What To Look For When Buying A Set Of Makeup Brushes

I was 16 years old when I got my first set of makeup brushes. And I still use those same brushes almost everyday. 

After deciding she was fed up with my haphazard makeup application skills, my mum marched me to the Bobbi Brown makeup counter at our local department store and bought me three brushes - a foundation brush, a blush brush and an eyeshadow blending brush - and sent me on my merry way. 

While I certainly don’t clean them often enough (don’t judge me), these three brushes have remained in my beauty cabinet for over a decade, and they still work just as well, even after all these years. 

Makeup brushes make painting your face each day just that little bit easier, and to be honest, way more fun. 

But figuring out which brushes to invest in can be a bit of a minefield. So we’re here to help guide you through the experience of buying a brush set for the very first time, or upgrading your brushes.

What To Look For When Buying A Brush Set

New York-based Aussie makeup artist Tobi Henney, known on Instagram as @tobimakeup, has painted some of the world’s most famous faces, including Helena Christensen, Ashley Graham and Ellie Goulding.

While she has dozens of brushes in her professional kit, she says us regular folk only have to worry about one thing when buying makeup brushes. 

“People should look for quality over quantity with makeup brushes,” Tobi told Beauty IQ

“I think it’s best to invest in good quality brushes that you will keep for years. I love brushes that feel super soft on the skin and will wash well over time.”

It also pays to think about what looks you’re going to be creating with these brushes. 

If you never wear eyeshadow, it doesn’t really make sense to splash out on a full set of eyeshadow brushes. If you love highlighter, you might want to ensure your kit has a special highlighter brush, as well as your standard blush, bronzer, foundation and contour brushes. 

As for what brands you should look out for, Tobi has a few recommendations. 

“My go-to brands are M.A.C Cosmetics, Charlotte Tilbury and drugstore brand Real Techniques, which is a really great low-cost option.”

What’s The Difference Between Natural and Synthetic Fibre Brushes?

Natural brushes are made from animal furs and hairs, while synthetic brushes are made from synthetic materials like nylon, polyester and plastic. 

As a general rule, natural brushes are best for powder-based products, like brush or bronzer, while cream products work best when applied with a synthetic brush. 

“I like to have a mix of natural and synthetic brushes,” Tobi explains. 

“Synthetic brushes are better for creative and cream work, as the product doesn’t absorb into the brush.”

How To Clean Your Makeup Brushes

If you’re wearing makeup everyday, it’s best to wash your brushes once a week. If you’re only using them every now and then, you can afford to be a bit more relaxed with your washing schedule. 

While it’s something that’s super easy to forget, not washing your brushes can lead to unwanted bacteria growth. 

A gentle baby shampoo is perfectly fine, or you can use a proper makeup brush cleanser like this Clinique one or Kryolan’s budget-friendly version

If you’re feeling a little extra, a brush cleansing palette like this Real Techniques one will help you deep clean every single bristle in your brushes, plus you won’t have to get your hands involved. 

So, Which Brush Sets Do We Recommend?

Crown is a professional makeup brush brand favoured by many celebrity makeup artists, so you know you’re in the right hands with this 16-piece set. It’s perfect for a makeup obsessive who loves to create a variety of bold looks. There’s a huge range of eyeshadow brushes, as well as specific powder brushes for every kind of blush/bronzer/highlighter combo out there. And for a longterm investment, this generous brush set shouldn't break the bank either.

IT Cosmetics 5 Must-Haves Brush Collection

This is a more premium offering if you’re looking to get a little bit bougie and really invest in some super lush brushes. They're made from the award-winning, cruelty-free, Heavenly Luxe hair, with sturdy handles. IT Cosmetics is famous for their super fluffy brushes, and you get a blush, powder, shadow, liner and concealer brush in this kit, along with a luxe travel case to store them in.

IT Cosmetics 5 Must-Haves Brush Collection

Despite their affordable prices, Real Techniques is another under-the-radar makeup artist fave that tends to get overlooked. But it’s one of the best makeup brush brands if you’re on a budget. This set of synthetic brushes is great for a beginner and includes a blush, eyeshadow, powder and foundation brush, along with a sponge designed to blend cream foundation and concealer. 

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