Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

The Hit List

What’s the Best Affordable Makeup Brushes…?

What brand/products win this category? What makes them so great?

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129 thoughts on “Hit List: Best Affordable Makeup Brushes

  1. Natalie

    My favorite affordable brushes have to be the Real Techniques by Sam Champman brushes! I love them and got an entire new brush set – like, 10 brushes – for under $50!

    • Hey – I feel the same way. I love the Real Technique brushes! I bought two of their kits and love them both!

      To anyone who cannot afford to get all MAC or Makeup Forever brushes (and there are even more expensive brushes than they put out!) – try Real Techniques! They are synthetic (so no animal hair and they work great for both creams and powders), they perform just as well as the higher end brands, AND I have had mine for almost 2 years now and have experienced very little to no shedding when I wash them. Some of my MAC brushes and CROWN (esp.) shed a few hairs when I wash them.

      • Sarah

        How have you had Real Techniques brushes for 2 years when they only came out earlier this year? Dud you mean a different brand? x

    • If shipping to get the wasn’t $30 to Canada I would agree with that. >_<

    • amanda

      i would luv to try them, but after all the scandals surrounding crown, sigma, YT “gurus”, KJ, phan, etc, i feel like i can’t trust a single one of the brushes.. im worried they’re just crap or that people are just saying they’re nice because they want them to be, know what i mean? i would love to try a single one, just to test this theory.. which would u reckon i try?

      my thing seems to be i get what i pay for.. =[

    • Mariella

      Another Canadian who’d love a chance to buy the Sam Chapman brushes without the huge shipping charge (and I’d also like to get a chance to see them, feel them, sort of try them out first).

  2. Marieke

    I really like W7’s brushes. I started with a foundation brush and that one suprised me so much, I bought an entire brushroll. Some brushes are replaced, but most of them could stay ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m not sure where you can buy W7 in the USA or any other country…

  3. Courtney

    ELF studio brushes!

  4. Anna

    Ecotools (all of them!)
    Sonia Kashuk(the flattop blush/bronzer blush is fab)
    ELF (again, flat top brush, amazing!)

    • beth maiorana

      I totally agree with you on the Eco Tool brushes- I have had mine for a couple years now and they are wonderful. I don’t have to “baby” them- they wash up beautifully and pick up product (powder or cream) expertly, and they apply fantastically. I just love them- especially that they are cruelty-free and priced affordably. They don’t get enough love, that’s for sure.

  5. Amanda

    For anyone new to make up, I say the ELF Studio line. Contrary to the negative reviews I’ve read they work really well for the $3.00 you spent buying one!

  6. Gretchen

    E.L.F.’s Essential brushes are fantastic for those who are just starting out in makeup. Just $1 each! Also, Lauren Luke just dropped her brush prices by 50%, and those are gorgeous.

    • Sarah

      Lauren Luke brushes are AMAZING. Definitely worth buying ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Roza

      I was looking to buy her brushes, so thanks for sharing the price drop:)

      • SummerFabulous

        I LOVE LOVE LOVE my lauren luke brushes! and now that I know they are cheaper, im going right now to order MORE!… i like them better than my couple of mac brushes. I think everyday minerals makes great brushes also and at a reasonable price. I have been testing some sigma brushes (i purchased) and I’m not liking them much at all.. I prefer my ELF brushes to theirs.

  7. mimi

    real technique brushes and ecotools. I honestly love them and don’t feel guilty for ‘misplacing’ them either

  8. ELF has some really good ones. And I’ve heard a lot of good about Revlon’s brushes. I plan to try them soon.

    • grace

      i like ELF too but my revlon always shedded hair all the time-really anoyning.

    • Kendall

      I’ve got a few revlon brushes and I never use them – ended up throwing out most and then just kept the others for backups, but wouldn’t recommend

  9. AlexisV.

    For me the Sonia Kashuk brushed from Target are awesome. I learned this from watching QueenOfBlendingMUA on YouTube.

  10. Claire

    Definitely Real Techniques By Sam Chapman – I own alot of her brushes, they’re fantastic quality and totally affordable! With the exception of the Mac 217, 266 and 129, they’ve totally replaced the rest of my mac brushes now. Wouldn’t be without my RT brushes!

  11. My favorites are the ELF Studio brushes and Target Up & Up brushes! (Seriously! The Target Crease brush rocks!) All the brushes I have that I use the most were about $3 or less each!

  12. Monique

    Sonia Kashuk! You cant go wrong!

  13. Anneliis

    I like ecotools! But I would really love to try the Real Techniques brushes by Sam Chapman except they aren’t available to me where I live. One day…

  14. We don’t have a lot of easily available brush brands here in Germany. Thosa that are affordable are usually not the best quality. I like a few eye brushes from Beliance (a Douglas brand) but for overall good quality and nice prices I like Sigma a lot – even though shipping is, let’s say it’s okay if you order a bunch of brushes at the same time.

    • Michelle B.

      Have you ever tried Zoeva brushes? They are available here in Germany and the ones I have are pretty good!

  15. Kathryn

    ELF gets a lot of hate on their brushes. I think those people have only tried the Essential Line, because the Studio Line ($3) is fabulous. They are soft and haven’t shed a bit for me. Never buy the Essentials, they shed like crazy.

  16. I’m a big fan of Quo brushes, these are a Canadian brand found at Shoppers Drug Mart stores. They’re reasonably priced and go on sale quite often, making them an even better deal.

    • Samantha

      I agree… They’re always 40%, and love getting the shoppers optimum points :)

      My favs are the crease brush, the flat top kabui, precision foundations and the angled blush…

      • Linnea

        I’ve had more success with EcoTools than Quo.. I like Quo products, but the blush brush I bought sheds like mad. I might have to check out the ones that you suggest though!

  17. I looove my Sonia Kashuk brushes!!! The Flat top one is amazing, as well as many others…I highly recommend them!

  18. Sigma (except for my big powder brush, it sheds terribly)
    Sonia Kashuk (LOOOVE!)
    Eco tools for eye brushes

  19. Gina

    EcoTools brushes are always nice and soft, and I really like the Real Techniques powder brush I got. It’s huge and fluffy, and it was only $10.

  20. Alexandra

    I would never have believed it if i hadn’t tried them myself, but the Rite Aid Renewal Cosmetic Brushes (Rite aid’s house brand) are AMAZING!! They are synthetic and super soft. My favorites are the big powder brush and small eyeliner brush
    I also love Ecotools brushes!!

    • Brooke

      SECONDED on the Rite Aid Renewal brushes!! I just got the eyeshadow one, and it’s fast becoming my #1 eyeshadow brush, eclipsing even the MAC 239 … crazy!

  21. Mel

    Sigma and Coastal Scents. Very little shedding and all of them work wonderfully.

  22. Ayzee

    Eco Tools and ELF Studio Line :)

  23. My Real Techniques brushes are my favorites. The sets are around $18 for 5 brushes which works out to the same price as some of the ELF brushes for better quality. They’re even less than what I’ve paid for some of my Crown brushes but are way better quality (I have some pretty serious issues with Crown brushes shedding like mad). I <3 my Real Techniques brushes!

  24. Kerstin Rubarth

    Go for ecotools!

  25. Kristine

    ELF brushes are the worst for me! But I like the cheaper Sephora ones. Although I find splurging on brushes is necessary since they can last forever and make a HUGE difference.

  26. I totally agree with the ELF studio brushes. Cala brushes are pretty good too!

  27. the elf studio brushes are great!

  28. ELF Studio Brushes and ecoTools!

  29. Selenite

    There are a lot of great synthetic offerings from Eco Tools and such but I’m pretty happy with those vegan duo fiber brushes you see from Enkore Makeup and others. They’re made in the USA and soft as heck.

  30. I use ELF’s Studio Line brushes (and I refuse to buy anything else they make) and Sonia Kashuk’s brushes everyday.

  31. Carrie Ann

    EcoTools! They’re soft, well made, animal-friendly, work really well and the synthetic hairs never fall out.

  32. Tigress

    EcoTools! You can buy them at Walgreens and they occasionally go on sale.

  33. Leah

    ELF Studio……for 3 dollars a brush, you’re not suffering any real financial loss if you lose one or it breaks.

    Sonia Kashuk
    Real Techniques

  34. Michy

    Real Technique by Sam Chapman are the best inexpensive brushes ever !
    The Elf Studio are good and affordable, but not as good as the Real Technique’s

  35. Michelle Brown

    I like Ecotools because they’re affordable (of course) and they are effective without being scratchy or bad quality in another way.

  36. You can’t go far wrong with the ELF Studio brushes, I also really like the ECO tools too Jude xx @jadlgw

  37. Andi

    Real Techniques and EcoTools. They are both amazing quality. Especially for the price. They’re the only inexpensive brushes I will purchase because they hold up so well and they’re so soft.

  38. Stephanie

    MIRRA!!!! I just used their foundation brush for the first time and WOW best $5 I’ve ever spent on a brush! I also love Eco Tools!!!!

  39. Krystle

    For me, I’d have to give it up to Sonia Kashuk and Eco tools!

  40. Megan Anderson

    Real Techniques! My Stippling Brush is amazing! I have all of them minus the powder and the eyebrow/lash separator, which I just don’t really need right now.

  41. Kerri

    if ur looking for an affordable replacement for ur 217… try the pro blending fluff brush from… i have 3 of them and i honestly cant tell the difference between them and the 217 from mac. and they are only 3.95!!

  42. Sheila

    I love Sigma Beauty brushes! They are affordable, great quality and have the best customer service. Plus, they are continually evolving as a brand and creating so many great new products.

  43. Dana

    Sonia Kashuk, ELF, Real Techniques, Sephora Professional (Black handles) all make great brushes!

  44. Daphne


    The bronzing brush is divine ๐Ÿ˜€

  45. Les

    Posh brushes!! Also the crown brushes even though u can only get them online I have fohnd mac dupes.

  46. Jackie McDermott

    Real Techniques!!!! Esp the face collection

  47. Andi

    Sigma Beauty ROCKS!!!!! The F80 is the BEST brush I have ever used. If you want quality brushes for a great price check them out!

  48. Kwegyirba Croffie

    Definitely the EcoTools brushes. Great quality of brushes and even some spa and bath items. But the brushes are fantastic!

  49. Yazmin

    royal and langnickel brush sets. i bought three 12pk brush rolls for 30quid at my local chemist for 30pounds. i love them more than my mac ones. and royal foundation brush. the best flat foundation brush EVER.

  50. KELLY

    I actually use artist brushes!! My favorites are the Loew-Cornell 270 Maxine’s Mop for packing on eyeshadow and the Loew-Cornell 272 Dome Round (XS works great for eyeliner!!!!).

    • I use them, too, and love them!

    • SummerFabulous

      I have two Loew-cornell brushes the L. 272 Dome round and the 1/4 270 maxine’s mop… they are both great! when I get bored with my regular makeup brushes and I want something new, different size or shape i head to the craft store!

  51. I love my EcoTools brushes! They do everything I need them to do. I also like Sigma and Motives Cosmetics brushes. I want to try the Real Techniques brushes since I’ve read so much about them!

  52. Essence of Beauty, sold at CVS.

  53. Jieun

    Real Techniques, love them!

  54. Sarah

    I love love love the ELF Studio brushes. Set of 10 for $30, and they’re fantastic!

  55. Tiffany

    Elf and EcoTools, fo’ sho’ :)

  56. Paint brushes from art stores work REALLY WELL and depending on where you get them (I like utrecht’s sable store brand brushes) they’re pretty inexpensive. You just need to trim the handle on some of them.

  57. Adell

    Elf Studio Brushes

  58. Kristin

    Royal and Langnickel brushes are Ahh-mazing! Found them at IMATS and they are so incredibly soft. I just saw a post on their Facebook saying the makeup artists on Dancing With The Stars are using them! They are really affordable too. Oh, they have free shipping this week. Can you tell I’m excited about them?

  59. Libby

    I have EcoTools brushes that I love, their blush brush is amazing. I also got a small kit of their eyeshadow brushes that I love. They’re easy to clean, very soft, and affordable.

    Does anyone have a suggestion for a kabuki brush, btw? I use bare minerals foundation so I need a brush that will hold the powder.

    • Have you tried Ecotools’ retractable kabuki? It’s very convenient and the bristles are incredibly soft. If you want a denser brush I’d suggest Too Faced’s retractable kabuki brush, as I find it as soft as Ecotools’. It’s in no way as affordable, though. >:

      • Libby

        I haven’t tried any yet but I think I’m going to try the ecotools. I have some of their other brushes and I’m almost concerned that the brush being too soft might not give me enough coverage.

    • I like my Samantha Chapman kabuki brush. It’s angled, has firm bristles and is easy to clean.

    • Lena

      second on the ecotools retractable kabuki; the bronzer brush is also good.

    • Lauren

      I use the Elf flat top studio brush for my bare minerals which i prefer to any kabuki!

    • Libby

      I really appreciate the feedback! I ended up going to 2 different stores and they both didn’t have the ecotools retractable so I got the elf flat top powder brush and I love it :)

  60. Brooke

    Real Techniques or Ecotools!

  61. Zong

    Coastal scents, crown brushes, elf, essense of beauty (CVS) and sigma

  62. katie

    coastal scents & sonia kashuk!

  63. I have to say I love my Sigma brushes. I probably use my Crown brushes the most because the Sigma and Mac are too expensive to use on a daily basis, so i’m usually grabbing my Crown brushes because they’re easily replacable.

  64. Jasmine

    While I firmly believe spending money on really good brushes is worth it – I bought a set from Sephora when it first opened for $300 (like 10 years ago) and they are still in great shape.

    Your going to loose some and sometimes you just want to try a brush out! As all the others have said – ELF studio line & Artist brushes from the craft store!! I would say Sonia Kushuk too, but I really don’t consider her’s that inexpensive.

  65. Without doubt, Ecotools! Their retractable kabuki brush is AMAZING. It’s sooooo soft that I just want to cuddle it. XD

  66. Elisa Love West Indies

    After reading your feedbacks, i can’t wait to try Ecotools brushes; they’re sold near to my home ๐Ÿ˜€

  67. I love Coastal Scents, e.l.f. and Ecotools! Real Techniques is also amazing, probably my favorite out of all of them (:

  68. Miramรญa

    Everyday Minerlas Brushes, love them!

  69. Emily

    Sonia Kashuk!! My brush collection is made of 75% Sonia Kashuk and 25% MAC. Lovelovelove

  70. Ami

    Hands down Sonia Kashuk. Love them soso much.

  71. Suzanne

    There’s an Indian company called Audrey’s that makes excellent puppy-soft ones. I’ve only seen it in wholesale supply stores like Beauty Centre, but they’re cheap and fab

  72. justjamiexo

    Real Techniques by Samantha Chapman are absolutely amazing and so affordable! You won’t be dissapointed. Their stippling brush is the only foundation brush I will use now and it was only like ยฃ10!

  73. bettynova

    Elf: the studio line and I love the regular eyeshadow brushes,
    H&M has great eyeshadow brushes too,

    I wish I could try the Real Techniques by Sam Champman nad the Sonia Kashuk brushes too but not available in my country:-(

  74. I like most of my Sigma brushes, although some of them shedddddd like crazy!
    The ones I love are:
    – F30 Large powder (for… powder!)
    – F80 Flat Top Synthetic Kabuki (for liquid foundation)
    – E25 Blending (I like to for blending out the harsh line and applying the browbone eyeshadow)
    – E30 Pencil Brush (for a more precise creasework)
    – E35 Tapered Blending (for those days when your eyeshadow refuses to blend)
    – E45 Small Tapered Blending (for wider creasework)

    In terms of ELF, their studio brushes are great. My personal fave is the Studio Powder Brush, the flat top one. But the BEST eyeshadow shader brush EVER is from their regular $1 line. They’re great for packing on the shadows.

  75. Mariella

    Hmmm…I’d say it’s a toss up between Sonia Kashuk and Posh. I’ve only got a few of each brand but I’m very pleased with the ones I have. I used to be able to get Posh at a drugstore near where I work but now, they’re strictly online and the flat rate shipping charge to Canada is ridiculous.

  76. Michelle

    IMHO the brushes from Real Techniques and Coastal Scents are incredibly good brushes. I have quite a few and really enjoy them. I have a flat topped kabuki brush from Sigma that I really enjoy also. I was thinking of trying some brushes from Makeup Geek however, every time I go to order them they are sold out so I am assuming that they are great as well.

    I was on a constant search for high quality yet affordable brushes as MAC brushes are just FAR too expensive for me and I found really great ones. It just took some doing.

  77. elf studio brushes and some of the dollar store brushes, eco tools is awesome but they r not affordable in Sweden :-(

  78. Jenna

    Sigma brushes! :)

  79. Lena

    Ecotools! I’ve had some of my brushes for more than 3 years and they’re as good as new!

  80. Everyday Minerals Flat Top Brush.

  81. My FINGERS! They’re free and sometimes they work better than any brush! :)

  82. Cynthia

    I love Sigma brushes and Real Techniques. As far as MAC quality, I’d go for Sigma, they really and truly are great. I own about 10 of them and they are pretty close to MAC quality. The closest to MAC that I’ve found.

  83. Taylor

    I think Sigma brushes are the most affordable and high quality. They are super soft and apply my makeup flawlessly. Their customer service and social media sites are always interacting and willing to answer all my questions! I love Sigma. :)

  84. Bruna Louise

    elf’s studio line brushes!

  85. Katie

    ECOtools! They are incredible!!

  86. Adelita

    MakeuUpShow (Hakuho Do dupe)
    e.l.f Studio

  87. Heidi

    For me, E.L.F Studio line brushes work great, I’ve been using them for about a year now. Some might say they are low quality because they are only about $3 each but I love them (I got them all when they had a 50% of Studio line sale, so $1.50 each?? Come on!). They are soft, apply my makeup well..I especially like the kabuki brush. However one time a brush did come off the handle as I was washing it but I just glued it back on and it’s as good as new.

  88. Nattasja

    Definitely ecotools!

  89. Sarah

    Depending on how one defines affordable… I only buy synthetic brushes.

    Eco Tools are pretty good, but the larger brushes don’t see to wash very well. The angled brush rocks, though.

    I’m personally a huge fan of Body Shop brushes. They run about $10 to $28 each, but they’re all cruelty-free, washable, shed-free, and VERY nice. I’ve had mine a couple years, and with regular care, they still look brand new. I wish there were more types/shapes, but good enough for the basics.

  90. amanda

    e.l.f studio line for face and e.l.f for eye shadow and blending brushes.
    real techniques I have not tried yet but I will be getting some from ulta soon.

  91. SIGMA has the best! theyre comparable to MAC brushes but for A LOT less.& MAC brushes are my absolute fave.

  92. Gabi

    I LOVE Real Techniques by Sam Chapman and Sigma. They’re both super affordable and great quality.

  93. diamond_8806

    All my favorite brushes that I use regular come from ELF’s Studio line (black handles) and Sonia Kashuk’s Core Tools (white handles)! Love them! ย