A Guide to Makeup Brushes for the Face

A look at the popular types of makeup brushes for the face and cheeks: what you can use each one for, the shape of the bristles and some tips for using. Foundation, powder, concealer and blusher brushes are covered in this post. For all other types of makeup brushes, go to our post as linked below.

Go to our post on brushes for eyes, lips, lashes and brows >>> 


Foundation makeup brushes for the face

Purpose: To apply any cream or liquid foundation to the face and body. You can also apply face masks with it. It’s not essential to have a foundation makeup brush for the face or body – a damp makeup sponge works just fine.

Shape: A medium-sized paddle-shaped brush normally made with synthetic bristles. The bristles have firmness with a bit of flexibility, allowing them to bend around facial contours. The bristles are fairly dense and taper to a chiseled edge. Can also get foundation brushes cut at an angle.

Tips: A foundation brush should distribute foundation evenly over the skin and blend without leaving brush marks. Work a little foundation onto the brush and blend over your face, starting from the centre and working outwards. Use the tip of the bristles to get into all the nooks of the face and remember to blend the foundation down the jawline onto the upper neck so you don’t get a hard edge.


Kabuki makeup brush for the face

Purpose: To apply powder mineral foundation and buff it into the skin for a flawless finish.

Shape: The Kabuki brush is a distinctive short, fat brush full of soft bristles that are domed (like a shaving brush!).

Tips: Swirl the brush into your mineral foundation and tap the excess powder back into the container. Use big sweeping and circular movements to apply the product and keep swirling until the coverage is even. Build coverage layer by layer rather than going in heavy first time.

Flat Top

Flat top makeup brush for the face

Purpose: This multi-purpose brush can be used to blend and smooth out foundation, apply blusher, bronzer and powder, and apply mineral and pressed powder foundations.

Shape: A large circular brush with a blunt flat top. The hairs are soft and flexible.

Tips: After applying any foundation, gently swirl this brush over your face to really buff, blend and even out the application. Apply mineral, powder and pressed powder foundation with short buffing and circular strokes all over your face.


Concealer makeup brush for the face

Purpose: To apply cream and liquid concealer to cover blemishes, red patches, skin discolouration and under-eye darkness. Pressed powder foundations or loose minerals can also be used to conceal these areas.

Shape: Concealer needs to be applied precisely to the target area, so concealer brushes have firm bristles that are densely packed with a tapered end, which allow you to use the tip for tiny areas. The brush is flat and normally made with synthetic hair.

Tips: You only need to apply a small amount of product directly onto the target area, especially if you use a highly-pigmented product, and soften the edges away. Remember to set cream concealer with a little powder (gently press a little powder into the cream).


Powder makeup brush for the facePurpose: To dust loose or compressed powder over the face to remove shine and to set foundation. Also used to remove excess powder if you use a powder puff to set foundation. It can also be used to apply shimmer or bronzer powder products to the body.

Shape: The powder brush is the largest brush in the brush family with long, soft bristles in a rounded dome shape. The brush should allow an equal pickup and distribution of powder, or to remove excess powder without removing anything else.

Tips: To apply a little powder, gently swirl your brush in the powder once or twice, tap away any excess (don’t blow on it!) and then sweep over your face in large circular movements. Keep sweeping the brush over your face until the powder is distributed evenly and there is no excess visible. If you use a powder puff to apply powder, sweep away the excess powder by using a clean powder brush.

Blusher and Contouring

Blusher brush

Purpose: To define and contour with loose and pressed powder blusher, shaders, highlighters and bronzer.

Shape: Smaller than a powder brush, but similar in shape, a blusher brush should be soft and flexible with a rounded dome shape – this helps create a soft diffused makeup. The angled versions of the blusher brush are good for creating a more defined blush and contours.

Tips: To get blusher in the right place, smile and put the colour on the “apples of the cheeks”. Don’t go in further than the middle of the eye – that makes you look flushed!

Continue to makeup brushes for eyes, lips, lashes and brows  >>>

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3 Responses to A Guide to Makeup Brushes for the Face

  1. Ellie says:

    This is the most helpful site I’ve found!
    Just got a whole set of make-up brushes from a friend for Christmas and wasn’t even sure what half of them were for!
    The descritions, pictures, and tips really helped me out there, thanks!
    & Merry Christmas!

    • handbook says:

      Hi Ellie,
      We’re really chuffed that our site has helped you – thanks so much for letting us know. Have a fabulous Christmas, enjoy those brushes and all the best for 2013 :)

      • brit says:

        I too got lots of brushes for Christmas and your posts have helped me get my head around just what I can do with each one. Thankyou for such clear info!!

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