Achieve Flawless Makeup Application with the Top Professional Brush Sets

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Beautifully blended and expertly applied makeup starts with high-quality brushes. The right makeup brushes make a world of difference when it comes to achieving a flawless, professional finish. With so many brands and options on the market, it can be tricky to determine which brushes are worth investing in. In this guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about choosing top-notch professional makeup brushes.

Whether you’re a beginner looking to upgrade from drugstore tools or a seasoned makeup artist stocking your kit, using pro-level brushes is a game-changer. The highest-quality brushes allow you to seamlessly blend, buff, and build up makeup. Good brushes make application easier, pick up and distribute product evenly, and create an airbrushed effect. When taken care of properly, professional brush sets designed for beauty pros can stand the test of time and help create stunning looks.

We’ll cover tips for identifying well-crafted brushes, review top brands loved by professional makeup artists, provide recommendations for must-have brush sets, and share advice for caring for your investment pieces. Read on for the inside scoop on elevating your beauty routine with the best professional makeup brushes!

How to Identify Quality Makeup Brushes

Not all makeup brushes are created equal. Brush sets you find in drugstores and big box stores contain cheaper brushes that just don’t compare to professional-grade tools when it comes to quality and performance. Here are the key things to look for when evaluating a makeup brush:

Bristles

The bristles, also called the brush head, play the biggest role in picking up and laying down makeup products seamlessly. Look for brushes made with natural hair bristles including sable, goat, pony, squirrel, and mink. These tend to hold products better and blend more smoothly than synthetic bristles. That said, new synthetic formulations like taklon and PBT polymers can mimic the performance of natural hairs quite well. They also tend to be vegan and hypoallergenic.

Tip Shape

The tip shape makes a difference for optimal product pickup and precise placement. Tapered dome shapes allow you to apply product sheerly or build it up. They also make it easy to blend out edges flawlessly. Blunt cut bristles are best for picking up and diffusing powder products. Pencil brushes have slim, firm shapes for detail work. The right tip for the task makes all the difference.

Ferrule

The ferrule is the metal part that connects the bristles to the handle. Look for a sturdy, non-tarnishing ferrule generally made of nickel or copper. It should be firmly crimped to keep the bristles securely in place and prevent shedding over time. Doubled-crimped ferrules are ideal for durability. Stay away from brushes where the ferrule meets the handle unevenly.

Handle

The shape and weight of the handle provide control for different brush strokes. Longer handles allow you to use your arm for smoother blending and application. Opt for handles made of wood, plastic, or heavy metal for good weight distribution. Avoid cheap plastic handles with no heft. These feel flimsy and break more easily at the ferrule.

Density

The density refers to how closely packed or full the bristles are. Denser brushes pick up more product for coverage. Sparser brushes blend better. Different parts of the face require different densities for optimal performance. You’ll need a combination.

Care

Make sure any brush set you choose is easy to clean and cares for. Natural bristles shouldn’t be washed with harsh soaps that can damage the delicate hairs. Well-made synthetic bristles hold up better to cleaning. Look for brushes specially formulated to avoid bacteria build up.

Now that you know what properties to evaluate, let’s look at some of the top professional brands respected by celebrity makeup artists and enthusiasts alike.

Top Professional Makeup Brush Brands

MAC

MAC brushes are considered the gold standard for everyday use and pros. Their natural hair brushes were some of the first high-quality makeup tools on the market. The brand offers a wide range of shapes and densities perfect for complexion, eyes, and lips. With proper care, MAC brushes last years even with heavy use. They work for amateurs and artists alike. Expect to pay between $25-$60 per brush.

Sigma

Sigma revolutionized the brush game when they launched their precision-crafted line made with exclusive synthetic Sigmax fibers. The proprietary fibers mimic the softness and performance of natural bristles. Sigma brushes work with cream, liquid, and powder products. Their sets are curated to provide all the essential brushes you need. With proper care, Sigma brushes retain their shape and softness for years of flawless application. Prices range from $12-$58 per brush.

Morphe

Morphe offers quality brushes at very affordable prices, making them ideal for makeup students or beginners building their kits. Their brushes feature a mix of natural and synthetic bristles to apply, pack on, and blend a wide range of makeup formulas. The brush shapes work well for complexion, eye, and lip color application. Individual brushes retail between $5-$24, while sets can supply you with over a dozen professional tools for under $50.

Hakuhodo

Serious makeup artists turn to Hakuhodo for the finest handmade brushes. The brand has been crafting brushes in Japan for decades. Their luxuriously soft brushes are made of 100% squirrel, goat, horse, or sable hair. For the highest quality sable makeup brushes, Hakuhodo is unparalleled. Of course, such exquisite craftsmanship comes at a steep price, from $60-$300+ per brush. However, these investment pieces last a lifetime with proper care.

Real Techniques

This cruelty-free drugstore brand offers quality synthetic makeup brushes at affordable prices. Real Techniques has won awards for their incredible blendability. Their brushes feature soft, fluffy bristles that work well with powder, cream, and liquid formulas. Sets and individuals range from $4-$20. While not as luxe as pricier brands, they provide excellent performance that outshines their drugstore pricing.

EcoTools

EcoTools has a wide selection of eco-friendly, vegan makeup brushes made from recycled plastic, plant-based materials and synthetic taklon bristles. Their handles are made from bamboo. They skip harsh chemicals in favor of renewable, sustainable practices. These affordable tools provide pro-quality application of powders, liquids, and creams without harming the environment. Singles go for $3-$10 while sets range from $7-$20.

Now that we’ve covered the top brands, let’s look at some of the best professional makeup brush sets available.

Top 5 Professional Makeup Brush Sets

1. Sigma Complete Kit

This extensive set comes with every brush shape and tool needed for flawless application from start to finish. The vegan and hypoallergenic brushes all feature the same high-density Sigmax fibers Sigma is known for. The complete face set comes in a protective case and contains 18 brushes for eyes, lips, and complexion. At $289 it’s pricy but comparable to MAC and Hakuhodo for pro quality that lasts. This is the only set you’ll need as a beginner or working artist.

2. Morphe Pro Makeup Brush Collection

If you’re looking for an affordable basic kit, Morphe delivers. This 10-piece set skips natural hair bristles but the synthetic pro-series brushes still provide excellent application and blending. The shorter brush lengths are perfect for travel or touch ups on the go. At just $99, it’s our budget pick for a pro brush starter set that covers all the face and eye essentials.

3. MAC Basic Brush Kit

MAC’s starter set features their five most essential brushes for powder, blush, eyeshadow, and defining. The natural hair bristles create an airbrushed finish. While pricier at $155 for just 5 brushes, MAC sets the standard for professional quality application and longevity. This kit elevates any routine but travels nicely as well.

4. Hakuhodo Basics 5-piece Set

For makeup artists who want luxury tools, Hakuhodo’s debut basics set is worth the $380 investment. The tapered shape and hand-tied sable hairs of each brush allow for seamless blending and pickup of powders and creams. The compact birch wood handles provide the perfect weight for control. While costly, these next-level brushes deliver works of art.

5. Real Techniques Everyday Essentials

If you’re looking for an affordable starter set for everyday makeup, Real Techniques delivers. 5 vegan-friendly synthetic brushes cover eyes, face, and foundation for only $20. The soft bristles work well with powders, liquids, and creams. While not 100% luxe, the blendability and performance rivals higher end brands at the drugstore price.

Investing in a professional brush set means you’ll have the tools you need for flawless application. Buying individual brushes allows you to slowly build and replace items over time. Either way, quality brushes level up your beauty routine. Now let’s go over some tips for using and caring for your new tools.

Tips for Using and Caring for Makeup Brushes

  • Always wash new brushes with mild shampoo before first use to remove any residue from manufacturing.
  • Clean natural hair brushes weekly with brush shampoo and reshape before allowing to fully dry.
  • Clean synthetics every 2-3 weeks with gentle soap and water to remove buildup.
  • Never put natural or synthetic brushes in the washing machine or dryer. This damages the glue and shape.
  • Store brushes upright or flat so water doesn’t loosen the ferrule glue.
  • Try not to get makeup and products on the metal part of the ferrule as this can weaken the adhesive.
  • Use brush cleanser and wipes to spot clean brushes between uses as needed.
  • Plan to replace brushes every 6-12 months depending on quality and how often they’re used.
  • Work product into bristles before applying to avoid dragging too heavily on skin.
  • Use the right brush formulas for creams, liquids, and powders to avoid absorption issues.
  • Avoid getting brushes with strong scents near eyes as this can be irritating.

Following care instructions will keep your professional brushes performing like new. Now let’s go over some common brush questions.

FAQs About Professional Makeup Brush Sets

How many brushes do I need for a full face application?

10-12 brushes allow you to seamlessly apply products to your eyes, lips, face, cheeks, and brows. A basic starter set covers all the fundamentals.

Should I buy brush individuals or sets?

Sets give you everything you need in one efficient package. Individuals allow you to buy only the specific brushes you’ll use daily. It depends on your budget and needs.

What is the difference between natural and synthetic bristles?

Natural hairs like sable provide a softer, silkier feel. Synthetic fibers are less expensive but the best mimic natural bristles well. They are ideal for vegans.

How do I clean dried on makeup from my brushes?

Use brush cleanser or olive oil to help break down makeup first. Then wash gently with mild brush shampoo and rinse until the water runs clear. Avoid harsh soaps.

How can I make my brushes last longer?

Clean regularly using proper products, avoid getting water in ferrule, store flat or upright, and spot clean between uses. Don’t apply too much pressure when using.

Quality tools make all the difference for creating flawless makeup looks. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to achieve salon-worthy results at home with professional brushes designed to make application easy. Do you have a favorite brush brand or set? Let us know in the comments!

Keep Your Brushes Like New

Investing in professional makeup brushes is a smart decision that pays off when it comes to perfecting your beauty routine. Quality brushes make it easier to achieve flawless blending and an airbrushed finish. Plus, they tend to stand the test of time when properly cared for. We covered the top brands, best brush sets, considerations for identifying well made brushes, and techniques for optimal use.

The key takeaways? Look for natural hair bristles, sturdy double-crimped ferrules, and a tapered brush head when evaluating brushes. Iconic brands like MAC and Hakuhodo along with pro-favs like Sigma and Morphe provide excellence that justifies their price tags.

Outfitting yourself with the essentials—a set of 10-12 brushes for your needs—ensures you have the right tools for perfect application. Keep brushes in top shape by cleaning weekly and storing properly. Your investment will continue delivering gorgeous results for years to come.

What are your favorite professional brush brands and sets? Share your thoughts with us!

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