A makeup brush set makes a great gift (even if it’s for yourself), but they’re not all created equal. Too often, shoppers fall into the trap of picking the first one on the shelf and end up with low-quality tools that quickly fall apart or worse, a bunch of brushes they never use. That’s why it’s important to brush up on the available options so you can get the best bang for your buck. And lucky for you, we’ve tapped in some professional makeup artists for some expert advice.
How to shop for a makeup brush set
“A brush set is important for anyone who wears makeup, no matter what level you’re on,” says celebrity makeup artist Alexis Oakley. “You don’t need a surplus of brushes, even just three to five will do the trick.” Here are some other tips to keep in mind when selecting a kit:
Consider quality. “Pay attention to how they feel on the skin. The brushes should be soft and gentle, not scratchy,” Oakley explains. “The better the quality the longer they will last.”
Check the bristles. Most brushes on the market are made from synthetic hair, which many folks love. But celebrity makeup artist Jay Alarcon prefers natural-haired brushes, often made of goat hair. “In this day and age everybody wants vegan and cruelty-free,” he says. “They are very hard to come by.”
Function is key. “Think of your daily makeup routine. You don’t need 25 brushes if you only have a few steps. I say find one really great foundation, blush, bronzer, brow, and maybe two to three eyeshadow brushes,” says Oakley.
Budget accordingly. Although some cheap sets are bound to let you down, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get good brushes. Oakley’s go-to brands—Morphe and Bdellium—offer reasonable prices. However, she says if you’re going to splurge on anything makeup-wise, brushes are worth the investment. “Some of the brushes in my kit I’ve had for 10 years,” she adds.
Consider how to clean them. “Taking proper care of your brushes will also increase the longevity,” Oakley explains. “It’s essential to clean them regularly to prevent bacteria from growing and to make them last longer.”
Now that you know what to look for, explore our list of makeup brush sets that will satisfy the beauty novice, the expert, and everyone in between this holiday season.