10 Must-Have Brushes and Tools to Elevate Your Beat

BY JENNY JUNG

A round-up of affordable and luxury, accessible, and underrated brushes and tools for all beauty lovers.

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06 FEB - 2022

These brushes have mastered the perfect fluff-to-buff ratio so you can blend seamlessly and flawlessly.

For some reason, makeup brushes and tools seem to be treated as the more dispensable beauty category. However, with the proper collection, not only will your makeup apply better, but a great brush will last you years without needing a replacement. Brushes and tools are also just as vulnerable to the torment of trends that are ever-present in the beauty world. Thus, a collection of timeless pieces that will withstand the test of time is most important when putting together your makeup weaponry. So, whether you're a pro makeup lover or you're a beginner needing some assistance in this area, there will be something for everyone.

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Honourable Mention: Laura Mercier Powder Brush.

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Honourable Mention: Hourglass Brushes.

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Brush Hygiene: Mecca Brush with Success

Before we get into the exciting stuff, there are some crucial matters to be discussed regarding how we are maintaining the health of our makeup tools. A little more attention in this area can make a world of a difference to the longevity of a brush and how it may be affecting our skin.

Typically, it is recommended that you deep clean your brushes at least once every two weeks. Depending on how many brushes you own, I understand that this is a time-consuming project that sometimes requires a Netflix setup. Enter the Mecca Brush with Success. It has a quick-dry antibacterial mist formula that will give your brushes an instant clean between washes. Of course, you should still be deep cleaning your brushes when you can, but this is an excellent solution for those brush emergencies.

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Mecca Brush with Success, $26 NZD.

Sephora Collection Pro Powder Brush #50

The number 50 brush is a synthetic powder brush that is slightly tapered for convenience around the eyes. I tend to prefer synthetic brushes due to their durability and texture. Although natural bristles are supposed to be softer, synthetic brushes stay softer for longer, which is more important.

The number 50 brush has the perfect density of bristles, which means it passes the fluff-to-buff ratio test! It is ideal for dusting or loading on your preferred powder products. The Sephora Collection Brush Line is a great place to start if you're looking for high-quality brushes at a mid-range price point.

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Sephora Collection Pro Powder Brush #50, $57 NZD.

Real Techniques 400 Blusher Brush

Blush brushes have gone through some major renovations in terms of shape and size. There used to be a time where smaller, more petit brushes were preferred for blush application. In 2022, we love a good hefty blushing of the cheeks, and the perfect tool for that purpose is the Real Techniques Blusher Brush.

You should know by now that I love a multi-talented product, so I felt inclined to include this brush as it works for blush and bronzer. Using the same brush can be great for those who may find blending a little tricky. Because the brush will have residual product from your blush and bronzer, it will result in the most harmonious blend between the two products.

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Real Techniques 400 Blusher Brush, $29.99 NZD.

Smashbox Buildable Cheek Brush

If you are looking for a brush to elevate your blush game, the Smashbox Buildable Cheek Brush is the best way to go.

The Smashbox Buildable Cheek Brush is made of low-tension bristles dispersed to utter perfection. This, coupled with the angled/ tapered shape, makes blending an absolute dream. I am determined to shed more light on this incredible brush that is so underrated.

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Smashbox Buildable Cheek Brush, $58 NZD.

Mecca Max Highlighter Hitter Brush

I found that precise face brushes are often difficult to find at a cheaper price point, so you can only imagine my joy when Mecca Max came out with this gem.

The Highlight Hitter brush is perfect for detailedly setting the under eyes. It is also great for precise cheek makeup application, including blush and contour- and, of course, highlighting.

If you are interested in an eco-conscious brush line, this is the one to check out with great brushes all around. The Mecca Max brushes are 100% vegan, cruelty-free, and super affordable.

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Mecca Max Highlighter Hitter Brush, $16 NZD.

M.A.C 217S Brush

If you are an O.G beauty lover, you will remember the M.A.C 217 craze. I have to admit that I dropped a pretty penny for this brush almost 10 years ago. Although I still hold on to this brush for sentimental value, it has lost its blending abilities after so many years together.

Recently, M.A.C has introduced the 217S brush, which is the synthetic counterpart of the immensely popular 217. This brush is sturdier, softer, and blends even better than the original. If you currently own the 217 in your collection, update it with the 217S, you won't regret it.

If you are new to the makeup game and you're looking for a one-and-done eye brush with the perfect fluff-to-buff ratio, the M.A.C 217S is it. You can create an entire eyeshadow look with just the 217S using the same blending philosophy I had mentioned with the blush/ bronzer brush. Layering a few shadows of increasing depth with the same brush will result in the most sultry blended eye.

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M.A.C 217S Brush, $48 NZD.

Chantecaille Sculpt Brush

I'm typically not a fan of foundation brushes as I prefer to use a sponge. I've tried the kabuki, the duo-fibre, and the flat foundation brushes. Still, I have resisted reaching for a brush to apply my base makeup every time. During this journey of trying to find the perfect face brush, my makeup artist friend showed me the Chantecaille Sculpt Brush.

Cruelty-free and synthetic- this brush is incredibly soft with just the right amount of density to blend your liquid or cream products without streakiness or patchiness.

With kabuki or duo-fibre brushes, you would buff or swirl products onto your skin. However, with the Chantecaille Sculpt Brush, I would recommend you tap and swipe to blend.

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Chantecaille Sculpt Brush, $64 NZD.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Mini Angled Brush

Anastasia Beverly Hills is already well-known for its dual-ended brow brush. But, have you ever heard of the Mini Angled Brush from ABH?

The Mini Angled Brush is sharp and tightly packed with extremely high tension synthetic bristles. I recommend this for gel/ cream liner guys and gals looking for the perfect liner brush. Because it is so precise, some practice should be involved to master the technique. However, once you become acquainted with the ABH Mini Angled Brush, you will have the sharpest wing liner ever. This brush is also great for carving out the eyebrows with concealer.

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Anastasia Mini Angled Brush, $33 NZD.

Morphe M173 Mini Buffer Brush

A brush that will never leave my side wherever I go is the Morphe M173 Mini Buffer Brush.

I always carry this brush in my handbag as a touch-up brush for any creasing throughout the day. The fluff-to-buff ratio is perfect for buffing out the under eye creases and smile lines while fluffing out the edges without disrupting the makeup.

If you find that your makeup is often creasing, carrying around a blending brush has much more utility than overapplying powder during your makeup routine. This way, you can maintain your base without caking up during your initial makeup application.

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Morphe M173 Mini Buffer Brush, $13 NZD.

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

Personally, once I started using the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge (M.C.S), the beauty-blender debate became so much easier to resolve. The original pink sponge has nothing against the M.C.S in every aspect.

Although both the Beauty Blender and M.C.S. are latex-free foam applicators, the M.C.S is much less porous and blends without leaving any traces of patchiness. The shape of the sponge also allows for more specific modes of application due to the pointed tip, rounded sides, and flat edge. The price is also more than $10 down from the Beauty Blender, and I have never looked back since the M.C.S.

PS: Check out the Daiso Sponge and Puff Detergent if you are a sponge enthusiast. It is $3.50 at your local Daiso and there is no brush/ sponge shampoo that can trump this product. It will get every trace of makeup out of your tools with mega ease.

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Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge, $19.99 NZD.

Surratt Beauty Relevee Lash Curler

I thought I'd take this opportunity to recommend an eyelash curler for my Asian guys and gals out there. The Surratt Beauty Relevee Curler will catch every lash in every corner without pinching the eyelids due to its broader shape. I recommend trying the Surratt Relevee Curler if you struggle with this issue, even if you're not Asian.

If you find that curling your lashes takes a lot of effort, this curler takes all the work off your hands by shaping your lashes to perfection with ease.

This is a game-changing tool for anyone sceptical of expensive lash curlers. You won't be disappointed.

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Surratt Beauty Relevee Lash Curler, $36 USD.

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