Updated June 21, 2018 by Taber Koeghan

The 10 Best Makeup Brushes

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This wiki has been updated 28 times since it was first published in March of 2015. Every beauty enthusiast knows that if you seek a flawless facial finish, you're going to need the right tools. The makeup brushes featured in this list come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles and are designed to help you achieve virtually any look you can dream up. Plus, we've included options to fit a range of budgets. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best makeup brush on Amazon.

10. Sigma High Definition Kabuki Kit

9. BareMinerals Ready Precision

8. Sigma Beauty Basic Eyes Kit

7. BareMinerals Perfecting Face

6. Ultra Plush Powder

5. Nanshy Masterful Collection

4. EcoTools Retractable Kabuki

3. Matto Bamboo

2. ETA Ultra Natural Premium Set

1. Sigma F80 Kabuki

Makeup Brush Types Everybody Needs

A flat eyeshadow brush looks almost like a mini fan brush, but has a bushier set of bristles.

Looking at all the different makeup brushes available can be overwhelming. Each one looks so similar to the next, but identifying the small differences between the types will help you arm your beauty box with one for every makeup technique you want to pull off.

First, you want a good foundation brush. Foundation brushes tend to be flat, since you'll use them to paint liquid foundation onto your skin, much like you apply actual paint to a canvas. If you've ever seen a sponge that looks like an egg, that's a beauty blender. While not technically a brush, you should consider this an essential sister tool to your foundation brush. The original version, patented by Rea Ann Silva, has been a multi-million dollar sensation for a reason: it lets you spread your foundation evenly across every angle of your face.

If you want those dramatic cheekbones, then you need a good contouring brush to use with your contour palette. You'll recognize this brush by its angled top and dense bristles that can hold a lot of makeup at once. When it's time to add a nice shimmer, you'll want a Kabuki brush. This is a stout, wide brush with a rather flat but voluminous bundle of bristles. The Kabuki brush is used for applying bronzer or powder, as well as for blending.

A fan brush looks exactly how you'd expect: like a fan. It has a wide, flat head, and its slender profile makes it ideal for applying powder or fixing some makeup mess-ups. On the topic of mess-ups, if you ate greasy food this weekend and are breaking out, you'll want a concealer brush to cover up your blemishes. This type brush is quite small, with a rounded top and a bundle of bristles about the size of pencil eraser. It's ideal for concentrated application of concealer.

A flat eyeshadow brush looks almost like a mini fan brush, but has a bushier set of bristles. This is used for applying eye shadow all over your lid. Don't confuse it with your concealer brush: they look similar, but the flat eye shadow brush has longer bristles, which are important for sweeping color across your lids. When you're working on a nice smokey eye, you'll want an eyeshadow crease brush, too. This small brush with a pointed end will help you work color into the crease of your lid. To add drama to your eye makeup, get an eyeliner brush for perfectly applying liquid liner to your eyes. This brush looks like a pencil and has a set of bristles about the size of a pencil's point. Since everyone knows good eyebrows are everything these days, make sure you get a good brow brush. These look almost identical to a mascara brush.

Additional Features To Look For In A Brush

One of the main reasons you may need makeup is to cover up acne and blemishes. Considering just how hard it is for scientists to identify what causes acne (thereby making it difficult to identify the best treatment for most individuals), the best way to treat this nasty condition is to not get it in the first place. That's why having a makeup brush made with antimicrobial materials is so important. This will help stop the growth of bacteria on your face, and prevent germs from getting into your pores.

Some brushes have gorgeous handles in shiny metallic or pearly finishes that will definitely impress your clients.

Since you don't want to have to replace your makeup brushes every month, make sure you get ones that won't shed and have high quality handles made from materials that won't crack. If you are eco-minded, there are some great brushes made from sustainably sourced materials, like bamboo.

Getting a good grip on your brush while applying your makeup will prevent slip-ups that leave you with eyeshadow on your cheeks. Make sure your brush has either an ergonomic handle or a small indent around where the handle meets the bristles. This can be used as a thumb or finger groove to keep your hand from sliding up the brush while you work. Some blending and foundation brushes have reservoir tips that keep liquid makeup from spilling down the sides, which can be helpful. Anyone who has ever accidentally touched their blouse, not knowing they had makeup that had gotten onto their hands earlier, knows how valuable this feature is.

Always consider the length of handles if you want your brush set to fit into your favorite makeup bag. If you're a professional makeup artist, then you want your tools to look as impressive as your makeup jobs. Some brushes have gorgeous handles in shiny metallic or pearly finishes that will definitely impress your clients.

A Brief History Of Makeup Brushes

While humans may not have always had the materials and technology they have today (as evidenced by this ancient cosmetic brush), they've always had their vanity. The Japanese have been making makeup brushes since as far back as the B.C. period. One area in Japan, called Kumano, is famous for its brushes, and has been producing them since the 1600s. Brush production in the area began when local farmers needed to find a way to make extra income. They started by purchasing brushes from neighboring towns and reselling them. As calligraphy become more popular, they began to manufacture their own brushes that were customized for better calligraphy performance. As the demand for cosmetic brushes grew, they once again tweaked their brushes to fit the newest and greatest need.

Today, Kumano, Japan makes around 80 percent of the country's makeup brushes, which equals around 15 million brushes a year, but it hasn't been without competitors. In 1835, manufacturers in Germany noticed a demand for more vanity products and started to produce a large amount of cosmetic mirrors. They eventually decided they wanted to compete with the Japanese makeup brush industry and began making their own versions of these as well.

Over the years, the manufacturing of makeup brushes, as with many other products, has predominantly moved to other parts of Asia, where large brands can find cheaper labor.

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Taber Koeghan
Last updated on June 21, 2018 by Taber Koeghan

Taber is a writer from Santa Monica, CA, with a bachelor of arts in political science from the University of California, San Diego. After completing her degree, she began writing and editing copy for a host of high-traffic e-commerce websites. Her areas of expertise include the beauty, style, pet, and home products categories, and she has plenty of experience covering literature and art, too. Her personal interests in crafting and decorating inform her writing and -- she hopes -- add a good bit of insight to her work. Outside of copywriting, she is a reporter and columnist at a Los Angeles community newspaper and is currently pursuing a master of fine arts in creative writing.

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