Essential Makeup Brushes (Affordable)

While having a conversation with a friend of mine, she expressed to me that she can't afford buying all the makeup brushes that "actually work." This got me thinking, I have a lot of brushes that are inexpensive and work great, some might actually be better than the high end ones. Honestly, you don't need to have a ton of brushes to help you achieve the look you want, you just need the essentials and to know the different ways that you can use them.
So for you ladies (and gents) in need of a lil bit of guidance.. I got you! 

Beauty Blender/RT Miracle Complexion Sponge:
When I first saw this sponge, I thought "$20 for a damn way!" It's definitely worth the money though, you can use it in so many ways and actually skip out on using some brushes. Since I bought my first Beauty Blender a few years ago, I hardly ever use a brush to apply foundation, this really depends on the way you want your makeup to look though. I always want my foundation to look like my skin but better, and I'm able to achieve that with this sponge. This can also be used to blend your concealer, contour, set your powder, and to really "melt' your highlight into your skin. For an inexpensive alternative you can get the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge. It does a similar job as the BB but is different, one side has a flat end and it feels a little thicker than the BB does. Still works really well and you can save some money, but a Beauty Blender is a must-have in my opinion.

(L- Dry Beauty Blender/ R- Damp Beauty Blender)

Real Techniques Buffing Brush- I use this to apply a full coverage face, this applies my base beautifully and leaves an even finish on my skin. This can also be used to apply compact foundation powder or bronzer, and it will look nice and smooth on the skin without making your face look powdery or blotchy. When using a buffing brush, use circular motions to buff the product onto the skin, that's how you'll get that even finish. You'll notice I mention Real Techniques quite a few times throughout this post, reason for that is that their brushes work great, are affordable, and they come in sets.

For my concealer I usually just use my Beauty Blender, but *sometimes* I use a brush just to spread the concealer and then I blend it with the sponge. There are lots of brushes that work well for this, I like to use my Real Techniques pointed foundation brush. This spreads the product evenly, the tapered end helps to get into the sides of your nose and under the eyes.  Like my foundation, I bounce my beauty sponge over the concealed areas making sure the edges that meet the foundation are not obvious. This brush is specifically made for your foundation, but I've only used it for concealer. 

Setting Powder:
I normally use loose translucent powder to set my makeup, here are the two ways that I apply my setting powder. I use a damp Beauty Blender to set the powder under my eyes, it will help for the powder to not look cakey or dry. The second way is with a small setting brush from Real Techniques, it's really soft, fluffy, and it's has a tapered shape. It works great to apply powder to set your foundation and concealer, the tapered shape helps to get into the smaller areas on your face like under your eyes and the sides of the nose (near the eyes).  I don't like to use a lot of powder on my face, so I set my under eyes and then dust whatever powder is left on the brush over the rest of my face. 

Blush & Contour:
My favorite affordable contour brush is Morphe E4, it's angled and hugs right under the cheekbone. Another great option that does a pretty good job is the Wet N Wild Contour brush, it's also angled but doesn't feel as densely packed as the Morphe brush. The last angled brush that I use is from Real Techniques, I usually only reach for this one when I use cream to contour with, it's perfect for blending the product. The Morphe and Wet N Wild brushes can also be used for applying your blush. However, I always use two separate brushes for my blush and contour when I'm getting ready. Yes, the colors meet on the face but you don't want your contour to end up where your blush goes and vice versa. 

For highlight, I either use a fan brush from Real Techniques or a tapered Elf brush. I like the fan brush for a softer application of the product, but you can always build up the amount of highlight you want OR you can always spray a mist on the brush you're using to really get your highlight popping. The second brush is from Elf, I picked up this highlight brush recently and love it. I like that it's soft, tapered, and it can pick up more product for a heavier application. Today I decided to use it light handedly, the highlight applied so beautifully, the brush just glides across the skin leaving a natural looking radiance.


Round Blending Brush:
This brush is key to making sure that your overall eyeshadow look is blended well and that there are no harsh lines. I use my Morphe MB23 for my transition color (above the crease).  You can use this brush for the crease area and above, I just don't take it as high as the transition color. I also like to use the blending brush to gently go over all the shadows after they've been applied to make sure all those colors blend beautifully with one another. I don't really use this brush on my eyelids very often except the outter portion.

Flat Shader Brush:
This brush helps to pack on the eyeshadow onto your eyelid, there are many inexpensive flat shader brushes that work well. Lately, I've been using this one from the brand Stilazzi (S122). It picks up a good amount of product onto the brush so you don't have to keep trying to pack that eyeshadow color on your eyelid.

Fluffy/Tapered Blending brushes:
The Morphe M503 and Elf brush are perfect for applying eyeshadow into the crease of the eye, the tapered shape helps to really get in the socket while the fluffy part helps to blend the color where you want it. The Morphe m200 can also be used for the crease but since its smaller and thinner in shape, it can be used for applying and blending eyeshadow on the outter corner of the eye as well.

Mini tapered blending brush/pencil brush/detail brush:
I use theses brushes for smaller areas for a bit more precision. I use the detail brush from Real Techniques for inner corner highlight or right along the inner corner of the lower lash line. Another great way to use it is to apply a little bit of concealer on the brush for cleaning up around your lipstick, under your winged liner, or the edge of your cut crease. I didn't think I'd use the detailer brush when it came with the set, but it really does come in handy. The Morphe M506 is my favorite brush to apply eyeshadow on my lash line, it can also be use to create the outter V shape. The Elf Blending Brush works well to really soften up and blend the color of an eyeshadow, I use this brush for the outter portion of my crease and the outter corner of the eyelid. It can also be used with concealer to lightly buff small areas, like over a pimple or a dark spot. 

As you can see, you don't have to spend a ton of money to have great brushes, nor do you need a hundred different brushes to create a beautiful makeup look. All these brushes are inexpensive, work really well, AND can be used in various way. You don't even need these exact brushes, but these are the ones that I'm currently using and work for me. Let me know if you have any budget friendly makeup brushes that you swear by, I'd love to check them out! 


Products Mentioned:

Beauty Blender

Real Techniques:
 Miracle Complexion Sponge
Core Collection: Pointed Brush, Buffing Brush, Detail Brush
Sculpting Set: Fan Brush, Contour Brush, Setting Brush

Morphe Brushes: 
Round Blending Brush- MB23
 Deluxe Crease- M200
Pro Firming Blending Fluff- M503
Tapered Mini Blender- M506
Angled Contour Brush- E4

Flat Shader Brush

Highlighter Brush
Pro Blending Eye Brush
Fluffy Eye Blender Brush (updated version)

Wet N Wild:
Contour Brush


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