Makeup Geek’s ‘Top 10 Makeup Brushes Every Girl Should Own’


Let us be the first to admit that the number of brushes that exist for a single makeup product, technique, or finish can be overwhelming. Sephora carries nearly 100 eye-brush options alone. And once you pull the trigger on a specific shape, material, and brand, what exactly do you use them for? Well, that’s where Marlena Stell aka Makeup Geek comes into play.

In her video, "Top 10 Makeup Brushes Every Girl Should Own,” Stell talks about the essential brushes that, yes, every girl (or boy) should have, what they're used for, and how to use them. (We already know how to clean them—thanks Jeanine!) While we're all for a good finger smudge, we've learned from experience and from makeup artists backstage that using a brush can make all the difference, whether in the visibility of your foundation or the crispness of your eyeliner. Stell tends to favor her own line of products, but she does admit that most brushes resembling Makeup Geek's examples will be totally fine alternatives. We’ve always felt that MAC knows what’s up in the brush category, but many a company produces excellent brush work, so if you’ve found one you love, no need to switch it up. (And, also, tell us your favorites in the comments. Please.)

First, a cheat sheet of her essential brush picks:

1. Flat Stiff Brush

2. Stiff Dome Brush

3. Pencil Brush

4. Soft Dome Brush

5. Bent Liner Brush

6. Duel Ended Lash Brush

7. Blush/Contour Brush

8. Cheek Highlighter Brush

9. Foundation Stippling Brush

10. Flat Foundation Brush

BONUS!: Beauty Blender

Take a look at Makeup Geek’s video and discover why using a foundation brush to apply eyeshadow is a rookie move:

[1] Photo by Emily Weiss backstage at Rochas Fall 2012; [2] Photo by Emily Weiss backstage at Thakoon Fall 2013.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Shannah

    Sigma brushes are just as good quality as MAC but cheaper! Definitely recommend.

    • Ada

      Seconding Sigma brushes!
      Real Techniques also has amazing cheek, base, and a great detailer brush. Their eye bushes are not too bad either!

      • jennikint

        Crown brushes are another top budget option but you have to know what you're shopping for or the website is just too confusing!

  • Monster in the Closet

    I think MAC brushes are the best, but I recommend Sonia Kashuk and Ecotools if you're on a budget.

    • murt

      I'm not really a huge fan of MAC brushes - I have a bunch of them - 217,
      224, 239, 109 etc - and I find them all to be quite scratchy and to
      shed a ton.

  • Guest

    Sonia Kashuk makes very good, affordable brushes. A professional makeup artist turned me on to them.

  • Stacey Nishimoto

    "...gel liner for a crisp brow line" gulp. I'm in love with this lady

  • ErinScandalous

    Great list! I'm a big fan of Real Techniques and Crown Brushes. They're inexpensive and get the job done!

  • Celeste

    I'm not a fan of brushes that shed... so I prefer Real Techniques, Hourglass, and some of the airbrush line by Sephora. A long, secure ferrule is a must.

  • Allison

    This was the perfect post, I always wonder which bushes to use!!

  • Darcy Day

    Awesome! Every girl should know this. I have a makeup brush obsession. Great post!!


  • MY

    Painting brushes (art supplies store) are good to use as well!

  • vintage_and_cake

    I only have a couple of brushes, I think sometimes less is more. I think the angle brush is the must have i use it for my brows, to clean up a sharp red lip and it's also great for eyeliner. I tend to use my finger tips to blend shadow and apply blusher. Everyone's different I guess.

  • Jennifer Monforton

    Super helpful! I have way too many brushes, so it's nice to get a reminder of what the basics are! xo

  • Laura

    I have a portable set by shu uemura and like it. The japanese make excellent brushes in my opinion. I also have a two sides stila eyebrush; that's it.

  • Paola Ysabel

    I badly needed this post. Hahaha! Thanks for this!

  • IndianGirl

    I've had the best luck with Smashbox brushes. I've been using them for over 5 years now and they are all still in mint condition. Plus I love their bright red colour