Budget vs Blowout: Best Makeup Brushes

Makeup brushes cleaning tips

Makeup brushes are a slippery slope. You start out thinking you just need a couple, you know, to do a really good smoky eye – not for foundation or concealer, you can just dab those on with your fingers, right?! And then it happens. You pop by a makeup counter, and they brush and blend and contour, and before you know it, you’re hooked. Brushes for blusher, concealer, highlighter, bronzer – you name it, there’s a brush to work that magic for a flawless finish!

But is the old cliche true that a workwoman is only as good as her tools? We’re tempted to argue yes – better brushes definitely make it easier to achieve more intricately blended looks. But this doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank on expensive hardware (and we’ll be honest, we still use our fingers for foundation, concealer and even cream eyeshadow when we’re in a hurry!).

So whether you feel like splashing out or just want to try a few cheaper options, we’ve picked our faves to suit any makeup bag:


High street brands that are kind to our wallets – and our skin!

Real Techniques
This is a fabulous range, perfect for everyday makeup application, with smooth, soft bristles that are easy to clean. We love the tapered blusher brush, and the retractable lip brush is perfect for keeping in your handbag for easy lipstick touch-ups.
Blush brush £9.99
Retractable lip brush £7.99

Not the sexiest branding, but nonetheless, great brushes! The eye duo set is fantastic value, and the mini essentials set is perfect for travelling.
Eye Enhancing Duo Brush set £6.99
Mini essentials brush set £5.99


Our picks for when you’re feeling a bit flush – or perfect for adding to a birthday wishlist.

In our eyes, the unrivalled Queen of makeup brushes. MAC are a treat to use, and genuinely do most of the hard work for you. We rely on 217 and 239 eyeshadow brushes to add depth, shimmer and a perfectly-blended finish to even the smokiest eye. And smoothly-tapered 190 is perfect for evenly applying liquid or cream foundation. Definitely ones for the gift wishlist!
239 Eye shader brush £21
190 Foundation brush £27

bareMinerals by Bare Escentuals
Soft, full bristles and lovely chunky handles for a firm grip while blending. We particularly love these brushes for foundation and finishing powders, and dusting powder blusher along cheekbones.
Full flawless face brush £24
Handy buki brush £18

That’s our top picks for nailing that flawless finish!
Which brands do you swear by? Share with us @tweetjanes