Choosing and Using Make-up Brushes

Once you have decided to use brushes to apply your make-up, there are now some other important decisions you need to make to obtain the most effective and best value brushes for you.  In this article I hope to address the questions you may have when considering your choice and use of brushes to apply your make-up.


Which brushes you use and how you wish to use them will impact on your choice, as well as other factors like cost and your ethics.

Firstly, you need to decide what you intend to use the brush for.  Will it be a liquid or powder?  If a liquid, you will need a firmer brush.  Then you need to think about how much space you need to cover on your face.  If you have a small face, maybe a bulky brush will be too much.  (It’s a bit like choosing the size of your toothbrush – it needs to be appropriate for the size of your mouth.)  Also, where on your face will you use it – generally speaking the brushes around your eyes need to be softer as the skin around your eyes is so delicate.

Secondly, think about whether you will only use them in one place or not, or whether you intend to carry them around with you.  If you want a portable set, you may compromise the length of handle, for instance, to enable it/them to fit in your handbag.  I personally like a long handle to a brush: I find them easier to grip, but I do have some short-handled brushes which I will take with me as necessary.

Your values, such as how eco-friendly you like to be, may also be a consideration.  Some brushes are made of natural materials (animal hair, for example, and you will need to check how ethically it is collected) and others are made of synthetic materials.  You may also need to take any personal allergies into account.  If you are allergic to animals, then the synthetic brushes may be better.

Cost is a consideration.  The more you intend to use them, the more robust they need to be.  Generally the price will reflect the quality.


How many brushes you need depends on how much make-up you tend to wear, how often you apply your make-up, and whether you intend to use brushes for all of your make-up (ie covering blemishes, foundation, blusher, eye-colours, eyeliner, eyebrows, lipstick).  Some make-up comes with an applicator, which may suit your needs, or you may wish to keep those applicators for “emergencies” as they are usually not robust enough for everyday use.  You can get most types of brush individually and may choose to try one to start with, before investing further in the range.

If you would prefer to have brushes for certain items of your make-up, you may have more brushes than you might otherwise need.  This will save cleaning and may prolong the use of your brushes, providing you can remember which ones you use for which aspects of your make-up.


You can find brushes in department stores, supermarkets, chemists/drug stores, at airports, specific on-line sites that sell make-up, and general on-line sources like Ebay.

A good general set in my opinion, reasonably priced, and fitting some of the above criteria, is EcoTools: (

Another small starter set to consider:


Currently (February 2016) mid-range brushes for an individual’s general use will retail about £5-£20 each.  You may get better value by buying a set.


This article in the Daily Mail explains several brushes (concealer, foundation, blusher, eyebrows and lips).

This article with pictures illustrates perfectly which brushes you should use and how you can use them for applying make-up around the eye:


When it is time to clean your brushes (and that will depend on the number of times you use a brush and whether you keep one brush for a particular colour or type of make-up), you can usually wash them in warm soapy water.  Leave them to dry naturally, and re-use only when fully dry.  I sit mine in a glass whilst they are drying.  They are usually fully dry in 24 hours.

If you are using the brushes on different skins, as I do being a make-up artist, you will need to hygienically clean your brushes.  I use an anti-bacterial soap every time I use a brush, and spray it with a special brush cleaner when they are dry, to be doubly-safe.  You could just use the brush cleaner on it’s own, but I find make-up can be quite long-lasting and stay deep within a brush.

Summary of things to consider when choosing brushes:

Material – will you be allergic to it/them?  Are they eco-friendly?

Length of handle – do you need a longer handle for ease of use or will you be trying to squeeze it into a small handbag?

The size of your face/features – will they be big enough for the job yet not too big to be effective?

Which make-up do you want to apply with a brush?  Choose the appropriate brush.  For liquids you need a firmer brush than for powders.

How often you intend to use them – the more you use and want to wash your brush/es the higher the quality needs to be.

Cost – it may be worth investing in a more expensive set of brushes if you intend to use them a lot.

If you found this article useful, or have any queries, I’d love to hear from you.