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How to Use Makeup Brushes

Da Vinci used plenty of tools to create Mona Lisa’s face. Not to compare ourselves to an artistic genius, but we too cannot be expected to deliver a masterpiece with one brush. In fact, if we used the same brush for our entire faces, the end result would be simply chaotic. That is exactly the reason why we have so much to choose from nowadays. However, it can be difficult to know how to actually use makeup brushes with so many variations on offer. With new application techniques emerging all of the time, the days of the staple foundation and powder brush have evolved dramatically. So let’s go back to basics. Nowadays, brushes are designed to be used for the area of the face rather than the technique. For example, a contour brush is not just for contour. The eyeshadow blender can be used for concealer application and to apply highlighter in a targeted way. They are your tools to use however you see fit.

Keep reading to uncover all you need to know about how to use makeup brushes. 

How to use a foundation brush

Starting with the base, here’s our method of how to use the foundation brush, specifically, a stippling brush.

Stippling brushes are perfect for two things: applying primer to the face and buffing cream and liquid makeup products into the skin for a flawless finish. Although referred to as a foundation brush, this also includes bronzer, blusher and highlighter. This vegan brush has a lighter touch, so is ideal for blending out liquids and creams evenly. 

applying foundation with foundation brush

  1. To use a foundation brush, apply a pea-sized amount of foundation to the back of the hand first.
  2. Dip the brush into the product and buff it onto your face using big circular motions to push the product around the face starting at the center.
  3. Working outward towards the edge of the face, making sure you blend the jawline into the neck.
  4. Make sure to go over any crevices such as the eyelids and the inner corners of the nose to make sure everything is blended in.

How to use a concealer brush

After you’ve applied your base, it’s time to use the concealer brush. There are two main reasons why we may use concealer. Firstly, to color-correct dark circles or uneven skin tones and secondly, to target blemishes.

If you’re wondering how to use a concealer brush for color-correcting purposes, opt for a Round Concealer Brush. The ultra-soft bristles allow you to blend any product seamlessly over foundation and brighten any dark patches. To use the round concealer brush under the eyes, make circular motions to airbrush the product out. Reach the brush from the inner and outer corners but don’t go too close to the lash line! This can make the eye appear smaller. You can also bring the concealer down under the eyes in a triangle shape to really open the face up.

To cover blemishes, bounce the brush using a stippling motion and then blend with fingers.

To use a concealer brush to target blemishes, a Flat Concealer Brush will provide a precise application of concealer over the small target areas. The rounded tip allows you to press the product into the skin for full coverage. This is perfect for targeting any small areas of redness.

How to use contour brush

These days the contour brush comes in lots of different shapes and sizes. However, an Angled Contouring Brush is a one-size-fits-all option. The slanted shape of the bristles will hug your cheekbones, jawbone and neckline allowing you to create a natural-looking shadow. When using this contour brush, there’s no real need to worry about harsh lines being left behind. The ultra-soft bristles merge the bronzer into the skin seamlessly. This vegan brush also makes an incredible foundation brush as the synthetic, soft bristles blend beautifully.


After swirling the tool into your bronzer and tapping off the excess, your contour brush is ready for use. Starting at the temple area, simply blend backwards and forwards into the hairline. Gently following down to the cheekbones, glide the brush back and forth to deepen where your face naturally contours.

This brush can also be used to liven your cheeks up with some blush!

makeup brush tip

How to use a fan brush for makeup

The cherry on the cake- a shimmer of highlight is the perfect finish to a pristine bronzing contour. This is where you will want to use a fan brush. The featherweight bristles of this makeup brush apply product seamlessly over foundation. The fan brush can be used either to create a subtle glow or a strobing highlight. Plus, the shape allows you to concentrate on the exact area where you want to apply the shimmer without it spilling out onto the rest of the face.

This brush is all about an initial light touch and building with it. It’s designed to dust product onto the high point of the face or body. 

How to use a eyeshadow brush

Although you might get away with using a finger for light, neutral colors, if you’re attempting a bold, smokey look such as the matte black eye, you’ll need to use an eyeshadow brush. Two, in fact. Firstly, a  smudge brush and secondly, a blender brush.

Use a smudge eyeshadow brush to smoke out eyeliner and quickly hide any hiccups in your liner or eyeshadow application. The smudge brush makes eyeshadow application simple. Just get the product on and correct any imperfections by smudging and blending. To use this eyeshadow brush, simply use backwards and forwards quick motions to blend the shade.

This tool is about targeted, precise blending of small areas. 

Witchy eyeshadow look

The blender brush can be used both to apply a secondary color to the lid and to blend everything into place. The ultra-soft bristles pick-up the perfect amount of product to diffuse color on your lids seamlessly. After you have finished the process, go over all the colors with this brush to achieve a seamless effect.

Once you understand how to use makeup brushes, you soon realize that from contour to eyeshadow, each one serves their own purpose.

Having said this, there’s no point forking out on an entire kit of brushes if you’re not going to look after them. Read our guide for tips on How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes.

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Josie Wilkins

Josie Wilkins

Writer and expert

Josie is an Online Beauty Editor with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. Her passions involve all things skincare and beauty and in her free time she likes to travel, read and get her beauty sleep.