I hate to tell anyone that they need to go out and purchase a particular beauty product. Of course, sometimes I get caught up in a love affair with a certain product and will say it but realistically I think it is down to talent and not tools when it comes to creating a stunning look. Perhaps this post is badly titled. This is a collection of the brushes I cannot live without and reach for daily. It may inspire a purchase or it may give you an idea of what to look for if you are only starting to build a brush collection. I have a lot of brushes but realistically, I could live with just these and no more. Let me tell you all about them.
To start, I have to talk about my Beauty Blender. I had tried the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge before this and thought it did the job. I had a go of a H&M knock-off which was horrific. My third attempt was with the original Beauty Blender itself when I picked it up in Sephora in Prague. Literally since the day I bought it, I have not used anything else to apply foundation. I use it for concealer too.
To use it is simple; run it under the tap, wring it out, bounce this into your foundation, bounce it on to your face. Job done. It applies foundation seamlessly and has worked with every foundation and concealer I have used. I was worried it might lessen the coverage in my foundation but that isn’t the case. I couldn’t imagine my makeup life without it. Accept no imitations.
You can purchase it from the Beauty Bay for €21.80 with €2.60 delivery.
Next up is the Real Techniques Blush Brush which I use for both powder and blush. The brush is big but not too big and despite it being made of synthetic bristles, it feels super soft. I think this is a great size for powdering my t-zone, chin and forehead. For blush it is ideal because it is so soft that it applies and blends the product. I have had quite a few powder and blush brushes in the past (and still do have others) but none even come close to this!
My final face brush is the Real Techniques Contour Brush which I use for both contouring and highlighting. This is the perfect size for creating chiselled cheekbones as well as applying highlighter just to the tops of the cheekbones and the nose. It is made of the same super soft synthetic fibres as the powder brush so it applies and blends beautifully.
This is only available as part of the Core Collection set which is a pain as I don’t get much use out of the other brushes but I am so in love with this that I am loathe to say, I would repurchase the set just for this brush. The Core Collection is available from Boots for €29.99 or Cloud10Beauty for €27.95 with €3 shipping.
Those three facial tools are my life and cover all bases for my base. I want to show you that you don’t need a hundred tools for every little piece of your face. If you find some good tools, you can use them for multiple purposes!
The next step in applying my makeup is to set my foundation and concealer on my eyes. I take my Inglot 6SS Brush and buff powder and sometimes a flesh-coloured base shadow all over my eye area from lashes to brow. I also use it to apply powder under my eyes to prevent creasing. This is so big, fluffy and soft that it buffs like a dream although you may be able to tell from the photos that the hairs have been ruined a little by the cream foundation and concealer products.
On some occasions I use this to apply lighter powder to my nose and cheeks as a matte highlight. I have done some precision contouring with it too. At first, it looks like it will be too big for the eye but this is another multi-use brush.
It costs€20 from the Inglot Ireland website or your closest Inglot store.
A bit of a wild card is this Pink Avenue Eyeshadow Blender Brush. I had never heard of the brand before but was sent this brush a few years back. At first, I thought this was supposed to be a dupe for the infamous Mac 217 (coming later in this post) but it is much larger. I didn’t like it and put it in my stash. However, more recently, I have been reaching for this more and more. Yes, it is bigger than a 217 but it buffs out crease colours softly and beautifully. I have quite a lot of space between my lashes and brow so I like to use it in my crease first, then I use the 217 with a deeper colour which – because it is smaller – is more concentrated, then I’ll use a pencil brush or smaller brush with a deeper colour for even more concentrated definition.
This isn’t a must-have if you don’t already have quite a lot of brushes but if you’re looking to up your eyeshadow game, definitely check this one out. I can’t find anything about the brand online so I don’t know if they’re still around but the brush still seems to be available from the Meagher’s Pharmacy website. It costs €9.99 with free delivery.
Every brush collection needs a flat eyeshadow shader brush for applying shadow all over the lid. I have quite a few and if one is dirty, I will pick up another without batting an eyelid. I decided to show you the Sigma E55 Eye Shading Brush because it is thicker and denser than most of the others I own. The denser the brush, the better it is going to be at packing on the colour so that is something to bear in mind.
I don’t honestly think you need to buy this particular brush but you should definitely have one similar in your collection. I also like the Mac 239. If you want this particular brush, you can buy it from the Sigma website for $14 with shipping based on location and the weight of your package or Cloud10Beauty for €14.95 with €3 shipping.
Probably the most infamous of makeup brushes is the Mac 217 Brush. This blending brush is hailed as the best blending brush of all time and I wouldn’t disagree. I have three. All of mine are pretty beat up because I have used them for years but I would repurchase another in a heart beat. It fits perfectly in the crease and buffs out edges gorgeously. I have tried several supposed dupes for this brush but none have ever come close. If there is one brush in this post that I would tell you not to skip over, it is this one. This is the one that you absolutely need.
It costs €26 from the Brown Thomas website or the Mac store on Henry Street.
The newest brush in my collection is the Mac 221 Brush which I had to buy when Belle Jorden consistently talked about it on Instagram and YouTube. She called it a smaller version of the Mac 217 but I disagree. It is longer and thinner which makes it floppier. It fits perfectly into the socket and is absolutely incredible for adding definition to a look. I can’t believe I’ve gone so long without this. This is my new favourite brush.
It retails for €26 from the Brown Thomas website and the Mac store on Henry Street.
Not a brush I use daily but when I want to take a look to the next level or go for a really smudgey under eye, this is a must-have. I have tried several pencil brushes but this Sigma E30 Pencil Brush is my favourite because it really tapers to a fine point making precision a breeze.
This is another that wouldn’t be a fundamental brush in a newbie’s collection but is one I couldn’t live without. You need it for these grungey looks that are everywhere right now.
Of course, everyone needs an eyeliner brush and it is really up to you whether you are an angled brush or a thin liner brush type of person. I need to use a thin liner brush after several comic attempts with an angled brush. It’s just not for me!
The Inglot 23T Brush is ideal because it is so tiny that it makes applying eyeliner with precision much easier. I have been stuck on several occasions when I have mislaid this brush but I am telling you, I cannot do eyeliner without it. This brush is a can’t-live-without for me!
This costs only €14 and is available on the Inglot Ireland website or your closest Inglot store.
My final brush is my pick for brows and it is the Billion Dollar Brows Brow Brush. I received this at an event a few months back and it was love at first swipe. It is double-ended with a spoolie on one end which is hard and combs through the brows wonderfully. The other end is an angled brush that is quite thin and sturdy so is ideal for drawing in little hairs or creating sharp edges. I use to be obsessed with the Mac 266 Brush for my brows until I accidentally dropped it down an open plug hole in a hotel room in Rome but I actually prefer this as it is smaller and more precise. I adore it.
Here are the brushes side by side for size comparison.
First is the Inglot 23T, then the Billion Dollar Brows Brow Brush, Sigma E30, Mac 221, Mac 217, Pink Avenue Eyeshadow Blender Brush, Inglot 6SS, Sigma E55, Real Techniques Contour Brush and Real Techniques Blush Brush.
I would like to pop in a little disclaimer here. These photographs are not beauty blogger standard. The brushes are a little worn, a little worse for wear. That is because I use them daily. These are my ride-or-die brushes that I am obsessed with, some of which I have had for years. I cleaned them before I photographed them for this post but they are well-loved!
I cannot live without these brushes. These are my babies. They are the ones that I would bring travelling. They are my daily go-tos and I think they are the best brushes to start a collection with – and end a collection with too.
Tell me, what are your go-to brushes?
Have any of these made their way on to your wish list?
Disclaimer: The Pink Avenue Brush and Billion Dollar Brows Brush were sent to me as PR samples. I am under no obligation to mention them on my blog and it does not affect my opinion of the products in any way.
No affiliate links were used.