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An artist is only as good as their tools, and we’re not just talking about painters. The same rule applies in the realm of cosmetics: Your makeup can only be as good as your applicators, which is why you should upgrade your collection to include the best makeup brush sets — to ensure that your every beauty need is met. If you’re looking to snag one of these must-have sets, hold your horses until Amazon Prime Day because we’re expecting prices of these brushes to be majorly discounted. In addition on Prime Day, you’ll find incredible deals on plenty of other beauty products, which are hardly ever on sale, and coveted fashion items, too.
Expertly curated makeup brush sets come stocked with high-quality options that cater to the face, cheeks, eyes, brows, and more, but if you’ve yet to master the art of contouring, defining, shading, highlighting, no worries; you don’t have to be a professional to operate this fine equipment. According to celebrity makeup artist and brow expert, Danielle Kimiko Vincent, founder of Kimiko, everyone from beginner makeup moguls to celebrity artists can benefit from investing in a complete set.
“I love a good brush set because it can encourage you to start experimenting with new techniques that you might not have otherwise considered,” Vincent tells WWD over email. “For example, an angled eyeshadow brush can be used in many more ways than a standard flat brush. You might learn to create a color wash with the wide section of the brush, and then use the narrow side to create an accent with a darker color.”
It also helps that there’s “usually a price break,” when you opt to purchase an entire set versus individual brushes, Vincent adds. “Even if one of the brushes doesn’t become a favorite, you’ll likely make use of most of them, so the value is there.”
Top Makeup Brush Sets for 2022
- BS-Mall Premium 18-Piece Brush Set
- EcoTools Start The Day Beautifully Brush Set
- Tarte Cosmetics Goal Getters Contour Brush Set
- Eigshow Jade Series 15-Piece Makeup Brush Kit
- Bestope Makeup Brush Set
- Real Techniques Everyday Essentials
- Zoeva Complete Face & Eye Brush Set
- Shany The Masterpiece Pro Signature Brush Set
- Kimiko The Essential Brush Collection
- Sephora Collection Complete Brush Set
- Sigma Beauty Basic Eye Brush Set
- Artis Elite Makeup Brush Set
- Jenny Patinkin Luxury Six-Piece Vegan Cosmetic Brush Set
- Spectrum Collections Malachite Makeup Brush Set
- E.l.f. Cosmetics Flawless Face Brush Collection
- Chantecaille Ultimate Six-Piece Brush Set
- Jane Iredale’s Must-Have Brush Kit
- Illumanasqua Face Brush Kit
- M.A.C. Cosmetics Wave Your Wand Brush Kit
- Charlotte Tilbury The Complete Brush Set
Why Do I Need Makeup Brushes?
No surprise here, but even if you already own the highest quality makeup on the market, your results simply won’t look as good without the proper tools. “Makeup brushes are tools that pick up the formula and help flawlessly blend product onto the skin,” explains makeup artist and beauty expert, Neil Scibelli, who adds that they’re especially great for beginners testing out new makeup products. “Although I’m a fan of using your [clean] fingers for cream products like concealer and cream blush, makeup brushes are essential when it comes to applying and blending powder products, as well as creating an even finish.”
That’s not the only reason brushes should be an essential part of your at-home makeup kit. Scibelli notes that those who rely on their fingers for makeup application should be proceed with caution. Fingers can leave trails of oil, bacteria, and even fingerprints on the skin, which can ultimately lead to breakouts. So, keep things hygienic with sanitized makeup brushes.
Keep scrolling to check out the best makeup brush sets on the market, according to experts.
BS-Mall Premium 18-Piece Brush Set
The BS-Mall Premium 18-piece brush set is one of the best makeup brush sets on Amazon. With over 28,000 reviews (the majority of which are 5-star) to date, it’s also the best rated makeup brush set with customers raving that the brushes are “soft,” “high quality,” and “comparable to high-end brushes.”
The pros prefer brushes like this as well, with Scibelli noting that he tends to opt for synthetic brushes (similar to these ones) since they’re easy to clean and more durable. “The hairs tend to last longer and don’t shed as much,” he confirms.
The 18-pc collection includes both precision eye makeup brushes, as well as chunky kabuki brushes for blush, bronzer, foundation, and other face product applications. As a bonus, these brushes are made of high-quality alloy and durable wood, to help ensure your set is long-lasting.
EcoTools Start The Day Beautifully Brush Set
If you’re looking for one of the best makeup brush sets on a budget, try the EcoTools brushes. This (as its name would suggest) eco-friendly tool set is constructed from 100% recycled, vegan-friendly, cruelty-free materials, and the collection comes packaged in tree-free paper made from cotton and bamboo fibers. It also contains all of Scibelli’s necessities. “A set of all the basics are important,” he explains. “[That includes] a synthetic foundation brush, a powder brush [and] a few dense eyeshadow brushes.” The Day Beautifully Brush Set consists of the brand’s core collection of five brushes (including an angled foundation brush, blurring brush, defining crease brush, angled liner brush, and full blush brush), as well as three how-to beauty look cards to help simplify your routine.
Tarte Cosmetics Goal Getters Contour Brush Set
When asked how to choose the best affordable makeup brush sets for yourself, Scibelli recommended first determining the features that you use makeup on the most. Maybe you love a smokey eye or a face with full-coverage foundation — and then buying the highest quality options that fall in your price range. “If you’re an eyeshadow person, invest more into your eyeshadow brushes,” he explains.
But for those more focused on foundation and facial powders, the Tarte Cosmetics Goal Getters Contour Brush Set is for you. It features five complexion brushes the brand guarantees will “sculpt, strobe, and perfect” your complexion. Inside, you’ll find the Bronzer Brush, Contour Brush, Foundation Brush, Concealer Brush and the Highlighter Brush, all decked out in rose gold sequins and topped with baby pink bristles. Reviewers give the set just shy of a 5-star rating, and love the set for its quality, as well as its overall aesthetic.
Eigshow Jade Series 15-Piece Makeup Brush Kit
Bridal and celebrity makeup artist, Cara Lovello tells WWD this set from Eigshow is one of the best makeup brush sets for beginners available on Amazon. “The brushes are affordable and good quality,” Lovello says, adding, “they don’t shed or fall apart.” The brand’s 15-piece Jade Series kit includes all the tools needed to create precise, flawless looks, from a foundation brush to various eye makeup tools. The brushes are made with vegan-friendly bristles sourced from corn silk fibers and birch wood handles, and come packaged (and separated) in a cosmetic bag made from recycled clothing and linen fibers.
Bestope Makeup Brush Set
“Brush prices and styles can really range but the great news is that they’ve become so much more accessible,” says Scibelli. One of the reasons affordable brushes are easy to get a hold of lately? There are so many quality picks on Amazon. A number-one bestseller on this mega-retailer is the Bestope Makeup Brush Set, which is stocked with 16 brushes that cater to the face, lips, and eyes.
Available in five colors and featuring soft and dense synthetic fiber-made brushes, this versatile set ensures that you have everything you need to contour, highlight, blend, and shade — and reviewers agree. Amazon members “highly recommend” this pick thanks to its reported “good quality” and “great value.”
Real Techniques Everyday Essentials
As one of the best makeup brush sets for beginners, the Real Techniques Everyday Essentials kit covers all of the basics with its pro-curated pairings. “[Beginners should] shop for a condensed, small brush kit of the necessities,” explains Scibelli. “You can really start small, and then work your way up.” Featuring brushes for the face, cheeks, and eyes, the set includes the brand’s RT 400 Blush, RT 300 Deluxe Crease, RT 402 Setting, and RT 200 Expert Face brushes, plus the Miracle Complexion Sponge. Consumers who have reviewed this set cite the brushes as being durable and easy to work with.
Zoeva Complete Face & Eye Brush Set Rose Golden Vol. 1
The Zoeva Complete Face & Eye Brush Set is stocked with the necessary tools for smoothing base products, defining eyes and blending eyeshadow. The 15-piece set includes eight face, six eye, and one lip brush to create a complete kit that allows you to produce any makeup look you desire. Plus, the wooden handles are coated with six layers of lacquer to help ensure your brushes stay damage-free for as long as possible. “Zoeva has great quality brushes,” confirms Greenberg.
Shany The Masterpiece Pro Signature Brush Set
Fully stocked with 24 makeup brushes that cover the face, cheeks, eyes, lips and brows, the Shany The Masterpiece Pro Signature Brush Set was designed for professional makeup artists and glam enthusiasts who want a full range of brushes and tools at their disposal. In addition to filling the holes in your makeup brush collection, this value set also comes with a leather roll-up pouch and storage box for added convenience.
Sephora Collection Complete Brush Set
Designed to achieve a flawless full-face glam, the Sephora Collection Complete Brush Set is one of the best makeup brush sets on a budget. It comes equipped with seven brushes, covering the face, eyes, and brows. “I think a set of all the basics are important,” says Scibelli. “A synthetic foundation brush, a powder/bronzer brush [and] a few dense eyeshadow brushes.” These vegan, cruelty-free synthetic brushes meet all of Scibelli’s kit requirements and seamlessly blend makeup to deliver airbrush-level results. And for the environmentally conscious, you’ll be pleased to know this set is sustainably developed and comes in recyclable packaging.
Sigma Beauty Basic Eye Brush Set
Created with the eyes in mind, the Sigma Beauty Basic Eye Brush Set features seven brushes designed for eyeliner, eyeshadow and brows. Made with the brand’s exclusive synthetic antimicrobial fibers, securing them as one of the best vegan makeup brush sets on the market, these quality brushes are engineered to better hold, apply and blend products. The set includes the E40 Tapered Blending Brush, the E55 Eye Shading Brush, the E60 Large Shader Brush, the E70 Medium Angled Shading Brush, the E30 Pencil Brush, the E65 Small Angle Brush and the E05 Liner Brush.
Artis Elite Makeup Brush Set
Renowned for their exceptional blending, innovative Cosmefibre technology and ergonomic construction, the Artis Elite Makeup Brush Set is easily one of the best professional makeup brush sets available. It features the brand’s best-selling brushes for seamless, expert-level application. Inside, you’ll find the Oval 10, Oval 8, Oval 6, Oval 4, Oval 3, Linear 6, Linear 3, Linear 1, Circle 1 and Circle 1R brushes. “I’m obsessed with paddle brushes right now,” adds Greenberg. “Artis has great options for those, and if you have any issues with streaking, these brushes will be a great [solution] for you.”
Jenny Patinkin Luxury Six-Piece Vegan Cosmetic Brush Set
Jenny Patinkin’s Luxury Six-Piece Vegan Cosmetic Brush Set includes a curated collection of multipurpose, multi-use makeup brushes that can be used with cream, liquid gel and powder products. According to the brand, the brushes features synthetic fibers that are finer than natural hair alternatives and packed with 2.5 times more bristles than conventional brushes for a soft feel and seamless application. The set also comes with a stylish vegan croc-embossed case for travel. Hands down, this set is the best vegan makeup brush set.
Spectrum Collections Malachite Makeup Brush Set
This eight-piece kit is a cute makeup brush set that includes the B01 Buffing Foundation Brush, the C03 Tulip Power Brush, the A05 Angled Cheek Brush, the B08 Magic Wand Powder Brush, the B06 Tapered Blender Brush, the B04 Angled Shader Brush, the A16 Precision Crease Brush and A24 Double Ended Brow Styler Brush.
E.l.f. Cosmetics Flawless Face Brush Collection
Designed with the face, cheeks and brows in mind, the E.l.f. Cosmetics Flawless Face Brush Collection includes the Concealer Brush, the Eyeshadow “C” Brush, the Small Angled Brush, the Small Stipple Brush, the Eyebrow Duo Brush and the Ultimate Blending Brush. Most notably, reviewers rave about the affordability of this set, which comes at a much lower price point than many other options on this list.
Chantecaille Ultimate Six-Piece Brush Set
Crafted from high-quality synthetic fibers and featuring an array of artist-inspired tools, the Chantecaille Ultimate Six-Piece Brush Set offers perfect application, seamless coverage and expert definition. This makeup brush set with case includes the Cheek Brush, the Foundation & Mask Brush, the Concealer Brush, the Eye Definer Brush and Eye Liner Brush, all housed in a chic roll-up bag. While the price point for this pick errs on the higher side, the brushes feel luxe. And the professional-inspired shimmery case that’s included in your purchase only adds to its elevated feel.
Jane Iredale Must-Have Brush Kit
Turner tells WWD Jane Iredale’s Must-Have Brush Kit is ideal for pros and beginners alike. The set includes three tools: a white fan brush for blush and bronzer, a retractable lip brush for lip color application and touch-ups, and an eye shader brush for eye shadow application. In terms of make, the brushes are vegan-friendly and hand-tied to mimic the shape and feel of natural hair, and are built to last without shedding, breakage, or porosity. It’s definitely a smaller collection compared to others on this list, but don’t be fooled. Limited tools doesn’t necessarily translate to limited opportunities for gorgeous makeup looks; this would be a great addition to any collection, or the making of a solid minimalist collection.
Illumanasqua Face Brush Kit
File the Illumanasqua Face Brush Kit under “beauty tool must-haves,” because this complete face kit is practically the end-all, be-all for face makeup application. With a foundation brush, highlighter fan brush, concealer flat brush, contour brush and bronzer brush, you can easily blend, sculpt, and define any form of face makeup. It also comes with a travel-friendly brush case that’s designed in a cylindrical shape to ensure all your brushes remain upright and secure — even while on the go. The lid also clicks on and off in order to safegaurd the beauty tools within from outside dirt and debris.
M.A.C. Wave Your Wand Brush Kit
M.A.C., which Greenberg specifically recommends as a professional makeup brush set, has been lauded for years as the go-to brand for makeup aficionados and amateurs alike. This Wave Your Wand Brush Kit contains solely the essentials, so it’ll satisfy your every need. It consists of a flat foundation buffing brush, a dual ended brow brush, a multi purpose powder brush and a blending eye brush. A travel case is also included with every purchase for easy storage.
Charlotte Tilbury The Complete Brush Set
Valued at $252, the Charlotte Tilbury Complete Brush Set will make you feel like a pro with its curated selection of artist-inspired brushes. Housed inside a handy portfolio case, the eight-piece set includes eye and face brushes for softly applying color or shimmer to lids, blending foundation lines, contouring and much more. The collection even comes with a smudger brush for creating the perfect smokey eye and a lip liner brush for precisely applying lipstick along the lip lines. Considering how extensive this kit is, buyers of this set are in the business of some serious makeup applications, which makes it extra important to keep the brushes clean. As a makeup artist, Greenberg recommends spraying all of your brushes with alcohol every time you use them to ensure bacteria isn’t clinging to the bristles.
The Different Types of Makeup Brushes You Want in a Set
Despite what you may see on Instagram, you don’t need an overwhelming number of brushes to achieve a professional-level look. According to Jamie Greenberg, celebrity makeup artist and founder of Jamie Makeup, your kit should ideally include the following:
- A blending brush for eyes to buff out eyeshadow along your crease.
- An angled brush for brows and eyeliner.
- A pencil brush for the lower lash line and a more concentrated shadow color in the outer corner of your eye.
- A basic flat eyeshadow brush for applying color to the lid.
- A foundation brush to apply and blend all of your face makeup.
- A concealer brush for smaller, more targeted applications.
- A fluffy brush for blush and/or powder.
- An angled, precise brush for bronzer.
Of course, there are plenty of other makeup brushes on the market other than Greenberg’s top picks. If you want a more comprehensive set, you can also add paddle brushes (one of Greenberg’s favorites for blending!), tapered contour brushes, and a fanned out highlighter brush. While these aren’t necessarily must-haves for every kit, they are wonderful additions to have that may lead to more precise work.
What To Look For In a Makeup Brush Set
While makeup brush sets are an excellent investment, like anything else, not all sets are created equally. Ergo, when shopping for the best makeup brushes, there are some key details to consider.
Synthetic vs. natural hair
In an exclusive interview with WWD, global makeup artist for Jane Iredale, Nechelle Turner explains that bristles on makeup brushes are either natural (sourced from animals like squirrels, goats, and ponies) or synthetically made from nylon, polyester, or other synthetic fibers. Natural hair brushes, Turner says, have cuticles, making them porous, therefore, they attract and keep the product in the brush, which ultimately results in a more sheer application. “Their porous nature can also make them a breeding ground for bacteria,” Turner says, adding that natural hair brushes also tend to be a higher price point and their longevity is questionable.
Synthetic brushes feel more like natural hair brushes and are nonporous. As such, they “pick up and distribute more product onto the skin for a more defined and more precise application,” Turner tells WWD. That being said, because synthetic brushes pick up and distribute more product, Turner advises using a lighter hand. It’s also worth noting that synthetic brushes which are stiff or have a shiny coating can result in a streaky makeup application, so you want to look for fluffy, softer bristles.
“In either case, look for shedding,” Turner warns. “Shedding or lack of shedding bristles is a good indication of the quality of the fibers in both cases.”
Number of makeup brushes
Be realistic about how many brushes you need and how many brushes you’ll actually use. “If you’re advanced and like to try new techniques and looks, then a larger set with a wide range of variety will suit you best,” Vincent tells WWD. “If you’re relatively simple with your makeup, then an edited set will be great for you.”
Handle material and length
Vincent tells WWD that as far as length goes, medium or shorter handles work well overall and fit better within a personal makeup bag. However, for a professional makeup artist, longer handles are ideal for powder and blush application. “This allows me to view my client from slightly further back, giving me a fuller picture of what I’m creating,” she says.
As for handle material, there are two options: wooden or plastic. “This may not be important for everyone,” Vincent prefaces, “but specifically for natural brushes, I prefer a beautiful wooden handle and brush hairs that have been hand cut and tied. This usually means high attention to detail has been taken with the taper and placement of the brush hairs, which I find translates to a more refined lay-down of powdered products.”
With sets geared towards beginners, pros, and every mastery level in between, the best makeup brush sets accommodate a wide range of beauty abilities with their basic, essential, and expert brush pairings. Below, find the best makeup brush sets that will satisfy every beauty buff’s skillset and budget.
A Note On How To Clean Makeup Brushes
Tedious though it may be, it’s important to get into a weekly routine of cleaning your makeup brushes. Luckily, it’s not a terribly time-consuming task, and the steps to properly cleanse your makeup brushes are relatively easy:
- Step one: Wet the bristles with warm water.
- Step two: Place your soap of choice into the palm of your hand or onto a brush cleansing tool. For example, Vincent is a fan of using brush-specific cleansers, like the liquid blender cleanser by Beauty Blender, but you can also use any gentle soap, such as baby shampoo, she tells WWD.
- Step three: Once your soap is distributed in your palm or cleansing tool, gently rub the brush bristles against it. “I like using a nubbly silicone cleansing pad to get brushes extra clean, particularly eye brushes with darker pigment on them,” explains Vincent. “[I] swirl it in the cleanser solution, wash out surface product, and then go back with the silicone pad and cleanse again (a brush double cleanse!).”
- Step four: When clean, it’s crucial to rinse your brushes extremely well, as soap residue can interfere with makeup application as well as irritate the skin.
- Step five: The last step is to take a clean microfiber towel and gently squeeze out excess water, reshape the brushes, and lay them flat over the sink’s edge to dry. “Laying flat ensures no water seeps into the handle and damages your brushes,” explains Vincent. “I also ensure brushes are bone dry before storing upright, for the same reason of preserving the life of my beautiful brushes.”
Now, for those of us who are committed to cleaning our brushes daily, Turner recommends using a quick-drying brush sanitizer, such as the Botanical Brush Cleaner from Jane Iredale. “The Botanical Brush Cleaner contains witch hazel and citrus extracts. These ingredients not only work to sanitize but also break up oil.”
Meet the Experts
Neil Scibelli: A leading fashion & celebrity makeup artist in NYC, Scibelli has trained under renowned makeup companies (specifically Kevyn Aucoin, Laura Mercier, and Yves Saint Laurent!) and now focuses his years of training on creating looks on clients ranging from supermodels to recording artists.
Jamie Greenberg: After working with celebrities like Kristen Stewart, Kaley Cuoco, Rashinda Jones, and more, Greenberg has rightfully earned her role as one of the top makeup artists in the country. Her ability to create both jaw-dropping red carpet looks and natural, no makeup-makeup is admirable to professional artists and amateurs alike. Oh, and not to mention that she’s an entrepreneur as well, starting her own beauty line — Jamie Makeup — while still working as one of Hollywood’s most in-demand makeup artists.
Danielle Kimiko Vincent: Founder of the ultra-popular makeup brand KIMIKO, Vincent is a makeup artist and brow expert who has rightfully earned her spot as an industry authority in the world of beauty. Her work has been seen in various national publications and she’s known for her less-is-more approach to makeup.
Nechelle Turner: As the global makeup artist for Jane Iredale, Turner has worked in the industry for over 26 years. She creates flawless looks for her clients (many of who have walked the red carpets of both the Grammys and BET awards), while also educating other makeup artists about her craft.
Meet the Author
Julie Ricevuto is a beauty & wellness journalist who first entered the media industry as a wide-eyed intern at Seventeen Magazine. Since then, she’s written for leading outlets like Allure Magazine, The Today Show, Glamour Magazine, and more. Julie brings the latest cosmetic news to the forefront, along with how-tos, scientific study breakdowns, and expert interviews. When she’s not working, you can find her training for her next marathon or restaurant-hopping in search of the best pasta dish in New York City.