Is it just us, or is that makeup brush aisle getting a little crowded these days? First, we had the basics - foundation, eyes, lips. Then we had contouring . And now we have baking, strobing and strangely-shaped oval brushes to get to grips with. Oh my!
Cue our ultimate makeup brush guide - here to help you sort through your kit and separate the blenders from the blushers (and everything in between!)...
Makeup brushes: For your face
You have two choices here in terms of shape - tapered or rounded.
Tapered: The gently tapered edges and flexible bristles make this the perfect brush for using with liquid and cream foundation/concealer. Work in downward strokes for the most natural-looking finish.
Rounded: Bristles are densely packed, so they pick up and distribute foundation evenly – whether it’s liquid, cream or powder – and the dome shape helps the bristles to blend in the product as it’s applied.
A small-but-mighty piece of kit, a Kubuki brush can be identified by its short stem and dense bristles. Taking its name from Japanese drama theatre makeup, it's designed to create a dramatic and bold look.
Flat concealer brush
The perfect brush to cover larger parts of your face, especially the under-eye area. Use one side to apply product, flip the brush over and use the other side to blend it in.
Able to pick up both loose and compact powders thanks to its rounded shape and fluffy bristles, this brush is perfect for all all-over-face application.
Says what it does on the tin, this brush should be used as a final step in your routine. With its soft bristles and fanned shape, it's perfect for setting a loose with translucent powder as well as touch-ups of highlighter.
Makeup brushes: For your eyes
All-over eyeshadow brush
This is usually the largest type of eyeshadow brush, with short, flat bristles that can be used to blend eyeshadow if you don’t have a blending brush, or apply base cream or powder eyeshadow.
Eyeliner brush/eyebrow brush
The bristles are short and tightly packed with an angled edge to help you draw a straight, precise line. This is the perfect brush for applying gel eyeliner, for doing a cat eye, for applying a darker shade of eyeshadow along upper and lower lash lines to add definition or to colour in short hair-like strokes for your eyebrows.
Eye contour brush
Boasting an angled brush head, this is designed to be able to get into the eyelid crease with ease - perfect for blending out a layered eyeshadow look.
The slightly longer, loosely packed bristles in this brush make it best for blending powder eyeshadow. Working it in circular motions over your entire eyelid will help to buff the product in and soften any harsh eyeshadow. This type of brush is also good for applying highlighter to your brow bone.
This specialist brush tends to be small with short, tightly packed bristles. It’s the perfect tool for smudging out pencil eyeliner on both upper and lower lash lines, and can also be used to smudge cream or powder eyeshadows for creating a smokey eye. Some smudge brushes have a slight point, for adding definition to the creases of your eyes and for applying eyeshadow in the inner corner of your eye.
Makeup brushes: For your eyebrows
This is a spiral brush with stiff bristles that work to tame unruly brows. It also helps to disperse any pencil or powder product that’s been applied, which will give a more natural finish to your brows.
Makeup brushes: For your lips
Bristles are short and firm to help keep application precise and controlled. Start by sketching the outline of your lips, then colour in the centre for a perfect pout.
This is smaller than a regular lip brush, with fewer bristles and a tapered point. It softens lip pencil lines and allows for precise application of lipstick – making it brilliant for using around the Cupid’s bow area.
Best makeup brushes
Still need a bit more advice? We've enlisted the help of one of our favourite MUA's to talks us through each tool with a fine toothcomb.