News Tip Sheet

Makeup brushes 101

Mastering Makeup Brushes

“Quality makeup brushes are worth every penny,” says Dick Page, artistic director for Shiseido The Makeup and a favourite makeup artist of celebrities such as Catherine Zeta Jones. But figuring what brushes to buy and how to use them isn’t easy. The sheer range of brushes can be intimidating. Here is a “Makeup Brushes 101” to get you started.

model backstage makeup application


The Quality Test:

Bobbi Brown says the best way to test the quality of a brush is to judge how the bristles feel against your skin. Running your fingers through the bristles will assure you they won’t fall out. Celebrity makeup artist Val Garland agrees and adds you need to see how the handle feels in your hand. If it isn’t comfortable, you won’t use it. Look for natural bristles such as sable, goat, pony, and even squirrel for working with powder-based products. Synthetic versions work best with cream-based products because they offer greater control. Regular cleaning will ensure your brushes deliver great results for years.


The Five Essential Brushes

Dior powder brush #17

1Loose powder brush – Select a soft, dome-shaped brush to apply, buff, and polish powder into skin and over foundation to set. Dip, swirl brush into powder, tap off the excess and apply. Apply to the large areas of the face first and around the eyes last.

Dior eyeshadow brush #22

2. Eyeshadow brush – Choose a flat, wide brush with chiseled rounded tip. Hold the wide side flat and horizontally against the lid to apply and lay down an even, smooth layer of colour. Hold it perpendicular with the tips placed in the crease and follow the bone to shape the eye more with a medium to deep colour. Adding a large dome eye brush allows you to eliminate lines when applying multiple eyeshadow shades.

Dior concealer brush #13

3. Concealer brush – Invest in ¼” wide, flat brush with chiseled tip. Holt it flat to the skin to paint strokes of concealer. The tip covers blemishes effectively while feathering the edges.

Clinique eye contour brush

4. Eye Contour brush – Add this multi-use detailing brush to create controlled lines of colour either wet or dry. Fill-in, shape and colour eyebrows with feathery strokes. Wet brush with eyeshadows for quick eye lines.

Chanel retractable lip brush

5. Retractable lip brush – Slip this sleek brush in your bag for quick touch-ups. The flat, dense and chiseled tip applies lip colour expertly. Apply colour to the center of the mouth, spreading and painting the colour to the lips’ outer edges and corners.

model backstage lip brush

How to clean your brushes:


If you gently clean your brushes each week, they will last upward of 10 years. All it takes is some baby shampoo and warm water. Swirl the brush head in the soapy water then rinse with clean water. Pat dry and leave to air dry.


  • Reply
    Wendy Lam-Vechi
    March 20, 2023 at 9:44 am

    Brushes seriously confuse me. I must admit I think I use the same two brushes for all of my eye make up. This article has helped me a bit. Now I need to find out what the rest of my brushes do

  • Reply
    Paula S.
    February 2, 2023 at 11:30 pm

    I have a variety of brushes, but I was never quite sure on some of them what exactly I should use them for. This is very helpful information!

  • Reply
    Brittany Gilley
    January 19, 2023 at 7:04 pm

    I love a good liner brush

  • Reply
    Heather W
    July 27, 2022 at 10:19 pm

    I never know what brush to use for what. Thank you for this post!

  • Reply
    July 9, 2022 at 6:44 pm

    I live in the back of beyond, but still love to look my best. There is soooo much I never learned and I love your tips Dave!… I’m a twitter fan!

  • Reply
    fiona d
    March 25, 2022 at 2:49 pm

    A workman is only as good as his tools and this applies to makeup artists. My daughter mua she has a huge amount of brushes for all different techniques.

  • Reply
    Janet K
    March 7, 2022 at 4:27 pm

    Love the tutorial on for each brush.

  • Reply
    February 27, 2022 at 1:54 pm

    So informative. I’ve been looking for advice on what make up brushes to use and this was exactly what I needed to know. Thank you. 💕💕

  • Reply
    Inés Díaz
    February 27, 2022 at 12:01 pm

    I loved it, now I know what is missing in my makeup brushes… always learning from you

  • Reply
    fiona d
    February 26, 2022 at 5:01 pm

    My daughter is a makeup artist so brushes are often a topic of conversation in our house, it’s the same as anything an artist is only as good as their tools, so best to pay a bit more for something decent.

  • Reply
    Michelle Ptak
    January 6, 2022 at 5:40 am

    Thanks for these tips so useful, having been bought up in the generation where you just applied make up using fingers it’s great to get some professional help.

  • Reply
    Corry L.
    January 2, 2022 at 2:55 pm

    I had no idea what the difference was between each brush and their uses. Thanks so much for this tip sheet!

  • Reply
    Tina Alexander
    December 30, 2021 at 8:27 am

    I really needed the makeup brush tips, because I have been using whatever brush I get to first. Good to know that different sizes /types should be used for specific applications.

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