When you are looking for face brushes you can easily get lost with all the choices available in the market today, even more when you are just starting to build a little collection. The most common questions I receive are about the “cheapest+most versatile+most efficient” face brushes, with that in mind, I tried to create this post for you, either to help you in your research or to point you in the right direction.
My first advice is : buy fewer brushes, but greater brushes. If you have a monthly budget, start with the minimum and then buy them gradually. If you start with great brushes, believe me you will avoid wasting your money on brushes that you’ll not use anyway.
The most important and complex brush to choose is the foundation brush. It will depend on so many factors, if you have dry skin, if you use thicker products, powder products, if you want heavier coverage, all that will directly affect your choice. Foundation or base makeup is only flattering when the application is nicely done, it’s supposed to boost your confidence, if you feel that your foundation is patchy, not well blended and too obvious it might just do the total opposite.
My profile :
- I am not a makeup artist, my recommendations are based on my own experience
- I have very delicate and dry skin therefore I don’t often use powder foundations but more liquid or cream
- I prefer sheer to medium coverage so I will never fully cover all my pigmentation irregularities
- I prefer a more natural looking coverage and with my dry skin I would not be able to bear heavy ones anyway.
Below you will see an example of what I consider to be some of the most essential and affordable face brushes :
This is just a tiny sample of what you can find out there, the final choice will depend on your budget, your skin and specially the products you use and how many of them you would be applying during your makeup routine.
I can use all these brushes with liquid/cream products, even the Billy B. Not sure what material the Billy B is, it feels like a mix of goat and synthetic fibers but I think it’s durable enough to use it with both powder and cream products anyway and endure heavy maintenance with the washing.
If you only want to use a brush for powder blush, maybe it’s better if you use darker brushes, you still need to wash darker ones on a regular basis but maybe not as often as white ones since you won’t see all the powder residue therefore it could just mean an easier maintenance. I spray some alcohol on a cloth and gently wipe my goat or synthetic brushes with it after washing them, this is to kill any germs left on the bristles (I don’t do that with more delicate materials like squirrel hair).
If you are interested in a post about how to “de-germ” your makeup, there is one here that covers many items.
The essential face brushes
Please keep in mind that this is just an example, I have just selected a few that I think could fit the three-in-one category “cheapest+most versatile+most efficient”
Hakuhodo J544 (41$) : goat-synthetic fiber brush, versatile (liquid/cream/powder), it’s dense enough for foundation application, firm enough for blending, precise enough to go near the eye area. It feels very soft but still does a great job with the blending. I also use it with cream blushes, or I mix liquid blush with foundation to give a natural flushed look.
Hakuhodo J110 (52$) : goat. Big enough for bronzer or powder, small enough for blush, fluffier and softer than the S110. This brush is probably just the right size to allow a greater versatility for these three options. This brush will work with most of the blushes, pigmented or less pigmented. But for extremely pigmented ones, I’d rather recommend you to get a squirrel brush instead.
Billy B Four (28$ only available in the USA) probably a mix of natural/synthetic. Also a highly versatile brush, this is the size of brush I have been hunting for a while. Perfect for blush, contour, finishing. The bristles pick just the right quantity of product and apply it evenly, it’s soft (enough), not too firm or too dense so the application remains soft and without streaky lines.
Hakuhodo J4002 (32$) goat-synthetic fiber. Again, a great versatile brush to own, you can use it for cream blushes, highly pigmented powder blushes, highlight (great for sparkly products) or also to wipe the excess or fallout off.
Koyudo Fu-pa06-p (60$), goat-synthetic fiber. Amongst all the Fu-pa options, I have chosen this brush for it’s versatility, all the Koyudo Fu-pa brushes are fantastic but you may be able to get more usage out of this. One side is goat and the other goat-synthetic fiber, I actually can do many things with this little gem, for example apply foundation with the slicker side and blend using both sides. Also good for contouring with cream products, applying and blending concealer or lighter foundations on the center of the face.
Hakuhodo J5533 (17$), goat. It’s fluffy enough to deliver flawless contouring on small zones like the sides of the nose, or to set concealer with powder or even to softly apply concealer. The fantastic think about these white goat brushes is that they can be used with powder or liquid products so the options are so much greater.
Hakuhodo J125R (27$), goat-synthetic fiber. Same usage as above, if you already have this one in your collection you can use it for concealer or cream/mousse eyeshadows. It’s also meant for contouring and highlighting and all the duo-fiber brushes that have synthetic bristles that extend further allow a fantastic application of glittery or very pigmented products.
More about foundation
Depending on what you prefer, you can either get a versatile brush or just pick the one and only that you will be using for that purpose. I can give you a few examples with some other brushes shown here :
The BP013 (57$) delivers the perfect flawless sheer to medium coverage that I love with thicker cream foundations.
I often use the Mac Mineralize cream foundation since it works nicely with my skin, no breakouts, no dry patches but it can feel a bit too heavy, if I don’t use a foundation brush like the BP013 the application would be too thick and my pores would drown.
Another example, if you love to use the Chanel Bronze Universel, it can look too orange if not applied correctly but if I use this brush, it just the delivers an amazing sun-kissed glow, it’s not a precise brush so you might need help with smaller corners more difficult to reach but it’s just fine for me 🙂
I also love to use mineral powder foundations with this brush, like the Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF15 but powder foundations are not the best for my skin, it’s ok in summer but winter is really not the best time to use them. My favorite “powder foundation routine” is to apply Mac Skinfinish Natural with this BP013 on top of a sheer coat of liquid foundation, the result is FLAWLESS and this is what I do when I want a polished slightly heavier coverage, still natural and dewy.
This brush is firm but fluffy, still soft on the skin but has thicker bristles and that’s what makes it so amazing with either mineral powder foundations or thicker creams.
The Hakuhodo J4001 (54$), it’s big and covers quite a lot of surface but if you love cream bronzer, like the Chanel Bronzer Universal or these Givenchy healthy glow powders – that I LOVE – these are weird textures, not really powder not really cream but perfect for that brush. For me it’s actually too big and flexible for applying foundations, better take a firmer brush like the J544.
The Koyudo Fu-pa07-p (57$) is the one to have if you want to apply any liquid foundation “the fastest way possible”. I place my foundation with a flat concealer brush or with the fingers and then I blend with this. It’s like a horse that will do it’s job in a record time. It’s soft, I can use it without any problems at all on my dry skin but if you have skin problems maybe it’s better that you use the double-sided version of it, the application will be even softer and since it has too sides it blends even more softly.
A bit more on the blush/bronzer/powder topic…
Hakuhodo J531 (87$) goat. If you are looking for a big, incredibly soft and utterly fluffy brush, this one is not exactly cheap but this is a fantastic option and less expensive than the Tom Ford bronzer or other squirrel brushes, I do prefer squirrel brushes but this one is a dream. You can see below a pic near the J110 for size reference.
Koyudo BP026 (30$) goat. Always by my side, it “buffs” blush and powder like a wild dream, it’s dense and firm but has enough elasticity to do it without burning or making the whole process a hell for your skin. Picks a huge quantity of product too and for some blushes you need either great “picking” capabilities or great “polishing” capabilities and that’s the best option I can recommend. It’s angled and you can also apply thicker contouring and then flawless blend it.
Hakuhodo Kokutan Eyeshadow L (64$) blue squirrel. It’s a very recent purchase. I am delighted with it, you can see in the picture below that there isn’t much difference in size with the Billy B, I prefer the Hakuhodo to the Billy B but honestly both are amazing options as “smaller” blush/contour brushes. In my opinion everyone should have a brush that size. I don’t have any other cheaper options except for the Billy B but since this one is not available outside the USA, I had to mention an alternative. If you know of a similar size brush, please share with us 🙂
This Hakuhodo is dense but extremely soft, will work wonders with contour or blush provided that you love smaller brushes for blush.
A bit more into concealing…
Hakuhodo J4005 (34$) synthetic fiber. Once more another versatile brush :
- You can apply and blend concealer
- You can apply cream contour products and blend
- The angled side will allow you to be a bit more precise around the eyes
- You can place the foundation on your face with this brush and the use a foundation brush to blend, if the product is placed with this brush it will be less sucked into the bristles of a fluffier foundation brush.
It’s flat but still has some thickness compared to other concealer brushes and since it’s bigger and soft, it gives so much more possibilities.
These were my cheapest – yet great – brush recommendations, please let me know what you think and what your favorite foundation routine is, together with the brush you love to use 🙂
I hope it was useful for you and if you have questions or you want similar options with different materials, don’t hesitate 😉