Home > A Guide to Makeup Brushes: My All-Star List

A Guide to Makeup Brushes: My All-Star List

Until recently, my makeup brush game was weak – real weak. I had a set of tired, 10-yr-old Aveda brushes that needed to be put out of their misery. On top of that, I barely new how to use them. Out of the set of six, I only used the blush, eyeshadow, and eyebrow brushes. When refinishing an endtable for my living room and realizing that my paint brush was too big to properly apply paint to the table’s nooks and crannies, I reached for the never-used concealer brush from that Aveda set. What can I say other than it worked perfectly.

One day, the poor Aveda blush brush quit. It gave up. It died a merciless death in my bathroom sink…hundreds of its hairs coming loose as I washed it. I’m pretty sure I heard its last gasps of life has the hairs surrendered hope and separated from their silver casing. Sigh.

Blogging and working with various makeup artists has really educated me on how to build the best makeup brush collection…buying only those tools that I will really need. Most brushes are a real investment, so it pays to get educated on brush types and how to use them. A huge thank you to the kind MUAs at MAC Cosmetics for always taking the time to show me how to stock my “brush arsenal” and steering me away from brushes that look awesome, but realistically, will sit unused.

So, without further ado, here are my makeup brush all-stars that get the most use in my now ever-growing collection:

Marc Jacobs Bronzer Brush #12

Marc Jacobs Bronzer Brush Style Domination Fashion Beauty Blogger

This bad boy is not cheap at $94 CAD, but I felt it was a worthwhile investment. With bristles so soft, they rival bunny fur, it deposits bronzer effortlessly to achieve a very natural finish. I use this use mostly for applying pressed or loose powder. It applies pressed powder like a dream, without making your face too cakey or sucking up too much product. Well done, Marc Jacobs. Well done. *slow clap*

MAC #217 Brush

MAC 217 brush Style Domination Fashion Beauty Blogger

My search for the perfect eyeshadow blending brush ended when I discovered the MAC #217 brush while binge-watching Tanya Burr’s YouTube videos. Its somewhat fluffy bristles distribute an even amount of powder or cream eye colour to your lids, and blending is a dream. This brush makes most eyeshadow applications look like it was done professionally. A real must-have in anyone’s collection, so much so that I bought two.

MAC #239 Brush

Style Domination Fashion Beauty Blogger

I love this particular brush for patting on vibrant and bold eye colours. This brush’s dense yet soft bristles allow you to deposit a lot of colour for a super dramatic effect, without digging into your pot of eyeshadow. It is also not bad at blending out colour.

Chanel Pinceau Brosse Sourcils Nº11

Chanel Pinceau Brosse Sourcils Style Domination Fashion Beauty Blogger

I love eyebrow brushes that look like mascara wands! I feel they grab the eyebrow hairs better than traditional brushes which allow for better control, especially if you are like me and have your father’s unibrow.

Real Techniques Blush Brush

Real Techniques Blush BrushStyle Domination Fashion Beauty Blogger
Pic courtesy of www.pinnkblossom.com
Oooo-weeee! I LOVE this brush! It beats out my expensive Bobbi Brown blush brush…and that is saying something. Its super soft bristles and fluffy shape is very conducive to a perfectly applied wash of colour. In fact, that fluffiness really gives you a truly “blushed” look, as opposed to the dreaded blush racing stripe.

Joan Collins Style Domination Fashion Blogger
I can see your blush from outer space, Joan! I still love you though.
Real Techniques Lash-Brow Groomer

Real Technique Eyebrow Brush and Lash Comb Style Domination Fashion Beauty Blogger
Pic courtesy of www.volleysparkle.com
While I do not really use the eyebrow brush on this tool preferring the Chanel eyebrow brush mentioned above, the eyelash comb is superb. Made with metal teeth, it works wonders on your eyelashes after applying mascara. It gently removes any clumps leaving you with a perfect, natural flutter of lashes. Great for combing out those clumps to avoid the dreaded “Tammy Faye Bakker” special.

Tammy Faye Bakker Style Domination Fashion Beauty Blogger
Charlotte Tilbury Powder Sculpt Brush

Charlotte Tilbury Powder Sculpt Style Domination Fashion Beauty Blogger

A makeup artist used this brush on me to contour my non-existent cheekbones. It worked like a dream. She let me try it and its pointed, fluffy bristles made contouring easy and not the scary process as outlined in most of Huda Beauty’s countless instagram contouring videos. Just ordered one online from Holt Renfrew and anxiously awaiting its arrival. I don’t contour too often, but when I do, I’ll be glad to have this brush.

Make Up Forever 134 Large Powder Fan Brush

Makeup Forever Brush Style Domination Fashion Beauty Blogger
Make Up Forever 134 Large Powder Fan Brush (top)
I bought this fat, fluffy luxurious brush as an impulse buy at Sephora, but what Sephora purchases aren’t impulse buys? It sat in my container of makeup brushes unused, looking pretty for about a year until I learned how to use it. During the last frenzied Sephora VIB sale, I bought Nars Albatross highlighter. I watched a few makeup tutorials on how to highlight properly and I am SO HAPPY I had this brush! Applying highlighter with this tool turns you from a pale, sullen-looking winter-sufferer, to a glowy, healthy-looking babe. This brush is especially good for applying highlighters that are glittery because it will evenly apply the product without making you look like one of those sparkly vampires from Twilight.

I love you, Kiefer Sutherland Style Domination Fashion Beauty Blogger
Siggghhhh – I love you, David. Take some pointers from a real vampire, Edward.
Nars Smudge Brush #45

Nars Smudge Brush 45 Style Domination Fashion Beauty Blogger

I bought this brush when I started obsessing over smoky eyes – about the same time Kim Kardashian invaded our lives. Its short, well-packed bristles blend eyeshadow like a dream on your lower lashes. It perfectly smudges your eyeshadow giving you a soft, sultry smoky eye. Possibly one of my favorite makeup tools of all-time.

Sephora Collection Pro Lip Brush #81

Sephora Pro Lip Brush #81 Style Domination Fashion Beauty Blogger


I bought this little lip brush to dig remnants out of my used lipstick containers. Who knew it would be such a great little brush? Nothing too fancy, but wide enough for my full lips and soft enough to not pull delicate lip skin.

Sephora Collection Pro Concealer Brush #57

Sephora Pro Concealer Brush Style Domination Fashion Beauty Blogger

I use this brush for applying liquid concealers. Its soft and fluffy, and applies liquid concealer beautifully. Blending out the concealer is really easy with this tool and best of all, it does not suck up a ton of product.

Beauty Blender Pro

Beauty Blender Pro Style Domination Fashion Beauty Blogger

I ordered this from the Sephora website for the sole reason of needing to add one more thing to my cart in order to qualify for free shipping (that’s how they get ya). OH EMM GEE. First of all, let’s talk about how much fun it is to see it expand after dunking it in water! LOL! Its like those little dinosaurs I used to get as a kid that would grow 100x if you got it wet! Secondly, it perfectly applies and blends your foundation and concealer by allowing you to dab on product and blend softly using either the rounded or pointed tip. Thirdly, you can use it to apply loose powder for that finished look. Thirdly, it’s black, so my dark concealers and foundations don’t make it look like a disaster like the used pink Beauty Blenders. Fourthly, unlike those old school makeup sponges, it’s washable, reusable and does not suck up an entire bottle of foundation in one use. Can’t say enough good things about the Beauty Blender.

Real Techniques Stippling Brush

Real Techniques Stippling Brush Style Domination Fashion Beauty Blogger

Soft. Fluffy. Inexpensive. Excellent application. Easy to clean. Gives a natural, soft, airbrushed finish. Need I say more?

What are your favourite makeup brushes? Please share! I love discovering new tools!


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Dominique Baker
Dominique Baker

Dominique is a Canadian-based fashion and beauty influencer with a strong voice in Ottawa’s black community. Since launching her blog Style Domination in 2015, she has amassed a global fanbase. Dominique shares her life through beautiful imagery and compelling story-telling that speaks to her fans on a personal level. She’s been featured in The Guardian, Flare, The Kit and Cityline. She also hosts events for Dress for Success, the Gem Conference, and has been named a United Way Person 2 Know for the past three years.

Find me on: Web | Instagram

Leave a comment

  1. November 27, 2015 / 3:42 pm

    This was so helpful! I’m so useless at choosing and using brushes, however my favourite has got to be the Bare Minerals Flawless Face brush for applying their powder x

    • November 28, 2015 / 12:15 am

      Oh! I’ll have to check out this Flawless Face Brush. Sounds great! Thanks for reading – glad you found it helpful! xoxox

  2. November 27, 2015 / 4:20 pm

    I like the look of those MAC brushes! I’m always searching for good eye ones, but I never know which are best, especially when there’s so many! Today I have bought a load of brushes, all by Real Techniques. I already had a few which I love, so decided, why not buy a load more? So, I now have probably got more brushes than I really need on the way to me, haha!

    • November 28, 2015 / 12:13 am

      I did the same thing. Real Techniques brushes were on sale at my local drug store so I bought all of them. I’m so glad I did – they are amazing. The quality is superb, despite the low price. Treat yourself to some MAC brushes. The are great – despite the price.

      • November 28, 2015 / 3:24 am

        Unfortunately the rest of my money needs to go towards Christmas presents now, but maybe after Christmas I’ll treat myself to some!

  3. November 27, 2015 / 8:17 pm

    Great post! I feel like I never know enough about brushes and always like seeing what brushes other people have and use.

    • November 28, 2015 / 12:11 am

      Glad you like it, Andi! Thanks for reading!! xo

  4. November 27, 2015 / 10:24 pm

    One day I might cave & get the MAC 217. I love my Beauty Blender. I like the black one too. I recently just purchased another as my original is 6 months old and getting worn out.

  5. November 28, 2015 / 2:50 am

    Haha, loving how your Aveda brush died on you…I have no brush game either…looking back on it I havnt bought a new brush in about a year and I dont wash them either…hmmm maybe its time I get some new ones for Crimbo and I have your list to choose from- merci!! ( :

    • November 28, 2015 / 8:53 am

      You’re welcome! At the very least, give your brushes a good wash with some gentle detergent. Start with Real Techniques – great quality, super affordable. Thanks for reading!

  6. November 28, 2015 / 6:43 am

    I love the Real Techniques blush brush too…and the beauty blender! I think I also NEED that Charlotte Tilbury brush in my life! ?

    • November 28, 2015 / 8:52 am

      Traci-Ann, the Charlotte Tilbury brush is sooo amazing, along with the Real Techniques brush. And you totally NEED the Beauty Blender!!!

      • November 28, 2015 / 8:54 am

        Oh I have the beauty blender…and three back ups! Lol! You have convinced me…I NEED the CT brush! ?

  7. Lori
    November 28, 2015 / 6:11 pm

    Love my Real Techniques brushes. I am just really learning how to use brushes for different things.

    • November 28, 2015 / 9:59 pm

      Love it! Thank you so much for the recommendations! Will check them out this week. xoxox

  8. November 29, 2015 / 6:47 pm

    Great collection! I think it’s time to buy myself a few new brushes 🙂

    • December 1, 2015 / 3:25 pm

      I have been known to encourage impulse buys. LOL! Thanks for reading, Linda! xo

    • November 30, 2015 / 12:50 am

      You’re welcome, Paige! Spent some time perusing your awesome blog! Well done!

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