There is no denying that I am a full-blown make up addict. If you know me, you’ll know that I prioritize my liquid lipstick collection on my desk over my reading list, and that if I disappear on a shopping trip you’ll find me wandering the make up aisles with a million colours and textures of swatches all over my hands and arms. However, when I do have that little bit of extra cash that hasn’t been taken up by my second addiction to red wine or Leeds’ need for constant heating, make up brushes always seem to get pushed to the bottom of my list. Naturally, I gravitate towards products that I either need, or that I feel will add to my collection; rather than just a tool to apply it.
However, what we need to remember is that you can actually get a better eye shadow finish with a good blending brush and a high-street/drugstore palette than you would using a poor quality or wrong type of brush with the ultimate high end palette.
Sadly, the ‘top of the range’ make up brushes are becoming almost laughable for the average student. A Tom Ford eye shadow blending brush will set you back £43, (yes, you heard it right, that’s £21.50 per centimeter). A Charlotte Tilbury bronzer brush will cost you a whopping £60, and even a tiny eyeliner brush from Bobbi Brown is £ 22.50!
Luckily nowadays, many brands have come up with reasonably priced alternatives that still do the job just as well as the high-end brands. This makes it a lot easier to be on the brush hunt; whether you’re a fellow addict looking to build up your collection, or just a beginner looking for those versatile tools that can be used for a variety of products. Practicality and versatility is just as important to consider as price and quality – why buy three brushes when you can buy one that has all three functions?
I have put together a list of my favourite reasonably priced and versatile make up brands and brushes to help you on your quest for a face that slays, but money that stays.
Morphe is an American brand that I discovered recently from the land of YouTube Beauty Vloggers, being heavily recommended by the likes of NikkiTutorials, Jaclyn Hill and PatrickStarrr.
Morphe M441 Pro Firm Blending Crease Brush:
This brush is one of my favourites when it comes to applying a transition colour in the crease of the eyelid. The tapered tip also makes it easy to use for adding more definition and dimension with darker shades. Overall, it blends smoothly and is very easy to control.
Morphe M504 Large Pointed Blender
I use this brush everyday to blend everything together. It really reminds me of MAC’s 224 brush, however, I actually think the Morphe 504 is a lot easier to control and blends more seamlessly. I also like to use it for creating a light and quick contour to my nose.
Cost: £ 6.50
Morphe E42 Pro Deluxe Contour:
For those of you who aren’t looking for a variety of brushes and are just looking for a couple of multi-purpose brushes, the E42 could be something to consider.
Although it is advertised as a contour brush, it doesn’t mean that is all it can be used for! When the brush arrived I have to admit I was quite surprised, it was much bigger than I had expected. I would say it is better used for an overall bronzing of the face, but if you get the brush at the right angle, you can use it for a slightly sharper contour. What is great about it, is that the shape and angle make it perfect for lightly dusting off powder/baking under the eye, and the flat top can also be used to pack/stipple on your powder.
Cost: £ 13.95
Where to buy: You can order from the Morphe website directly however they can take up to a couple of weeks to arrive. Other stores I found to be easier such as Cult Beauty and Beauty Bay, both arrive very quickly, and Beauty Bay has free delivery on orders over £ 15! (BEWARE, both sites have a wide range of excellent brands not easily accessible in the UK so try and only search for what you need, or you’ll find yourself with 12 items in your bag like I always do).
Another favourite all-purpose brush of mine is the Real techniques blush brush. I love using this brush for bronzer, and to lightly contour my face during the day. The tapered end makes it really easy to create definition without looking like you’ve drawn a line on your face and blends out very well. The tapered tip also makes it great to apply powder under the eye. If I had to chose one multi-purpose face brush for travelling it would be this one.
Cost: £ 9.99
The Real Techniques Core Collection:
The Contour Brush and The Buffing Brush:
For value purposes, at £21.99, this set of four brushes works out extremely reasonable. Although I’m personally not a fan of the pointed foundation brush; the buffing brush, contour brush and detailer brush are all great products. To not waste the foundation brush, I find it can often be a useful tool to apply certain facemasks. The detailer brush is small, but extremely versatile. I love using it to contour my nose, apply lipstick, and highlight my brow bone as well as the inner corner of my eye. The buffing brush is quite dense and perfect to buff in both liquid and powder foundation. The contour brush is great for giving definition to the cheek without looking like you have a straight line on your face. It is also great for applying highlighter and for applying powder under the eye.
Cost: £21.99 for all 4 items
Where to buy: Boots or Superdrug
Deluxe Fan Brush:
I have to admit, I have never owned a fan brush until I purchased this one, as I was always skeptical to buy a brush that could mainly just be used for one thing. To be honest, the look of them also slightly terrified me. HOWEVER, I couldn’t recommend it more. My cheekbones have been glowing ever since; it applies my highlighter brilliantly and has made me appreciate some of my highlighters that I had previously put into the average category. So remember, it isn’t always the product at fault but it could be the way you are applying it! The brush will apply your highlighter in just the right area to accentuate your cheekbones, and just the amount you need so you don’t look like you’re about to stop traffic. I think it is also a great brush to use to dust away any powder or eye shadow fall out.
Cost : £ 11
Where to buy: Zoeva website directly, Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty; or if you want to go and test the brand in person they are available in store in Selfridges.
2003 was a great year. Beyoncé released Crazy in Love. Finding Nemo hit the screens. But more importantly the Beauty Blender was created. I can honestly say I cannot see myself using any other product to apply my foundation in the near future. It blends out effortlessly. It doesn’t steal my entire product like a lot of brushes do. It takes half the time to apply your foundation; perfect for when you are in a rush or late (like I always am). It is one of the only applicators I can use to avoid looking cakey for highlighting under my eye with concealer. Many make up artists would disagree with using the beauty blender with powder, due to the fact that it is damp. But personally, if I apply my powder under my eye with my beauty blender it stays in place a lot longer than when I apply it with a brush.
It may be slightly pricier than any of the other items I have mentioned, retailing at £16 in the UK. However, I had to add it to the list for its brilliance as a Holy Grail tool. It really is worth every penny. Alternatively, The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge is a more affordable alternative at £5.99, and has a flat edged side that is great for setting powder under the eye and cream contours.
Where to buy: Some boots stores, Cult Beauty or Selfridges.
Last but not least – the free brush!
I’m sure many of you would have purchased something from Benefit, either on the Hoola hype, or one of their many shimmer blushes. All of which come with a small brush in the box. I never understood their use until I learnt about contouring, but these brushes are excellent items for sculpting the face to create that sharp, contoured look. The Nars Kabuki brush retails at a ridiculous £43 pounds and is pretty much designed in the same way with a similar effect. Although the handle is short making it harder to control, for a free item you can’t really go wrong!
Where to buy: It comes free with Benefits bronzers and blushes, so any Benefit retailer (pretty much any department store).