I am not a make up artist and my opinions are only based on my personal experience with the brands I tried. I love make up brushes and after a few years into make up, I have gathered a few of them. The day I discovered that a good make up brush could make a significant difference in a make up application I was intrigued and started to build my collection.
I have taken pictures of the brushes that I love the most and that I use regularly, for each category I highlight my very favorites and tell you why I love them so much. The same brush may be pictured in different categories since I try to get the most of each one of them. I apologize it’s a bit long and mixed up…
I have extremely dry and sensitive skin, only a few moisturizers work for me and of course the ones that work are extremely expensive. On a daily basis I use the Laura Mercier Repair creme without SPF. Before discovering this moisturizer I could not wear foundation at all, even foundations for dry skin, I had dry patches and flakes within 2 hours of application.
I prefer to apply my foundation with a sheer coverage, sometimes medium coverage but either way I always aim to achieve a glowy look and I don’t usually powder afterwards.
When I wake up, even after the shower, my skin is still really sensitive, using a soft brush on my eyelids and my face made a big difference in my daily routine, the application is so relaxing and smooth, and that’s why I love soft brushes so much.
These are the make up brands that I use the most :
- Rouge Bunny Rouge
- Tom Ford
- Le Metier de Beaute
- By Terry
- Shu Uemura
I will always try to use products and techniques that don’t emphasize my wrinkles or that don’t look heavy or cakey, I am not a make up artist, my opinions are only based on my personal experience.
Foundation, buffing and stippling
In the picture below, you will see my favorite foundation brushes :
I’ll try to give you some examples with some of the foundations I love to wear :
- For mineralize cream foundation (Mac) : Real Techniques stippling brush or RM Radiance
- For liquid foundation (Tom Ford, Burberry, BB, Laura Mercier, By Terry, etc) : RM Radiance, Hakuhodo G5556 4mm, Sigma F80 or Coastal Scents Bionic. With the Radiance, no need to buff afterwards but with the others I still like to buff with the Mac 187 or any other similar stippling brush, even though it’s not really always necessary.
- For very liquid foundation (Mac or Make Up For Ever face and body) : LY 34, I noticed the bristles suck a lot of foundation but with a very liquid foundation that’s the one I would reach for, mainly for body foundation.
- For mineralize powder foundation (Bare Escentuals) : Coastal Scents Bionic for a flawless and heavier coverage and Chanel 1 for a more natural sheer to medium coverage.
My top favorite is the Rae Morris Radiance, the finish is like an airbrushed application. The price is high but worth it and I could live only with this brush.
Powder and bronzer
These are my favorite powder and bronzer brushes :
My top favorites :
- The Louise Young 07s : it’s HUGE, for bronzer application it’s absolutely amazing, not precise at all of course but so soft, when I was looking for a big brush for bronzer application I ordered this one, it was love at first sight ! If you want a big brush, solid and of high quality, I recommend you get this one, well worth the price tag.
- The Tom Ford bronzer : this is the highest quality brush I have ever had… it’s luxurious, heavy, soft, really soft, how can goat hair be so incredibly soft ??? They said it’s made of “natural” hair, I imagine it’s goat…
Even if it’s solid, keep in mind that if it falls on the floor, the handle is the same material than their TF lipsticks or quads and can be damaged if they fall on hard surfaces.
It’s not a necessary brush, there are cheaper alternatives that deliver similar results, but if you have the possibility to get it, I think you won’t be disappointed by its quality. The price is scary.
- The Chanel 1 : it’s fantastic. I use it for so many different applications. The bristles are firm but soft, great to apply Bare Escentuals Mineral powder foundation, to use with By Terry blushes, also with Guerlain Meteorites balls, and amazing for finishing. I could not live without it. Well worth the price and a great multipurpose for my daily routine.
- The Chanel 2 : another fantastic multipurpose brush, I tend to have a very heavy hand with blush application, this one helps me with the blending and correcting… It’s also very soft but firm, great quality and definitely a must-have !
- The Bobbi Brown powder : when I am in a hurry or I don’t want to think, I just grab this one, it’s a no brainer… works with everything. It was one of my first high end brushes, many years ago and it still looks new, it has been washed nearly every week !
Highlight and contour brushes
I love highlight and contour. At my age, highlight is something that really helps me to look a bit younger and I love contour since I am bit overweight and helps me to look a bit thinner… two tricks that I use and abuse 🙂
- The Louise Young LY20 : Ideal for striped bronzers, blushes or highlighters. This brush is just so beautiful to look at, I love the quality and density of the fan.
- The Illamasqua : it’s a synthetic brush, the bristles are extremely soft, great for any type of product, powder or cream.
- The Hakuhodo Yachiyo : I use it mainly for highlighting. I don’t buff with this brush, the application is more like a “push the powder into the skin”, if this makes any sense …
- The Hakuhodo G504 : the bristles are short, firm and densely packed, excellent for applying precise contouring and blending.
- The Mac 164SH : this short hand brush from Mac is top-notch quality, multipurpose, very useful for trips or the daily make up bag.
- The Hakuhodo G5537 : I don’t use it very often but if I want to apply soft highlighting all over the face I’ll pick this.
- The Mac 165 : it’s a shame this is a Limited Edition brush, I wish Mac will make it permanent, it’s one of the best Mac brushes ever.
My top favorites are :
- The Tom Ford cream brush : I am blown away by the amazing quality of this brush, unfortunately very expensive but I am not disappointed, I have washed it so many times and it’s like new. It’s very dense and really soft, you can apply any cream product or foundation like a dream. A great multipurpose brush.
- The Shu Uemura 18 goat : you will fall in love with this little one, great for contour or highlight or even foundation but it’s tiny. I sometimes use it for applying my foundation base since I only apply it in the center of the face or where I have bigger pores. I totally recommend this brush and I think it’s a must have, well worth the price tag, soft and dense as well, smaller than the Tom Ford mentioned just before.
- The Hakuhodo S 103 : fantastic for highlighting or contour or blush, blends really well, the quality is over the top and this brush is a success, one of the best Hakuhodos.
Cream and powder blush
All of these brushes are my favorites :
The Chanel 2, the Hakuhodo S 103 and the LY04 brushes are fantastic.
The Tom Ford 06 cheek brush is just to die for, it’s so soft, dense, perfectly shaped and well made, I don’t think there is a better brush out there, my favorite brush EVER.
If you would like me to review a particular brush more in depth or if you have any questions, please let me know.
My favorite brush for the body is the Illamasqua body, it’s synthetic but so incredibly soft, like the softest velvet you could ever think of ! It’s difficult to resist, you just can’t help touching it ! It’s really huge and covers a lot of surface.
Eyeshadow base and blending
I love these big brushes for an all-over eyeshadow application. I could not live without the two Hakuhodo pictured below, they are incredibly soft and not that expensive, 29 and 26 usd … well worth the price !
- The Trish McEvoy 40 : for application of powder or cream base eyeshadow
- The Bobbi Brown eye sweep : for an all-over base powder eyeshadow
- The Hakuhodo B232 : for base or blending, so soft… a dream brush !
- The Hakuhodo B214 : I use it every single day, for blending the finished look, it does that fast and flawless, the bristles are soft but firm and dense, it’s big, maybe too big for some, a holy grail for me.
I tend to use the Mac 239 the most, but I love all these brushes and they all deliver really well. Sometimes I pick the Rouge Bunny Rouge 005 for small and precise lid application but they are all my big favorites. I tend to use white brushes more for cream eyeshadow application, I have some Ellis Faas eyeshadow pens but instead of applying straight with the pen, I place the cream on the back of my hand and I apply and blend with the TF or the Mac. Again the Tom Ford is of excellent quality but very pricey.
Eyeliner, cream eyeshadow and concealer
Sigma makes great synthetic brushes, I have a few of them and use them very often. I love cream and waterproof eyeshadows and with the Sigma brushes the application it’s really easy, the blue ones come from the Mrs Bunny set. If you still don’t know the Sigma that are made of Sigmax HD fibers, you should give them a try. I only use them for cream based eyeshadows.
- The Sigma P86 is excellent for concealer or cream eyeshadow.
- The Illamasqua crease brush is very soft I tend to use it with softer cream eyeshadows, Illamasqua makes nice synthetic brushes that are suitable either for powder or cream products.
- The Hakuhodo K007 is my holy grail for eyeliner application, I like to draw a very thin line and this brush is soft and precise and just the best I found for me.
- The Chanel 27 is also fantastic if you want to apply eyeshadow as a liner close to the lash line, very easy to use.
Well, in this picture you will see all my top favorites… too many !
The Louise Young LY 38a and 38b : great for small crease application, since I have hooded eyes it helps me to place the darker crease shadow right were I need it, draw the line and then blend. Hakuhodo G5534 is very similar to these and is also fantastic but I had to narrow my selection…
The RM 8 : it’s just a must-have, precise and efficient.
The Mac 217 : I use it with powder and cream eyeshadow application and blending.
The Hakuhodo G5524 and G5527 : I use these if I want to apply some darker cream eyeshadow, for example Mac Blackground paintpot, I will apply it lightly in the crease, either as a base or on its own. The bristles are pointed and the softest of all (Kazan), the result will be very soft. BUT, I don’t think they are recommended to use with liquid or cream products at all, it’s a shame since I really like them for that purpose, I hope they will make similar brushes with goat hair (I know Hakuhodo have some goat hair brushes on the way…). These G5524 and G5527 brushes are also great with dark powder eyeshadows, they soften the application for a work appropriate look at the office. I just wish I could find the same but made of goat hair, then they would be holy grail material for me … I imagine my holy grail the same size and shape as these ones but with the same hair color and quality as Tom Ford brushes … that would be Heaven…
Eyeshadow precision brushes
These 4 brushes are my top favorites :
Of course the Mac 219 is great 🙂 but I prefer the TF pencil brush because it’s a bit softer, if you have the Mac you don’t need to get the TF because the difference is not so obvious.
I have the Hakuhodo B533 (not pictured here), but I prefer the Hakuhodo G5520, smaller and for sure my holy grail of all the pencil brushes out there ! Perfect size for my eyes ! I can set powder on my gel or pencil eyeliner, I can line under my eyes, it is firm enough and picks the perfect amount of product. Fantastic.
I also love the small Hakuhodos G5515 and G5514, these brushes are not expensive at all and truly useful, definitely must-haves !
These are my top 5 favorite smudgers ever :
I often apply an eyeshadow pencil close to the lashes but I don’t like a heavy application for the office. I will smudge it with the Hakuhodo G5511 or the G5510 and I will slightly wing it outwards, it will look like a winged eyeliner but softer than a black gel liner. I will set with powder afterwards.
I love the Chanel 24 for an application of highlighter in the inner corner of the eye and the Chanel 14 and LY13 for smudging underneath the eyes.
Some additional details…
I will probably review individual brushes in the near future, I just wanted to mention some more details on the following brands :
The quality of their brushes is excellent, not only the handles but also the hair, truly luxurious and expensive brushes, it’s like having expensive jewelry 🙂 They have some kind of magical power on me… When I saw them for the first time in a TF make up artist kit I was disappointed, they didn’t look very appealing, that’s why I did not get them at first. But then my love for brushes was stronger and I got 2 of them. After a while I realized that they lasted very well, I wash them every 7 or 14 days approx, depending on the brush. I have some of them since they were released and they still look pretty new.
They are made in Japan. I usually ask my friends or colleagues to pick the brushes for me when they travel to the UK or the USA since they are not available in Switzerland.
I have many Hakuhodo brushes and I only had a problem with a lip brush, the cap was shorter than the hair, so the bristles were squeezed inside but other than that, I am very happy with their customer service and with all their brushes. I order them online on their Hakuhodo site, the delivery to Europe is fast, less than 1 week, and they pack them in the most perfect way.
These brand is amazing, they have so many great brushes in their range. I order them from their UK site and they arrive in about 3 days. I buy them online here.
I love their new face brushes, I just started to purchase Chanel brushes a few months ago after watching some videos online… Deb (debbick1 in Youtube) made me do it… 🙂 . I did not know Chanel had these wonderful face brushes. Here in Switzerland the brushes are never shown to the public, they are kept in their drawers, hidden, you don’t even know they exist… you have to ask at the counter and only then they will show them to you. I am really happy that I discovered them thanks to the online reviews. I sometimes buy them here in Switzerland but since they are much more expensive than anywhere else, I tend to wait until I have a special voucher.
If you have any questions or would like me to review a particular brush please let me know, if I have it I will be happy to do that for you.
I found an excellent web site where they explain all the different type of brush hair, very useful : here
…….I am very impressed if you managed to get to the end of this post… sorry it’s such a long post and thanks for reading…
Please share your favorites, must-haves and holy grails in the comments !