The Only 5 Makeup Brushes You Really Need

Who doesn’t feel the need to touch makeup brushes when you see them displayed in their soft and fluffy glory? I love myself a good makeup brush and over the years my collection has certainly grown, but there are a core few that I really could bring it back to that are all I need to get it done.

top 5 makeup brushes makeup brushes you really need

After the jump, I’ll explain how you can use these five types of brushes and give some various alternatives in multiple price points to fit your budget!

Top 5 Makeup Brushes | Sephora Real Techniques MAC

(One – Sephora Collection Pro Airbrush #55, Two – Real Techniques Buffing Brush, Three – MAC Tapered Blending Brush #224, Four – MAC Blending Brush #217, Five – Sephora Collection Classic Must Have Smudge Brush)

My Core Collection

One – Sephora Collection Pro Airbrush #55, $34. This is the multi-tasker. I mainly use it for setting powder, applying mineral powder foundation, bronzer, blush and/or highlighter (just dust it off between uses on a small towel). I have also used it to apply liquid foundation.

Alternatives: Morphe M527, $15.99; ELF Studio Complexion Brush, $3.

Two – Real Techniques Buffing Brush, $17.99, SALE: $10.06 on Amazon! (part of a set of four). Unfortunately, you have to purchase a full set of four other brushes to get this amazing foundation brush. Luckily, you may also really like the others that come in the set, too. This particular buffing brush is the softest foundation brush I own and gives a perfectly even application in record time. Buff, buff, buff and you’re done.

Alternatives: Morphe G6 $13.99, Morphe MB6 $11.99; ELF Studio Powder Brush, $3.

Three – MAC Tapered Blending Brush #224, $32. I can get by every single day with the following two eye brushes, no problem. This brush is what is used to give that blown-out, softly blended look you’ll find on all the Instagram makeup pros. Apply color in the crease and outer corner of your eye with this brush, then blend away until you look like a Kardashian.

Alternatives: Luxie Tapered Blending #229, $12; ELF Crease Brush, $3.

Four – MAC Blending Brush #217, $25. The second eye brush that’s a necessity in my core collection (and many other professionals and makeup enthusiasts, alike) is the #217. I personally love it for applying a sheer wash of color all over the lids (think: a soft gold, champagne, or taupe shade). I also use it to pack color on the lid for a more intense look, and then can dust it off and use it to apply a more concentrated shade in the crease to add more dimension. It’s also great at blending concealer on your face, as a bonus.

Alternatives: Sigma Blending Brush E25, $14; Morphe M433 Blending Fluff, $6; Morphe M433 Pro Firm Blending, $5.99 (sale!).

Five – Sephora Collection Classic Must-Have Smudge Brush, $14. This brush is what takes your eye look to a perfected level. Use this brush to smudge eyeliner (or a dark eyeshadow) on your upper lash line. For a sexy, yet wearable look, use it to smudge out a soft wash of brown or charcoal on your lower lash line. This method gives definition to the eye without being hard like an eyeliner can be – particularly during the day time.

Alternatives: Morphe M408 Chisel Shader, $3.99; Morphe B33 Badger Oval Smudger, $2.99; ELF Smudge Brush, $1.

HIGH END (if you only purchased the most expensive options): $122.99 + tax & s/h
LOW END (if you only purchased the least expensive options): $15.99 + tax & s/h

The Only 5 Makeup Brushes You Really Need | | Sephora MAC Real Techniques

I think you’ll find many years of happiness with these types of brushes. I have had some of these since 2007 (looking at you, smudge brush). Once you master your look with these brushes, you’ll be ready to graduate to more intricate looks and can add more to your collection or keep it simple with these core five.

What are some of your can’t-live-without makeup brushes? Comment below!

HEAD’S UP: If you’re ready to step up your brush game just a tad more, check out the follow up to this post with five *additional* helpful brushes for your collection.

Happy brushing,


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