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Beauty Trends

Different Types Of Makeup Brushes (And How To Use Them)

by Beverly Hills MD

January 29 2020

There are tons of different types of makeup brushes out there. Brushes come in all types of materials, bristle shapes, lengths, and densities. The truth is, that you really don’t need them all. Clean hands and fingers work just fine for many people, even professional makeup artists. But still, there’s something to be said for having the right tool for the job.

Specialized makeup brushes are specifically made for targeting certain areas of your face. Having a nice brush set (or just a few key brushes) can really elevate your makeup look. And if you want to try looks like contouring and wingtip eyeliner, brushes are pretty much a must.

If you’re ready to channel your inner makeup artist, here’s a complete guide on different types of makeup brushes and how to use them.

Different Types Of Makeup Brushes

makeup foundationFoundation Brush

Brush Style: round, dome-shaped brush with densely packed bristles

Used For: applying foundation evenly across the face

How To Use It Properly: Dispense foundation to the back of your hand, dip the brush in it, and apply it to your face using short, circular motions. Start at the center of your face and work your way out.1

Stippling Brush

Brush Style: a full-fibered, fluffy head that is interspersed with long, feathery fibers

Used For: layering foundation (gives an airbrushed look)

How To Use It Properly: Push the brush down on your face in short movements, then use soft strokes to spread the makeup with the longer fibers.2

Powder Brush

Brush Style: thick, full brush with long, fluffy, soft bristles

Used For: spreading loose or compact powder over your face without distributing too much

How To Use It Properly: Dip the brush in powder, tap off excess, and lightly sweep it over your face to set your makeup.3

Concealer Brush

Brush Style: small brush heads with dense, rounded bristles

Used For: applying liquid or cream concealer

How To Use It Properly: Dip the brush in concealer, and tap it over areas that need extra coverage (like under your eyes, around your nose, or over blemishes).4

fan brushes | Beverly Hills MDFan Brush

Brush Style: flat, round, and “fan-like” with lightweight bristles

Used For: applying highlights and cleaning up powder makeup mistakes

How To Use It Properly: Sweep this brush over your cheekbones to apply powder highlighter.5

Angled Blush Brush

Brush Style: soft, fluffy brush with slanted bristles

Used For: applying blush, bronzer, and highlighter

How To Use It Properly: Use the blush brush to precisely dust colored powder over your cheeks and cheekbones.6

contour makeup brush | Beverly Hills MDFace Contour Brush

Brush Style: angled with soft, dense bristles

Used For: defining your cheekbones and making your face look angular or slimmer

How To Use It Properly: Using a slightly darker shade than your face, sweep the contour brush over areas that you want to slim and minimize. Many people use contour brushes near their hairline, under cheekbones, on the sides of the chin and jawbone. (Hint: Contouring can be an advanced technique; YouTube tutorials may help).7

Flat Eyeshadow Brush

Brush Style: flat, fluffy, medium-sized brush head. Oval brushes are also popular.

Used For: eye makeup application over your eyelid

How To Use It Properly: Use this brush to sweep shadow on the eyelid and blend it in an outward direction.8

eyeshadow brush | Beverly Hills MDEyeshadow Crease Brush

Brush Style: long, dome-shaped brush

Used For: delivers a high concentration of color to eyelid creases

How To Use It Properly: After applying a base color to the lid, dip this brush in shadow, apply the crease color, and diffuse the edges.9

Blending Brush For Eyes

Brush Style: wide, flat bristles that taper slightly at the end

Used For: the blending brush is used to blend layers of eyeshadow

How To Use It Properly: After you apply your first layer of eyeshadow, use the blending brush to smooth and blend additional layers.10

eyeliner brush | Beverly Hills MDFlat Tip Eyeliner Brush

Brush Style: flat tip with dense, rigid bristles

Used For: applying color around eyes with precision

How To Use It Properly: Dip in eyeliner and apply across the lash line.11

Angled Eyeliner Brush

Brush Style: flat tip with dense, rigid bristles

Used For: applying color around eyes with precision; can be used with powder, cake, or gel liner

How To Use It Properly: Dip the brush in liner, start at the inside of the eye, and sweep the brush along the lash line.12

eyebrow brush | Beverly Hills MDSpiral Eyebrow Brush (Spoolie)

Brush Style: very rigid, spiraled bristles

Used For: taming brow hairs

How To Use It Properly: Brush through your eyebrows in short strokes, using the brush to move hairs back into position.13

Lip Brush

Brush Style: small, fine brush with squared off tip

Used For: defining the edges of your lips and applying color or gloss

How To Use It Properly: Dip brush into lipstick, wipe of excess, use the brush to line the edge of the lips and fill them in.14

What Materials Are Available For Bristles?

types of makeup brushes | Beverly Hills MD

While there are hundreds of different types of makeup brushes, there are really only two types of brush materials. There are brushes made with synthetic bristles and those made with natural bristles. Both types have their pros and cons.

Synthetic Brushes

Synthetic brushes are typically made of polyester or nylon. These synthetic fibers don’t absorb liquid, so they tend to work well with cream and liquid products. Cream blushes, concealers, foundations, and eyeliners typically call for synthetic brushes.


  • Less expensive than natural hair brushes.
  • They come in many styles and brands.
  • Easy to wash.
  • They don’t shed.
  • No animals are harmed in their creation.
  • They are ideal for liquid or cream products because the bristles are not porous.


  • Synthetic bristles may aggravate some skin types.
  • They may not pick up powder products as well as natural brushes.15

Natural Hair Brushes

natural makeup brushes | Beverly Hills MD

Natural brushes are typically made from the hair and fur of animals like boars, squirrels, and goats. Because they are made of real hair, they tend to be much softer than synthetic brushes. Because they are porous, they tend to absorb and spread pigment well.16

You may want to grab natural brushes when applying loose powder, powder blush or bronzer, highlighter, and eyeshadow.


  • They pick up and distribute pigment better than synthetic brushes.
  • They may allow for more control and precision.
  • They are extremely soft.
  • If you take care of them, they can last a long time.


Which Brushes Do You Actually Need?

different makeup brushes | Beverly Hills MDDo you need a blush brush or an angled brush for your eyeshadow? The answer of which make-up brushes you absolutely need will be different for everyone. How do you currently apply makeup? Is it working for you? Are there specific looks you’d like to try that require brushes? If you love makeup, then you may want all of the brushes on this list in your arsenal.

If you had to whittle it down to only three choices, you might choose something like this:

  • A small, angled brush that can be used on eyeliner, lips, and brows
  • A flat, medium-sized brush that can be used to build coverage with foundation, concealer, and highlighter
  • A soft, fluffy, dome-shaped brush that can be used to apply powder, blush, and bronzer19

As you build your collection of makeup brushes, remember to reach for quality products. Investing in high-quality pieces will ensure they will last a long time and serve you for many years down the road.

Learn More:
How To Clean Your Foundation Brush (And Why It’s Important To Clean All Your Makeup Brushes)
DIY Makeup Storage: Cost Effective Ways To Organize Your Makeup At Home
Tips To Overhaul Your Dirty Makeup Drawer: What To Throw Away And When To Replace Makeup Brushes


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