The basic rules for makeup brushes are that natural hair brushes (animal hair) are best for powder products and synthetic hair brushes (plastic/manmade fiber) are best for applying cream or liquid products. For natural hair brushes, I suggest splurging on brand name versions since they are generally made better and last longer (no hairs coming out after washing!) I tend to buy MAC Cosmetics brushes because of their good quality, but there are plenty of other brands out there with great brushes as well. There are also plenty of brands that offer inexpensive, well-made synthetic brushes, such as Real Techniques or Bdellium. You can even find some nice kits out there that likely include all of my recommendations below. Anyway, here we go!
1. Eyeshadow shader brush: A shader brush allows you to apply eyeshadow to the lid. I recommend a good quality natural hair brush, but there are plenty of synthetic versions that work perfectly fine too.
|Smashbox Blending Brush|
2. Eyeshadow blending brush: A blending brush is used to blend (duh!) eyeshadow (or other powder products) to get a seamless result, especially for achieving a smokey eye. You can also use a blending brush to blend concealer on the under eye area, which makes the look more natural. A natural bristle brush with get you the best results.
3. Spoolie/brow brush: Spoolie brushes can be used to groom brows into shape and also to de-clump mascara.
|MAC Angled Eyeliner Brush|
4. Angled eyeliner brush: A angled eyeliner brush is used to draw on eyeliner (especially good for a cat eye) with a gel or cream product. You can also use this brush to fill in brows with a powder product. A synthetic version is your best bet.
|MAC Blush Brush|
5. Blush brush: A blush brush is used to apply powder products, like blush and bronzer, to the face. Look for a good quality natural brush for the best results.
|MAC Powder Brush|
6. Powder brush: The powder brush is used to apply powder to large areas of the face, mostly to set makeup and blot out shine. Once again a good quality natural bristle brush is best.
7. Concealer brush: Concealer brushes are best to apply cream products to the skin. This allows for precise concealing on the face, such as covering zits or other imperfections. A synthetic version is your best bet.
|Two different types of foundation brushes: MAC Angled Foundation Brush and Urban Decay's Optical Blending Brush|
And if you wear liquid or cream foundation, 8. Foundation brush or Beauty Blender: A foundation brush is used to apply liquid or cream foundation to the face. Using a brush or sponge instead of your fingers ensures that product isn't wasted, and allows for better blending. As with the other cream/liquid products, a synthetic brush will work best.
I hope this helps clear things up when it comes to makeup brush shopping and usage. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.