My Must Have Brushes & Makeup Tools

Brushes and tools are incremental to creating the perfect makeup look. Below are my absolute must haves for my every makeup bag. Of course, it is quite a personal thing so your picks may vary slightly. Especially considering what you do as part of your makeup look. Not everyone uses eyeshadow or applies foundation so you can definitely pick and choose the brushes you'd need for the look you want to create. I'm featuring quite a few brushes from M.A.C and Real Techniques. They are the two brands that seem to constantly dominate my makeup bag. 

M.A.C brushes have wooden handles with nickel plated brass ferrules (that's the metal part between the brush and the handle). The brushes themselves are hand sculpted. I find that a few of them shed upon the first couple of uses, but after one or two washes, I usually don't have an issue. I think M.A.C is quite well priced for the quality, but if you are looking for similar brushes at a lower cost, Sigma brushes are great alternatives. They have competitive pricing and the quality is still good. I'm representing my M.A.C brushes here though because I've literally had mine for about 8 years and they are still in excellent condition which is a true test to their quality.

Real Techniques Brushes are a more recent acquisition, but I am obsessed. They have seriously changed my make up application world! They are cruelty free so they are all synthetic which is quite lovely. They wash so well, never shed and I find that each brush is great for multiple uses. So versatile. My only annoyance with these it that the handles for the larger face brushes (Buffing and Expert) are so fat! Really nice to hold in your hand when applying, but they take up so much space in smaller makeup bags. I still carry them everywhere though because they're brilliant and are essential to my everyday routine. 

OK, let's get started with the Face!

RT Contour Brush: I find this great for contouring as it is named. It's shaped so that you place the product on the tip of the brush and then when you swirl and blend, the shorter bristles around the point will help blend out the product you placed on the top center. I like that this is a smaller sized face brush so you can be precise with application. I actually own two of these because I love using it for setting powders as well. I only like to powder my T-zone instead of my entire face so this brush is perfect for applying powder in those specific areas and not getting it everywhere.
RT Buffing Brush: This is one of my favorites for liquid foundation. I tend to swap between this and the Expert Face Brush (below) depending. With this brush, you just keep swirling it around your face and it literally buffs the foundation into your skin so beautifully and seamlessly. Because the bristles are a bit long, they are flexible. So, I find this works best with the more liquidy liquid foundations that are easier to move around. I have to say though that my favorite thing to use this brush with is cream blushes. I just tap it into the blush and pat it onto my cheeks. Then swirl around lightly to blend it in. 
RT Expert Face Brush: This is my all time favorite because you can use it for everything! It's perfect for any liquid or cream foundation. I even use this to blend and buff in concealer. I find you can either swirl to blend or even pat it around to get a heavier coverage in certain areas where you might need. Concealer, for instance, I pat it in with the tip of the brush so that it concentrates the product in that one spot and covers without moving the product. The shape is perfect for fitting into all the nooks and crannies of the face. I'll even use it sometimes with powder products to contour my face. Literally, anything you need to use on your face can be applied with this brush. It's the most versatile. Love it!
M.A.C 129 Short Handle Powder Brush: I enjoy this brush for powder or bronzer. It's big, but not too big. This is actually a short handle brush which I love because it's good to carry in your bag for any 
large angled brush: perfect for blush
M.A.C 168 Large Angle Contour Brush: I like using this brush to apply powder blush. It's soft, fluffy and blends the product well.
RT Domed Shadow Brush: I know a lot of people use a flat synthetic brush for concealer, but this is so much better! It just flawlessly buffs the concealer into your skin. And if you need a heavier coverage on spots, just tap/pat it over the blemish. I also love their other eyeshadow brush for this that's a bit fluffier. They're both amazing for concealing.
Beauty Blender: I generally hate makeup sponges. They absorb all of your product and they don't blend seamlessly. This, however, is unlike any other makeup sponge out there. And although many brands that have come out with knock offs, none have come anywhere close to this. You have to run it under water and then squeeze out the excess. It will double in size and stay damp. This makes it super soft and because it is retaining water, it won't absorb as much of your product. The shape fits perfectly into every part of your face to apply foundation and concealer. The bottom for larger areas and the smaller top for smaller areas like around your eyes or nose. And because it's rounded, it won't leave any marks of the edge of a sponge like others do. You just apply your foundation and bounce this all over your face for an almost airbrushed look. Brilliant!

I know it seems like a lot of brushes for your face products. To be honest, I swap between them daily depending on my mood and products. But, if I had to slim it down, (you know, like if someone was twisting my arm) I would have the RT Expert Face Brush for foundation and concealer, RT Contour Brush for setting powder and the M.A.C 168 for blush and/or bronzer. Done and done!

M.A.C 266 Angled Brush: This is fantastic to use for filling in your eyebrows if you use a powder. I also use this to apply eyeshadow along my lashline like eyeliner. I find that this angled brush from M.A.C is really really perfect. It's long enough, quite thin and soft, but still firm enough to get precise application. I have brushes like this one from other brands and none of them get it right like this.
M.A.C 213 Fluff Brush: This is the perfect brush to apply concentrated shadow in a flat area like the entire eyelid. It's soft and simple. Gets the job done.
M.A.C 224 Tapered Blending: Everyone has to have one of these. Even two! It's just the essential fluffy brush that you need to take an eyeshadow into the crease of the eye and to blend everything out. It's soft and fluffy so it buffs and blends perfectly. The reason I say you could own two is because if you like doing smokey eyes, once your brush gets too dirty with one color, you'll need a clean one to keep blending so that it doesn't make your eyeshadow all muddy. I also like the M.A.C 217. They're quite similar so it's a bit of personal preference. I have one of each. Yes, I'm obsessed with brushes!
M.A.C 228 Mini Shader Brush: I don't hear that many people talk about this brush, but it's one of my favorites. It's like a miniature version of the 213. I love doing smokey eyes and applying eyeshadow underneath my eyes. This is the perfect size to do that. It just smudges the shadow down there and places the perfect amount of product. It's also good for applying color to the inner corner of your eyes where most people like to highlight. 
M.A.C 204 Lash Brush: I call this a spooly. I use it for my eyebrows, not my lashes. I fill in my eyebrows with either a shadow or pencil and this is the pefect thing to brush through your brows afterwards. It will comb them into place and help blend the color you put on. A lot of eyebrow pencils come with one of these on the opposite end though so you might be able to skip this one.
Tweezerman Tweezers: Every girl should own a pair of good tweezers. You never know when you'll need to pluck the odd hair here or there. I find tweezerman's to be my favorite. They just work great and last forever. 

M.A.C 318 Lip Brush: This is the retractable lip brush which I like because most of the time, if you're going to use a lip brush, you'll probably need to take it out with you in case you'll need to touch up. I rarely use lip brushes or lipstick, but when you want a precise lipstick application, there's no way around this. You'll need one!

Fingers!: Never forget the cheapest makeup tool that exists. Your fingers! I love love love brushes, but I also don't always have the time to put on makeup let alone pull out my brushes. And sometimes, fingers just work better. I sometimes apply foundation that way. Always use them for cream shadows. Often use them to apply concealer. They're so versatile and usually the warmth of your fingers will blend the products into your skin seamlessly. Never underestimate what you already have!

Last piece of advice I have is to always care for your brushes. Keep them clean. Clean them properly and store them appropriately. Even a good brush will be short lived if it isn't cared for. Wash them often. Use baby shampoo or a proper brush cleaner. Never ever let water go near the ferrules or handles. It will break down the glue and wood which will make your brush fall apart. Not cool. And always be sure to reshape the brush before allowing them to lay flat to dry. If the bristles aren't shaped, it will dry in a funky shape and never really go back to being the same. 

Hope this helps some of you get some ideas on what brushes you might need for your own collection. There are tons of brands out there that make brushes so you can always experiment and find what works for you. Until next time!

p.s. You can find M.A.C brushes at any M.A.C store, counter or maccosmetics.com. And you can find Real Techniques at Ulta stores or Ulta.com.

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