes and around your nose.

Concealer: I love concealer brushes that are synthetic, flat, stiff, and have a tapered end. You can use the flat side for applying concealer under the eyes, and the tip of the tapered end to cover blemishes or spots.

Blush: I like medium sized fluffy brushes for applying blush. You can pick up a good amount of powder with the bristles to apply it, and then the fluffiness will help to blend it. Brushes made with either soft synthetic bristles or real hair are both good.

Powder: I love large, fluffy brushes for applying powder. I prefer to apply a light dusting of powder to help my foundation last all day or to get rid of too much shine. I’ve also found that if you can find a powder brush that has a tapered edge, you can use it to sweep under your eyes to keep your concealer in place.


To apply your eye makeup, you’ll need at least 3 brushes. And I’m going to give you a bonus brush too, in case you want to have more options with your eye makeup.Base color: I like to have a large, flat brush with stiff bristles to apply an all over base color. The flatness of the brush allows you pat on your lid color so it shows up more.

Crease color or blending brush: Have a fluffy eye shadow brush to apply shadow in your crease, or for blending out the edges of your shadow. You can also use a fluffy brush to blend 2 colors together.

Eyeliner brush: The shape of the brush is going to depend on you. Some people find small angled brushes easier to apply eyeliner, and some like to use a small pointed one. Both are great! I find that if I want to apply a dramatic cat eye, and angled brush can be helpful. If I want to apply more of a natural look to my eyeliner, I’ll use a small, thin pointed one.

Bonus eye brush: a smudge brush. This brush can be very helpful for creating a smoky eye, or making your eyeliner look softer.

Extras: brows and lips

These 3 brushes are necessities for me, but they might be some fun extras for you to add to your bag as you get more comfortable with doing your makeup.

Brows: Angled brush: If you are using (or want to use) a powder for your brows, then you’ll need a stiff, angled brush to apply the powder to your brows. It will help you fill in your brows for a natural look.
Spoolie brush: Once you’ve applied your brow powder, you can use a spoolie brush to comb through your brows to blend in the powder or brow pencil.

Lips: Lip brush. I like to apply lipstick with a brush, rather than directly from the tube, especially if I’m doing a bold lip. The brush helps me to have more control over the shape of my lipstick and keeping the outer edges neat. It also helps me from putting too much lipstick on, and to make the tube of lipstick last longer.

You don’t have to buy all of these brushes at once, especially if you’re just getting started in learning to do your makeup. Start with 2-3, get comfortable using them, and then maybe add in a few more. But having the right brushes in your makeup bag is going to make it easier for you to apply your makeup and help you feel like you know what you’re doing. And you’re going to look amazing, and feel good about your own makeup skills.