The Best Basic Makeup Brushes That You Actually *Need*

Confused about which makeup brushes you really need? Look no further.

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At STELLAR’s Glow Up Live event in February, one of our lovely audience members asked us what eyeshadow brushes she really needed to own, and it got me thinking. Makeup brushes are a constant source of uncertainty and debate in the beauty world – do you have to have a separate brush for each product? How do I know which foundation brush is best? And what on earth is a fan brush for? Of course, everyone will have differing opinions, but let me introduce you to the six kinds of brushes and applicators I think the average makeup wearer will get the most use out of.


Here’s the truth: You absolutely do not need fifty million eyeshadow brushes. Take it from someone who HAS fifty million eyeshadow brushes, but reaches for the same two over and over again: a shader brush to pack on shadow, and a fluffy brush to blend it out. If you find yourself doing more colourful looks, you might want to invest in a second one of each so you’re not constantly washing and washing. Fluffy brushes are also good for applying highlighter – they’re less faff than fan brushes – so you’ll get lots of use out of them in particular. If you like a smokey eye, you might want a small pencil-style brush (like the E.l.f. Beautifully Precise Smudge Brush, €6) for smudging our eyeliner, but really, that’s it.


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The ‘best’ foundation applicator is a matter of personal preference, and it can change depending on the type of foundation you’re using. Personally, I like a buffing brush with CC creams, and a sponge for fuller-coverage foundations as well as concealer. Play around with some inexpensive brushes and figure out what you like best – perhaps even a combination of brush and sponge could be the key to your perfect base. Both are also great for applying cream bronzers, highlighters and blushes, so you’ll get your money’s worth.

Blush and/or bronzer

Here, you’re looking for a brush that’s fluffy and slightly domed, ideal for diffusing powder blush or bronzer onto the cheeks. This Real Techniques brush picks up the perfect amount of product, meaning you’ll only end up with too much blush if you really want too much blush.


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We’re used to reaching for something big and fluffing when it comes to setting powder, but may I recommend trying a smaller brush? A pointed brush like this Blank Canvas one allows for more precision when it comes to setting your concealer under your eyes and taking the shine off your T-zone, and you’re rarely in danger of over-powdering.


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