A Beginners Guide To Make Up Brushes

Hands up if you have no clue about makeup brushes and what they’re used for? Yep I see that hand, this one’s for you love….read on.

The Elite Team
  • Synthetic Hair vs. Real Hair
  • Base Brushes
  • Detail Brushes
  • Shop The Makeup Brushes

Ever watched a YouTube makeup tutorial and thought to yourself, why the heck do I need all those different makeup brushes? What purpose do they serve? Can’t I just use the same makeup brush for everything? …I’m going to take a wild guess and say you’re nodding your head right now, and if you are, then know that you’re not alone! In fact, it’s a question that many newbies face and it can be quite a daunting thought process if you think about it too much.

In this article, I provide beginners with the information they need to know about choosing the right brushes for their collection. I’ve gathered together what I like to call ‘The Elite Team‘ – 10 makeup brushes that will give you just about every single look you could possibly want. Of course, you can build up your collection as you go along, but when you’re standing in the isle with your buffer face looking like you’re confused.com, simply refer back to this article right here!


Synthetic brush hair is better for liquid foundations, crème blush and gel liners; this is because the hair doesn’t absorb the product or leave streaks. Real hair brushes are better for powder based products; this is because the soft bristles are gentle on your skin, and ideal for blending as they move a lot more freely.


Base brushes are used for your foundation, powder, concealer, contour and highlighting.


1. Powder Brush

The powder brush does exactly what the name suggests. It’s used to lightly dust face powder all over our face after applying foundation. This sets the foundation and leaves you with a smooth, matte finish. You can use loose or pressed powder with this brush, just remember to be sparing as you usually reappy throughout the day.

2. Blush and Bronzer Brush

Some people would say that this brush isn’t that important and would use the powder brush for bronzer and blush, but this is not true! Contouring and blusher need a more precise application; you are creating curves of the face therefore you need a smaller brush to apply with care and consicion. However you still need the fluffy bulbas head in order to blend the colour into your skin. Using your powder brush means that the next day when you come to reapply your make up, you end up spreading yesterdays bronzer and blusher all over your face! 

3. Foundation Brush

There are many different types of foundation brushes, but this one is a personal favourite because it really allows you to buff and blend the foundation right into your skin. It also means that you can build it up, depending on the type of coverage you like. When using this brush, it is advisable to put the foundation onto the back of your hand first, then you only use what you need, rather than ending up with a face full, or a clogged up brush!

4. Blending Brush

The blending brush is great for highlighting, when you apply your highlighter under your eyes, down the bridge of your nose, in the middle of your forehead and chin, the blending brush allows you buff it into your foundation. You can blend in circular motions or just gently dabbing onto the skin; either way this brush is great for creating light and depth in your foundation.

5. Concealer Brush

The concealer brush is brilliant for those pesky spots and blemishes! Dip the tip of the brush into your concealer then begin to dab it onto your blemish lightly. Once you feel that you have a good coverage, using light, cicular motions, blend the concealear into the skin around the blemish. Make sure this brush is soft and fluffy, and always wash this regularly to minimise the spread of bacteria. 


Detail brushes are for your eyeshadow, eyebrows and any other detailed contouring.

6. Large Blending Brush

This brush is use for blending your eyeshadow base into the skin and around the socket. It is also great for more detailed contouring, such as the bring of your nose, cheekbones and eye socket. Always blend in small, light, circular motions, and take your time! It’s a lot easier to add product than it is to remove it.

7. Flat Eyeshadow Brush 

This brush is used to apply your eyeshadow. The flat round shape allows you to press the colour onto your eyelid and work into the nooks and crannies. You can really glide this brush around your eye socket for strong coverage. This is also great for blending colour applied to the lower lash line, it prevents the colour from spreading under your eyes.

8. Small Blending Brush

This is a similar use to the large blending brush, but for more precise application. great for blending shadow or Kohl liner along the upper lash line, or for defining your eye socket with a darker colour. This is your ultimate smokey eye tool!

9. Small Flat Eyeshadow Brush

This is the large eyeshadow brush’s baby this is great for applying and blending a gel eyeliner, and for applying eyeshadow under your eye along the lash line. This is a great little precision brush, and a valued member of The Elite Team! 

10. Angled Brow Brush 

Last but certainly not least: the Brow brush! Now if you have seen my how to shape your brows at home article then you will know how important this brush is! It allows you to create full, lucious brows by brushing the colour on in gentle hair strokes, filling in any gaps or spaces in your brows. This brush is also brilliant if you want to create a slick winged eye liner; whether you use shadow or gel liner, you get a bold, neat line in one fell swoop! 


To the naked eye, the cost of makeup brushes can look pretty expensive, especially if you’re a beginner to the field. The more you indulge, the more you’ll realise that just like everything else in life you get what you pay for. So my advice? Go for quality not quantity. Low quality bristles could be sharp and abrasive on your skin, or be coated with chemicals causing irritation and allergic reactions. If you feel like you can’t afford it then improvise with what you have and slowly work your way up.

Below are the makeup brushes that I would personally recommend. Prices will range depending on what brush you’re buying and whether you’re purchasing them individually or in a set. I’ve attempted to cover all budgets, both high-end and high-street quality but if you have any further questions then leave me a comment.



Brand: EcoTool Makeup Brushes
Price Range: £4.99 – £15.99
Where: Boots | Superdrug | Feelunique
About: EcoTool makeup brushes are good if you’re on a tight budget. They’re made from synthetic hair but for the low cost you still get a decent quality.
I RecommendEcoTools Bamboo 6 Piece Brush Set



Brand: Real Technique
Price Range: £6 – £30
WhereBoots | Superdrug | Feelunique
AboutReal Technique makeup brushes are my personal favourite. Created by Pixiwoo, the brushes offer quality long-lasting handles, real hair and neat packaging. Purchasing these brushes in sets offer better value for money.
I Recommend: Nic Pick Brush Set | Core Collection | Starter Set | Stippling Foundation Brush  


mac brushes

Brand: MAC
Price Range: £16.50 – £40
WhereSelfridgesDebenhams | John Lewis
About: MAC makeup brushes are the most expensive of the three and offer a choice of both synthetic and real hair. If the price is too steep for you then just build your collection up slowly.
I Recommend: MAC 130 Short Duo Fibre Brush | MAC 134 Large Powder Brush | MAC 116 Blush Brush | MAC 263 Small Angle Brush | MAC 217 Blending Brush




If you choose to purchase brushes outside my recommendations then be careful, especially if you’re purchasing from websites like eBay or Amazon. Make sure the seller clearly states what their bristles are made from – it doesn’t matter if it’s from real or synthetic hair, as long as they state it. If the seller doesn’t know what they are selling you, do not use! eBay tend to sell a lot of brush sets in bulk, so make sure you’re vigilant.

That’s my beginners advice on understanding makeup brushes. Have you had any bad experiences? Or is there a particular brand that you would recommend? If so be sure to tweet us and let us know. On the other hand, if you have any specific questions, please let me know in your comments box below and I will respond to you as soon as possible.

Published by Laura Henderson

Make up Artist and Blogger!

3 thoughts on “A Beginners Guide To Make Up Brushes

  1. I am a bad excuse for a girl and know next to nothing about makeup brushes haha. I used to use a brush for my foundation but found it left my face looking dry/streaky/patchy and the brush soaked up a lot of the makeup and was hard to clean so now I just blend it with clean hands (probably not the best option but oh well). I use a matte foundation, would I still use the foundation brush described in this article or is that just for liquid based foundations?


    1. Hey! You’re not a bad excuse for a girl, it always takes time to find your groove with make up. If you use a cream foundation then a blending brush or sponge is best, however if you use a powder based foundation then I would suggest a brush that is a bit stiffer so you can really buff it into the skin- like a kabuki brush! If it is still a liquid but it is matte rather than oil based, as long as you use a blending brush like the one we suggested, you should be fine! Dabbing or ‘stippling’ the foundation all over your face before gently blending in circular motions might help you create a more even, less blotchy/streaky base. Hope this helps! L x


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