What's The Point Of Different Brushes? Posted on 28 Feb 10:32

If you’ve ever felt totally lost looking at brush sets in your local beauty store, we’ve been there too. There are so many shapes, sizes and brands on our shelves these days that it’s hard to be sure we are choosing the brushes that suit the purpose we have in mind. If you need a quick crash course on brushes, keep on reading.  


First up, those big brushes. The larger-in-size brushes are generally meant for the application of most face products, i.e. foundation, bronzer and blush. The difference in each intended purpose can often be determined by the shape of the tip or end of the brush. As you may have noticed, there is no universal language for naming brushes—much like there isn’t consistent sizing in women’s pants—so this is why we are going to describe the brush visually so you will know which we are talking about when describing what its purpose traditionally is.


A flat in shape brush, that has a rounded half-moon edge, is designed to apply liquid or cream foundation to the face. There are many, many new versions of foundation-application brushes available on the market today, including types that aren’t even brushes such as the infamous Beauty Blender, so if you find that this shape brush doesn’t apply foundation the way you’d like it to, then rest assured that there are many more options available to you.


Dense brushes, that are thick and circular in shape (if you were to take a cross-section) are meant for either blush or contour depending on the shape of the end of the brush. If it has a flat edge, as if it was chopped off straight across or even at an angle, these brushes are normally intended to apply your contour. If the edge is domed and the bristles are fluffier and less dense at the tips, this brush is intended for blush.


Two brushes that have more noticeably different shapes are the Kabuki and flat fan brushes. The kabuki brush is dense and short but fans out at the tip in a fluffy fashion, and is used for powder application. The flat fan brush is thin and resembles a hand-held paper fan, and is perfect for powder products that need a light and precise application, such as highlighter.   


Small brushes are like-wise intuitive on a whole for their intended purpose; you use them on smaller parts of the face, which is most often the eye area. If you see a miniature version of the foundation brush mentioned above—a flat brush with that half-moon edge, that brush is often intended for concealer under the eye and around the nose. Small flat brushes that have an edge cut straight across or on an angle are perfect for applying eyeliner and filling in the brows precisely.


As for eyeshadows, there are many, many brushes that have only slightly different intended purposes. The main thing to be aware of here is that the fluffier the end of the bristles are, they better they are for blending out color, and the denser and more compact the bristles are, the better they are for packing on color. Keeping that difference in mind, feel free to use whichever eyeshadow brushes you want for each part of your eye look.


Although this article was quite packed with specific information, do not worry if it felt like too much to remember.  The most important tip we hope you take away from this article is that even though there are many brushes made with a purpose in mind, you—the creator of your own makeup look—can use these tools however you want. You are the artist and you have total creative freedom to use these tools as you see fit. In fact, that is often how new looks and inventions are created!