Brushes 101 | Essential Eye Brushes

Brushes are probably one of the most important tools a person can have if they wear makeup. It doesn’t matter how many good quality shadows or blushes a person has; brushes can make or break a look, that’s why it’s important to invest in a few good pieces. I understand it can be a bit overwhelming trying to figure out what you need, and brushes aren’t exactly cheap. So I’m going to discuss what I think are some of the most essential brushes, specifically for the eyes (we’ll get into face brushes another time).

zoeva brush rose gold real techniques eye brush mac 217 brush mac 224 brush sigma E40 blending brush

Natural vs. Synthetic

Before I get started, I wanted to discuss the differences and similarities between brushes with synthetic and natural bristles. Brushes with synthetic bristles (nylon, talkon, etc) work very well with cream/liquid products. Their fibres aren’t very porous, meaning they won’t soak up much product. Therefore, it’s easier to distribute product more evenly. Brushes with natural bristles work best for powder products like typical shadows and pigments. The bristles are more porous which allows them to grab onto product more easily. This can be a good thing when it comes to blending powders out to avoid adding too much product in a given area. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so the bristle type is definitely something to consider when buying/using eye brushes.

Shader Brushes

shader brush

Shader brushes are probably the ones that people recognize the most. It’s a standard, flat brush that come in a range of sizes. These brushes are used to pack shadows onto the lid. They’re great for applying shadows to make them appear vibrant on the lid, however they aren’t so great when it comes to blending shadows out. My favourite shader brush happens to be the oldest item in my entire collection. I bought it from Wal-Mart for about $6 CAD about 8-9 years ago and it’s still going strong! It was the only brush I had up until a few years ago, so it was definitely a multi-purpose tool. Just goes to show that you can find some quality brushes without having to break the bank.

Blending Brushes

If you were to only have one eye brush in your collection, a blending brush should probably be the one you go for. These brushes are absolutely necessary to create a blended and seamless look. I have a few favourites, however it comes down to a couple of distinct styles. The first ones are fluffy blending brushes. I use these to blend out my shadow in the crease of my eyes in order to achieve a diffused look. They are quite large and are meant to blend out a light wash of colour. My personal favourites are the MAC 224 and the Sigma E40. I find the MAC 224 to be much fluffier and less dense as the E40 therefore much easier to work with when blending out shadows in the crease.

MAC 224 brush sigma E40 brush

MAC 224, Sigma E40

The second type of blending brushes are ones that are smaller and less fluffy. These are great for people with smaller eyes, people without much lid space, and more precise blending. My favourite “precision” blending brushes include the MAC 217, which I love for blending out crease shades with more precision, and the Zoeva 231 and 224 brushes.

zoeva 231 petit crease brush rose gold zoeva 224 luxe defined crease brush rose gold mac 217 brush

Zoeva 231 Luxe Petit Crease, Zoeva 224 Luxe Defined Crease, MAC 217

Compared to the fluffy blending brushes, these ones allow more focused blending of shadows to keep the colour in one spot. I love using the Zoeva 231 brush to deposit more shadow on the outer-V or crease of my eye while blending it out seamlessly, and I love using the Zoeva 224 brush for more precise blending (i.e. very useful for cut crease looks).

Pencil Brush


Sigma E30

Pencil brushes are a godsend for blending out shadows on the lower lash line. They also work very well when applying darker shadows on the outer-V of the eye. I really like the Sigma E30 pencil brush since it is very soft yet sturdy, and is a very high quality brush which is on the low-mid range end of the price scale.

Eyeliner Brush

2016-03-08 18.19.42-3

If you’re using a gel liner (which is the best kind of liner, in my opinion), a good eye liner brush is necessary to create a perfect, crisp line. There are several kinds of liner brushes, however I find that a very fine and precise liner brush with shorter bristles does the best job. My preferred brush is actually one that I got from an art supply store for about $3 CAD.

Eyebrow brush

anastasia beverly hills #14 brush abh #14 brush

Anastasia Beverly Hills #14 brush

Choosing the right brow brush is the key to perfect-looking brows, especially when using powders or pomades. I usually use the Anasasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade, and anyone who’s ever used this product knows that it has a very steep learning curve associated with it. I find that using the Anastasia Beverly Hills #14 brush with the pomade keeps me from going overboard with my brows since it is such a tiny, fine brush. However, if you use a brow powder, a more sturdy and thick brush, such as the ABH #12 brush would work much better.

Concealer Brushes

real techniques crease brush sephora Pro Airbrush Concealer Brush #57

Real Techniques Concealer brush, Sephora #57 brush

Concealer brushes are ones that I use every single day to blend out product on my under eye area. I also find them to be very useful when applying eye primer on my lids. The one I’m currently using to blend out my concealer is the Sephora Pro Airbrush Concealer Brush #57. It is a little bigger than the other concealer brushes I own, but I love how it has slightly longer bristles and how it’s a little fluffier. The brush I use is the Real Techniques Concealer Brush, typically when applying eye lid primer. It is similar to the Sephora #57 brush however its bristles are much shorter and a little more stiff. I like using a brush to apply primer instead of my fingers because I find that the brush distributes the product more easily.


What are some of your favourite eye brushes?

Are there any brushes you would recommend that haven’t been mentioned?

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