Makeup brushes are as varied as they are versatile. If you'd like guidance on how to apply your beautifying powders and creams effectively, read on. Our guide will cover different types of makeup brushes, how to use them and cleaning tips. We'll also delve into the details of applying foundation, contouring and other specific uses of the many brushes available. 


Here you'll find guidance on which brush to use with which kind of makeup, as well as a few specialist techniques. 

Types of make-up brushes


Foundation: The face brush you choose will depend on the finish you prefer. Flat foundation brushes are ideal for full coverage with minimal wastage and their angled design allows for precision application of concealer in small facial contours. For an airbrushed finish, use a buffing brush in circular motions or stipple on foundation with a damp makeup sponge. This technique is will gradually build up subtle layers of cover.

Powder: Help your foundation and concealer last as long as possible with a dusting of pressed or loose powder. This is best applied with a soft and fluffy brush, ensuring a light distribution and non-cakey finish. Large brushes are best suited to lightly dusting powder over the T-zone to help reduce shine, while smaller styles can target any creasing in the under-eye area.

Bronzer: For an all-over glow, use a large-headed brush for smooth and even application of your bronzer. Load your brush with powder, then gently tap on the palm of your hand to shake off any excess before sweeping it over the face, paying extra attention to areas the sun naturally falls on (we’re thinking the apples of your cheeks and the bridge of your nose).

Types of make-up brushes


Eyeshadow: The all-over eye brush makes applying eyeshadow colour easy, no matter what look you’re after. Follow with a soft, tapered blending brush to blur your different shades together. A smaller smudger brush will create a soft, smokey effect along the upper and lower lash lines and enhance the natural contour of your eye.

Eye liner: Choose either a short and dense brush for applying heavy cream eye liner, or a lighter, thinner brush to work liquid liners across the lash line with extra precision and build where necessary. Extra-fine tipped brushes ensure a precise, even stroke and can be used with both liquid and cream formulas.


Blusher: The best blush brushes are medium in size with a slightly rounded tip and are densely packed full of soft, lightweight bristles. These carefully designed styles will pick up just the right amount of blush and distribute it evenly on the cheeks.

Cream blusher: You might not think a brush is the best way to apply cream blusher, but they work well with firm, rounded brushes. Dab yours into the cream and apply it in a sweeping motion. Follow with a flat or angled brush to buff the colour and really blend it into the skin. You'll be left with natural-looking rosy cheeks.


Lipstick: Did you know that instead of applying lipstick directly, you can use a lip brush for total control over your shape? Pick up a little colour from the end of your lippy and brush it on from the centre of your mouth outwards. Retractable lip brushes can be popped straight in a makeup bag without making any mess, so you can top up your coverage on the go.

Special techniques

Contour: If it’s definition you’re after, the best brushes have angled or slanted brush heads. This allows the brush to accurately follow the line of your cheekbones and enhance your natural bone structure, with no professional skills required. Apply a neutral-toned bronzer or contouring powder to the hollows of your cheeks, along your jawline and from the hairline to mid-way down your cheek, buffing it into the skin for a seamless finish.

Highlight: Enhance your brow bone, Cupid's bow and cheekbones with a swipe of highlighter on a light synthetic fibre brush or featherweight fan brush [product nomination required]. When it comes to the best highlighter brushes, fewer bristles are always better.

How To Clean Makeup Brushes

While professional makeup artists clean their brushes after each use, washing your brushes once a month is generally recommended for regular makeup users. 

Here’s how to wash your makeup brushes and keep them in optimum condition:

  • Once a week, grab a few sheets of kitchen or toilet roll and gently rub them over all of your brushes and sponges to get rid of excess.

  • Once a month, do a big clean. Wet all of your tools, then apply a gentle soap or shampoo – baby shampoo works particularly well. Massage it in well. Rinse thoroughly to avoid leaving any soap residue.

It's worth the effort to keep your makeup brushes squeaky clean:

  • Getting rid of build up will mean that your precious tools stay pliable for as long as possible.

  • Clean bristles are less likely to break, so your brushes will last longer overall.

  • Bacteria build up quickly in makeup brushes, which can be bad for your skin. Washing them regularly will help your skin stay soft and clear.