Exactly a year ago this week (funny timing… I didn’t mean it), I wrote a post called “The Only 5 Makeup Brushes You Really Need.” It was a great post (fantastic post… everyone I know tells me it was a great, great post… ::cue Trump voice lol::), and I wanted to expand upon it. Although those five core brushes are still my go-to for everyday looks, there comes a time when you need a bit more from your brushes. After all, those intricate looks don’t come easily and you need the right tools. So when you’re ready jot down, bookmark or Pin this post to your Pinterest page for my 5 makeup brushes to expand your core collection.
As I did in the original post, I am going to break down the brushes by price, and then also give you some budget alternatives that will perform nearly identically.
(L to R: Real Techniques Setting Brush, Morphe M406, MAC #263, Sephora Angled Natural Blush Brush, MAC #221)
Real Techniques Setting Brush, $4.89-7.99 | The Real Techniques setting brush is a versatile one. I mainly use it to apply a wash of face powder over my eyelids after eyeshadow primer. This allows my eyeshadow to apply much smoother and avoids that ‘skipping’ effect that can happen on lids wearing primer alone. It’s also amazing at doing what it says – setting powder – particularly under the eye in a gentle fashion without exacerbating dry skin or fine lines. It can also be used to apply contour to the hollows of the cheek or to apply highlighter. Another one that, for the price, is a great bargain in its own right!
Morphe M406 Duo Fiber Foundation Brush, $7.99 | If you don’t get any other brush in this post, this is the one to add ASAP. I cannot do my makeup without it anymore. I don’t use it for foundation, but to just blend my entire face together at the very end of my makeup… once I’ve applied my setting powder, blush, bronzer, highlighter… the whole nine, THEN I take this brush and swirl it gently all over my face to make sure I have ZERO harsh edges and everything is seamless. It works incredibly at making sure you don’t have any crazy obvious lines of makeup. Plus, the price. Do you really need a budget option?!
MAC #263 Small Angle Brush, $20 | This brush is a must if you want to use a gel eyeliner. I even bought a second one that I use in my makeup artist kit when I freelance. Without it, my winged liner is crap. I bought this brush in 2007 when I first had a MAC makeup artist do my eye makeup and fell in love hard. Nothing works as well as the #263 and I have a few different gel eyeliner brushes now, but this is still my 100% favorite. The softness, the thickness, and the flexibility make it incomparable.
If you have to go budget, please know that nothing will truly compare to this particular brush, but I’d recommend trying the Sigma E65, Small Angle Brush at $15 (huge MAC dupe brand). If that’s still a bit out of budget, give this $9.99 one from Sonia Kashuk at Target a shot.
Sephora Angled Natural Blush Brush, $28 | When I want/need a more precise application of my blush color and don’t want it to become too mixed with my bronzer, this is the brush I reach for. The natural hair bristles pick up the perfect amount of product and are very soft. Originally in an old Sephora collection, the natural hair bristle brush that’s on Sephora’s site now is on SALE for $15! If that one happens to be sold out when you’re reading this, here’s the newest Sephora version.
For a budget option, this e.l.f. one is absolutely identical at $2.99! It just may fall apart in a few months to a year. I’ve had my Sephora brush since ~2008 and it’s still going strong.
MAC #221 Mini Tapered Blending Brush, $25 | I picked up this brush very recently and it’s been a game changer in eyeshadow application, creating depth, and blending. If you have hooded or semi-hooded lids (like me), this brush is a Godsend. More precise than the famous #224 that I recommended in the first brush post, this brush allows you to concentrate color through the crease and in the outer corner without disrupting the other layers of shades you already applied. It was KEY in creating look #2 I did in this post.
For a budget option, try the Hakuhodo brush J5529 ($17). For an even better budget option, the Morphe M514 ($5.99).
HIGH END (if you only purchased the most expensive options): $89 + tax & s/h
LOW END (if you only purchased the least expensive options): $32 + tax & s/h
Do you have any of these brushes? If so, let me know what you think or how you like to use them. Do you recommend any other brushes that are must haves? Let me know in the comments!