To me, working with good makeup brushes is just as important as working with good products. You can't get the most out of a product unless you're using the right tool to apply it. As somehow who struggles with their skin (hyper-pigmentation, acne, large pores) I find this to be most pertinent when it comes to face brushes. I've spent a lot of time over the past few years experimenting with a variety of brushes in order to find what works best for what. Of course I like to switch things up every now and then and I'm always open to change, but I think I've got a pretty solid thing going here in general.
Real Techniques Buffing Brush
I often wear mineral powder and I find that the Buffing Brush is the ultimate tool for application. No doubt aboot it. It has just the right amount of density that it can pack on enough product, but simultaneously has enough flexibility in the bristles to blend easily. The “almost flat top” also means you can cover a lot of surface area in a small amount of time.
Real Techniques Expert Face Brush
For liquid foundations, I tend to reach for the Expert Face Brush. I used to use the Buffing Brush for this, but the Expert Face Brush actually gives me more control. It sits somewhere in between a traditional flat foundation brush and a buffing brush, which means it blends out foundation without the streakiness, but still allows me to work in more precise, directional strokes than the Buffing Brush.
Zoeva 110 Face Shape
I never expected to use this brush for concealer, but I do. I use it for under eye concealer to be exact. The size is surprisingly ideal. It's just small enough to fit under the eye, but big enough that it blends out concealer quickly. But what I really appreciate about it is what is does to my pores. I have large pores around my nose and I find that this brush does an amazing job of blurring them out.
Real Techniques Domed Shadow Brush
For around my nose, any especially large blemishes and patches of redness I love the Domed Shadow Brush. The Real Techniques Deluxe Crease Brush is also great, but the Domed Shadow Brush is slightly less dense, which makes it a bit easier to work with. It stipples product onto the skin and blends out edges easily. Plus, the fact that it's a synthetic brush means that it works well with cream products.
Coastal Scents Classic Detail Mini Synthetic
I strongly believe that it's worth taking the time to pinpoint conceal any areas of trouble. It usually means you can get away with wearing less foundation and your skin looks more perfected overall. This brush is so tiny that it's perfect for picking up a small amount of concealer and patting it exactly where you need it, then blending out the edges. The brush that comes with the L'oreal Gel Liner is also ideal for this and I noticed that Zoeva recently launched their 310 Spot Liner Brush, which looks very similar.
Bronzer is where I crack out the big brush. For a full bronzed effect, it's got to be the Zoeva 106 Powder Brush. I find that using a big brush on the high points of the face does a great job of creating a realistic looking tan. The density and flexiblity of this brush, paired with the softness of the bristles means that bronzer sweeps on evenly and effortlessly.
Real Techniques Setting Brush
I've never been all too keen on using a massive brush to set my makeup with. This brush fits under the eyes easily and is just large enough to distribute powder over the areas of the face that need it. If I had extremely oily skin I might opt for a bigger brush, but for my combination skin, this brush is just right.
Zoeva 127 Luxe Sheer Cheek
This is a wonder brush. The softness of the bristles (I mean... daaannng, they are soft) and the fact that they're natural hair means that this brush applies powder beautifully. It's a great size for precise blush application, as well as highlighting the tops of the cheekbones. Every now and then I crack it out for contouring as well.
Mac 130 Short Duo Fibre Brush
For cream blush I always reach for the MAC 130. It's a duo fibre stippling brush with quite short bristles. The short bristles give you more control over placement and blending, while the lack of density of the brush mean that you're not likely to apply too much product at once. Plus the head of this brush is the perfect cheek size. Duo fibre brushes are always a great choice when you're worried about being too heavy handed. This option from MAC is pretty pricey, but ELF make a very similar brush for a fraction of the price.