Your Ultimate Makeup Brush Guide: The Ones You Need And How To Use Them

Because this stuff is confusing...

Makeup brushes don't come with instruction manuals, but they really should. That's why we've teamed up with Real Techniques to not only enrol you into makeup brush 101 but to also give one lucky Irish Tatler reader the chance to win a Real Techniques makeup brush hamper worth €100.

Found in every makeup bag, ever – makeup brushes have redefined the beauty world.

These tricky tools have revolutionised the way we tap on our concealer, how we sculpt our cheekbones and the way we blend out foundation. 

From shadow sponges to Real Techniques, I've been on quite the beauty journey. In the past few years, a whole sea of makeup brushes has hit both the virtual and literal shelves - bringing with them 'grammable designs, quirky shapes and different textures all that range from pharmacy prices to designer. However, it wasn't until I fell down the rabbit hole of watching beauty tutorials that I realised not just how many makeup brushes exist but actually how many I own...and know nothing about. Figuring out exactly where each tool is meant to be used on your face along with which makeup products is just as overwhelming as following the instructions for building an Ikea dresser.

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Purchased because of that 'grammable design or for the pure novelty of applying foundation with a mermaid's tail, I thought it was about time I enrolled myself in makeup brushes 101. 

Below, is a definitive guide to what the best makeup brushes currently on the market actually do and when you should use them. 


There are a few different types of foundation brushes (angled, flat, fluffy, and domed), but this flat foundation brush is a classic. Use this to apply liquid or cream foundation for perfect coverage and a seamless blend.

Foundation Brush, €7.99, Real Techniques


These useful little brushes allow you to apply product with precision to the little nooks and crannies of your face, like under your eyes, on either side of your nose, and over a blemish. 

Expert Concealer Brush, €6.99, Real Techniques


A powder brush has long, fluffy, and soft bristles made to distribute loose powder evenly across your face without dispensing too much product and making your makeup look cakey. Depending on the size, you could also get away with applying blush or bronzer with this type of brush.

Powder Brush, €18.99, Real Techniques


Contouring brushes are typically angled and have soft, dense bristles that allow you to apply a concentrated amount of bronzer without any fallout. The brush should fit nicely under your cheekbone, almost doing the contour work for you.

Sculpting Brush, €10.99, Real Techniques


This fun brush has two key purposes: applying a gorgeous highlight and cleaning up powder makeup mistakes. Fan brushes have ultra-light bristles, perfectly shaped to run a delicate application of powder highlighter down your cheekbone and on the tip of your nose. They can also be used to dust off excess powder fallout.

304 Fan Brush, €13.99, Real Techniques


A blush brush is smaller than a powder brush and features a dome shape with long, super-soft bristles. This brush allows you to apply more concentrated product than a powder brush, while still allowing you to blend and build colour.

Blush Brush, €9.99, Real Techniques


These types of brushes are great because they're super versatile. You'll recognize a Kabuki brush by its flat top and ultra-soft, voluminous bristles, which work for applying powder, bronzer, or blending out pretty much any product.

Foundation Blending Brush, €12.99, Real Techniques


There are basically four types of eye shadow brushes you definitely want to have, and this is them. Fluffy (but not too fluffy) and medium-size, these brush works great for applying shadow to the lid and blending it out.

INSTAPOP EYE DUO, €10.99, Real Techniques


The other type of eye shadow brush you want is small and slightly more pointed at the tip. This shape helps you apply and blend products into the crease of your eye with ease.

Perfect Crease Duo, €8, Real Techniques


There are also quite a few types of eyeliner brushes (smudgers, flat brushes, angled brushes), but a slim, super-fine brush like this is handy for creating thin, precise lines. 

Eyeliner Brush: Part Of The Enhanced Eye Set, €22, Real Techniques


An angled brow brush is ultra-handy for applying all kinds of brow products, like pomades, powders, and waxes. 

Angled Brush: Part Of The Essential Artist Kit, €24.99, Real Techniques


A thin, pointed lip brush is so very useful for applying lip colour flawlessly, especially dark shades. By applying with a brush, instead of straight from the tube, you can be far more precise with outlining and filling in your lips. A lip brush also lets you build colour, which is much harder to do when you apply lipstick directly.

Lip Brush: Part of the BOLD METALS COLLECTION EYES + LIPS Set, €29, Real Techniques

the one if you hate makeup brushes

A flat-ended makeup sponge like the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge can be used for pretty much anything. The architectural shape has a precision tip for blemishes, a rounded side for stippling and a flat edge for cream highlight and contour. Ideal for when brushes aren't your bag.

Miracle Complexion Sponge, €5.99, Real Techniques

And now that you're armed with all there is to know about makeup brushes, wouldn't it be nice to have some fresh brushes to go with it? That's what we thought so we've teamed with Real Techniques to give one lucky Irish Tatler reader the chance to win a €100 worth of Real Technique makeup brushes.

To be in the chance of winning a Real Techniques Hamper worth over €100, simply answer the question below: 

Create your own user feedback survey

Main image by @irishtatlerbeauty on Instagram

This competition is open to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland residents aged 18 or over unless any other age restriction is specified or implied. T&Cs apply. Closing date 11/03/2020.

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