We’re sure we can’t possibly be the only people who don’t really know which makeup brushes to use for what purpose. Or are we?

It does seem as if every female over the age of 12 is a beauty expert now. By the time girls are 15 they know all the tricks and techniques and tools to use to make themselves look like supermodels. Meanwhile we’re here still trying to wrap our heads around the basics. And some of us are old enough to be the mothers of these girls.

Makeup application is considered an art. And to be efficient at your art, you necessarily must have the right tools. Not only that you need to know how to use your tools.

It’s the same as with creating works of art on canvas.

Artists have a wide variety of brushes that serve different purposes in helping them to paint their pictures.

makeup brushes

Questions we found ourselves asking as we browsed the collection of makeup brushes on Sephora.com

  1. What’s the difference between a foundation brush and a face brush?
  2. Can you use a face brush to apply foundation?
  3. Can you use a foundation brush to apply powder?
  4. Is a face brush the same thing as a powder brush?
  5. What’s a perfecting brush?
  6. How does a perfecting brush differ from a face brush?
  7. Other than the shape is there a real difference between a sloping powder brush and a teardrop pointed powder blush. And do you need both?
  8. How is a Kabuki brush different from a foundation brush or a powder brush?
  9. What’s a blurring brush and do we really need one?
  10. Is a sculpting foundation brush different from a regular foundation brush. If so, how?
  11. Can you use a regular powder brush with pressed powder or do you need one brush for loose powder and another brush for pressed powder?
  12. Is an “allover powder brush” different from a regular powder brush?
  13. How do we choose the right Kabuki brush and do we need a Kabuki brush
  14. Do you need more than one concealer brush?
  15. Is a camouflage brush just a conceal brush or is it different from a concealer brush?
  16. Can one blending brush take care of all your blending needs?
  17. Do you really need a bronzer brush or can you use your powder brush to do the same job done by a bronzer brush?
  18. What’s a correcting brush?
  19. Do you need more than one blush brush?
  20. Do you really need a highlighter brush?
  21. What’s a stippling brush?
  22. What does a smudge brush do and do you actually need a smudge brush?
  23. For what purpose do you use a fan brush?
  24. What’s up with the makeup brushes that are shaped like regular paint brushes
  25. Exactly which makeup brushes do I need and what do I need them for?

Shop Makeup Brushes at Sephora.com

makeup brushes

We’ve been resisting doing the research necessary to find out which makeup brushes to use for what because it seems like there are so many different brushes that do so many different things.

Ordinarily we’re makeup-free gals; but we like to pretend model from time to time and that requires us to try to enhance our looks with cosmetics. Because, you know, the camera cracks if we don’t put on paint.

So we figured maybe it’s time we got ourselves some of the tools of the trade and stop insisting on applying our makeup like cave women.

But where to begin with these makeup brushes? How do we know which makeup brushes to use for what?

There are so many brushes and so many of the brushes look alike even though they appear to be made for different purposes. We just didn’t have the interest to try to figure out each and every brush. So we turned to Google with the question:

Which makeup brushes does a girl really need?

Not surprisingly the answer varies from source to source.

In a 2014 elle.com article titled “11 Makeup Brushes Every Woman Needs to Own“, it is claimed that every woman needs these 11 makeup brushes.

11 makeup brushes every woman needs

  • An angled liner – for applying gel eyeliner, creating perfectly lined eyes, creating a cat eye look etc.
  • A blending brush – to flawlessly blend your eye shadow
  • A domed eyeshadow brush – for stronger more precise more defined eye shadow application
  • A cream eyeshadow blending brush – for applying cream eyeshadow. Helps product last
  • A smudge brush – for use in creating a smokey eye
  • An eyebrow spoolie – for grooming/finishing brows
  • A concealer brush – for more efficient application of concealer
  • A contour brush – for applying powder and blush
  • A powder brush – for applying bronzer
  • A stippling brush – for applying foundation and cream blush
  • A beauty blender – not really a makeup brush — said to be an essential for applying foundation and cream blush “as well as to blend concealer and layer blushes and cream bronzers”.

Of course with the average price tag per item at about $30 (unless you buy cheap brands at your local dollar store, Walmart or similar store), we’re talking about spending over $300 to get the makeup brushes elle.com thinks we ought to own.

We’re not sure we’re that committed to playing the makeup game that we’d invest $300 into makeup brushes right now.

So we checked out what glamour.com had to say in their 2013 article titled “5 Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own“. Because if we can make do with 5 brushes that would be preferable.

the 5 makeup brushes you need according to Glamour

  • An angled blush brush – to contour your cheekbones without streaking
  • An eye liner brush – allows great control when applying gel or cream eye liner
  • A powder brush – for “super smooth application and a diffused, airbrushed look”. They say a powder brush is also great for applying bronzer
  • An allover eyeshadow brush – for applying your eyeshadow regardless if it’s the upper or lower lid, crease or whatever
  • A blending brush – to shade the creases of your eyes as well as blending highlighter along the tops of your cheekbones or the ridge of your upper lip

The price tag for the 5 brushes glamour recommends would be just over $160. To be honest, that’s still more than we’d be comfortable spending on makeup brushes; but that’s probably because we don’t wear makeup every day or even every week. In fact, unless we get inspired to take some photos for the blog, we can go months without wearing any makeup. So to us $160 seems a bit much to spend on makeup brushes we’re hardly ever going to use. We’d have to shop around to find more affordable brands until we can afford to spend $160 – $300 to buy expensive makeup brushes just for fun.

But at least we now know we don’t need more than a few brushes…

Unless you’re practicing to become a makeup artist, you should be fine with a brush to apply your foundation, a brush for your powder, a few eye shadow brushes (or maybe just 1 allover eyeshadow brush), an eye liner brush, a blush brush and a concealer brush. And to hear tell, you probably don’t even need all of that because the Beauty Blender can do the job of your primer brush, foundation brush, powder brush, cream blush brush and more.

beautyblender makeup sponge
The Beauty Blender sponge available at Sephora.com
So don’t do what we did and start panicking thinking you’ll never be able to figure out all the brushes and become a master at knowing which makeup brushes to use for what.

The truth is, you don’t need the majority of those brushes. In some way they all probably do the same thing that the basic brushes do. A stippling brush, for example, appears to be nothing more than a foundation brush. They say it will give you an airbrush finish. Maybe a regular foundation brush doesn’t give you an airbrush finish and that’s how they differ? But it’s still just a foundation brush.

Another example is the Kabuki brush. It appears to be a brush you use to apply powder and powdered blush. So if you already have a powder brush and a blush brush that do a good enough job for you, you wouldn’t really need a Kabuki brush. Of course if you want one and you can afford one by all means get one. But don’t go thinking if you don’t have a Kabuki brush in your brush collection you’re missing something essential that you need.

And all these other brushes like the perfecting brush, the blurring brush, the sculpting foundation brush–it’s unlikely you need to concern yourself with these. In the first place, we’ve seen different brushes that are called a perfecting brush and in reading the description one does something completely different from the other.

Perfecting Brushes

At Sephora.com, the BECCA The One Perfecting Brush is described as a brush that “cuts makeup application time in half by replacing 10 other brushes and tools.” On the other hand the bareMinerals bareSkin® Perfecting Face Brush  is described as a “uniquely designed brush that lets you adjust your foundation coverage to the drop for a perfectly seamless application.”

So even the makeup industry can’t make up their minds on a standard for makeup brushes as far as naming a brush a certain thing and having it do the same thing across the board. It’s all fun and games. But it’s an expensive game to play when you don’t have the money. So just stick to the basics and you should be just fine.

Places where you can buy makeup brushes online





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