The six makeup brushes you need

One of the questions I get asked most often is which make-up brushes, among the eleventy billion available, are the most important to have.




Don’t be intimidated by the massive brush selections you find at most beauty product stores.

If you’re just starting to build your make-up kit, in my humble opinion, you can do everything you need to do with 6  basic brushes. I did say six.

Here’s my selection:
  • Medium eye shadow: For applying your base colour from lash line to crease.
medium eye shadow brush

medium eye shadow brush

  • Crease brush:  This brush should be tapered, and not too soft or too stiff. Using a darker shade, use this brush to create a sideways “v” in the outside corner of your eye.
crease brush

crease brush

  • Small angled: This brush is a great multi-tasker. Dip it in a dark shadow to line your eyes, or use it to smooth out pencil liner. It’s also great for filling in your brows.
    small angled brush

    small angled brush

  • Blending:  A blending brush will help smudge, diffuse and soften colours. The bristles should not be too tightly packed.


blending brush

blending brush

  • Blush:  This brush is for applying cheek colour. These are available in different sizes. A smaller brush head allows for more precise application, while a bigger one is best for blending and diffusing colour.


blush brush

blush brush 

  • Powder:  Use this brush to apply finishing powder, or powder foundation. It should be full with densely packed bristles.


powder brush

powder brush

And now you’re probably asking, “Where’s the best place to get these brushes?”.

 I’m a firm believer in paying for quality brushes. With a little bit of TLC,  you can hang on to your brushes for years.

My recommendations:
  • I’ve always been a huge fan of MAC brushes, and am particularly fond of their crease (#217) and small angled (#266) brushes. I have literally had my MAC crease brush for 10 years, and it’s still going strong.
  • I’m also partial to Pharmaprix/Shopper’s Drug Mart’s Quo line of brushes. Made of soft, natural bristles, they’re really great quality at an excellent price point.
  • New on the scene, and definitely worthy of a mention, is Makeup Forever’s Artisan Brush collection. Each of the brushes in this collection has gone through 25 production stages by 50 different craftsmen and is subject to the most stringent quality control. Needless to say, these brushes are the height of luxury. I was recently sent two of these brushes to try them out for myself:



#150 – blush


#218 – eye shadow









My thoughts:

I generally prefer a brush with a larger head, but this one (#150) does an excellent job at depositing colour that LASTS! I usually lose all signs of my blush within a few hours of applying it, but when I use this, I have colour on my cheeks for the long haul.

I always gravitate to eye shadow brushes with a tapered head, so using this one (#218) took some adjustment. But once I got the hang of it, I was sold. I love that the straight edge allows you to get your shadow right up against your lash line. It also applies a perfect, smooth wash of colour.

So whether you’re splurging on Makeup Forever’s Artisan Brush Collection, or choosing the more budget-friendly Quo brushes, the key is to take care of them!

Use a mild shampoo or a specialized brush cleanser and warm water to wash them at least every couple of weeks. Reshape them with your fingers when they’re still wet, and leave them hanging over the edge of a counter-top to dry. Never allow your brushes to soak – the water will eventually loosen the glue that binds the metal to the handle and cause the bristles to fall out.




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