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For the Love of Bristles: Introducing Makeup Brushology 101



If you spend lots of money buying the finest and most expensive makeup and you don’t have the right tools, then I’m afraid you won’t be getting the best use out of your money. With the right tools, you are well on your way to achieving flawless and professional looking makeup.

However, there are dozens of makeup brushes out there and it can be quite a chore knowing which ones are the best and what they do. Hopefully at the end of this article class, you should be able to pass any Brushology exam with flying colours. For clarity, I will be broadly categorizing makeup brushes into: Face, Eyes and Lips.


Foundation Brush: Most foundation brushes are flat, with a pointed end. This helps you apply your foundation smoothly and evenly. The pointed end helps you get to hard-to-reach corners of your face like around the nose and under your eyes. In more recent times, people have moved away from traditional foundation brushes to buffing/stippling brushes for applying their foundation. These brushes are densely packed with a flat rounded top which gives your foundation an airbrushed finish because you are able to work the product into your skin.

Recommendations: MAC 190, Sigma F60, The Body Shop Foundation Brush, ELF Studio Powder Brush(powder brush but works best as a stippling brush)

Powder Brush: The little puffs that come in most powder compacts have a way of transferring too much product to the face, making one look cakey. A fluffy powder brush, preferably made of natural fibre, will help you apply powder sparingly to specific parts of your face like your t-zone and your chin.

Recommendations:  Sigma F30, Blush Beauty Powder Brush

Blush Brush: It is possible to use your powder brush to apply your blush if it is made for both purposes like MAC’s 129 brush. However for a more precise application, you need a blush brush. Most blush brushes are small and dome-shaped, allowing you to apply product directly on the apples of your cheeks.

Recommendations: House of Tara Blush Brush, Real Techniques Blush Brush, ELF Studio Blush Brush

Concealer Brush: These brushes are shaped like foundation brushes but are much smaller. Their size and shape makes it easier to dab concealer to under eye circles, around the nose and on blemishes. I personally prefer to apply concealer on blemishes and dark circles with my fingers because the warmth of my fingers helps blend the product into my skin. Synthetic brushes are best for liquid makeup like concealer because they don’t pick up too much product.

Recommendations: Sigma F70, Bobbi Brown Touch Up

Contour Brush: This brush is not essential, but if you like to contour your face to make it appear slimmer and more chiseled then you would require one. Most contour brushes are angled to fit perfectly in your cheekbones.

Recommendations: MAC 109, MAC 168 (can be used for both blush and contour), Sigma F40

Kabuki Brush: Another brush that isn’t totally essential but has its advantages. A Kabuki is a powder brush with bristles that are more densely packed to help you achieve more coverage with your powder without appearing cakey. They are usually made with natural fibre and are very handy to carry around.

Recommendations: ELF Kabuki Face Brush, Too Faced Kabuki Brush, EcoTools Retractable Kabuki Brush


I always chuck those eyeshadow applicators that come in eyeshadow palettes as I don’t think they are ideal for applying eyeshadow.

Flat Shader Brush: This brush is usually stiff and square shaped so it picks up color well. It is handy for applying eyeshadow to the lid of your eye. Used in patting motions, it allows even distribution of product on the lid with very minimal fall out.

Recommendations: MAC 239, ELF Eyeshadow Brush, House of Tara Eyeshadow Brush

Blending Brush: This soft, tapered brush is used to apply a transition color in the crease to soften the look of your eyeshadow. To create a smokey eye, a stiff blending brush helps to precisely apply and blend darker shadows in the crease.

Recommendations: Sigma E35, MAC 217&224, ELF Blending Eye Brush

Pencil Brush: Not entirely necessary unless you like to apply eyeshadow in your inner tear duct area or want to create a more defined crease. You can also use it to apply eyeshadow to your lower lash line.

Recommendations: Real Techniques Detailer Brush, MAC 219

Angled Brow Brush: If you use a brow powder or eyeshadow to fill in your eyebrows then you will need a good brow brush that is angled and thin for precise application.

Recommendations:  Sigma E75, MAC 208, Twelve from Kent Angled Brow Brush

Eyeliner Brush: Ideal for applying gel eyeliners. The best ones are usually angled for easier application.

Recommendations: ELF Angled Eyeliner Brush, Sigma E10


Lip brushes are not very popular because honestly, it is much easier to apply your lipstick straight from the tube. However, if you want to get a precisely defined lip especially with bright colored lipsticks, then you would need a small one with firm bristles and a tapered head.

Recommendations: MAC 318 Retractable Lip Brush, BM Pro Retractable Lip Brush, House of Tara Lip Brush

This Brushology class would not be complete without mentioning anything about brush care. It is essential to keep your brushes clean to prevent build up and transfer of bacteria to the skin which causes acne. Wash them every two weeks with baby shampoo to keep them fresh and lasting longer.

Yewande is a recent graduate of Warwick Business School in the UK. She is passionate about all things beauty related and shares avant-garde tips and tricks amongst other things on Connect with her on twitter: @Yewizzy

Yewande Thorpe is a Digital Communications expert working for an MNC in Nigeria. Outside of her professional life, Yewande owns and manages one of the foremost beauty blogs in Nigeria, where she focuses primarily on sharing her knowledge of beauty and skincare as it concerns the African woman. Her scope sometimes broadens into fashion, food and travel because they are indeed some of life's finer things. Connect with her on Instagram @shelovesthefinerthings and Twitter @SLTFT_Blog

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