Brushes are to makeup as fancy language is to a pretentious douchebag. Essential, compulsory, pivotal, obligatory. Take your pick. Trololol. But in all seriousness, brushes are super important to me. It’s quite amazing what a difference a good brush can make. It can completely change the way a product works. For that reason I love testing the waters and I’ve found three face brushes that I reckon are quite exceptional in all that they can do.

Elf Studio Small Tapered Brush
This is the newest brush I’ve added to my roster. In fact, I’ve only had it for about a week. It already deserves all kinds of arm flailing praise in my books though. First of all, can we just, I mean, can we just mention that it’s only $3. This brush performs like a $30 brush to me. I cannot believe how soft the hairs are and they have exactly the right amount of flexibility. It almost reminds me of the Suqqu brushes that Lisa Eldridge always uses in her videos in the way that it moves. The shape of the brush is cut to perfection. It’s excellent for contouring, it’s exactly the right size for highlighting and it fits just right under the eyes for powdering. You could even use this for careful blush placement. It’s a real all-rounder. I honestly can’t rave about this little guy enough. I’m thinking of buying a few more to have for everyday use.

Strengths: precise contour, under eye powder, highlight.

Real Techniques 300 Tapered Blush Brush
I recently did a full review on this brush and I only had positive things to say. It’s considerably more expensive than the Elf brush – 10 times more to be precise – but I do treat it as a luxury item. It’s something I gaze upon and sigh at often. It’s got that weighty, rose gold handle and beautifully fine, densely packed, synthetic hairs. It blends cream products like a dream. If you’re a fan of using cream formulas for contour, blush, highlight or whatever really, this is a fantastic brush to invest in. Like the Elf brush, it’s got that tapered shape that makes it very versatile. I’ve even used it for foundation application and it worked a treat.

Strengths: cream contour, cream blush, cream highlight. Cream anything.

Zoeva 127 Luxe Sheer Cheek Brush
This is another brush that I’d like to buy a few more of. I want to use it for everything. Unlike the first two brushes, the hairs on this one are natural. They’re very soft and fine, but not overly dense, making this brush exceptional in the way that it handles powder products. It applies a decent amount of the product quickly (which can often be a challenge with synthetic brushes) and blends it seamlessly. The shape is also great on this one because it’s small enough for a controlled blush application, but large enough to bronze up the skin, do a softer contour or powder the entire face. I thought I wouldn’t like the angled shape when I first got it, but it actually aligns surprisingly nicely with the contours of my face.

Strengths: blush, bronzer, soft contour, setting powder. Anything powder.