The Makeup Brush Dilemma: What To Look For When Buying Brushes


This is one the posts I recently wrote for Beauty Bulletin and I thought that I’d really like to share it with you guys and I honestly don’t know if anyone is checking out the Beauty Bulletin page for updates, haha)

Navigating the beauty isles can be a bit daunting and many women feel stumped when it comes to choosing brushes and every beauty babe knows that the key to any successful makeup application has to do with your tools as well as your products and this article is here to help you decide what to buy, what to skip and what to look for when buying your brushes.

Synthetic vs Natural

Decide what brushes you need first. Is it a foundation brush? Then it’s synthetic all the way. Do you need a brush for blush, bronzer or eye shadow? Then definitely consider natural bristles. Why the two groups for different needs? Well, natural bristles work best for picking up powder and pigment products because the natural bristles have a cuticle (just like our hair does) and this is what holds the pigments best and is why it’s better suited to “dry” product. If you’re using a “wet” product, like liquid foundation or cream blush, the natural bristle will soak up you product hence why synthetics are best for those. You could consider a blend of synthetic and natural for foundation products such as MAC’s #188 brush which has synthetic bristles at the top and natural in the base. Natural brushes are a good buy if you have very sensitive skin as synthetics may cause an allergic reaction (especially if they’re very cheap).

Splurge vs Steal

Day 225: Makeup Brush Holder

Day 225: Makeup Brush Holder (Photo credit: SodanieChea)

There are times to compromise and there are times not to. Essentially you want to find the brush that is best suited your needs and pocket. Sometimes an expensive brush may not be the best made so do test out the brush beforehand. Are the bristles soft and luxurious to the touch? If yes, do consider this brush. Do the hairs fall out when you run the brush back and forth against your hand? If no, mentally add this brush to your list. Is the ferrule (the metal part) firmly attached to the wooden handle? If yes, this is a good sign (and preferably if it has the rings around the bottom of the metal. This ensures a firmer grip onto the wood). Remember these tips when brush shopping as an informed decision is the best decision. The best made brushes are the ones that are going to last you for years and years (provided you also look after and clean them correctly).

Consider what you need your brushes to do

Are you needing a brush that contours, blends, covers small (or large) areas or create a precise line? Only buy what you absolutely need. If you wear very little eye makeup and opt for lining your eyes, you should be purchasing a stiff angled brush or liquid liner brush as that is what’s suited to your needs.

Quality vs Quantity

It’s much better to have 4 makeup brushes that do their job well than 40 brushes that lie around and have shed hairs way beyond its use. The main brushes I’d recommend would be a foundation brush, powder brush, blush brush, eye shadow blending brush (this can be used to apply shadow as well) and a lip brush (especially if you’re a wearer of bold lipstick colours). That being said; look for multipurpose brushes. My favourite brushes in my brush belt are the multitasking ones such as a fluffy eye shadow brush (to apply and blend shadow, buff out concealer, highlighting areas of the face) and a rounded contour brush (to contour cheeks, apply bronzer and/or blush, add highlight and apply powder to certain areas).

Brush Sets

My Makeup Brush Kit IMG_4650

(Photo credit: wei li graphic designer)

Do be aware of these. Yes, they are fantastic value but be aware that you may be purchasing brushes that you don’t need. If you want to buy a brush set, check to see if they are brushes that you absolutely need and do consider sets that have a foundation brush in them. If you have no brushes yet, a set could be the way to go but if you already have a few brushes, individual brushes may the right choice for you. Inglot has a great travel set of double ended brushes that is great starter set for a brush newbie.

Brush feel and weight

Ask the makeup assistant at the beauty counter if you could feel a (clean) tester brush. Use the brush in store to get a feel of it. Is it comfortable to hold? Does it have a pleasant weight distribution? Try out brushes from different brands and see which brushes feel best for you.

Cleaning Your Brushes

This should be done weekly although, I prefer to clean foundation brushes daily as I have oily skin that breaks out easily. Use warm water and a very mild shampoo to clean your brushes. Run the water over the hair and gently work the shampoo into the hair. Now rinse. Lay your brushes flat (never standing up) to dry. If you leave your brushes standing up, the water will run into the ferrule (the metal part) and loosen the glue and thus the brush hairs will start falling out. I use an organic, herbal brand conditioner on my brushes as well. After all, it is real hair.

Suaad xoxo

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6 responses to “The Makeup Brush Dilemma: What To Look For When Buying Brushes

    • Your welcome!Sorry for the delayed response, your comment somehow ended up in the spam queue O_o Baby shampoo is perfect for cleaning makeup brushes, it’s the most gentle to use 🙂

  1. I have that pink set 🙂 very pretty and very soft. I didn’t want to splurge since Im not a makeup girl but I wanted to try it out before buying anything more expensive. But they’re good and I wont need to buy anything else for a while.

    Before that the only brush I had was a blush brush from The Body Shop which I absolutely love. It’s by far my favourite 🙂

    I’ll definitely refer back to this post when I decide to buy more.

    • My very first set of brushes that I bought were from the Body Shop! I agree, they’re amazingly soft but I had some issues with them picking up pigment so I had to toss them. I’m so glad that they’re working for you though! Their softness is something i won’t easily forget 😉

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