5 Fantastic Drugstore Makeup Brushes

Published in: Drugstore Beauty Finds, Makeup Tips/How To, Makeup Tools

5 fantastic drugstore makeup brushes

I was cleaning my makeup brushes yesterday when I remembered a recent email exchange across the Northern border. Canadian reader Siobhan asked…

Hi Karen,

Family members are in the States right now and have offered to bring me back a little present. :)

I’m thinking about asking for some makeup brushes, and you have stores there that we don’t have here in Canada (Target and CVS come to mind). What kinds of drugstore brushes do you recommend? Thanks!
–Siobhan

Heya Siobhan,

Smart thinking! Makeup brushes are lightweight, easy to pack, and make fantastic little travel gifts. Both of the chains you mentioned, Target and CVS, carry several affordable, high quality brushes like the…

1. EcoTools Bamboo Bronzer Brush

This cruelty-free brush has a dense head (there’s a pun in there somewhere) and super soft bristles. It’s designed to be used with bronzer, but I prefer to use it to buff loose powder on top of my foundation for an airbrushed look. $12

eco tools bamboo bronzer brush review 3

2. Sonia Kashuk Bent Eyeliner Brush

An affordable, all-purpose eyeliner brush with an angled barrel, a long handle and a pointed brush head made with soft, yet firm, synthetic fibers. I think it’s a star with gel liners like MAC Fluidline and makes winged cat eye flicks super easy to do. $6

Sonia Kashuk Bent Eyeliner Brush Review closeup

3. Sonia Kashuk Synthetic Flat Top Blusher Brush

My local Target has a tough time keeping this brush in stock; it’s usually sold out! Forged in the fires of Mt. Kashuk by the mighty SK to apply cream blush, this multitasking tool also tackles liquid foundation, cream/liquid highlighters and powder products, too. It’s totally worth the hunt. $15

Sonia Kashuk Flat Top Blusher Brush

4. E.L.F. Studio Powder Brush

This Elf’s dense brush head is perfect for picking up powder foundation and buffing it into the skin, and it handles liquid foundations as well. $3

Elf Powder Brush

5. NYX Shadow Large

With its soft bristles and lightweight handle, this eyeshadow brush could easily pass for a more expensive department store brand. Straight up, it blends colors like a dream. $6

Nyx brush review product photos 1

I queried the gals on Twitter for their drugstore favorites, and a few lines mentioned were Studio Tools at Target, Essence of Beauty at CVS, and the brushes from the Professional Brush line at Ulta. Just a few more to consider. :)

Ladies, do you have any drugstore brush recommendations? Please do dish on the bargain brushes you can’t live without (and why you love them so).

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,

Karen

P.S. Happy hump day!

68 Comments

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  1. Nina says:

    will it be a sin to confess that i own brushes 1 to 4? does that make me an addict?

    i also own some studio tools brushes (the duo fibre and crease brushes are to die for) and essence of beauty brushes (the small blending brush/crease brush can be considered a MAC 219 dupe).

    ive been eyeballing those NYX brushes but have been trying to contain myself because i probably dont need them at this point.

    you do know ill give in soon, though, right? right? :D

    im feeling goofy today. :P

  2. Fieran says:

    I’m a fan of Eco Tools’ eyeshadow brush – I picked it up for $3 at Walgreens awhile back. I use it to apply cream based products like MAC’s Paint Pot and Pro Longwear concealer. Works wonderfully well.
    Fieran recently posted … 5 Reasons Why I Love Berlin

    • Karen says:

      I haven’t tried that one with Pro Longwear. Do you use it to cover dark circles?

      • Fieran says:

        Strangely I don’t exactly have much dark circles (though an MUA @ MAC Pro Berlin told me that my under eye concealer was blended very well – there was no concealer there :)) but I use concealer for acne scars: A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do ;)

  3. Rads says:

    Karen, is the eye shadow brush the only one good from the NYX collection?
    Rads recently posted … The Body Shop Cranberry Joy Body Scrub – Review

  4. Tiffany says:

    I love several of these, especially the Ecotools bronzer brush!

    Other loves of mine are the Ecotools retractable kabuki and a Kashuk large powder brush (the one with the black contoured handle – couldn’t find it online).

  5. Vijaya says:

    My first makeup brushes were a Sonia Kashuk set I got from Target. They’re still fine, but my sister stole them from me. xD
    Vijaya recently posted … Hello Kitty Liquid Nail Art- Purple Sprinkles

  6. Raquel says:

    There’s a set of 3 double ended brushes from CVS (I believe is essence of beauty) that costs around $10 and it’s totally worth the money the foundation/concealer one is amazing as and the blush/highlighter one is pretty good too!

  7. Jill says:

    I have the Sonia Kashuk flat top brush, too and love it! I’ve been using it with Laura Mercier’s Silk Creme foundation and it works like a dream!!!
    Jill recently posted … Wednesday Weigh-In

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jill,

      Have you ever tried wetting the brush head first with a fixer like MAC Fix+ before applying foundation? I do that all the time with this brush… I think it thins my foundation (Chanel Mat Lumiere) out a little and makes it look more natural.

  8. Advah says:

    Oh fantastic post, thank you! I need to get brushes and am going to the US soon, so I’ll add that to my list. I usually get mine at Sephora if trying to find cheapish ones.

    Re the bent eyeliner brush, I’ve got the Benefit eyeliner brush (http://www.boots.com/en/Benefit-Get-Bent-Brush_857343/) does anyone know if the brushes are similar or the Kashuk one is still better?

    I’m also on the hunt for an angled blush brush so I’ll keep my eyes peeled for that.

  9. Tiffany H. says:

    I love the Essence of Beauty Smokey/Wide brush. It is great for highlighting the brow bone and inner corner!
    Tiffany H. recently posted … Manicure Mondays-Essie Smokin Hot

  10. Ruchita says:

    I love the Sonia Kashuk Synthetic Flat Top Blusher Brush. I’m considering getting another one to keep as a back up!

    I like the Essence of Beauty crease brushes. I think when I bought them there were two different sizes on one pack. I use them for contouring the crease and outer-v.

  11. Chris25 says:

    Looks like I need to do some shopping!
    Chris25 recently posted … China Glaze Zombie Zest Giveaway!

  12. Rachel says:

    Actually the best brush set I ever got was from a girlfriend as a present, and she got them at Sam’s Club!

  13. Great article Karen! I am addicted to brushes but I am to cheap to spend a lot of money on them. I actually bought the Sonia Kashuk Synthetic Flat Top Blusher Brush, my local Target had it on clearance for $8 bucks. I love the E.L.F. line too ! Thanks for a great a article!!!

  14. AnieJ says:

    I particularly like CVS essence of Beauty foundation brush. It’s really the only one I can apply and blend and buff my creams and liquids on with all at the same time. Plus it’s super cheap!
    AnieJ recently posted … Kirkland Signature by Borghese Sheer Mineral Foundation Set

  15. Shannon says:

    I LOVE the Sonia Kashuk smudge brush. It’s perfect for smokey eyes and applying shadow to the waterline.

  16. Yee says:

    I love your blog! Not to mention I was actually thinking about picking up some drug store brushes and you wrote about them! ESP an eye liner brush is exactly what I need so I will get thy SK one you mentioned! Thanks. I’m new to make up kinda lol

  17. Lindsay says:

    Thanks for all of the great suggestions Karen!
    Lindsay recently posted … Baby Peaches and a FOTD- A Neutral Wonder Woman

  18. Tass says:

    ELF studio brushes are amazing! I wish we got Sonia Kashuk brushes here x

  19. J says:

    I think I need some new brushes… Ha ha.

    Any other good brushes/makeup from Target?

    (Have you tried the small SK eyeshadow brush vs the large SK eyeshadow brush? How does it compare?)

  20. Meghan says:

    Studio Tools from Target is great! I also love ELF brushes they are amazing.
    Meghan recently posted … Rite-Aid Haul!

  21. gio says:

    I love the ELF powder brush too, it’s amazing! It works well with both powder and liquid products and has soft bristles that don’t shed. :)
    gio recently posted … QOTW- Did-do you wear makeup in high school

  22. Seed says:

    The Ecotool bronzer brush (along with the mineral brush set, powder brush, blush brush, and a couple eye brushes) are actually available in Walmarts up here in Canada. (For decent prices too I think)

    Canada doesn’t have the HD Brushes by Paris Presents (the same company that makes Ecotools) that are available for sale at Walmarts in the States. I looove them though, I have an angled blush brush and the highlighter/stippling brush.

  23. steph b says:

    I love the Kashuk flat top brush for flawless application of my LM tinted moisturizer. I’d also recommend the Ecotools angled liner brush. I reach for it more than my MAC. The Ecotools retractable kabuki is great for on the go touch ups.

  24. Addie says:

    Have you ever used the Ecotools Bronzer Brush for foundation? I heard some people on youtube rave about it’s “airbrushed finish” it gave.

    • Melessa says:

      thats what i thought it was for when i saw the picure before i read the heading

      • Karen says:

        I have! It works pretty well and does get that airbrushed look. The only problem I have is that because the brush head is so wide it can be difficult to get into the tight corners around my nose and mouth.

  25. Lauren says:

    I LOVE my ecotool bronzer brush. It’s so soft and dense!!

  26. I love the Ecotools line, and got my mom hooked on them too! She was so surprised that such nice brushes were so inexpensive. The ELF studio powder brush is a steal for sure. I also love the ELF studio line crease brush, and the ELF regular line shadow brush.

  27. I love Elf brushes from their studio line! :) x
    Stavroula Plag recently posted … Random Tip of the Day 17022011

  28. Linnea says:

    I just bought a bunch of brushes from Sigma. Yes, not drugstore, but most of the brushes you mention in the post aren’t available in Canada..

    The Sigma brushes have really impressed me. I have a few from ELF as well, which are good, but I’m loving the Sigma Travel Eyeshadow Blending Brush(they threw it in for free! and I love it more than their normal size as my crease is a bit smaller).

    Highly recommend their complete set as I haven’t had any difficulties with shedding, washing or scratchiness :)

    I assume they might be a bit more pricey, but not nearly as higher end. (I have a bunch of MAC travel/SE brushes, and I hated them. My 217 is a favourite though, so I don’t dislike MAC brushes, just think they’re a bit overpriced. I liked that Sigma’s travel sizes were as good as the regular!)

  29. Phyrra says:

    I really like the ecoTools brushes :)

  30. Tasha says:

    omg yes on ELF brush.. i totally love that brush!!!

  31. Siena says:

    Although they aren’t drugstore, I just recently found Sigma brushes and I think I’m in love! They’re just a little pricier (maybe $9-$16ish) but they’re so completely worth it!!

  32. Ana says:

    I love my SK flat top for liquid foundation :) I have the EcoTools bronzer brush and it is really nice. But I must say, I LOVE the EcoTools retractable kabuki even more! It is just as soft, great for travel, and it is so versatile because you can retract it to be a full on powder brush, more of a kabuki brush, or even a nice, dense brush for concealer. It’s pretty much all I use for my face makeup now. Even use it for liquid when my SK is dirty and I’m too lazy to clean it. lol.

    I love how the bronzer brush stands up on its own! I don’t have to worry about setting it down on a clean surface.. I can just stand it up when I’m doing my makeup :)

  33. Ligia says:

    Ecotools brushes are great! I always buy them at iherb.com
    Use the coupon code NAK992 to get $ 5 off + free shipping for orders over $ 40 + free samples. They ship worldwide.

    http://www.iherb.com/Search?kw=ecotools+brush

  34. Janae says:

    Hi Karen,
    I recently ordered a powder foundation online just to try I’ve never used powder before only a liquid (I think it’s called that lol it’s maybelline dream moouse foundation). So I only use the sponge that came with it. I was wondering what I should use to apply it and where to get it? I’m looking for a tool that blends well but isn’t too expensive since it’s just to try. Thanks – Janae

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