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The Best Makeup Brushes

Last updated on May 29, 2020

We looked at the top 14 Makeup Brushes and dug through the reviews from 28 of the most popular review sites including BuzzFeed, GiftWits, New York Mag, Glamour, CTOP Reviews, Sellaholics and more. The result is a ranking of the best Makeup Brushes.

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Our Picks For The Top Makeup Brushes

Show Contents
Our Take
  Best Overall

BS-MALL Premium Synthetic Makeup Brushes

BS-MALL

14-Piece Premium Synthetic Brushes

Overall Take

Versatile SetThe BS-MALL 14-Piece Premium Synthetic Brushes are the right balance of soft and firm.

  #2

Ecotools Start The Day Beautifully Makeup Brush, 5-Count

Ecotools

Start The Day Beautifully Makeup Brushes, 5-Ct

Overall Take

  #3

Real Techniques Sponge Blender Makeup Brush, 5-Piece

Real Techniques

Sponge Blender Makeup Brushes, 5-Piece

Overall Take

  #4

BESTOPE Premium Synthetic Contour Concealer Conical Handle Makeup Brush, 20-Piece

BESTOPE

Premium Contour Makeup Brushes, 20-Pc

Overall Take

  #5

LADES Foundation Eyeshadow Makeup Brush, 12-Piece

LADES

Foundation Eyeshadow Makeup Brush, 12-Piece

Overall Take

Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, Simplemost analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
21

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the makeup brushes available to purchase.
14

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

View All Product Rankings

28

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources.

131,887

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Target, Walmart and 7 others.

The Best Overall

BS-MALL Premium Synthetic Makeup Brushes

Our Expert Score
9.7
Our Take

With this affordable set, you'll get five large makeup brushes and nine smaller makeup brushes. The synthetic bristles, which won't shed while you're using them, are soft yet sturdy.


Our Makeup Brush Findings

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BS-MALL Premium Synthetic Makeup Brushes

What We Liked: With this affordable set, you’ll get five large makeup brushes and nine smaller makeup brushes. The synthetic bristles, which won’t shed while you’re using them, are soft yet sturdy.

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Our Expert Consultant

Natalie Setareh   
Makeup artist, beauty coach and author

Natalie Setareh is an award-winning international makeup artist, makeup educator and, most recently, author of the book “Be Your Own Makeup Artist: Unleash Your Inner Beauty.” Her makeup career has taken her around the world, from Monterey, California, to Augusta, Georgia, and, most recently, to Wiesbaden, Germany.

Our Makeup Brush Buying Guide

With the right set of makeup brushes, you can think like a professional makeup artist and look like a model, all from the comfort of your own home. If all you ever use are the mini brushes included with compacts and palettes, your beauty routine may be ready for a major boost.

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Using the right brush will make it much easier for you to apply every step of your makeup. That means less time staring in the mirror and a later wake-up time for you. How can a few little tools make such a huge difference? Overall, the right brush helps you apply makeup in a more precise manner.

There are several factors to consider when shopping for a set of makeup brushes. They range in price but you should be able to find one that fits your budget. The handles and bristles are made of a variety of materials, which come with their own pros and cons.

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Then, you need to look at the intended use of each brush. Some are multipurpose while others are precise and aimed at applying one product to one area only, according to our beauty expert Natalie Setareh, a makeup artist, beauty coach and the author of the book “Be Your Own Makeup Artist: Unleash Your Inner Beauty.”

“The traditional rule of thumb that synthetic bristle brushes are best suited for cream products and natural hair bristles are best suited for powders and dry makeup still applies,” she says. “There are also makeup brushes that blend both synthetic and natural hair bristles, which also provide unique functions, depending on the type of makeup application you seek to achieve on a regular basis. ”

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Arguably, the most important factor is the material used for the bristles. Bristles are made of either synthetic or natural materials. Most professional makeup artists prefer natural bristles.

What really makes natural bristles stand out is that they behave like human hair and have a cuticle. This allows them to grab pigment from your makeup products and hold onto it until you place it exactly where you want it on your face.

One top-quality natural bristle is from blue squirrel. It’s also the most expensive. Other natural bristles that perform well are pony hair, goat and Kolinsky sable. However, synthetic bristles have come a long way in recent years.

There are also a growing number of eco-friendly brushes made with sustainable materials. For example, the EmaxDesign 12-Piece Makeup Brush Set is super soft and excellent for sensitive skin types.

You’ll also want to consider the materials used to make the other parts of the brushes.

“When I shop for brushes, I like to know where and how they are made (for example, hand-made or machine-made), if they are cruelty-free (yes, natural hair brushes can be cruelty-free too), whether or not their handles are anti-bacterial and what the material of the ferrule (the piece that attaches the bristles to the brush) is made of,” says Setareh.

All of these sets include many more brush options than what you’d use on a regular basis. Professional makeup artists suggest a basic foundation of four main brushes. You want a large powder brush, a slightly smaller fluffy multi-use brush, an eye-shadow brush and a smaller shadow brush. The standard eyeshadow brush should be the size of a fingertip, and the second should be about half that size. From there, you can add on a few more sizes for more precision and fine-tuned application.

Brush shapes also vary as well. You want to look for a slightly domed tip with a bit of fluff in all brushes. This shape helps the bristles roll across the skin smoothly. The fluffy texture isn’t just for show. A fluffy brush deposits less pigment so you can be more precise and slowly build for more drama or keep a subtle look.

A high-quality set of brushes truly is a worthwhile investment. When you take care of them properly and clean them regularly, they can last decades. That’s a lot of beautiful years to look forward to.

Simplemost Fun Fact

Makeup brushes likely date back to the Ancient Egyptians. We can all thank Cleopatra and her strong eyeliner game for the earliest forms of brushes. Meanwhile, other modern cultures around the world entered the brush industry and made their mark. Germany and Japan are known for their excellent brush-making.

In Japan, the first makeup brushes were inspired by calligraphy brushes. In fact, brush-making was so prolific in Kumano, Japan, it earned the nickname the City of Brushes. The brush-making techniques have been passed down through the generations. These luxury brushes are truly an art in and of themselves.

The high-end brushes are still handmade, one at a time, today. The unwieldy brush hairs require the close attention of human hands. As such, they are arranged, hand-tied and trimmed by hand. After all that painstaking work, it’s no surprise they garner high prices.

The Makeup Brush Tips and Advice

  • It’s more important to have the right brush for each task than a perfectly matching set to display on your vanity.
  • The handles and bristles consist of a variety of materials, each of which come with their own pros and cons. Make sure to check the intended use of each brush before buying. Some are multipurpose, while others are precise and aimed at applying one product to one area only.
  • Price can play a major factor when shopping for makeup brushes. Sets can range in cost from budget-friendly options to more expensive versions. The BS-Mall Makeup Brushes, for example, are affordable and have extremely soft bristles that make the experience of applying your makeup a comfortable one.
  • The EmaxDesign 12-Piece Makeup Brush Set includes bristles so soft, some users compare them to teddy bear’s fur. You’ll also get a great experience with the Anjou 16-Piece Makeup Brush Set, which features dense, but velvety fibers that ensure even application.
  • No matter how much you spend on a set of makeup brushes, you’ll want to maintain them by cleaning them regularly. Experts recommend cleaning them with a gentle soap at least once per month. Brushes used around the eye and for applying foundation need a wash every week to prevent bacteria buildup.
  • Cleaning makeup brushes is so important, there are dedicated gadgets to help with the cleaning process. Gloves, solutions and mats can all help clear away product buildup from the bristles.

About The Author

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Jennifer Nied 

Jennifer Nied is a professional writer based in New York City. She studied journalism at Northwestern University. Jennifer has more than 10 years of experience researching, writing and editing beauty content for award-winning national publications. She focuses on professional treatments, as a spa expert, and has tested thousands of makeup, hair and skincare products.