16 Types of Makeup Brushes + How To Use Each One

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When you think of investments, you may automatically think of essential items that aren’t that exciting to buy.

And it can be difficult to invest part of your savings in a boring item, even if it’ll be worth it in the long run.

A collection of brushes and decorative cosmetics

But, good news, since we are only talking about beauty and wellness here, there’s no room for boredom! And makeup investments aren’t just essential but fun too!

And a major makeup investment is quality makeup brushes. After all, if you love makeup and want good application results, investing in makeup brushes is essential.

That said, you should know more about the different types of makeup brushes and the correct brush to use. The wrong brush could completely throw off your entire look.

There are dozens of types of makeup brushes, and each one is specifically made to target specific areas of our face.

If you’re serious about your makeup routine and want a professional finish, you should consider investing in good brushes.

In this piece, we’ll look at the different types of makeup brushes and what each makeup brush is used for.

Types of Makeup Brushes and Their Uses

Are you the type who already has a wide array of makeup brushes in her bag? Or someone who just recently started collecting makeup brush essentials?

Or are you just wondering what makeup brushes are used for what?

Whatever kind of makeup enthusiast you are, you’ll find this article handy. We’ve compiled recommended brushes and the uses of different makeup brushes for your reference.

1. Buffing Brush

This makeup brush is all about versatility. Its design features tightly packed natural or synthetic bristles that have even length, appearing blunt and flat-topped. 

 A buffing brush is a multi-purpose tool used to apply, blend, or smoothen liquid, cream, and powder-based products. It’s flexible enough to apply your primer, foundation, bb/cc cream, contour, bronze, and blush.

A fantastic buffing brush you can try is the IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Flat Top Buffing Blush which promises a skin-perfect finish!

How to use this:

To apply liquid BB or CC cream and liquid foundation, follow these steps:

  • Apply a small amount of product at the back of your clean, less dominant hand or on your face.
  • Make small circular motions to push the product into the skin gently.
  • You may apply more depending on your preferred coverage.

For cream or powder-based foundation:

  • Dip your buffing brush lightly into the product. Remember to get just enough. You can add more later if necessary.
  • Apply directly on your face and blend in circular motions.

For softening powder-based blush, contour, and bronzer:

  • Use the appropriate brush to apply blush, contour product, or bronzer
  • You can then use the buffing brush to blend and soften harsh edges.

2. Stippling Brush

If you want a softer airbrushed foundation finish, a stippling brush is the perfect brush for you!

This type of makeup brush has two different fibers with two distinct lengths. It typically has white-colored bristles at the top that are longer, thinner, and more flexible, interspersed with tightly packed fibers in black. 

Although you can also use this with powder products, the stippling brush is ideal for liquid or cream-based products, including tinted moisturizers. 

Pro-tip, the more time you spend applying the product with this tool, the smoother the finish. 

If you’re looking for a good stippling brush, this cruelty-free Beauty Junkees Flat Top Duo Fiber Synthetic Stipple Brush is a great buy!

How to use this:

In applying your product using stippling brushes, follow these steps:

  • Using a stippling brush, grab some product from the back of your less dominant hand by buffing it in lightly.
  • Then, dot/dab the product gently onto the face.
  • Apply the dots close to each other and blend them in with light, swirly motions.

3. Flat Tapered Foundation Brush

There are various types of makeup brushes for applying foundation, and one of the most popular ones is the Tapered Foundation Brush.

This type of brush has densely packed soft bristles that are typically flat and tapered, allowing it to cover smaller and more angular areas, such as the corners of the nose and under the eyes. 

This type of foundation brush is best used for liquid foundation products.

This brush may also be used to spot-correct and apply a little highlighter product to your temples. 

The ENERGY Tapered Foundation Makeup Brush quickly gives you a streak-free finish!

How to use this:

For a seamless foundation application, follow these steps:

  • Squeeze some foundation on the back of your hand and gently rub the brush through the product.
  • Starting at the center of your face, gently sweep your brush back and forth in even strokes. Keep going until it runs out of product to avoid overloading it once refilled with foundation.  
  • Add product and build more layers for your desired coverage.

4. Kabuki Brush

This brush is a do-it-all type, commonly recognized for its dome-shaped top, dense-packed hairs, and short handle. The traditional Kabuki brush is excellent for superfine powder application, such as loose powder, blush, or bronzer. 

Check out the e.l.f Kabuki Face Brush if you want to try one.

A flat-top Kabuki brush like the KESHIMA Kabuki Foundation Brush is also a fantastic multi-functional tool that can apply liquid or even body makeup, giving a medium-to-full coverage.

How to use this:

For powder foundation or blush:

  • Dip and swirl the kabuki brush into the product, then tap to remove excess.
  • Apply the product on the face in large, circular motions for light or sheer coverage.
  • If you want a heavier coverage, apply the product in small, tight circles.

For liquid foundation:

  • Put two pumps of foundation on the flat-top Kabuki brush and dab the product all over your face
  • Then, spread and blend the product in gentle, downward motions for good coverage.
  • You may sweep your kabuki brush upward when you reach the forehead area. 

5. Oval Brush

The oval-shaped brush is sometimes called the “toothbrush makeup brush.” 

It features a long handle and compact bristles that keep the product on top instead of getting pushed into the bristles.

Also, its dense fibers have less fallout than other traditional brushes, allowing you to apply the product wherever you want. 

This makeup brush’s purpose will depend on the size of the brush. The large oval blushes are for applying and blending foundation, setting powder, blush, bronzer, moisturizers, serums, and sunscreens. 

The smaller oval brushes are for concealer, contour, powder, highlighter, blush, eyeshadow, and eye cream

How to use this:

For powder-based products:

  • Swirl the brush into the powder product.
  • Apply the product by gliding it back and forth in big, circular motions.

For liquid or cream-based products:

  • Dab the product directly on your face using a separate brush or clean fingers.
  • Spread and blend the product lightly and in circular motions to get smooth and even coverage.

Check this video to see how you can use oval makeup brushes of different sizes.

6. Concealer Brush

The use of this makeup brush is straightforward. It targets small and specific areas that need to be concealed and brightened. 

For the most precise concealer application, use a small flat concealer brush like the e.l.f. Cosmetics Concealer Brush. Its nylon bristles are great for smoothly applying liquid or cream-based concealers.

How to use this:

To properly apply your concealer using this type of brush, follow these steps:

  • Dab the tip of the brush into the concealer.
  • Gently tap the brush on your pimples, dark under-eye circles, and other imperfections.
  • Blend the edges gently, ensuring you don’t wipe away the product.

7. Powder Brush

This powder brush features thick and fluffy bristles that are synthetic or natural. It also has a dome shape, allowing easy product distribution all over the face. 

You may use this to brush to apply a light layer of pressed-powder foundation on your face or set your makeup look with a coat of loose powder

Almost everyone, whether beginner or professional, owns a staple powder brush. The Matto Powder Mineral Brush is a good choice because it’s simple and easy to use!

How to use this:

Follow these guides for the correct use of a powder brush:

  • Dip the brush into the pot and tap off excess product.
  • Start swirling or sweeping your brush in the middle of your face and work your way out.

8. Blush Brush

Pretty woman holding brush and touching it to her cheek carefully. Isolated on red background

Many people often get confused when looking at a powder brush and a blush brush. We totally get it! 

However, if you look closely, a blush brush is a little stubbier and more compact and covers a smaller area than a powder brush. Whether you’re using a cream or powder-based blush, this makeup tool can blend it in perfectly!

If you need a brush to add a pop of color to your cheeks, get this fluffy Real Techniques Cheek Makeup Brush

How to use this:

To avoid a doll-like blush look, follow these steps:

  • From the apples of your cheek to your temples, diffuse the powder blush outward in sweeping motions 
  • If you are blending out a cream blush, apply in light stippling and sweeping movements. 

9. Angled Contour Brush

To achieve a well-defined, chiseled look, you definitely need an angled contour brush, like the Anmor Premium Contour Brush.

This type of brush is about the same size as a blush brush, but it’s denser than a blush brush, and the bristles have an angled shape that allows precise contour application. 

The best part? You can also use it to apply powder or cream-based contour.

How to use this:

To use it properly, follow these steps:

  • Contour the hollows of your cheeks in stippling motions.
  • Then, switch to circular motions to blend the product but stay within the location so the color won’t mess up.

10. Fan Highlighter Brush

A makeup artist removing excess of powder using fan brush to a blonde woman

This trendy makeup brush features thin bristles in the shape of a fan. Its design allows you to evenly apply the perfect amount of highlighter on your cheekbones and browbones.

Want to give it a try? The Wet n Wild Fan Brush for Highlighter is a great choice!

How to use this:

To apply highlighter evenly using this makeup brush, do the following:

  • Lightly dip the fan highlighter brush in the product and tap off excess.
  • Then, swipe the brush on the top of your cheeks side-to-side.
  • You may repeat the same motion to apply highlighter on the tip of your nose, your brown bones, and your cupid’s bow.

11. Flat Eyeshadow Brush

Creating an intricate eye makeup look requires using different makeup brushes for applying eyeshadow. The most basic eyeshadow brush is a flat eyeshadow brush.

This brush is shaped like a foundation brush but is smaller with denser bristles, allowing for a concentrated color payoff. 

The flat eyeshadow brush, like the Beauty Junkees Pro Flat Shader Eye Makeup Brush, creates an even layer of product on the eyelids.

How to use this:

  • Rub the brush onto the product and tap to get rid of the excess.
  • Gently pat or press the eyeshadow brush onto your lids.
  • You want concentrated color, so you don’t need to blend too much, just enough into the crease of the lids to get an even application.

12. Eyeshadow Crease Brush

Another brush you should have to create more depth to your eye makeup is an eyeshadow crease brush. These brushes usually have very dense bristles with either a pointed or angular tip that allows you to define your creases.

Using the NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Pro Crease Brush, you can create a smokey eye or other intricate eye makeup looks!

How to use this:

To create a more detailed eye makeup look by defining your creases, follow these steps:

  • Begin by applying a small amount of your preferred color to your eyelid crease.
  • To create a defined line, glide your brush following the form of your crease, focusing more on the outer part.
  • Slowly soften the crease color with gliding motions so it blends in smoothly.

13. Eyeliner Brush

Unlike the previous brushes that may have needed a description for their use, the eyeliner brush is straightforward. It is the only brush that can create a perfectly defined wing shape.

The typical eyeliner brush, like the Bon-clá Fine Angled Eyeliner Brush, has short, compact bristles with a sharply-angled edge that is ideal for gel eyeliner products. It allows you to line your lash line and create a precise cat eye.

How to use this:

To create a perfect eyeliner, use your eyeliner brush this way:

  • Dip the brush into the eyeliner pot and only get enough product. 
  • Line your lids starting from your inner eye until the outer tip.
  • If you want a cat-eye look, flick your brush and re-trace the line you just made to define it better.   

14. Brow Brush

An eyebrow brush with a black handle on a white background.

A typical brow brush is almost always double-sided – one side has a comb or spoolie, and the other has an angled-shaped brush. 

The duo-brow brush, like the KINGMAS Double-Ended Brow Brush, lets you tame your brows and style them simultaneously. A multi-purpose godsend! 

You can use the brush side to apply either powder or gel-based brow products. 

How to use this:

To create well-defined brows using a brow brush, do the following:

  • Start by taming your brows in upward motions using the brow comb.
  • Pick up enough gel or powder eyeliner using the brow brush and use short, staccato strokes to define your brows and give them texture.
  • Fill in sparse spots with brow product using the brush. Only darken the outer tip of your brows and slowly go lighter as you shade towards the inner corner.  

15. Lip Brush

A lip brush is a great tool to have in your makeup bag. It’s a long, thin wand with short soft bristles that are typically tapered but may also be angled, rounded, or squared. 

It’s used to apply lipstick, balm, or gloss and gives you the precision needed to apply lip color precisely while adding definition and creating a smooth, even finish to your lips. 

Need a good lip brush? Check out the Rownyeon Travel Retractable Lip Brush Applicator!

How to use this:

To use a lip brush, follow these steps:

  • Dip the brush into the lipstick and gently glide it across your lips in one direction. 
  • Make sure you don’t press too hard or drag the brush bristles, as this could cause streaks in the color application. 
  • Afterward, you can remove any excess lipstick with a tissue or cloth by lightly blotting your lips.

16. Mascara Wand

We’ve included this on the list if you don’t want to use the wands that come with your mascara products

Having your own quality mascara wand or brush/spoolie like the JOSALINAS Mascara Brushes helps separate and define your lashes before and after you apply mascara. 

Achieving full spider lashes is possible if you can avoid over-clumping. Also, you can use a clean mascara spoolie to tame your brows!

How to use this:

  • Before or after applying your mascara, gently sweep up your lashes using the mascara wand to define and separate your lashes. 
  • To remove excess mascara and prevent your lashes from clumping, gently rub the mascara brush all the way up. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Different Makeup Brushes Used for?

Several types of makeup brushes are available depending on the makeup product you want to apply. We shared several different kinds above and their varied purposes. 

After all, understanding the different makeup tools and their uses will help you invest in the right ones for you.

To quickly run it down, foundation brushes are great for applying liquid or cream-based foundation products, while blush brushes help create softer looks with a flush of color. 

Contouring and sculpting brushes are ideal for emphasizing certain facial features, while detail brushes are perfect for adding subtle details in eye shadow or eyeliner application. 

Whatever type of makeup brush you need, knowing what each makeup brush is for will help you choose the right one and get the best results.

Which Makeup Brushes are Best for Beginners?

When it comes to the use of makeup brushes, beginners should find the best ones appropriate for their skill level. 

Here’s a rundown on the first few brushes you should get as a beginner:

  • A foundation brush is essential to get even coverage with minimal product usage. 
  • A blush brush applies color smoothly on the apples of your cheeks while ensuring you don’t look over the top. 
  • A powder brush helps set your makeup while keeping shine at bay.
  • An eyeshadow brush allows you to build colors from light to dark precisely and efficiently. 
  • An eyebrow comb/brush helps tame unruly brows and shape them into your desired shape for a perfect finish. 

With these five basic brushes in your kit, you can easily achieve an excellent and flawless makeup look! 

Your Makeup Kit Needs An Upgrade!

Two brushes with purple powder isolated on black background

Using only your bare hands or a single makeup brush to apply your products can be unhygienic and won’t always allow you to get the look you want.

That said, if you are looking to beef up your makeup kit, the brushes we mentioned are all good choices for your beauty arsenal.

Just be sure to clean them regularly with either mild soap and warm water or a gentle cleanser so they last longer.

With the right makeup brushes, you can experiment more with your makeup and create a lot of exciting new looks.

Still looking for products for your makeup kit? Check out these articles:


  • Janille Gultiano

    Jan, a distinguished freelance makeup artist, also boasts a BA in Mass Communication, laying the foundation for her diverse talents. For over four years, she's carved a niche as a captivating content writer, with her articles resonating in various spheres. Beyond writing, her expertise extends to crafting robust Public Relations and Corporate Communications strategies. Each endeavor reflects Jan's unique blend of creativity and precision

  • Rebecca Green

    With ten years in the beauty industry, Rebecca Green has mastered the art of makeup. Trained by celebrity makeup artist Debra Macki, she's worked from Macy's to Bobbi Brown, freelanced for high-profile clients, and even launched her own brand, BeccaPink Makeup. Her versatility spans from everyday looks to editorial shoots, and her work has been featured in Greek Cosmopolitan.

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