Allow me to begin this post by saying that as of my last count, I have over 50 makeup brushes. I don’t have all of them out and in rotation on my vanity simply because there are so many of them, but I have tested each and every one. As such, I know which ones I like enough to use everyday and — as many as there are — I had no problem at all picking out my absolute favourites. These brushes don’t necessarily form a complete set and they aren’t even all expensive brushes, but they are the best at what they do and I cannot imagine living without them.
Sonia Kashuk No. 1 Brush – Sonia Kahsuk is a brand that sells exclusively at Target and I make it a point to pick up at least one brush from her line whenever I get the chance. The regular brushes with the white handles are OK, but the black, curvy-handled ones are the best. They range in price from 15-20 USD. This No.1 brush is the most amazing fluffy powder brush.
Sonia Kashuk (???) Brush – This one was from a special collection and the number has rubbed off, but it’s just a smaller version of the No.1 Brush. I use it to apply heavier powder foundations. Like the larger No.1 Brush, it’s incredibly soft.
Sigma F80 Flat Kabuki – A dense, synthetic brush that I like to use when I’m buffing in mineral foundation. It’s also great for use with liquid foundations as it doesn’t seem to eat up all of the liquid like other kabuki brushes tend to.
Shu Uemura Brush – This beauty was part of a Christmas set some years back. I use it to apply blush. It’s one of my oldest brushes and it’s starting to show signs of wear (huhuhu), but it is the brush that set the standard for all my other brushes that came after it. Shu brushes are crazy expensive, but if this ever sputters out and dies on me, I can’t imagine not replacing it. Perhaps when that time comes, I’ll be ready for a Hakuhodo! Charm Dual-Ended Spoolie/Brow Brush – The best brow brush and spoolie combo I have ever come across and I don’t even know what makes it so different from others. I think the bristles on the brush side are just the right balance of soft and stiff — they pick up brow powder wonderfully. I just detest the hot pink colour, but learned to look past that a long time ago.
Laura Mercier Dual-Ended Brush – This is another brush from a Christmas set. You can actually purchase each end individually as a full-sized brush. One end is called the “All Over Eye Color” and the other is the “Pony Tail.” I do like having both functions on one brush, but the quality of the bristles is what makes this so great. Both ends pick up eyeshadows well and the blending end is great no matter how heavy a hand you might have.
Zoeva Luxe Smokey Shader – A dupe for a famous MAC brush. I’ve never owned the MAC counterpart so I can’t compare, but I can’t imagine how this could be improved much more. It’s great for applying colour to the lid, plain and simple.
Zoeva Luxe Pencil – Zoeva’s Luxe line are all incredibly soft, which is extra important when a brush is going to touch your under eye area. I use this one to smudge eye shadow onto the bottom outer third of my eyes.
Sigma F25 Blending – This is actually a sample brush. The full-sized F25 looks the same but with a longer handle. This is kind of like MAC’s 217 but a little bit fluffier. I like it because I can use it to apply shadow to the lid or to blend out my crease.
And those are my absolute favourite brushes! None of them are actually very expensive and I don’t believe makeup brushes have to be pricey to be good — but finding the good and affordable ones takes some time because it can be a hit-and-miss affair. Sonia Kashuk, for example, as impressed me more often than not, but I have bought one crappy brush from her line. It fell apart after the third wash.
One day I will invest in more Shu Uemura or Hakuhodo brushes. That’s not even a question. But it will not be because I haven’t found good cheap brushes — I’ll just be treating myself, really. Haha.