Makeup Brushes 101: Types, Uses, Cleaning and Storage

The past few months, I've been doing a lot of product reviews featuring my latest beauty acquisitions so I thought I'd go back to basics and write about the essential tools of the trade: makeup brushes.

Just as important as the cosmetic products themselves, brushes play a vital role in completing your look. Whether you're going for simple daytime makeup or vamping it up with smokey eyes in the evening, having good quality brushes is the key to any beauty regimen.

This post will be divided into two parts: Part I will tackle the 11 kinds of makeup brushes that every beauty junkie should have and in Part II, I will be highlighting the steps on how to properly clean and store them.
Part I: Different Types of Makeup Brushes

Most cosmetics brand out there offer 24-piece brush sets (some even more) but the question is, do we need them all? Are we really going to use 24 different brushes when we do our makeup each morning?

 I doubt everyone requires that many brushes in their kit (save for pro makeup artists working on numerous clients,) so I've put together a list below of the bare necessities that every girl needs:

Concealer brush
For concealing beauty problems such as blemishes, scars, broken capillaries and under eye circles.

Eyeshadow brush
To apply eyeshadow all over the lids.

Blending eyeshadow brush
 Blends eyeshadow and highlights the brow bone.

Slanted eyebrow brush
Used to shape, fill in and define eyebrows. The angled and stiff bristles are perfect for precision application. 

Foundation brush
For applying foundation smoothly and evenly.

Powder brush
For setting your face with powder.

Angled blush brush
The slanted bristles of this brush make it easier for giving your cheeks a pop of colour.

Contour brush
 Ideal for applying bronzer for a more sculpted and defined face.

Brightening brush
Can be used for both highlighting and blending.

Fan brush
Used to remove excess powder, clean up fall outs and apply powder lightly.

Kabuki Brush
A makeup bag staple for me; this multipurpose, short-handled brush is perfect for powder, blush or bronzer touch-ups.


Part II: How to Clean and Store Makeup Brushes

Now that we've familiarised ourselves with the different types of makeup brushes and their uses, I'd like to share how I clean and store my makeup tools.

Everytime we use our brushes, makeup, sweat, dust, and bacteria accumulate that's why I try to deep clean my brushes at least once a week. I know it can be tedious to do but believe me, your skin will thank you for it. Not only does it help avoid break outs, but having clean brushes will aid in achieving a flawless look. You'll be able to apply makeup more smoothly and evenly with clean tools than using ones that have dried up gunk. Also, if you want your brushes to last longer, weekly TLC is a must.

What you'll need:

1. Cup or bowl
2. Sink
3. Clean cloth
4. Alcohol
5. Brush cleaner

 What to do:

1. Run the brush under tap water. Be sure to only wet the bristles and avoid the part where the brush head attaches to the handle as this can loosen the glue over time.

2. Pour a decent amount of the cleanser into the cup and swirl the brush around.  I like to start with the less dirty brushes (usually the smaller ones) then move on to the brushes that I use for powder, bronzer then foundation.

3. Rinse the brush under running water until all makeup and solution is removed. And if needed, you can swirl it on your palm or make use of a silicone glove to work up a lather and thoroughly clean it.

4. Remove excess water using a clean cloth or towel.

5. Disinfect the brushes by spritzing alcohol on the bristles.

6. While it's not advisable to submerge the entire brush under water, I still like to clean the handle as well. I take a paper towel that's sprayed with alcohol and use it to wipe down any dust or dirt.

7. If you have a brush tree, you can use it to dry your brushes. Otherwise, you can lay them flat on a clean towel making sure the bristles are hanging over the edge of the counter.


You can opt for any other cleanser but I find Tony Moly's Brush Cleansing Water so much easier and less messy to use. A few swirls in this liquid then a quick rinse under the water and my brushes are good as new.

Another tip that I would recommend is by washing your makeup tools in the evening so they can dry overnight. Also, remember to clean new brushes prior to using.

Now that your brushes are clean, disinfected and ready for your next use, where do you put them? You can store them upright in a glass jar and display them on your vanity or keep them inside a makeup brush roll to protect them from dust.

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