Ever walk up to the makeup counter and find yourself puzzled by the wide array of tool options? Shape, size, and bristle all affect the function of a brush (that's a whole other encyclopaedic feature), so we understand how overwhelming a Beauty beginner’s purchase can be. Rest assured that every brush does serve a purpose, but it’s wise to arm yourself with a set of multipurpose basics before you invest in the extras. We've rounded up five of our favorite makeup brushes that deserve a spot in any artist or amateur's collection.
A blending brush is hands-down one of the best investments you'll ever make in makeup. Known for its signature tapered shape, the natural bristles softly meld any harsh edges in the crease (keep two or three clean backups on hand to blend out shadow). You can also use the tool to diffuse concealer underneath the eyes—unlike a taklon brush designed for concealer, the shape of the bristles practically airbrushes the cover-up onto your dark circles.
You’ll always need a basic shadow brush in your kit. A flat-headed brush picks up a generous amount of pigment and quickly lays down color on the lids before blending, and can also blend lip color. Most Beauties prefer dense, natural bristles, but synthetic taklon works just as well.
Affectionately termed "the skunk brush" after its black-and-white bristle design, a stippling brush is one of the most versatile tools to have in your kit. The mix of synthetic and natural hair allows you to work with both powder and cream texture. Foundation, powder, blush, bronzer, highlighter—you name it, the brush applies it. The flat-topped, reverse trapezoidal shape allows it to cover larger fields of color, and the wispy white fibers pick up the right amount of pigment.
Considered the face equivalent of an eye blending brush, a dome brush is an ideal choice for any precision sculpting such as contouring and highlighting. The tapered design smoothly distributes pigment into your bone structure, and applies rouge to the apples of your cheeks like a dream.
Used to wing eye liner, sharpen brows, and shape lips, the design of this detail-oriented brush can be used with virtually any texture (gel, cake, powder, cream) and is small enough to tote for travel. Unlike flat-tipped eye liner brushes, the angular shape allows you to easily work pigment into the natural contours of your face. Whether you choose natural or synthetic hair, make sure the bristles are stiff enough to stand on their own, but soft enough on your skin.