I have a confession to make… I own a ridiculous amount of makeup brushes. It started small, back when I was 12 and my dad and stepmom got me a brush kit from Sephora. And, for years, I was more than content with that little set. I didn’t get super into makeup until university anyways, so that set was fine.
Sophomore year of college is where it all started going downhill. It’s funny how quickly a brush or two here and there can start to add up.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, because today I’m writing about how you can achieve a full face of makeup using 5 brushes and 1 sponge. I really feel I’ve been able to narrow it down to some awesome brush picks after experimenting with so many. All but one of these brushes are affordable (and I have an affordable option). They’re the perfect collection to travel with or for a beginner who just wants a few basics but is overwhelmed by all the options out there. So, let’s get started!
When I talk about a full face of makeup, I’m talking about:
- Eye shadow
Keep in mind, this is a full face of makeup so don’t feel overwhelmed by the list, you can easily customize it.
Now let’s talk brushes and sponge!
For the first two steps (foundation and concealer) I recommend using a Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge. In the future I’ll write a post comparing the famous Beauty Blender and the Miracle Complexion Sponge, however I fully recommend the Miracle Complexion Sponge. The key to any sponge is to wet it before using it. All you need to do is go run it under the tap and squeeze it until it is fully soaked through and then wring out the excess moisture in a towel. Then I recommend putting on your foundation with your fingers and blending it out with the sponge using bouncing movements (See here). Then apply any concealer and blend using the same technique.
Next up is powder to set your cream products in place. I personally prefer using a wet sponge to set around my eyes, nose and chin with powder. It’s very easy, just dip your sponge into any loose powder you use and then bounce it into any areas you wish to set. To set the rest of my face I like to use a powder brush. My personal favorite powder brush is the Sephora #59 PRO Precision Powder Brush. I like how soft it is and how much control I have with it. However, it is $38 USD which is very pricey for a powder brush. So my other recommendation for a powder brush is the Wet n Wild Powder Brush which is only $3! The Sephora brush is bigger, comes to more of a point, and is slightly less densely packed. The Wet n Wild brush is definitely a brush that applies powder faster, whereas the Sephora brush is more about precision. Honestly, it’s up to you and what you prefer but I’d say there’s no real need to splurge on a powder brush. Now for actually using the brushes with powder, just tap your brush into whatever powder you’re using (loose or pressed) and then tap the brush around your face. It’s important to tap and not to rub as to not lift makeup off your face.
The next step in the makeup routine is bronzer. Bronzer helps to bring warmth back to your face, as it can be flat after applying foundation. You want to apply bronzer underneath your cheekbones (or in the hollows of your cheeks), at your hairline on your forehead, and down the neck if you so desire. My favorite brush for bronzing is actually a blush brush, the Real Techniques Blush Brush. What I like so much about this brush is that it is big, so you can bronze quickly, but it is tapered so you still have control. Additionally, it is not tightly packed so you do not apply too much bronzer.
The next step is blush, and for this step you have a choice. You could easily use either your bronzer or your powder brush to apply blush. There’s really no need for a separate brush, except for using your brushes longer without cleaning them (as you aren’t mixing colors). Personally, I opt for the bronzer brush to apply my blush, but first I always wipe it off on a towel to make sure the bronzer won’t be going onto my cheeks with my blush. Both the powder and bronzer brushes are not densely packed making them great for blush, so it’s up to you.
After blush it’s time to highlight! I personally love highlighting and am all about having a glowy complexion. My absolute favorite brush in the world for highlighting is the ELF Blush Brush. This brush is perfect for highlight, it’s small but not too small, it’s tapered, and it’s not densely packed. And, best of all, it’s only $3! You can use a light hand to apply just a bit of highlight or push down a bit harder to get a wider area. (P.S. This brush would also work great for contour, if you wanted to contour!)
Next, I like to do my eyebrows but to be honest I’m very loyal to brow pencils, so I don’t need to use a brush for them. But if you needed one I’m sure you could find a good drugstore option!
Lastly, it’s time for eye shadow. Normally I use (honestly) like 8 eye brushes when really going full out with my eye look, but I managed to narrow it down to just 2 brushes that I could easily do a nice eye look with. The first is the Zoeva 224 Luxe Defined Crease brush and the second is the Zoeva 230 Luxe Pencil Brush. The way I suggest doing your eye look is starting with an inner corner and brow bone highlight using the 230 brush. Then move into a light crease color using the 224 and blend it out. Deepen it using the same brush but a different color. Then you could define your outer corner using the 230 (wipe it off first) and then blend using the 224. Then using the 230, smudge some of the eye shadows onto the lower lash line to define the eye. Then use your finger to pat on a shimmery (or matte) lid shade. And voila! Two eye brushes is all you need. (PS: Another great and even cheaper option would be to get the Real Techniques Starter Set!)
So that is how I would do a full face of makeup using 5 brushes and 1 sponge. You could easily customize this to fit whatever routine you like to use. If you were to go for all the cheapest options in my list it would only set you back $30! Below I’ve included a summed up product list for your convenience. Go on and conquer your makeup! 🙂
For the cheapest route:
- Foundation/Concealer: Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge
- Powder: Wet n Wild Powder Brush
- Bronzer/Blush: Real Techniques Blush Brush
- Highlight: ELF Blush Brush
- Eyes: Real Techniques Starter Set