These Are the Only Makeup Brushes You Need
A makeup artist shares her favourites and how to use them.
The Best Makeup Brushes
I see you, girl. You’ve been using the same tatty makeup brush since 2007. Or, if you’re like me, you have a makeup bag full of random brushes you’ve collected over the years, but use maybe two and wonder what the rest of them are supposed to do and why you may need so many. Like, how big is my face? Why do I need 23 brushes?
The answer, according to L’Oréal Paris Canadian makeup expert Jodi Urichuk, is you don’t.
“The average makeup user can totally get away with four brushes,” she says. A good basic collection should include brushes for foundation, face (for blush, highlighter and bronzer), eyeshadow and eyeliner. You can whittle that number down even more if you choose one of her favourite multitaskers on this list.
But having the right brushes in your arsenal means nothing if you don’t care for them the right way. Urichuk recommends storing them in an upright container brush-side-up or in a makeup bag that’s big enough that they won’t get mashed up. To avoid issues like skin irritation or bacteria growth, wash them once every two weeks, says Urichuk, using baby shampoo or a specialized brush cleaning shampoo. Make sure to angle the bristles downwards while cleansing so water doesn’t get into the metal part where the hair joins the handle—which can dilute the glue that secures the bristles and also allow bacteria to breed. Squeeze excess water out of the bristles and lay the brushes flat to dry.
Below, Urichuk shares her picks for the best makeup brushes, all available in Canada.
Real Techniques Setting Brush
“This is such an amazing multitasker,” says Urichuk. “It can do cream blush, contour and foundation because it buffs beautifully into the skin. I tell every single person in the world they need this brush.”
Part of the reason this brush is so affordable is that it’s made with synthetic bristles as opposed to animal hair—usually goat, squirrel, sable and fox—which you’ll often find in brushes from higher-end brands. But when it comes to bristles, synthetic doesn’t equal bad. In fact, Urichuk says she often prefers synthetic ones when she’s using creamy or liquid products because nylon bristles don’t absorb (and waste) as much of the product as animal hair ones. Plus, nylon bristles are ideal for people who want to keep their makeup regime animal-free.
Laura Mercier Finishing Pony Tail Brush
I don’t wear a lot of eye shadow, and that’s partially because I suck at applying it. I never really learned how to do more than one shade, but apparently, the magic ingredient I’ve been missing my whole life is a crease brush.
“Everyone needs a fluffy crease brush,” says Urichuk. “It’s going to give detail and dimension to your eye shape, especially if you have hooded eyelids. I literally stick it just above my crease and go back and forth like a windshield wiper.”
IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Dual Airbrush Concealer Brush #2
Urichuk is a big fan of the two-in-one makeup brushes from IT Cosmetics. She says the brand’s Heavenly Luxe Dual Airbrush Concealer Brush #2 lives permanently in her vacation makeup bag. It has a flat end for applying concealer and a rounder, fluffier end for buffing it into a smooth airbrushed finish.
Digging the double brush? The Heavenly Luxe collection also has dual-ended foundation, eyebrow and eyeshadow brushes.
“You get really great bang for your buck with these,” says Urichuk. “Plus their brushes are really tough and stand the test of time.”
You’ve been seeing these little #aceyourbase pink eggs all over your feed now for years, and for good reason. These sponges—which are meant to be soaked with water and squeezed out right before using—are great for blending cream foundation and can be used for blush, bronzer, concealer and highlighter, too.
Beauty blenders come in a range of sizes for getting into the nooks and crannies of your face, but if you’re not a beauty junkie you don’t really need an entire wardrobe of sizes. You can generally just use the o.g blender, saving the fat end for larger areas and the pointy end for smaller ones. Just don’t wipe or drag the sponge across your skin, which will leave streaks. Instead “bounce” or dab it along in to give you a nice, sheer finish that looks natural(ish).
“I work with a lot of women who are over 40, and a beauty blender is a good way to roll the foundation onto the skin for a daytime look,” says Urichuk. “Because you’re wetting the sponge, it gives a nice dewiness, and it’s a great way to blend foundation and cream blush together seamlessly.”
Rèphr Brush 03
Urichuk couldn’t rave more about this Canadian company that puts out Japanese-made natural brushes. She loves them for their usability and durability—and also because they look chic.
Her first fave is Brush 03. “It’s the softest detail brush you can get your hands on,” she says. “You know when brushes are sometimes just really itchy and pokey? This one is so gentle you don’t even feel it.” She uses this soft but firm brush for blending out a smoky eye or diffusing eyeliner.
Rèphr Brush 29
“This is literally the smallest detail brush you’ll ever see in your life,” she says. “You can use it for eyeliner or to paint individual brow hairs.” Urichuk likes this brush because it’s a square shape (as opposed to angled) and therefore can get right into the base of the lash line to apply eyeliner.
Charlotte Tilbury Powder Sculpt Brush
If you’re looking for a contour brush, Urichuk is all about this baby from makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury’s line. “It fits into the hollows of the face and deposits product and blends beautifully,” she says. “It’s also a total workhorse. I’ve had one for seven years, and I literally boil my brushes, and it’s still in great shape.”
MAC 240 Synthetic Large Tapered Blending Brush
“This is a great one for strategically blending powder, whether it’s eyeshadow or highlighter,” says Urichuk. She often uses this brush on her own lids while she’s in her car, on the go. “It applies one colour on your lids really easily!”