Top 10 Makeup Brushes Every Girl Should Own


Does thinking about makeup brushes have your head spinning all sorts of circles?! Don’t worry, we’ve got your back, errr…face.  Makeup brushes are essential to your collection (duh!) and the correct ones can greatly improve your makeup application, but which ones do you NEED? Read on for what we think are the top 10 brushes every girl should own.


Eye Shader Brush

eyeshader brush

An eye shader brush is a flat, stiff brush that’s used for packing color on the lid. You can also use the tip of the brush to smudge color under the lower lash line or to create a defined line in the crease.

  • Makeup Geek Eye Shader Brush (Momentarily discontinued)- $5.99 USD (Makeup Geek Store)

Stiff Dome Brush

stiff dome 4

This brush is great for feathering out color to create a smokey eye, or blending out the crease. The bristles are stiff, making it easy to move the eye shadow where you want it.

Pencil Brush

pencil brush3

This pencil-like brush is perfect for precision shading on the lid, in the crease of the eye, or along the lash line. This brush can also be used for smudging liner along the lash line, or darkening the outer-v for a dramatic look.

Soft Dome Brush

soft dome 3

This dome shaped brush has very soft bristles that make it ideal for blending out any harsh lines below the brow bone. This brush can also be used for blending out concealer under the eye to help hide dark circles and bags.

Bent Liner Brush

bent liner3

Designed specifically for applying gel eyeliner, this brush has a bent head that lays perfectly on the top of the lashes, and glides with ease. The pointed tip helps create a fool proof line that will have even the beginners pulling off a stunning cat eye.

Dual Ended Brow Brush


With this brush, you get double for your money! This dual ended brush has a spoolie on one end allowing you to brush through your brows. The other end has an angled brush which is ideal for effortlessly filling in your brows.



Angled Contour Brush

angled contour brush 4

There are many of these on the market today in a various array of shapes and sizes. With this particular angled contour brush, you can swipe the brush downward diagonally from your cheekbone, and in one fluid motion achieve a flawless application.

Cheek Highlighter Brush

cheek highlighter

The cheek highlighter brush is completely optional, but the feathery, soft bristles give a very nice finish to any product used with it. This brush is very easy to use when applying a highlighter to the top of the cheekbones. You can also use the cheek highlighter brush with cream blushes to stipple the blush onto the cheeks.

Foundation Stippling Brush

foundation stippling

The foundation stippling brush is perfect for those of you who love a full coverage look to your foundation. The large flat head is specifically made for the foundation to be stippled onto the face. This technique assures there are no streaks in the foundation, resulting in a flawless look to the skin.

Flat Foundation Brush


The flat foundation brush is optional. This brush is best used to apply highlighter to the top of the cheekbones. At times this brush can leave streaks in your foundation, so be careful when using it.

Beauty Blender


Technically, this isn’t really a brush, but it is a great tool and we didn’t want to leave it out. The egg-shaped design makes it ideal for getting under the eye and in other small areas you can easily miss with a brush. This is also used to achieve an overall airbrush finish to your foundation.


So there you have it, my top 10 makeup brushes! As a beginner looking to start your collection, or as a makeup guru looking to expand, these brushes are great for everyone. As always, I hope everyone is staying happy and healthy.



Profile photo of Marlena

CEO of Makeup Geek and Makeup Educator


Comments are now closed on this article.

Hey Marlina luv all ur articles. I m from india nd i m afraid to buy from online stores pls give me any idea as u know we dont find some things here in india. Reply me soon pls pls

am from India too, and am having similar problems regarding eye primers and make-up brushes etc. if u want you can try Vega brushes ( they slightly expensive but they are also easily available in stores…

This is really helpful! I have to say that another great brush that is unique is the Smashbox Arched Liner Brush #21. This brush is perfect for eyeliner in the waterline. This is not a brush that I use everyday; but for the waterline, I would not use any other brush! It is so easy to use and it shaped to allow for ease of use in the waterline.

Thanks Marlena for the cheaper alternative. I would much rather spend money on MAC cosmetics. Would you please do a tutorial using the brushes?

I love reading your blog. My daughter and I get some many compliments on our makeup since we started using your tips & ideas. I’m looking for a set of brushes that would give me everything I need, which one would you recommend? I’m also looking not to break the bank.

Thanks for these helpful i know what to have for my man kit..maybe i’ll skip some shadow brushes..i use shadows but more of the neutrals..i’ll look for a contour and stippling brush! wish i can buy here at the site.. im from, the philippines


Great review! I use the MUG Stippling Brush and agree with you 100%. The brush helps give my foundation a flawless application. Thank you for all that you do for us MUG’s.

Thank you very much! This was very helpful!
I actually need new brushes & wanted to buy a whole set from Coastal Scents but I’d rather buy individual ones cause some in the set would be useless for me. Thanks again & expect my order soon. :D

Thanks so much for this amazing list!
Do you have any suggestions in the way of an inexpensive angled liner brush for gel liners?
Thanks again!

I tried the ELF bent liner brush and loved it! Ive since bought 4 more to use on clients. its $3 @ Target or on the ELF website, their usually 50% off with a sale code.

Hi! thanks so much for putting this up. Is the Sonia Kashuk blending brush comparable to the 217?

Hey Marlena,
I love your videos and tips and everything. But u know i dont have mac brushes.. i live in india and we dont have as many mac stores around here.. i do have estee lauder and lancome brushes ( the ones that come in a kit) how good are they?? should i continue using them or just toss them out?? they don apply as well.. maybe cuz of my technique or the brushes are bad. please let me know.. :)


hi! thanks so much for putting this article up. It’s really helpful:) i like how you personaly use those brushes as well:) i’ve been having withdrawals! im so glad a new video is out:D

Hey Marlena-
This article/video is awesome! I have a question though:
I use Bare Minerals foundation, and I was wondering what brushes I need since I don’t use liquid foundation? I use the Kabuki brush which I love, but I was wondering if I need any additional face brushes?

thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!! I got so excited when I saw your video on YouTube!!! I’ve been trying to figure out what brushes I should have…i am new to the makeup world…pretty sad for a 34 year old, i know LOL, but I fell hard and fast in love with makeup and I am just soaking up all the stuff I’ve learned from you and others on YouTube. Thank you for the informative video/article, and I be checking all this :D

Great article and vid. I have a few brushes and i don’t even know what to do with it. Keep up the good work!

Hi I was wondering if you could post a video about how to become a make up artist and what it takes to be one. It seems like an interesting thing to do and I want to know all about it. What you need, good starter supplies, becoming one. Everything. If you dont make a video could you at least respond back?
Thanks — Randi

Hi Marlena!

Say to me really the truth, which quality is had by the brushes SIGMA against those of MAC?

AHHH! Where was this article a year ago? I found your website last august and my makeup techniques have never been the same. I’m having requests for lessons and I’m asked for tips all the time. I’ve found myself doing makeup for local holiday productions, a few photography clients (I’m a photographer), and even a wedding for my high-school friend.

Over this last year, I have bought every brush youve outlined in this article, but it wasn’t without hours of tedious research. I really could have used this then! *pouts*

Great job! I know a lot of peeps will find this SUPER helpful. I know I would have. ;-)

I actually use my duo fiber brush to stipple on cream blush, i feel that it disperses the blush much nicer than if i use my fingers and its easier to add more color and i doesnt streak at all. Thanks for this article marlena i was just reaserching what brushes i needed to buy at the IMATS show, this is going to be really handy. Love your website.

This is an excellent article..which help us a lot…I have a Administrator degree but for so long I want to do something diferent, have my own bussines, I love Make Up…and now that I decide to become a Make Up Artits…Thank you so much Marlena for all your tutorials….God bless you…=) Take care.

I’m looking for a set of brushes that would give me everything I need, which one would you recommend? I’m also looking not to break the bank.

hi marlena thanks for ur fab video again! i purchased two brushes from ur store, i would like to know what to do with them in order to deoderize them, will a deep cleaning work?

Hey! i live in a small town a far way away from the city, and i’m only 13, but planning to be a makeup artist when i get older, but i would like to have a bit of practice now, so i will have a little bit of experience,but where i live are only like those cheap/not very good brushes that aren’t very good, and they make a mess all over my face! The blending brush i bought looked very good, but it didn’t blend right, so i was wondering if there way some way i could get like cheap, good brushes, from like the drug store or something like that! So, is i could get an answer that would be great!!
thx <3–Jackie :)

jackie- try ecotools or real techniques. i use MAC brushes which are quite expensive for anyone, but these will be more affordable and accessible to you. ecotools can be found at target, walmart, kmart, etc. not every store carries everything, but you can google them to get an idea of what you want. ulta carries the real techniques. an ulta might not be near you, and they’re not quite as cheap as ecotools, but they really are great. elf brushes can be good. my best advice though is to look at sonia kashuk’s brushes at target. there are sets, a great one i remember was only $12.99 (thats typically how much her brushes go for a piece). some are more like $14.99. i’d go for one that has the essentials (just print out marlena’s guide, or sketch them, and take it with you to the stores). these cheaper sets typically have 4-5 pieces so you can get a good start on a quality set. make sure you take good care of them-wash them once a week (youtube for how to do this).

sorry but who cares about the spelling??? keep your comments for yourself next time! We are here for makeup not for a grammar classes! Oh! and by the way no need to comment about my mistakes too! I am French and not that good in English so no need to complaint about my mistakes too just saying!

thanks a ton, Marlena! this is really helpful, quite like your other articles and tutorials. I only apply eye make-up and most of my holidays (am from India, so, i’ve got summer vacation right now) are passing with me trying out the looks you post and also hunting those brushes i dont yet have…either we have real cheap brushes or real expensive ones…atleast in Hyderabad we do…dont about the ‘major’ cities…

hey Marlena!!!
well first of all, I absolutely love your website! I’ve become additcted to it. All of your tutorial have been very helpful to me in learning more how to correctly apply makeup :)
i just wanted to ask youif you could recommend me any substitues for your MAC brushes. Do you know any brushes slod at any or most drugstores or department stores.
I hope this won’t be so much trouble for you.
And thank you for your time!:))

Wow thanks this helped me a lot!
But I have question: Do you recommend the MAC 129 powder/blush brush for applying your powder and blush?
btw: I love your videos!

Thank you so much for your time :D


hey! thank you so much I really needed advice on these things cos I’m starting to wear make up and I know nothing about it… except eye liner (my only area of expertice (: ) so the tutorials on eyeshadow are like heaven on earth lol
thanks again!!


Most of the MUG brushes that you recommend are not available in your online store. Do you know when they will be available?

a lot of these brushes are out of stock does she usually get more in? all the ones i really want are all the ones out of stock. hahaha that kind of stuff always happens to me i find something i want and its out or i find something i like and it gets discontinued

Hey i was just wondering is there any way you will have a make up geek set of starter brushes. Like a pack that includes the 4 must haves or a set with 8 starter set brushes. hope to hear back!

Hi Marlena I just wanted to tell you that I’m glad I finally found a website that gives me good information on what brushes to use for my makeup. Im Just starting off and learning how to do my eyes! You are very helpful!

I’m new to all this make up stuff and it’s kind of confusing. So glad I found this website. It’s very helpful! :]

Hi Marlena,

What brush do you recommend substituting the MAC 224 or 217 for, if you have small eyes? I have Asian eyes, so for me, those are a bit big for blending. Thanks!

I think you are doing a fantastic job of helping us ladies with our make up. It is so difficult to find a good site that can help us to look more beautiful with a few simple touches. Keep up the good work. Great article.

Thank you for that upload, Marlena.
I would like to say that NOT ONLY THE BEGINNERS are following your stream.

And it would be extremely great to find some new really challenging make-up ideas/looks/techniques FROM YOU personally, Marlena.
Maybe you could share your reflections about the role of make-up, about aging and last trends out there.
I miss you. Really.

Totally non-makeup related, but I really love that sweater! Does anyone know where she got it? Thanks mugs :)

I have the MUG stippling brush, a few of them actually and am toying with the idea of getting the beauty blender, given Marlena’s big recommendation of them…can anyone convince me that I should absolutely get it? Thinking I need the push and also wanting to know if its better than a brush. Thank you

Just wanted to let you know that some of the prices of the MUG brushes that you have posted are not correct. I was looking at the MUG stiff dome brush and it is $7.99 instead of $4.99 also the MUG eyeliner smudge brush is listed as $4.29 instead of the$3.99 that it says above. Those are the only two that I looked at… I am in love w/ all the MUG brushes that I have so far and will definitely be getting a bunch more. Thank you for all your great advice!!

Great video! Which techniques are you using for your amazing makeup you have on in this video here?
The blouse you are wearing has an amazing color and it fits fantastic with your hair color and makeup!

Hi Marlena! Love this tutorial! I have to ask- I love the gold ring you’re wearing and the nail polish color? Would you mind sharing where you got the ring and the color of the polish? Thanks!!!!

Marlena, beautiful as ever! I have the MAKEUPGEEK stippling brush, I do love it. I bought a sigma set that has been good for me. I have tried lots of random bargain brushes that do quite nicely such as ELF, ECOTOOLS. However… the REAL TECHNIQUES brushes are THE best! I just bought about 12 of them and WOW, they are really good quality, great design, seem to be less bulky by comparison to ALL other brushes Ive used. Im looking forward to my next venture in trying out MAC brushes, soon as I get a raise!

Thanks for the great tips! I’m newer to makeup, so I need all of the help I can get!

I do have 2 questions for you or any experienced MUA that has an opinion. I was given some Sephora Pro brushes as a gift, and have been occasionally purchasing additional ones. I’m wondering if anyone has experience with Sephora Pro brushes and would you reccommend them? I haven’t seen much on here about Sephora. Also, is it possible to have everything you really need with just one brand, or should I be expanding my horizions and collecting different brands? Sephora is most easily accessable when I live (and I don’t shop online often), which is why I’ve been purchasing those, but would it be smarter to start buying other brands as well? Thanks!