50 Shades of Brushes

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Dear Ladies,

I am sure many of you feel assaulted by the exponentially increasing number of beauty products released on the market every day, not knowing which one to pick first or if it’s going to work at all. As a professional, I know that when it comes to make up brushes the chaos becomes bigger and most of you don’t even bother about the subject, thinking they are not really necessary and purchasing eventually one drug store powder brush to apply bronzer/blush especially during the summer.

Well, I Confess 🙂 ……. Make-up Brushes are Essential!!!! 😛

You don’t need to have a million of them but you should have a few good ones that will get the best out of the make-up products you probably already own. It makes absolutely no point to buy the most expensive foundation, eyeshadow or blush if you don’t apply it with the right tools because it means you’ll be using the product at only 50% of its real potential.

Buying very good quality brushes is very important, not only because they last longer, but because they are actually better at getting the best out of the product you are trying to apply, thus having a significant impact on the final result. The price for a good brush starts around 10€ and goes up to 100€ or more. I know there are a million brush sets containing 20 brushes for 20 euros available on online stores like Amazon but believe me that’s not what you need!

How many brushes? Well…….I think every woman should own at least one foundation brush or sponge, a powder puff or brush, the three essentials for eyes, eyebrows comb&brush, blush brush, contouring brush and ideally a separate fluffy blending brush for applying the highlighter……..that sums up to 9 magical tools 😀

When choosing the perfect brush is important to look at the density of the bristles as well as whether they have natural hair (better for powder products), synthetic (ideal for liquid and cream products) or a mixture of both (multiple usage). I will try to introduce you to some affordable make up tools that I discovered by trying them out myself.

Next, I will try to narrow down some of  market offers into types of brushes according to the area of the face, different product textures and makeup techniques they are used for, giving you for each category a few options to choose from as well as letting you know which ones are my personal favorites.


Sponges are usually very easy to clean and work with, so if you don’t like the idea of using a brush or you feel that it would be too complicated for you, one of the “cute things” in the picture above would be best for getting your foundation evenly distributed and blended into your skin.


Stippling brushes (1 & 4), are mostly used for liquid foundations, light to medium coverage, in order to disperse the product on to the face very lightly making the skin look natural.

As the name says, buffer brushes (2, 3 & 4), commonly used for medium to high coverage foundation, liquid or cream, are meant to “buff” the product into the skin giving a flawless look even for those of us with not such perfect skin condition.

I don’t really fancy traditional flat foundation brushes as the one on the left in the picture above since they just spread the foundation on your face but don’t really blend it in and plus you have to be quite fast, otherwise the product dries out and you can easily get the undesired lines on your face, especially towards the hairline.

On the other hand, a good price/performance investment would be the brush set above since it contains a very good buffer brush (on the right) and a contouring brush (on the left) and two extra brushes for concealer and lips.

This category’s personal favorites are brush no. 2 and the set above which I proudly own and use every day! 🙂


As I already mentioned, here are the best two ways to set your foundation. Always keep in mind when applying powder not to overload your brush/puff with too much product and not to press and drag from the center of your face out but rather use a tapping motion because otherwise you’ll be actually removing some of your foundation.


For the eyes we essentially need 3 brushes and the best I’ve ever found (also my personal favorites) are still the already famous MAC 239, 217 and 219 (no. 1, 2, 3 in the picture above). No.1 is used to apply the base color all over the lids, no.2 is for blending the color applied in the crease area to obtain that very much desired smokey eyes effect and no.3 helps smudging eye pencil and eyeshadow around your eyelashes for better eye contouring.

I included in the picture above (no.4) another quite good and a little bit cheaper blending brush, no. 776 from Bdellium, because they actually do have some very similar shaped brushes to the 3 essentials from MAC (see also Bdellium no. 780 and no. 778).


First brush in the picture above is actually what make up artists use to give that fuller, thinker look to your lashes by applying a thin layer of eyeshadow at the base of the lashes and although not a must must have it could be useful for those of you who love that effect.

Second brush is a limited edition from one of the already famous collections “Rihanna for MAC” and it’s basically 239 and 217 brushes combined, making it the perfect first thing to get if you don’t already own any of the MAC classics and if you still manage to find it in the stores.

Brush no. 3 is also a double ended brush very good for styling and filling your eyebrows with matte brown eyeshadow. Why? Because if I were asked to do a 60 seconds make up that would most likely be the first thing I would do, as well as applying lipstick. It usually makes a huge difference when applying only this two products and the explanation is very simple…..eyebrows frame your face immediately and give a younger appearance where as lipstick adds that little bit of color we all need in our lives 😛

Contouring & Highlighting/Face

The first three brushes in the picture below (from left to right: Real Techniques, Ds Vinci and MAC) are some of the best blush brushes I came across not only because they are incredibly soft but because they actually blend the color on your cheeks making it appear very very natural. I can’t even decide which one is my favorite here because all of them are as good.


4th one above is more of a contour brush (no.168 MAC) but it can be used for blush although its never recommended to use the same brush to apply both products since the colors will mix, therefore you will never get the true tone of the product you are trying to apply, thus not contour your face properly.

Last in the picture above is nothing but a bigger, fluffier blending brush which is ideal for applying highlighter on the face above your cheeks area, giving you the fresh, bright lovely look.

I am not mentioning lip brushes here because I believe that most women can apply lip gloss or lipstick without necessarily using a brush.

Last but not least, don’t forget to CLEAN your brushes at least once a week because of hygiene as well as maintaining the shape and prolonging the life of your brushes. Best for doing that will be a curd soap or already mixed solutions available in stores. There are plenty of “How To Wash Your Brushes” videos on Youtube for you to see how exactly it’s done without damaging your brushes.

Here are some online stores where you can purchase all this wonderful things we’ve been talking about and watch very good tutorials on how to use each one of them – Real Techniques, Bdelliumtools, MAC and of course on Amazon.

As I said before these are some of the most affordable/good quality offers available but if you feel like investing and investigating more, here are some brands and websites you can check out: Beauty Bay, Sephora, Make Up For Ever, Too Faced, Bobby Brown, NARS, Tom Ford, Rae Morris and Hakuhodo.



Adriana Holban



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