Makeup brushes are incredibly varied. There are big ones, small ones and weird shaped ones! Some are expensive and others are cheap. They can come with long, short, fat or thin handles. Likewise, the bristles can be made from animal hair or synthetic fibres. To try and make it easier, here’s our guide to what to think about when buying makeup brushes.
What to Consider When Buying Makeup Brushes
There are four main things to consider when buying makeup brushes:
- Purpose and use
- The size, shape and weight of the brush – how it feels in your hand
- Personal ethics
- Quality brushes are an essential part of creating quality makeup. For personal use, you’re better off with five good quality brushes that can multi-purpose than having a mass of cheap and nasty ones. Similarly, professionals need quality. Brushes that fall apart or leave streaks make the job harder.
- Quality doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. While price can sometimes be an indicator of quality, it is not exclusive. Premium makeup brands sometimes charge a premium price for their brushes. However, it doesn’t mean the brushes are the best quality – you could simply be paying for the name. Sure, if you like to own brand names and are happy to pay for it, that’s your choice. Just make sure it isn’t style over substance.
- Check the build of the brush. First of all, gently feel the bristles. They shouldn’t be frayed or feel ragged. Secondly, they shouldn’t lose a mass of hair or break as you touch them. The bristles should be firmly held in place by a seamless ferrule base that doesn’t wobble or detach. The bristles should also have good shape. Ultimately, badly made brushes will shed hair and fall apart after a few washes. This means they won’t do a good job in the short or long term.
- For dirty makeup chores like using latex or glue, we use old brushes or brushes from inexpensive multi-packs from the supermarket. In short, we do not use our nice brushes. This is because they will never be the same after doing a round with some glue.
- The little brushes that come with makeup are usually not that great. They are OK as a quick top-up when out and about. However, they are not for the main makeup application or professional use.
Purpose & Use
- What do you want to achieve with the brush? For example, do you want to blend blusher or create a precise line? This is because each needs a differently shaped brush. Therefore, think about picking a design that suits what you want to do with it.
- Brushes can be multi-purpose. Some brushes are designed to be multi-purpose, but most are made to do a specific job. However, this doesn’t mean it can’t be used for other suitable makeup applications. For example, a lip brush can be used as an eyeliner or concealer brush.
Size, Shape & Weight
- Brushes come in a variety of shapes, sizes and weights. Even brushes designed for the same purpose will be made differently. For example, foundation brushes come in a wide variety of sizes and materials. This will affect how they feel in your hand – and, of course, some will feel nicer to you than others.
- Good brushes will feel balanced in your hand.
- Try out different brands to see what works for your application method and hand size. For example, try your mate’s brushes or go into the department stores. In a word, handle as many brushes as you can to see how each one feels. This way you will find the right one for you.
- We talk about brush construction and bristles here. Just to say, nowadays you can buy makeup brushes to suit all personal tastes, including cruelty-free and vegan brushes.
- Likewise, there are recycled and environmentally-friendly brushes available.
- If these things are important to you, then don’t compromise your beliefs. There are plenty of great options for you.
- Consider the client’s wishes if you are a professional makeup artist – and cater for this. We do come across people who don’t like animal hair brushes for a variety of reasons. For example, they may have allergies or are vegetarian/vegan and simply don’t want animal hair on them.
Makeup Brush Sets
- Brush sets can be a good way for beginners to get started. Sets do vary in size, but even a small brush set should provide the commonly used brushes. A case or brush wrap often comes with a set too. Just make sure all the brushes in the set are well made.
- Travel brush sets can be quite handy for holidays and for keeping in a handbag.
- Makeup schools usually provide a set of brushes as part of the course. Of course, the quality will vary from school to school. However, you can build on this by buying individually chosen makeup brushes. This allows you to pick the ones that work best for you. Also, you are not confined to the same brand, price range or quality.
Find Out More
- A Guide to Makeup Brush Construction – a look at what brushes are made from and the difference between animal hair and synthetic bristles.
- All about brushes for the face, including powder, foundation and blusher brushes – A Guide to Makeup Brushes for the Face.
- A Guide to Makeup Brushes for Eyes, Brows and Lips – all about brushes for the detail, like eyeshadow and lips.