I tend to stick with drugstore/cheap brushes but that doesn't mean they're lacking in quality. ELF Studio brushes and Target's Studio Tools brushes are some of my favorites. I also own some Ecotools brushes but I find that I like other equivalents better.
Though of course you don't necessarily need these exact brushes but I think these types of brushes are essential for everyday use.
- MAC 217 ($22.50) -- This is my favorite and most essential makeup brush that is definitely HG (Holy Grail) status. I am a cheapskate when it comes to brushes but this is worth every penny. It is a fluffy medium-sized blending brush that easily blends eyeshadow. It also works well for applying a sheer layer of eyeshadow and creamy concealers. I've used this daily for 2-3 years and it is still nicely shaped and has never shed.
- ELF Eyeshadow Brush (regular line, $1) -- This was my first eyeshadow brush and 5 years later I still use it daily. It is the perfect size for laying down eyeshadow all over my lid or my browbone, but because it is still slightly fluffy it gently blends the edge of the eyeshadow as well. Over the FIVE years I've been using this it has never shed a hair! I have a second one of this with a black handle that is 2 years old. The newer version has slightly shorter bristles so I like using it for darker colors to have slightly more targeted eyeshadow application.
- Studio Tools Smudge Brush (Target, ~$2-3) -- This is pretty much a smaller version of the ELF eyeshadow brush. It is the perfect size for applying dark shades into my outer V or my lower lashline. I like using it to smudge my eyeshadow for smoky looks as well. The bristles are the same type as the ELF brush too. Had this for 1-2 years and it hasn't shed.
- Studio Tools Angled Eyeliner Brush (Target, ~$2-3) -- This is my favorite angled eyeliner brush. It is pretty thing so it applies eyeliner with the perfect precision. Much better than the more popular Ecotools angled liner brush, which tended to splay.
- Sonia Kashuk Bent Eyeliner Brush (~$6) -- This bent brush may help some people who have trouble applying gel eyeliner because it allows you to more easily maneuver the brush to suit the shape of your eye. I prefer using an angled brush though.
|MAC 217, ELF Eyeshadow (old), ELF Eyeshadow (newer), Studio Tools Smudge, Studio Tools Angled Liner, Sonia Kashuk Bent Eyeliner brush|
- Sonia Kashuk Highlighting Brush ($13) -- This is a "skunk" duo-fibre brush that is used to stipple blush or foundation. The size and density of this is more suitable for blush application. I love this for blush and highlighter because it applies very pigmented blushes sheerly and smoothly and it blends everything together seamlessly. I've had this for 3 years and it's starting to shed so I think it is probably time for a new one.
- ELF Studio Powder Brush ($3) -- This is a very dense, flat-top brush that I use for applying powder foundation like MAC MSFN. I also like using it for applying creme blush, and I know some people love it for applying liquid foundation. This is a really soft brush which allows it to blend well but the density of it really helps to apply product evenly.
- ELF Studio Complexion Brush ($3) -- This is a fluffy medium-sized face brush that can be used for powder or blush. I use this for applying loose face powder and don't really like it for applying blush because it is a bit too flimsy for that. It is good for applying a sheer layer of powder.
|Sonia Kashuk Highlighting, ELF Studio Powder, ELF Studio Complexion brush|
What are your essential makeup brushes?