What’s the Minimum Number of Brushes You Need to Do an Entire Makeup Look From Start to Finish?

Published in: Just For Fun


In a perfect world…but one where you don’t have six dozen different brushes, what’s the bare minimum number of makeup brushes you need to comfortably do an entire makeup look from start to finish?


For me it’s four. Actually, I could probably get away with three, but four is my magic number, and they’d be…

  • 1. An angled eyeliner brush, which I could use to fill in my brows (I’m back on an eyeshadow-as-a-brow-powder kick) and line my upper lash line.

    See what I’m doing here? It’s multitasking madness, yo! I like the NARS #47 Angled Eyeliner Brush (it’s a splurge at $28, but DAYUM! — it always does my winged liner right, and I recommend it to beginners all the time). The good ol’ MAC 266 is another great one.

  • 2. A tapered blending eyeshadow brush, which I’d use to quickly get a base color all over the lid. Then I’d clean it by running it across a paper towel before using it again to blend my eyeshadow.

    And, as long as I’m not working with any dark or bright colors like blues, greens and purples, it could also double as a highlighting face brush.

    Right now Laura Mercier makes my favorite version of this type of brush, which she calls a ponytail brush.

  • 3. A domed eyeshadow brush, which I’d use for crease work. LOL! — “crease work.” Makes it sound like I’m building a better mousetrap or something. 🙂

    I’d also use this one to run shadow along my lower lash lines. MAC makes my standby favorite, the 217. I consider it an absolute essential in a makeup bag.

  • 4. A medium-sized face brush, which I’d use to apply all of my face stuff (powder, highlighter, bronzer and blush) because it doesn’t just take a village, people! It takes a small nation!

    I really like the MAC 128 Split Fibre Cheek Brush because you get both natural fibers (good for powder products) and synthetic fibers (best for cream products) in the same brush head, but I usually just use one side to apply my products and then blend with the other.

    You are literally getting two brushes in one!

I guess the theme here is multitasking… I like brushes that do different jobs.

How about you? How many brushes do you need?

What's the Minimum Number of Brushes You Need to Do an Entire Makeup Look From Start to Finish?

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Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. Janessa says:

    I’m right there with you at 4, but if I’m being honest, it’s probably 5… An angled brush for brows, a powder brush that I would use for all over and setting, then I’d probably have one more for blush/bronzer (because lets be real, if I’m going minimum, there isn’t a contour in sight), a fluffy eye (I’d probably use it first to throw a soft crease shad in, then wipe it off and use it for highlighting) and a smaller more detail eye brush to softly line my upper and lower lashes and a bit of outer V definition. That was a GREAT question to get the brain working this morning! Hope you a Le Bebe are feeling AWESOME today 🙂 And of course, Tabs too 🙂

  2. Agata says:

    I’d say 4-7. I can get away with probably 3 eye brushes, then a powder brush, a blush brush and a contouring one. Oh and highlighting (but that’s borderline minimal, lol- I never miss those steps though).
    Agata recently posted … Laura Mercier Daring by Day Eye&Cheek Colour Palette Review

  3. Let me count… At least 2 for eye make-up… Brows I can do with a pencil… Face with the hands except for powder and blush… Lips, free-hand… So wow, just four, actually, if I really wanted to!
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … Review | Hairfinity hair vitamins (+ international giveaway!)

  4. Andrea says:

    Where are those pink brushes from? They look fabulous!

  5. Lorna says:

    Hmmm…eyeshadow, blending, angled eyeliner/brow gel, blush/contour, highlight, powder = 6 minimum for me. Ideally also a lip and small concealer…but so many products have built in applicators now, yay!

  6. jessica says:

    I usually use about three. Sometimes more.

    You put Tarvo in your banner…i NEED that color oh my gosh and it isn’t out yet.

    I cry.
    jessica recently posted … The Comfy Chair

  7. Sandy P says:

    And I use about 4 and a beauty blender

  8. Lisa says:

    i just got a 217 for Christmas and it’s everything you promised it would be! i absolutely love it!

  9. Heather L says:

    Six would be my minimum to include:
    1. A flat top, dense foundation brush
    2. A face powder brush
    3. A blush brush
    4. A concealer brush
    5. A dense eye crease brush
    6. A small eye lid brush

    I would prefer to have at least 2 additional eye shadow brushes, and I’d have to skip highlighter and bronzer with this scenario. But I could come up with a functional look with these. The concealer brush probably isn’t critical – I could use my fingers, but I prefer not to touch the delicate under-eye area with my fingers.

  10. Ann says:

    What are those pink brushes?! 😃

  11. Lulle says:

    Let’s see…
    Flat shader brush, crease brush, blending brush for the eyes, that’s 3. I can apply my powder with the puff, foundation with my fingertips, and if I use a cream blush I’d also apply it with my fingers, lipstick directly from the tube…
    So 3, and I could even make it 2 if I use my crease brush to blend!
    Lulle recently posted … Your 5 Favorite Posts of 2015

  12. breyerchic04 says:

    I just packed for a weekend away where I need to be kinda glam for one day. So we’re going with 3 as a minimum but 5 makes me so happy. MAC 187, 217, 239, an off brand like 224, and a Sonia Kashuk duo fiber fan brush.

  13. Zlatka says:

    My minimum is just two. A medium sized face brush and and an all-over shadow brush, which is dense enough to put shadow on the lid, but soft enough to blend, like the Ecotools full shadow one. I don’t need the angled brush cause I do my brows with a pencil, and I don’t do liner often anyway.

  14. Efrain says:

    I remember reading that François Nars can make a full face makeup with his hands and only a brush for loose powder.

    Being real I can do the same if everything is in cream form. If powders were involve I’d only add one for blush.

  15. Rachel R. says:

    The least I can get away for a full face is:

    1) Real Techniques Blush Brush for setting powder, blush and highlighter.

    2) e.l.f. Contouring Brush.

    3) Flat shader brush for packing color on the eyelids.

    4) Crease brush.

    5) Fluffy shadow blending brush.

    6) Angled liner/brow powder brush.

    7) Eyebrow spoolie.

  16. Erin says:

    My makeup is pretty simple right now so it’s 4 to 7 or so.
    Erin recently posted … Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate

  17. Fran says:

    Karen, I’m really impressed that you do it all with four brushes.

    What would be my bare minimum for a complete look? Oy! I counted, and for a complete look I usually use 15 or 16 brushes, a different one for each eyeshadow color, cheek product, etc., plus a lip brush for the edge of my lipstick.

    So, let’s see… do a lot more with my fingers… tightline with a pencil instead of gel liner and a brush…

    I would need at least one flat and one domed eyeshadow brush, say Make Up For Ever 226 Medium Eye Shader Brush and 216 Medium Precision Eye Blender Brush; a spoolie for my brows (I like Sonia Kashuk’s); and a brush for setting powder, highlight, contour, blush, and blending those face products — I could do all that with either the Make Up For Ever 160 Blush Brush or the Wayne Goss 00 brush. So, that’s four, as long as I choose a lipstick that doesn’t need a brush and tightline with a gel pencil. But I would much rather use separate brushes and then clean them, instead of having to clean just a couple of brushes over and over again between products. Plus I’m kind of a nut for wanting the perfect tool to do each job. I could get by, but I wouldn’t be having as much fun with my makeup.

  18. Skygazer says:

    For me it’s three brushes! I could do eyebrows with a pencil, and blush with my fingers using a cream blush. So what’s remaining would be an eyeshadow brush for blending, crease work and under eye concealing (Sigma E25), a buffer brush for liquid foundation (Sigma F82) and a small face brush for targeted powdering, highlighting and contouring (real techniques setting brush).

  19. It depends on the type of liner I wear. Or if I feel the need for foundation. But I guess at least four most times.
    LindaLibraLoca recently posted … Alpha-H Micro Cleanse – Old habits die hard

  20. Alexis says:

    That brush holder, tho…

    4-7 for me.

  21. Kwmechelle says:

    4-7 for me. 4-8 if we throw in the beauty blender because I. Absolutely. NEED. IT!!

  22. Iris says:

    3 usually. Sometimes 4 if my undereye concealer requires one.

  23. MonicaP says:

    Depends on the look, I think. Some days I’m swiping on a cream shadow with my fingers and I’m done 🙂 Other days I’m using brush after brush to layer or correct a look. Most days I use at least 3 – 4 brushes.

    MonicaP recently posted … Over-Sized Cozy Sweater

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