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A Guide to Makeup Brushes

Sep 08, 2017

A Guide to Makeup Brushes


A new set of makeup brushes can revitalize morning routines, but all those different tools can leave you confused. Why does the set include similarly shaped brushes in different sizes? Why are there identical brushes made with different materials? What are you supposed to do with that thing shaped like a mascara wand? To ease that confusion, we lay out the most common cosmetics tools and explain how to use makeup brushes in your collection.

Types of Eye Brushes

Below, we explain how to identify and use 4 of the most common makeup brushes to help you get the most from your brand new brush set.

EyesAngled Liner Brush


Also known as: angled eyeliner brush, small angle brush, slanted eyeliner brush

Use it for: lining the eyes with eyeshadow or gel eyeliner.

 Eyeliner Brush


Also known as: liner brush

Use it for: precise eyeliner application

This brush’s precision tip makes it perfect for creating a thin, smooth stroke along the lash line. Use it with liquid or gel eyeliner, or dip it in brightly colored eyeshadow for a bolder look.

Eyeshadow Brush


Also known as: shadow brush, eye shader brush

Use it for: bold application of eyeshadow


Eyeshadow Sponge


Also known as: sponge applicator, sponge-tip applicator

Use it for: applying pressed or lightly pigmented eyeshadow


Though this tool might puzzle some—don’t people use makeup brushes so they don’t have to use the little sponge that comes with every eyeshadow palette?—it has its uses. For one, its absorbent qualities make it perfect for applying shadow that’s prone to fallout, so you won’t get speckles of shadow on your freshly blushed cheeks. It’s also great for applying dry, chalky cosmetics that brushes can’t pick up. And when you want to amp up the drama with a dense, heavy layer of shadow, the sponge applicator is your best bet.