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I like affordable brands, as I'm usually on a tight budget, but I'm also more than willing to splurge on a really great product if I find it's worth it.

So with that in mind, I tried makeup brushes at three different price points to see if there was any difference. For each brush, I applied a primer to my eye first and then blended two shades from the Urban Decay Naked 3 palette. It took a little bit of patience to blend properly and it had a tendency to get streaky, but it deposited color well.

This brush is pretty much the same as the e. It did a decent job depositing color and blending. I was surprised that I liked using this brush best, since I was skeptical of the strange shape. As it turned out, this brush made it very easy to deposit color and it blended very smoothly. I also noticed that my eye shadow application went faster when I used this brush.

Pictured above is the e. This is the very first makeup brush that I ever used, and I still use it occasionally for some things. It's best for when you want light coverage. It has soft, fluffy bristles that make it ideal for something like blush. If you only want light coverage then this brush would be fine for foundation but personally I want more coverage. I've written about this brush before. I really like how the shape allows you to get into hard-to-reach places like the corners of your eyes or nose.

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Since the bristles are very dense, it's easy to get medium to full coverage when using this brush to apply foundation. I don't usually use this brush for applying blush, but I was surprised to see that it worked just fine for that as well. I feel like I got the most flawless coverage from this brush, which doesn't surprise me considering how very soft and dense the bristles are.

My foundation didn't look patchy and I think this brush helped cover my spots and redness the best. Small or deep-set eyes need a little extra work in the sockets to define the eye and give it some oomph. We find a slightly angled eyeshadow brush like this one allows you to quickly and precisely sweep colour along the socket line for extra definition.

Winged eyeliner requires precision-perfect application and a firm-bristled brush with a thin flat line to achieve a neat look. This brush tapers perfectly into an ultra-fine flat line making lining eyes a breeze. Or it can be used to lift and separate lashes after applying mascara to ensure no clumping.

These 11 Makeup Brushes Put Sponges (and Fingers) to Shame

Contouring and sculpting are all the rage, but you need the right tools to achieve a natural, seamless look. This soft-bristled, tapered, angled brush ensures precision application, but also thorough blending for a flawless finish. It is possible to achieve a natural contoured look if the brush blends properly.

And this one does. This brush makes using a powder highlighter an absolute breeze. Dip the fan in the highlighter and simply sweep up and over the cheekbones towards the temple for an instant sheen. You can also use a fan brush to sweep away excess powder after applying eyeshadow or bronze and blush, without dislodging other makeup. Then use the larger end to buff and blend to perfection.

Incredibly soft, we were surprised they were synthetic fibres. Cruelty-free and vegan credentials makes this the choice for natural beauty fans. We use a cream blusher with our fingers for a pretty, natural glow and were a little sceptical about powder blushers applied with such a domed brush. But this brush completely changed our view on the subject. It buffs beautifully as well, so the blush colour really appears part of your skin tone. The transparent glass-effect handle is beautiful. Some of the loveliest blushers come in liquid and cream form, often giving a more natural-looking glow than some of their powder counterparts.

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A brush like this, however, will make it a lot more straightforward. Similar to applying foundation, just dip this firm-bristled brush into the blusher and, with circular swirling movements, start buffing the colour into the cheekbones. For the ultimate in luxury, this super-sized, fairly dense domed bronzer brush has glamour written all over it. Everything Marcia Kilgore touches turns to beauty gold.

You'll see a big difference in application.

This may sound like an outdated brush nobody really uses — most of us slick on some Vaseline or gloss and are good to go — but in fact, a properly applied lipstick looks staggeringly beautiful and lasts a very long time. It was easy to use and really gave some depth and longevity to the lipstick we use. Some of our favourite Real Techniques brushes are included here.

Bachca is amazingly inexpensive for such high-quality brushes.


MAC is hands down the best for eyes. And Real Techniques does the best value and thought-out sets in the business. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing. Want to bookmark your favourite articles and stories to read or reference later? Try Independent Minds free for 1 month to access this feature. Find your bookmarks in your Independent Minds section, under my profile.

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How many make-up brushes do I actually need - and which type should I buy?

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