The 4 Makeup Brushes You Actually Need

Every time I go to Sephora to get some concealer in an attempt to cover up my under-eye zombie circles, some perky salesgirl tries to convince me that I can’t possibly apply said concealer without an army of extra brushes. Ditto on everything from blush to eyeshadow and even lip gloss. Unless you’re a hardcore beauty Nazi who insists on doing everything by the book though, it’s all kind of BS. You don’t really need different brushes for blush and powder or different layers of eye shadow; that just tends to get confusing and expensive. Find out which four brushes will get you through every makeup situation, after the jump.

  • The angled eyeliner brush: This stiff, thin tool works for liner application with everything from liquid liner to semi-solid potted colors and even helps you successfully turn eyeshadows into liners. It’s a must-have if you’re an eyeliner wearer.
  • A soft powder/blush brush: Don’t be deceived into believing that you need to buy totally different brushes for powder, bronzer, blush, etc. While having options isn’t bad, it is really expensive and unnecessary. Choose a fluffy, large powder brush for any face powder applications and buy a separate blush brush later if you really want to round out your tool collection. Sticking with soft, long bristles over shorter, harder ones — which most blush-specific brushes have — will keep the application looking lighter and more natural.
  • A tapered blending brush for shadow: A soft eyeshadow brush with long-ish, soft fibers can be used both for shadow application and blending. Something shorter, smaller or much stiffer will be more difficult to use for both steps without ending up looking like a drag queen.
  • The cream concealer brush: Use it to tame your darkest under-eye circle days and your scariest zits. This one’s actually semi-optional and only really necessary for the aforementioned awful under-eye circles, oily skin or quite a lot of blemishes to cover up. It’s a good idea in those cases because it will keep the oil from your fingers from exacerbating the acne and other issues and it will ensure that the deepest possible concealer pigmentation actually gets to those circles rather than getting stuck on your fingers.