Chanel recently revamped their makeup brushes with a new sleek look and the ones I’ve tested are extremely well made. I had quite a few from the previous design and they’ve lasted for years. The new ones have definitely improved with a softer feel and more luxurious application. These are currently exclusive to Chanel.com and they’ve pulled all the older styles from their site.
There are four face and cheek brushes I tested. All exceeded my expectations in terms of performance and application of powders and creams.
Shown above from left to right:
2-in-1 Liquid and Powder Brush ($50) is essentially the same as the original design in shape and size. This works extremely well for streak-free foundation coverage. I tested this on the Chanel Sublimage Le Teint and it provides a flawless application. It’s very soft and makes it easy to layer and blend liquids.
Blush Brush ($50, made in Japan) is one of the most dense fluffy blush brushes I’ve tried. I feel like I can almost use it for powder. For blush it picks up the perfect amount of product for a single sweep on the cheeks. It’s dense but still extremely soft and isn’t too dense.
Foundation-Blending Brush ($50, made in France) is essentially like the previous version and also similar to MAC’s 187 Duo Fibre Brush but with all black hairs. It’s not quite as dense as the previous version or MAC’s but large and fluffy and extremely soft. It is softer than both previous versions. I’ve had this used on me for liquid foundation blending and buffing which works extremely well. I tend to use this for powders or highlighters. It’s a versatile brush though so you can really use it any way you want.
Precision Powder Brush ($60, made in Japan) is an extremely soft tapered face brush perfect for contours or detail powder application. I tried it as an all over face powder brush and it’s a bit small for big sweeping strokes. It is however great for detail application like on the nose or cheekbone area. It’s so soft and plush and picks up product beautifully. I’ve used this for bronzer and soft contouring.
For the eyes the brush options have improved significantly. Unfortunately I didn’t keep the boxes of all the brushes but for the ones I have I’ll list where they were made.
Shown above from left to right. Quick note at the moment on the Chanel.com website a couple of these are switched in the image: the Eyeshadow-Blending Brush and Rounded Eyeshadow Brush images are switched for the names. I emailed them and they said they fixed it but based on the product names they have not. I would go by the brush name which I confirmed by checking the box they came in.
Eye Contouring Brush ($32, made in France) is a detail brush perfect for a precise line with powder shadows. It’s described as one you can use to apply eyeshadow to the eye contour but to me it seems too small and tiny for that purpose. As a small liner brush it’s excellent and there’s no poking.
Rounded Eyeshadow Brush ($28, made in Japan) is the new version of Chanel’s previous #19 brush. Thew new design is significantly softer in material but just as dense. It’s perfect for smudging the eyeshadow.
Flat Eyeshadow Brush ($38, made in France) in the new version is much better than the previous one. In the older format this brush had more coarse bristles while the new one has the same shape/size but it’s more dense and a lot softer in finish. For me it’s the perfect size for lid application. I’m going to order a few more.
Retractable Dual Tip Eye-Contouring Brush ($42) is a double ended brush for smudging shadows or defining them. I’ve used this on both powders and creams and it works really well. I love that it comes with retractable portions and caps to keep the bristles pristine if you store them in a jar or travel.
Retractable Dual Tip Eyeshadow Brush ($42) is a double ended brush with a fluffy shadow brush and more precise shadow brush on the other end. This is the perfect duo for me. It has my two favorite shapes in one brush. It’s extremely soft without any poking.
A quick look at the original vs new for the ones I own, original ones have the silver handles:
A quick look at the brushes next to product for size reference:
For the face and cheek brushes, items shown are the Hourglass Ambient Diffused Palette (review here), Hourglass Ambient Lighting Diffused Bronzer (review here), Chanel Joues Contraste Blush, Armani Luminous Silk Compact #4, Chanel Les 4 Ombres Jardins Eclat (swatched here), Ombre Premiere in Talpa (swatched here), Marc Jacobs Eye-Conic Multi-Finish Palette in Glambition.
Overall the brushes are excellent. They have a more modern updated look and quality and performance wise it’s definitely an improvement or upgrade from the previous ones. The face brushes seem to be a bit on the pricey side but they are well made and perform well. Based on how long mine have lasted from the previous launch I do think they are a good investment as the ones I bought have lasted for years (I’m guessing at least 5 years).
Bottom line definitely worth looking into!
You can find the newly revamped makeup brushes online at Chanel.com.
Most brushes featured in this post were provided for review consideration. Ones purchased by me include the Rounded Eye Shadow Brush, Flat Eye Shadow Brush and both dual-ended brushes.
By popular request I have an updated roundup of my beauty tools. So many of you have asked me what the best tools are for eye makeup and I’ve often referenced older posts. I was going through some recently and it’s hard to believe the last round up posts were done three years ago! Time literally flies! I’ve been building my brush collection for many years (for over a decade) and yet I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of the tools out there. When it comes to makeup brushes and tools I’m a creature of habit. For the longest time I’ve stuck with tried and true staples from MAC because they’re consistent in quality, they have kept the same designs for years and they get the job done. I have explored a lot of other brands over the years and today I have an updated roundup of the best eye makeup tools I own.
If I could just stick with one collection/brand I would – unfortunately no single brand has everything I want. I’ve split these into categories by shape/function. Also note that I don’t have a crease on my lids so I don’t use a crease brush like most would. I do a lot of blending to get a gradient or wash with neutral colors and then I also have a lot of detail brushes I use. I do realize this is a bit of a long list – I’ve included different options from a small handful of brands I really love as some of you may have different preferences for shape, brush size, handle size/width etc. I’ll round up my top picks at the end of the post as well.
Up first are the basic shadow/lid brushes. I like ones that are soft but somewhat dense so I can pick up powders. A lot of these I use for creams as well even though synthetic brushes often work better – I like the soft texture and feel. Shown below from left to right:
Hakuhodo J242G ($18) is a hybrid goat and synthetic fibers making it versatile for all products. It’s a smaller size making it easy to pack on color on the lids.
Hakuhodo B J004G ($20) is my favorite one for the lids, it’s made of goat hair and extremely soft. This is the best lid color brush I have – it picks up the perfect amount of color and blends powders seamlessly.
MAC 239SH ($25) is also another favorite, it’s one of my most-used brushes, the SH version is exclusive to MAC stores and online. It’s soft and dense and perfect for packing product on the lids. It’s not as soft as the Hakuhodo but still very good.
MAC 239 ($25) is the full size version, I like that both the full and short handle have the same size bristles.
Chanel Blender/Shader ($42) is a new double ended brush that’s super soft with a nice fluffy feel. The small end is also dense but fluffy, the larger side is perfect for blending.
Wayne Goss 18 (old, discontinued) is unfortunately discontinued but was the best option that was slightly larger than the MAC 239.
Chanel Large Eye Shadow Brush #25 ($38) is another great option that’s larger than the MAC 239, it’s not as dense and slightly more loose in how its packed, note that all the Chanel brushes with the silver handles (ones in the current collection) are going to be discontinued. New ones will be introduced around the 24th so if you have any current options on your wishlist you should buy them soon.
Marc Jacobs Beauty The Conceal ($30) is actually a concealer brush (which it’s great for) but I really love this one for cream shadows. It has a beveled/angled tip so it makes the creams apply easily to the lids.
Out of all of these my top two are the MAC 239 and Hakuhodo B J004G. I have multiples of both kinds and they’re probably the most versatile brushes I own.
Next are the blending brushes good for a light sweep of color, for blending or a nice wash. With some of these you will probably be able to use as a crease brushes too. I prefer the ones with white hair as they’re usually soft and super fluffy. They’re small enough so there’s some density to them. Often times I find the darker ones are a bit too loose in the way they are designed. Shown below from left to right:
Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush ($40) is my favorite large domed fluffy brush because of the density. It’s perfect for sweeping color on the lids for a nice wash and it’s also a great blending brush.
MAC 217 (also available in 217SH) ($25) is another great basic blending brush because of the softness. It’s perfect for blending out colors. For the longest time this was my favorite until I tried Tom Ford, Hakuhodo and Wayne Goss.
Wayne Goss 18 (from the Eye Set $130, individual $27) in terms of quality, I feel Wayne Goss has among the best brushes. They’re right up there with Tom Ford. #18 is the closest option to MAC 217.
Hakuhodo J5523 ($19) is made of goat hair and the equivalent of MAC 217. This one is far better in terms of how it picks up color and blends it out.
Wayne Goss 17 (from the Eye Set $130, individual $28) is a smaller sized fluffy brush, good for detail blending or crease blending.
Wayne Goss 16 (from the Eye Set $130, individual $30) is a bit longer and bigger than #18. This is a good all around blending brush.
Tom Ford 13 ($57) is a fluffy blending brush good for blending things up on the lid for a nice gradient. In my opinion Tom Ford brushes are the best brushes I own.
Tom Ford 11 ($57) is the ultimate wash brush. It applies the perfect amount of color to the lids and is super soft in feel. They’re really well made. The ones I have are made with natural bristles – at an event in the spring I was told Tom Ford was moving towards making brushes with synthetic materials but I haven’t received confirmation of when or if it has happened yet.
Hakuhodo J220G ($24) is a larger fluffy flat brush made of goat and synthetic fiber. I like this one and use it a lot but it’s not as dense as other ones so I prefer the other ones for density and this one for it’s size on some occasions.
MAC 227SH (discontinued, $32) has been discontinued unfortunately, it’s more dense than the Bobbi Brown, but for now the BB is the next best option.
For detail brushes my long-time go to has been the MAC 219 Pencil Brush which I’ve had for years. Unfortunately I lost mine either in the move or while traveling (but sometime in the past few months) and never got around to replacing it. It’s the best all around smudge or lining brush I’ve had but there are still quite a few others that are really good. Shown below from left to right:
Wayne Goss 08 (from the Anniversary Set $225, individual $17) is the tiniest detail brush I own. It’s perfect for getting into the tiny corners of the line or right along the lashes. It’s stiff but not harsh on the eyes.
Bobbi Brown Eye Definer (one shown is a special-edition one from a holiday set, but same as regular one) ($34) is a classic angled brush you can use for powder or gel liners. It’s also a good one for brows.
Wayne Goss 07 (from the Anniversary Set $225, individual $17) is the softest mini smudge brush, perfect for a smokey eye or blending out colors along the lash line.
Tom Ford 15 (discontinued) is the best smudge brush I have, unfortunately it’s discontinued.
Wayne Goss 05 (from the Anniversary Set $225, individual $20) is a super soft pencil brush, it picks up color a lot better than the MAC Pencil, but it’s smaller in size so not quite the same.
Laura Mercier Corner Eye Brush ($26) has been discontinued in most places, you can still find it online at a few stores right now like Bluemercury. It’s a good corner eye brush that gets color in tiny spaces with precise application but it’s large enough you can blend it out a little.
Hakuhodo G5514 ($17) is another great detail pencil brush to get that soft smokey eye.
Misc brushes and tools shown below:
Chanel Large Tapered Blending Brush 19 ($38) this originally came in the brown natural hair, then was released in a white version, but not it appears it’s back to the brown. I have both and they both perform the same. This is a good detail blending brush – I use it for under the eye when I want a very soft diffused line or to blend out shadows along the upper lash line. It’s soft and blends colors perfectly. The shape is perfect. At this time I don’t have the full list of what brushes will be coming out around the 24th, but if this is on your list I recommend you get it soon as Chanel will be phasing out their current brushes and replacing them with a new line.
MAC 226 (discontinued) is the best small to medium blending brush, why they discontinued it is a mystery to me because there’s none other like it! For now one of the Wayne Goss brushes from The Eye Set (scroll up) will perform the same way, if not better because of the material it’s made of. However this one is still a really good one.
Wayne Goss 21 (from The Brow Set, $55) is the best brow brush for powders for me. I love that it’s wider than most and it’s super dense making it easier for me to get even application for both sides.
Surratt Eyelash Curler ($30) is one of the best curlers I own. It took me some time to learn to use because it’s so much wider than other brands. It performs really well.
MAC Eyelash Curler ($22) is my most-used lash curler. It always curls perfectly and I really like the shape.
That wraps up my favorite eye makeup brushes and tools post! I hope you found this helpful in case you’re looking for new tools. If I had to pick just one brand it would be nearly impossible to do – but at the moment it would probably be Wayne Goss but I’d have to add a couple from MAC. Overall great basics can be found from MAC – it’s easiest to find at stores and counters which means you can actually see and feel the brushes. For the longest time I didn’t buy brushes unless I could try them in person, but even when I lived in San Diego, I couldn’t find them all so finally had to order some sight unseen. There are a lot of great brush blogs out there so if you need more reference or comparison a google search will bring up some amazing reviews. Best quality and performance goes to Tom Ford, Wayne Goss and Hakuhodo. If I had to pick only 10 brushes to use for the rest of my life, it would be: MAC 239, MAC 217, Hakuhodo B J004, Hakuhodo J552, Edward Bess Luxury, Wayne Goss 07, Wayne Goss 08 and Wayne Goss 18.
What are your favorite tools?
Press samples include the Charlotte Tilbury Eye Lash Curler, Wayne Goss Eye Set and Anniversary Set brushes.
Wayne Goss and Beautylish have teamed up to launch a collection of brushes called The Anniversary Set ($225 for 8 brushes). This special launch is timed to celebrate the second anniversary of Wayne Goss’s best-selling brush set- this one includes an updated release of the popular Brush 01 (limited edition) and introduces the new Brush 05 which will become a permanent addition to The Collection.
According to Beautylish, each brush has been meticulously handcrafted by traditional artisans in Kumano, Japan with jewel tone name and number lasering on the handles unique to the Anniversary Set. They are all made with cruelty-free natural bristles that have been selected for luxurious softness and then bundled uncut into a durable brass ferrule. I was able to preview the brush set last weekend in Santa Monica. I just received the brush set two days ago courtesy of Beautylish so I haven’t had much time to experiment in great detail but since it’s limited-edition I have a first impressions review on each the set today.
This is my first Wayne Goss Brush Set. I’ve accumulated a few individual brushes and they are well-loved in my collection. These brushes come with black lacquered handles that are medium-sized in length. They fit in my small hands nicely and are lightweight which makes them easy to use. There are eight brushes in this set for eyes and face. My quick take is that I think these brushes are very well made and the design and quality is excellent. They are extremely soft and the bristles are evenly distributed for flawless application. If you’re looking for a nice set of brushes to start a collection I think this is a very good place to start.
The eight brushes in the set include:
Brush 01 – The much-loved Brush 01, now three times larger for fast, flawless application of your favorite foundation. This elegant duo-fiber Brush makes blending creams, liquids, and powders to a poreless finish quick and easy. This one is limited-edition and exclusive to the set.
Brush 02 – A soft-as-silk Brush that seamlessly buffs powder products—blush, bronzer, highlighter, or setting powder—onto skin. Its tapered shape makes maneuvering around the contours of the cheeks a breeze.
Brush 03 – Fluffy, slightly pointed bristles make this Brush ideal for sweeping pigment all over the eyelid. It can also be used to highlight the nose and brow bone or to buff powder into the T-zone.
Brush 04 – Perfect for blending and distributing color into the crease of any eye shape. With its softly tapered silhouette, this Brush is also an excellent choice for concealing and setting the delicate undereye area.
Brush 05 – Completely redesigned with detail work in mind. The fine-point tip and supple bristles allow for the utmost precision when applying pigment to the eyes and lips.
Brush 06 – Topped with dense, dome-shaped hairs, Brush 06 effortlessly blends and softens eyeshadow in a single stroke. Use it to apply concealer to imperfections for a natural, even finish.
Brush 07 – Designed for lipstick or eyeliner, this small, flat Brush has just the right amount of stiffness for ultimate control. Apply precise amounts of color to the lips and eyes, or highlight specific parts of the brow bone and cupid’s bow.
Brush 08 – A tiny Brush with a short, flat tuft, ideal for tightlining the eyes with ease. Its unique shape makes working pigment directly into the root of lashes or brow hairs easier than ever before.
I have put these to the test for two days so far. Here’s what I tested each brush with and thoughts. First up is the Brush 01. I tried it with two liquid foundations. I thought the NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation would be a good one to try it with to see how smooth the finish would be. This is an ultra pigmented foundation and for the most part it’s flawless with fingers or a beautyblender sponge, but with most brushes streaks are visible. With the Wayne Goss Brush 01 it was pretty much streak-free with a few swipes. Brush strokes were still visible but required minimal blending and buffing to get completely smooth. I also tried it with the La Mer Reparative Skin Tint and it blended out product flawlessly. (Also shown below, recycled Diptyque Baies and RMS Luminizer Nail Polish.)
For Brush 02 and 04, I tested them with highlighter and concealer. Brush 02 (left) is a small tapered brush. It’s super soft and plush making it extra gentle on the skin. The tip is slightly domed and rounded which gives a very soft blended look. I tried it with detail highlighting using the Charlotte Tilbury Norman Parkinson Dreamy Glow Highlighter (swatched here). The brush picks up quite a lot of product which is nice. Some brushes don’t catch enough powder for some reason, but this one does.
Brush 04 (right) is a small detail brush. It’s similar in shape to Brush 03 but the 04 is smaller. It’s designed for crease but I don’t have folds in the eye area so I decided to try it with concealer since it was suggested in the product description. I would never have thought to try a non-synthetic tapered brush with a cream concealer but it really works. I took a dab of the Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer in 07 and it gives a super natural blended application on spots and under the eye. I’m really impressed! (On the nails below is Chanel Rouge No. 19).
For the eye brushes I’m surprised I don’t own any of these yet. From left to right is 03, 06, 05, 07 and 08. I know tapered brushes are huge with many and are considered a staple. I prefer fluffier brushes but the Wayne Goss 03 is really quite lovely. It’s dense enough that it’s not flimsy and it picks up just the right amount of product to give a sheer all over wash to the lids.
Brush 06 is a flatter but rounded brush, it’s described as a one-sweep brush and it really is that. It’s perfectly sized to give my lids color with one swipe.
Brush 05 is a detail brush that’s been redesigned. I don’t think I own the original one so I can’t compare but it’s an amazing smokey detail brush that picks up pigment really well and applies it in the inner corners or under the lash line. For the bottom lash line I like soft blended colors so it doesn’t look harsh and this one is perfect. I think I will need to purchase another once it’s launched individually.
Brush 07 and 08 are also detail brush perfection. I own tons of smudge brushes and Brush 07 is definitely one of the better ones I’ve tried. It’s super dense but soft. The material picks up color really well and applies it onto the skin beautifully. I feel like I’ve been waiting for Brush 08 my whole life. I know there are tons of skinny angled brushes that people use and love for getting into the lashline. I’m super uncoordinated with those and can never really get the color into the lash line easily, there’s almost always a gap so I have to blend and layer a lot. This one makes detail application super easy. It’s super dense and non-flimsy and non-floppy at the tip. If Wayne ever made a slightly larger one that is also angled for eyes I think I would fall head over heels in love with it. (He has one for brows in his brow trio which is utterly perfect but I think it’s too stiff for my delicate sensitive lids.) I tested the eye brushes with different textures of eyeshadow from the Urban Decay Naked3 Palette (swatched here). I thought it would be a good one since it has a mix of matte, satin, shimmer, chunky sparkle and metallic. All brushes worked really well with multiple textures making them really versatile.
One last shot of the brushes lined up:
I’m overall impressed. I knew that this set would be very well made and each brush would be perfectly crafted but I wasn’t sure if any would be that different from the dozens of tools I already own. Sometimes brushes are just brushes and if you have a collection of tools that work, it can seem redundant to own multiple tools from different lines. The brushes in the Anniversary Set all are phenomenal tools I know I will reach for and use on a daily basis. The Brush 02 is one of the softest brushes I’ve ever touched (just as soft as the Tom Ford ones). If there were one that I would say I could skip, I would say Brush 03 and 04 are very similar, but I really like 03 for the lids and now that I’ve tried 04 with concealer I’m converted. I think the detail Brush 08 is absolutely genius – if you’re unsure about getting the full set, I would say hands down the 07 and 08 are must-haves for perfect smokey eye detailing.
You can find The Wayne Goss Anniversary Brush Set exclusively online at Beautylish for $225. It is limited-edition.
Many thanks to Beautylish for sending a set for review consideration.
I’ve compiled several detailed brush guides this year but several of my readers have asked for a more consolidated list of recommendations. Like most of my beauty routine, when it comes to makeup tools, I rarely stick to just one brand. I think different lines have certain strengths in particular areas. Some have a better shape while others are made of better materials. There is a lot to sort through in terms of brush shape, size, material and price point. For me, it’s really important that I am able to test a brush in person before purchasing it so I tend to stick to main stream brands. Today I’ve compiled a list of my most reached-for tools for face, cheeks and eyes.
My top picks for brush brands include MAC, Chanel and Tom Ford. In my experience, the overall best brand for quality and price is MAC. I own many MAC brushes that have lasted me over a decade. I like that the brushes have a simple and sleek design and the quality is consistent among all the tools regardless of material or type.
Chanel is also another great brand that I use a lot for brushes and tools. They recently redesigned all their brushes (I think in the last year or so) for a more modern look. The tools work really well with all brands of makeup. There are many similarities in shapes between MAC and Chanel although the material is very different in most of the tools.
If price is no object, Tom Ford hands down makes the best brushes I’ve ever tested. All the brushes are super soft and plush and perform the best out of all the tools I’ve tried. The cream foundation brush is the only brush that gives me a streak-free application for foundation or tinted moisturizer. Tom Ford’s brushes are among the few brands I ordered sight unseen. I splurged on a brush set a few years ago and although it made a serious dent in my wallet but I have no regrets and it makes applying makeup a truly luxurious experience each day.
1 / Beautyblender ($19.95) is the best sponge I’ve used. I just discovered it this year and don’t know how I ever got along without it. There are multiple colors and types of beautyblenders but the pink one performs the best. Use it damp and it expands and applies foundation flawlessly.
2 / MAC Duo Fibre Face Brush #187 ($42) everyone needs a good skunk brush. These are fluffy brushes with two types of material mixed in. The uses for this are endless. I like to use mine to apply powder bronzer or highlighters to the face. You can also use these with cream products or to buff out powder foundation or to blend items. MAC also makes the Duo Fiber brushes in a number of other formats like the Short Handled #187 and a tapered Blush #159 version. I like the classic version the best.
3 / MAC Large Angled Contour #168 ($35) is super soft and fluffy angled contour brush. I use this for bronzer or blush (primarily powders). It’s also a good blending tool. The angled edge helps control application.
4 / Tom Ford Cream Foundation Brush #02 ($72) is the best foundation brush I’ve used. It’s one of the most expensive tools I own but worth every penny. When I use this to apply liquid or cream foundations, application is flawless and completely streak free. I normally prefer to use sponges for foundation but often times they soak up so much product. This is the closest thing I have to getting a sponge-finish look with foundation but in brush format.
5 / Chanel Foundation Brush #6 ($45) is my most reached-for foundation brush. It’s not quite as perfect as the Tom Ford, but for me it’s the next best thing. I like this for cream blushes too.
6 / Chanel Blush Brush #4 ($54) is my favorite blush brush because of the shape and material. It’s medium-sized and compact but has just the right amount of density to pick up color and dispense it perfectly on the cheeks. MAC makes a lot of good blush brushes too which are very good quality, but I find myself reaching for the Chanel the most.
7 / Chanel Powder Brush #1 ($65) is my favorite dense but soft powder brush. I use this for loose powder, pressed powder and powder foundation. It comes out of the box tapered but once you wash it it fluffs up quite a bit while still retaining a round shape. I like that it’s sturdy with a substantial handle but still easy to hold and maneuver.
1 / MAC Blending Brush #217 ($24) is the best white fluffy brush you can find for $24. This is key for me in terms of blending shadows for a subtle gradient. I also like to use this as a regular eyeshadow brush when I want an all over lid color.
2 / MAC Eye Shading Brush #239 ($25) is in my top 2 picks along with MAC Brush #217. This is my all time favorite eyeshadow brush. It picks up color really well and blends powders together nicely. I like that it’s dense but super soft.
3 / Tom Ford Eyeshadow Contour Brush #12 ($56) is another favorite. This is my do-it-all kind of brush. It applies shadow on the lids, it will contour or smoke out darker colors and the tip is dense for a smokey eye.
4 / MAC Shader Brush #242 ($25) is what I like for cream shadows (or concealer too). This one has lasted me the longest, I think it was one of the first MAC brushes I bought for myself. It has a really nice round tip making application easy and smooth on the eye (so it doesn’t poke the skin).
5 / Chanel Large Eyeshadow Brush #25 ($38) is a medium to large eyeshadow brush that isn’t too big or fluffy. I do like a good fluffy brush, but these days I find myself reaching for this one because it isn’t as thick or dense making it easier for me to control color and application. If you want something fluffy, soft and more dense, the Bobbi Brown Eye Sweep Brush is one of my favorites.
6 / Laura Mercier Smudge Brush ($24) is a good dense detail brush. It’s stiff but not too stiff so it’s easy on sensitive skin or eyes. I like this one to smudge eyeshadow or eyeliner. I use this instead of a regular liner brush because I like a more smudged softer line to define the eyes. It offers precise application but if you are looking for something super precise, I’d recommend the Bobbi Brown Eye Liner Brush or the Angled Eye Definer Brush.
7 / Trish McEvoy Laydown #40 ($42) is one of my favorite multi-purpose brushes. I like this for powder eyeshadow, cream eyeshadow and concealer. I owned this back when Trish McEvoy had gold handles for the brushes (they are now lucite). It’s the perfect shape, size and density for creams to get a good smooth and even application.
8 / Charlotte Tilbury Eyelash Curler ($20) is one of the newest eyelash curlers I’ve tried. When I first tried it I wasn’t super impressed because it’s called the “Life Changing Lashes” eyelash curler and well, it simply didn’t change my life. I found it just as good as my Trish McEvoy and Chanel eyelash curlers but not anything super special. I’ve since tried a few others from other brands like Shiseido and Shu Uemura and have really come to appreciate the design and shape of the Charlotte Tilbury. It has just the right amount of curve to fit my eye shape. Many others are too flat or not curved enough. The wrong shape will either pinch my eyes around the corners or miss lashes making the curl uneven. I give the Charlotte Tilbury a huge thumbs up for the way it performs.
9 / Trish McEvoy Eyelash Curler ($20) is a classic go-to for me. I have several of these right now and it’s been my most-replaced tool (some recommend you change or the pads these every 90 days, I tend to use these longer replacing once every 6 months). It just works the way an eyelash curler is supposed to. It grabs all the lashes and curls them evenly and in a round flared up shape.
I have some additional thoughts on brushes focusing on double duty or recycling. Based on the above guides, you might be wondering what I recommend for eyeliner, concealer, crease, bronzer, brows or lips.
I think a lot of tools can be used multiple ways which means you can stretch out the uses. Having multiple brushes can be extremely useful so you don’t have to worry about mixing colors or washing brushes frequently if you change from a light to a dark color for a certain tool. I do like brushes that will do multiple things though. For bronzer, I will sometimes use my blush or powder brushes. For the eye crease or contour I find the MAC #217 works just perfectly. For concealer I like blending with the fingers or a sponge.
For brow a lot of brow pencils come with a brush on the end to smooth out the color. I’ve bought a few brow combs before but find they don’t last me very long so I like to recycle my mascara wands after they are used up. Rinse the end with soap and warm water and you’ve got a lash comb and brow comb in one that you can toss whenever without worrying about throwing money away.
Lip pencils often come with a lip brush at one end so I don’t find the need to purchase a separate lip brush for gloss or lipstick. Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana have lip brushes which I find handy.
Last but not least, long time readers know I’m a fan of recycling candle jars. I use them to store brushes, pencils, lip gloss and office supplies. Diptyque and Jo Malone are my favorite to recycle. I just clean them out with warm-to-hot soapy water and a dish sponge. My candles don’t always have a clean burn so often times there are remnants of wax stuck on the sides. Some recommend freezing or using boiling water. I find that using anything too drastic with temperature changes can crack the glass or melt off the sticker (which I like to keep in tact).
If you’re just starting to build up your collection of makeup tools I hope you found this guide helpful. It can be overwhelming to sort through all the options so I have found the best way to start is to focus on one area at a time (i.e. start with eyeshadow brushes or blush brushes) and do your research. If you’re an in-store kind of shopper, I highly recommend bringing a small list of options you’ve found interesting or with high ratings. Having a list can be helpful in case you want to see different brands in one store. Some brushes go by number so writing the numbers down is handy unless you have a super good memory, I often have to look at the numbers on my MAC brushes when someone asks me “which brush is that?”
Building a good brush collection will take some time but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Brushes can be pricey especially when you add them up so I do recommend taking your time to research in advance to make sure you find ones that work best for your specific needs or wants.
I hope you found this guide on my favorites helpful to start!
This post was sponsored by Nordstrom. All opinions my own. All tools my own. For more information you can refer to my Disclosures.
I’m launching a series of my favorites and essentials. I’ve been asked by many of you to share what are my holy grails for hand/nail care, tools, foundations and skincare. My favorites change as I discover new products, brands and tips so for this series, so I’m taking extra care to pick out my tried and true. First set includes what my essential eye makeup brushes are.
I built my brush collection bit by bit over many years. My first brushes (MAC, Stila and Trish McEvoy) were purchased during my college years and with careful storage and care, most have lasted quite well since then. Over the years, I’ve added more one by one. I prefer to purchase brushes individually because I usually find the quality to be much better than brush sets from the same brands. I’ve compiled a list of my top picks for eye brushes. When it comes to eye makeup, I’m usually a minimalist and I like to blend a lot.
There are literally hundreds of options out there. If you are new to eye makeup or feel like you’re a novice with application, I’d recommend attending one of your local events at your Nordstrom or Bloomingdales. I’ve learned so much from artists, in particular NARS, Chanel and Le Metier de Beaute. Many of the artists have worked with multiple brands are are free-lance artists. They can help show you different techniques and often can help compare a few different brushes from mainstream brands. If you’re just starting out or have a smaller budget for tools, I’ll share my top 3 picks to get started below.
Brush storage idea:
My Eye Brush Essentials:
What I look for in brushes:
Long handled brushes are easier for me to pick up so I prefer brands that have longer handles (rather than all short). I also look for a brush that will not shed or fall apart after washing. I usually won’t pay more than $50ish for an eyeshadow brush, although I have made the exception for Tom Ford. I prefer brands I can access in person since for me it’s very important to try the brush in person before buying. The brand with the best brush selection and price is MAC, although they don’t have every kind of shape or material (if they did, all my brushes would probably be from them).
Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush ($40) is hands down the best fluffy all over eye shadow brush. There are dozens of other brushes with a similar shape, but most are not dense enough (the less dense the sheerer the application of color is). The Edward Bess brush is well designed and has enough bristles packed in to really pick up and layer color.
Chanel Brush Large Eye Shadow Brush #25 ($38) is my favorite large/flat eyeshadow brush for a sheerer all over application. It’s a good brush to give your lids a wash of color and applies it evenly.
Trish McEvoy Medium Laydown #40 ($43) is a good brush for cream shadows or blending bases all over the lid. I like that it’s a bit thicker than most cream shadow brushes which makes the blending process easier for me.
MAC #217 ($24) is one of the best multi-purpose brushes. You can use this to apply shadow all over the lids, blend colors together or use this for your crease area. It’s super soft but still well packed to pick up color.
MAC #239 ($25) is another staple. I wish MAC made more brushes this size with different materials because this is the perfect shape for your basic eye shadow application. It’s soft and dense and blends well. It picks up more color than the #217, but I usually use both together.
MAC #226 (discontinued) has been released and re-released a couple times. It’s now discontinued, but it makes the perfect detail brush and for those with creases, is the ultimate crease brush.
MAC #219 ($25) is another great detail brush for smokey colors or to highlight inner corners. It’s pointy at the end for good detail but soft enough for those with sensitive eyes.
Laura Mercier Smudge Brush ($24) is my favorite smudge brush. There are a number of smudge brushes from other brands but this one picks up color the best out of any I’ve tried.
Bobbi Brown Angle ($30) this one was from a set but is the same quality as the individual ones. For liner or brows I usually prefer brushes like the smudge brushes, but this one is great for a thin liner with shadows or creams.
Tom Ford Definer #15 ($50) is another smudge-like brush. The end is really thin but dense which makes for a good cream or gel liner application. I have a weak spot for white haired brushes because they are generally softer than others.