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The Best Makeup Brushes

Your makeup is usually only as good as your brush. This is especially true with cheap makeup or drugstore makeup, which isn’t usually very pigmented to begin with, and is often packed with cheap sponge applicators. The good news is that the best brushes need not cost a fortune. There are some excellent pro makeup brushes out there, which tend to be pricier, but there are also some decent inexpensive makeup brushes available at your local drugstore. I received some brush questions recently, so I thought I would do a post on them as part of the Best Makeup series here on the site.

Here are the primary differences between cheap makeup brushes and professional makeup brushes:

  • Professional makeup bushes are normally made of real animal fibers which hold and apply pigment more evenly for the best look. For liquid makeup and the best eye shadow application, pro makeup brushes are often preferable.
  • Pro makeup brushes hold up better. They do not lose bristles, which can be rather annoying when applying make up, and they last longer overall.
  • Inexpensive makeup  brushes may lose a few bristles, but often, once they are broken in, they work nearly as well as the pro brushes. Some brands are better than others though. For example, Eco Tools tend to hold up pretty well, but the last Sonia Kashuk makeup brush I had lost bristles constantly, to the point where I considered it unusable.
  • Price is often the biggest difference.  Drugstore brushes are often under $10, while pro brushes are after over $20-40.  You will replace even the best drugstore makeup brushes more often though.

Below are a look at some of the best makeup brushes across several price ranges.

The Best Cheap Makeup Brushes

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Low on money? One of the top cheap makeup brush brands is Eco Tools.  Eco Tools makeup brushes are very affordable, easily found in drugstores and big box retailers, and tend to hold up pretty well. They also are eco friendly, being made of recycled materials with bamboo handles, and are packaged in natural hemp and cotton cases.  For a good inexpensive makeup brush set, the Eco Tools 5 piece makeup brush set is a good way to test out the line. I also love the  Eco Tools 6 piece eye makeup brush set (pictured above).

Another good inexpensive line, which can be found at CVS, are the Essence of Beauty makeup brushes. I find that those tend to wear out a bit quicker, but they are very affordable and apply makeup rather well for their price.

The Best Professional Makeup Brushes

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In the pro makeup brush range, there are numerous excellent choices in brushes. But a couple always stand out. First and foremost are MAC Makeup Brushes. MAC makeup brushes are consistently high quality and often carry a bit lower price than some of the other pro brands. For a particularly good deal, watch for the MAC makeup brush sets that come out around the holidays. They are the same high quality brushes, but with shorter handles in order to fit in a makeup kit. Buying a set can be a great way to get a set of quality makeup brushes and save a good deal of money.

Another professional quality favorite of mine are the makeup brushes from Laura Mercier. You can see some Laura Mercier makeup brush sets (limited edition travel brush set  pictured above) along with some other sets at Nordstrom, which also has a pretty nice selection of higher quality items: Shop Nordstrom Makeup Brush Sets. As with the MAC brushes, finding travel sets can be a great way to save money over buying each brush individually. I actually find that I prefer the shorter handles as well.

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