Like most girls, I grew up playing with my mother’s makeup brushes as a curious child. They were incredible soft and fluffy and felt so luxurious across my face. I used them with no idea of the function each one served, but as a carefree child, there was no correct way to do it.
Even as an adult, figuring out the different purposes of each brush and getting them to work well took me a while. There are hundreds of brushes out there, and while I wanted to experiment with as many as possible, price was a huge drawback. After a lot of trial and error, I narrowed down my list of must-have brushes, but definitely wasted money on some expensive brushes I didn’t need or want in the process.
The good news is that some affordable great quality brushes are now available in Singapore. If in doubt on what to buy, some of these brands have starter sets you can try, and the individual brush prices are often cheaper in sets. But unless you’re a professional makeup artist, you’re not likely to use all those brushes. Here are a few recommendations to build what I consider a must-have basic makeup brush collection.
For the face:
#1 Foundation buffing brush
Some of you might have given up foundation brushes in light of the trusty Beautyblender, and while I love that sponge for blending out thicker foundations or a barely-there application, I still fall back to a good buffing brush for good coverage with most liquid foundations. Size preferences aside, a soft yet dense brush with either a round or flat top will work.
I’ve tried both a flat-top brush and a rounded one like the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush ($12.70 from iherb.com), and find I prefer a rounded top just because it moves around more effortlessly. This brush doesn’t leave streak marks, and it now takes me all of 20 seconds to get my foundation on flawlessly.
#2 Blush brush
The type of blush brush you should use is all about preference and how you apply your blusher. While some people might find typical blush brushes too small for a quick cheek sweep, others might prefer the precision that comes with a smaller brush.
The Zoeva 127 Luxe Sheer Cheek brush ($23.99 from Sephora.sg) is small enough for getting your blusher exactly where you want it, and even doubles up as a light contour or bronzing brush. If you’re looking for something large and fluffy, try the Real Techniques Blush Brush ($12.70 from iherb.com).
#3 Powder brush
If you’ve got oily skin, you probably set your foundation with powder to keep the oil at bay and help your makeup last longer. A large soft fluffy brush is all you need for setting your face. In fact, the Real Techniques Blush Brush mentioned above is a really great brush for setting your face with powder as it is tapered all around and covers a lot of ground fairly quickly. Another option is the Zoeva 106 Powder brush ($23.99 from Sephora.sg) which is incredibly fluffy and soft.
#4 Blending sponge
We all know and love the Beautyblender for its ever-efficient multi-tasking ability and quality. But if you’re not up to spending that much on a sponge you should throw away every three months, try the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge ($15.50 for two from iherb.com), which is a very decent competitor for a fraction of the price.
For the eyes:
#5 Eye definer/blending brush
Every woman with an interest in eyeshadow needs one of these in her tool kit. Whether you’re opting for a more naturally contoured eye or going all-out with the smoky eyeshadow, it’s the only brush you need for getting that softly defined crease.
If you’ve been reading all about “holy grail” brushes like the Mac 217 but want to start with a more affordable option, try the Sigma E25 ($20) or Zoeva 227 Soft Definer ($14.50, both from Sephora.sg) brushes instead.
#6 Shader brush
For patting on colour on your eyelids, a flat and wide shader brush is perfect. Densely-packed bristles are better than fluffy ones, especially when it comes to getting a more intense eyeshadow payoff (and to minimise the amount of shadow that ends up under your eyes).
Try the Zoeva 232 Luxe Classic Shader ($14.50), which is great for packing on eyeshadow and is also narrow enough for smaller eyelids, or the Zoeva 222 Luxe All Over Shader ($14.50) as a larger option.
#7 Pencil brush
A pencil brush or smudger brush is incredibly handy if you’re looking to smudge some eyeliner, smoke out your lower lashline, or if you just want to get a more defined line with your eyeshadow. Which one you choose is up to you. Either the Zoeva 230 Pencil or the 226 Smudger brush ($14.50 each from Sephora.sg) will do the job.
If you’re someone who prefers to line their lower lash line with eyeshadow, the pencil brush is better for that purpose. If you’re just into smudging out lines, then go with something like the 226.
#8 Undereye setting brush
You might be thinking, no one really needs one brush just for setting your under eye concealer. I had the same thought too until I tried out the Real Techniques Setting Brush ($18 from Sephora.sg) for myself. It’s the perfect size for getting at those pesky inner corners, and soft enough that it won’t smudge your concealer. You can use it on any other area of the face you want to conceal if you don’t want to powder your entire face.
Best of all, if you’re into highlighting, the brush also does a bang-up job at applying a light or intense highlight to very specific areas of your face.