Know Your Make Up Brushes – Part 1

Make up brushes play a huge part in most ladies’ make up routine but many probably don’t understand the various types of brushes (yes, we admit that there are quite a few out there), which may result in most using the wrong type of brushes or under utilising your tools when you purchase a full set.

Fear no more and let a professional make up artist break it down for you. In this first part, we will go through some basic facts about brushes first.

Types of make up brushes

Make up brushes can be categorised into three broad categories:

  1. For the face
  2. For the eyes
  3. For the lips


M.A.C labels their brushes with numbers so it’s easier to identify what sort of make up brush it is. If their brushes start with the number ‘1’, it is meant for the face and body, ‘2’ are for the eyes while ‘3’ are for the lips.

Face brushes that you would typically use are: foundation, concealer, powder, angled/ contour, fan and the famous kabuki brush. You could also use a beauty blender for your foundation and contouring…but let’s stick to brushes first.

Eye brushes can be flat, for blending, angled or for eyeliner, smudging, pencil brush or even a lash comb.

Lip brushes can be both flat and angled.

We will go through how to use each type of brush in Part 2 of “Know Your Make Up Brushes”.

Types of bristles

Once again, there are three types of bristles or hair used to make these brushes:

  1. Synthetic
  2. Natural hair
  3. Duo fibre

e.l.f. cosmetics 6 piece Travel Brush Collection (US$18)

Synthetic bristles are made mainly from nylon or polyester fibres and dyed brown, white or black. They tend to be very straight, smooth and has a plastic feel to it while it also looks shinier compared to natural fibres.

They’re great for liquid and cream products (such as foundations, primers, concealers and lip liners) as they do not have cuticles in the fibres which will trap products. Thus, you will use less make up since you will not ‘lose’ some within the fibres and this also ensures less streaking during application – resulting in a more precise application of make up.

However, synthetic brushes are not suitable for powder products and some may also feel that the fibres are not that great for eyebrow powder applications.

e.l.f. cosmetics Silver 11 Piece Brush Collection (US$30)

Natural hair make up brushes are typically made from animal hair, with the texture very much like our own hair. They’re often dyed black, brown and even white!

They’re great for powder products (loose powder, blusher, bronzers etc) since the hairs have cuticles to pick up more product. Since natural hair moves a lot more freely compared to synthetic fibres, they’re perfect for blending (think of contouring!) and the more you use your natural hair brushes, the better they get.

Duo fibre make up brushes are a combination of synthetic and natural hair, often black with white feathery ends (as seen above).
These are great for powder, liquids and cream products – giving an airbrushed effect without much effort. Go ahead and use them for your foundation, blusher or contouring. However, they’re not suitable for powder foundations as the application doesn’t allow sufficient coverage (please stick to the natural hair make up brushes) nor are they good for applying facial mask creams/muds.
Do note that there are many different types of brushes catering to the same properties and it depends on your preferences as well as what sort of effect you are trying to achieve. Nonetheless, do stay tuned for Part 2 to learn more about the various types of face, eye and lip brushes and how to use them effectively!

Photo credits: e.l.f. cosmetics and Kat Von D

Kendo - Kat Von D Beauty
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