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Best Makeup Brushes for Blushes & Bronzers

Best Makeup Brushes for Applying Blushes/Bronzers

The right blush brush is really dependent on what product one’s trying to apply! A very pigmented blush often requires a less-dense, more feathery brush for foolproof, buildable application, whereas a lighter or sheerer blush works better with a denser brush. It can also depend on whether one’s naturally a bit heavier handed or lighter handed, as it may mean that going for a less-dense brush is more or less ideal.

I would love to hear about the brushes you can’t live without for blush and bronzer — share your picks in the comments! 🙂

For Light Application

These brushes are airier, less dense, and have very soft bristles, so the end result is more gradual, buildable pigmentation/shimmer.  They are ideal for use with softer powders (nothing too dense/cream-like) as well as for very pigmented, more contrasting blush shades where being able to pickup less product to build up coverage is desired.

Best Makeup Brushes for Applying Blushes/Bronzers
SUQQU Cheek, Wayne Goss The Air Brush

  • SUQQU Cheek Brush ($123.60) is a feathery-soft brush with a rounded, tapered edge that diffuses color onto the cheek in a gradual manner.  It’s smaller in size (compared to most cheek brushes), so it can still offer more precise placement while still delivering a sheerer application of product.  I use this interchangeably with highlighters and blushes (particularly good for more pigmented blushes).
  • Wayne Goss The Air Brush ($35.00) is a small, flatter face brush with tapered bristles that come to a rounded edge.  Despite being flatter, it excels at blending out the edges of various powders on the face.  It’s one of my favorite brushes for all things face, but it is superb for anyone who wants lighter application of their colored cheek products.

For Light-to-Moderate Application

I like soft, flatter brushes for lighter application without having to worry about how heavy-handed I am with a product, as their lack of density makes it easier to place the product gently. I do find that the flatter, less dense and less rounded shape doesn’t work as well with powders that are harder to blend, though.

Best Makeup Brushes for Applying Blushes/Bronzers
Hakuhodo B116, Hakuhodo G5545

  • Hakuhodo B116 Highlight Brush ($59.00) is a small-sized, flat brush with a rounded edge.  It has less fluffiness compared to the G5545 mentioned below, but it is also a bit smaller.  It is great for applying color more precisely to the cheek and when working with very pigmented or very soft powder products.  Hakuhodo also makes this shape in the J-series, which will run you $35 (all goat hair instead of blue squirrel).
  • Hakuhodo G5545 Blush Brush ($63.00) is a medium-sized, flatter blush brush with a rounded, tapered edge that picks up product well and distributes it gradually and naturally diffused.  I like using this with very pigmented cheek products or more softly-pressed powders.

For Moderate Application

These are moderately dense, slightly rounded cheek brushes that work well with blush as well as bronzer. I reach for these brushes when I’m working with a lot of light and mid-tone colored cheek products or if the formula is sheer-to-medium in coverage. If I’m working with a very pigmented or richer hue of product, these will over-apply too easily and so I’ll opt for a different brush with those types of products. These are particularly good at diffusing and blending out edges, even if they’re only used solely for that and not for the initial lay down of color (think of how we often use one brush to apply color to the lid and another to blend it out for eyeshadow).

Best Makeup Brushes for Applying Blushes/Bronzers
Tom Ford 02, Hakuhodo J5543, Wayne Goss Brush 12

  • Tom Ford 02 Brush ($73.00) is a small-to-medium sized face brush that is actually marketed for cream foundation, but I’ve found that over the years, I prefer all synthetic for foundation brushes (so much easier and faster to clean) and used this more and more as a blush brush!  It’s small enough to apply color precisely with moderate density to pickup product well and buff it out easily.
  • Hakuhodo J5543 Blush Brush ($63.00) is medium-sized face brush with moderate density and a rounded, tapered edge. It is slightly larger than Tom Ford’s 02 Brush (and more comparable to Tom Ford’s 06 Brush).  It can apply blush quite heavily, but a moderate hand will yield moderate results that are very easy to blend and buff out due to the denser nature of the brush itself.
  • Wayne Goss Brush 12 ($53.00) is a medium-sized face brush that has moderate density, enough give to blend and sweep easily across the face, and a slightly flared, rounded edge.  It applies color more moderately but is amazing at blending out edges as denser brushes work better for buffing in small circles (but without lifting up base products, as the bristles are quite soft).

For Moderate to Heavy Application

These are slightly larger, denser versions of the brushes listed in the section above–more rounded, medium-to-large-sized blush brushes. I reach for these when I’m using lighter shades, applying bronzer all-over the face, or if I’m working with a sheerer powder to begin with and want a bit more coverage out of it. These also work well for buffing and blending out color already placed on the skin, where I’ll use a clean one of these style brushes after I used something more precise to apply my blush.

Best Makeup Brushes for Applying Blushes/Bronzers
Hakuhodo B505, Wayne Goss Brush 11, Tom Ford 06

  • Hakuhodo B505 Blush Brush ($98.00) is a medium-to-large blush brush that’s quite dense (but not stiff) with tapering bristles that makes it fantastic for diffusing and blending out blush.  When it comes to initially laying down color, it certainly works, but due to the larger surface area and greater density, it can be easy to go overboard with more pigmented products.  The size works well for those who apply bronzer to a greater portion of the face, though.  This brush is also available in the J-series for $72.
  • Wayne Goss Brush 11 ($48.00) is a medium-to-large sized face brush that has a rounded edge, tapering bristles, and moderate density.  It’s actually marketed as a “Buffing Brush,” which is what I tend to use it for–making sure blush edges are perfectly blended and the like.
  • Tom Ford 06 Brush ($79.00) is a medium-to-large sized blush brush that has a lovely soft, tapered, and rounded edge that blends out products beautifully.  It is a denser, larger blush brush that, again, has its place but will definitely be a brush chosen out of preference and application style/technique.  I typically use it for diffusing and blending out harder-to-blend out blushes or for applying bronzer.

For Liquids/Creams

I often use fingertips more than brushes (hey, less brushes to wash that way) with liquids and creams as I find application to work quite well either way, but when I use brushes, these have been my go-tos for years.

Best Makeup Brushes for Applying Highlighters
MAC 159, Real Techniques Contour

  • MAC 159S Duo Fibre Brush ($35.00) is a small-to-medium-sized, domed cheek brush that has more feathery, sparse bristles at the edge, which help with gradual, diffused application.  I haven’t noticed much difference between the new 159S (all synthetic) and the previous 159 (mix) since most of the work and feel are done by the white bristles anyway!
  • Real Techniques Contour Brush ($19.99) is a small, rounded synthetic brush that is soft, springy without being floppy, and dense.  It is, unfortunately, only available in a set of four brushes!
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40 Comments

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For powders, I typically reach for my Real Techniques Blush Brush. It’s to big & unwieldy for blush, but it fits my face well for bronzer, and is soft & fluffy enough to the point I don’t have to worry about going in too heavily. I also have a Sonia Kashuk brush, which is my HG, but it was in a set that was LE, and I haven’t found a dupe, nor has SK rereleased it… It’s big, soft, and fluffy, but tapers into a flat edge. It’s also perfect for highlighter.

For liquids & creams, I just apply with any random paddle brush, and blend out with a Real Techniques sponge, which I prefer to the Beauty Blender for this purpose. Because I also use it for my foundation, the residual product on the sponge also helps the bronzer blend better into my face.

I forgot to add for blushes! I have an old Essence of Beauty angled blush brush that I reach for 99% of the time, or the RT Multi Task brush. Another one I use on occasion is the Wet n Wild angled blush brush, which I really do like, but it’s the newest of the 3, and I tend to forget about it, especially since I don’t wear blush every day…

The Real Techniques Blush brush has been my one and only for years. It’s really good at diffusing color. I still love it for bronzer but I’m starting to fall out of love with it for blush….. it has no precision. I just bought an EcoTools Precision Blush brush and I really like it. It’s super soft, quite dense and paddle shaped (similar looking to the ones you listed under Moderate). It’s really good for firm, buildable blushes like Clinique Cheek Pops.

Looking forward to recommendations from others–I could use an affordable brush for feather-light application.

I love the bigger, denser blush brushes, but I find that the flatter, more paddle-shaped ones offer better placement sometimes, especially with pigmented shades.

I have two brushes I use for powder blushes, the Hakuhodo J5523 and MAC 168. The 168 is theoretically a contour brush but it’s fine for blush. It’s somewhat loose and fluffy, so I usually use it for more pigmented blushes. The Hakuhodo is dense and dome shaped and can really pack on color. It feels super luxe on my skin!

I also have an elf small stipple brush for cream products buuuuut I don’t love it. The MAC 159S in your picture looks similar but much nicer. I might have to get that when the elf brush inevitably breaks.

I got a random Rite Aid brand blush brush for free in a makeup exchange like 5 years ago and still use it exclusively. We don’t even have Rite Aid where I live, so I never would have discovered it otherwise!

I’m a fan of using a dense, white goat brush for blush, but I love brush and prefer a heavier application that most people. I have an angled white goat brush which I adore for blush, but I’ve had it so long that the writing is worn off and I can’t figure out what brand or model it is. I’m hankering after a Wayne Goss though, at the moment.

For people looking for vegan brushes, the Realy Techniques blush brush works really well with powders for a synthetic. It is super fluffy and has a hot pink handle. I have a couple because I like to use a ton of different blush colors over the course of a week and they hold up to washing really well, even those fast dry cleaning sprays (which I would not use on a natural brush for fear of drying it out). Best price I’ve found is on Amazon.

I love using angled blush bushes for powder blush. My Sephora Pro #49 has served me well, but I would love if anyone has recomendations for an angled brush for creams. I currently use a Real Techniques duo fiber blush brush or my Sonia Kashuk duo fiber stippling brush.

I usually drape my blush, applying it a little further back and at an angle rather than straight on the apples of my cheeks. I usually put powder on the smaller, denser end of the angled brush and trail the fluffier part behind when applying to help diffuse and blend the application.

That’s a trick question as I don’t really have a favourite brush; it’ll depend on my mood and the effect I wanna get. But here’s a list of the brushes I’ll use for blush and bronzer:

– Real Techniques Stippling Brush: perfect for cream or liquid blushes and bronzers
– Real Techniques Blush Brush: I’ll use it with my Guerlain Terracotta powder or sometimes to blend my blush
– Real Techniques Multitask Brush: same as RTBB
– Zoeva 126 Luxe Cheek Finish: great for more precise application of my Guerlain Terracotta powder, for quick blush application and with my darker or more pigmented blush like theBalm Instain blushes or Urban Decay Rapture. The brush being denser and larger, it allows me to deposit the product on the entire targeted zone before blending it; plus, theBalm Instain blushes being very pigmented and easy to overdo, their brush allows me to build them up easily
– Zoeva 106 Powder: great for all-over application of my Guerlain Terracotta powder
– Zoeva 105 Highlight brush: I sometimes use it for diffused blush application, no matter pigmentation. It’ll build up a product like Benefit CORALista perfectly, but it’ll also allow to apply theBalm Instain blushes lightly
– Smashbox Buildable Cheek Brush: last addition to my brush collection and I love it! So far I’ve used it with my theBalm Instain blushes and it’s perfect to control pigmentation

Sorry, long post again, hope that helps! 😉

Haha! You are like me 🙂 I am the same way – it would be very hard to pick just one single brush! I’d want to know more about application, the products most used, etc.

hi christine, just a suggestion, for future brush posts, you may want to use a background colour conducive to showing both black and white bristles. in the first few photos, i can hardly see the suqqu shape compared to wayne goss. perhaps grey would suit both colours and present better imagery? quite surprised frankly that you continued to post the photos!

I’m sorry the photos weren’t useful to you, Zeezee. I thought the photos were fine on my end – obviously some of the black brushes were closer to the background to my eye in a few instances, but as I had more white-tipped/brown/white brushes that I did feel the black was best as the goal was to have one photo per section! I do not have a gray background, though, so it wasn’t an option to consider for me. Thank you for your suggestions!

Out of all the different kinds of brushes, cheek brushes are my weakness. I can’t seem to get enough of them!

I recently got the Chikuhodo T-4 for applying blush, and I’m in love! One of the blushes that I always struggled with is NARS Exhibit A – gorgeous colour, but so pigmented and easy to go overboard. The T-4 applied and blended it out flawlessly. I tap on the pan, swirl on my cheeks, and I’m done! Just prior to getting the T-4, I really liked EcoTools’ Sheer Finish blush brush – it’s very soft, great at applying super pigmented blushes softly. It does take a bit more care than the T-4 though to not go overboard.

I also like the Real Techniques blush brush, however, I prefer to use them for less pigmented blushes as it builds up pigmentation nicely. My T-4 applies sheerer blushes a little TOO sheer for my liking.

For cream blushes, I’ve been using my Hourglass No. 2 brush. Once upon a time, it was my liquid foundation brush, but since I stopped wearing foundation that brush has just been sitting on my vanity. I find that it works beautifully with the cream blushes in the Natasha Denona Diamond & Blush palettes!

I like the mini powder brush from Charlotte Tilbury’s mini travel brush set too. It’s super soft and the perfect size for my cheeks.

Chikuhodo’s T-series is quite nice! Glad to hear it’s living up to your expectations so far 🙂

Appreciate your recs on EcoTools!

I have a Real Techniques blush brush that was recommended to me by a MUA at Priceline – it’s tapered to one side, if that makes sense, and it fits my cheeks perfectly.

How have I NOT seen this brush? I’ve looked at the RT Blush Brush sold here in Canada and it doesn’t look angled at all. Maybe I need to take a closer look!

Thank you so much for doing these brush posts. I always learn so much about shape/technique and what products to use.

I’m still figuring out which shape I prefer for blush application (I suspect a smaller, more precise brush is what would suit me best from what I have used).

I use the RT blush brush (which I agree, is very big) with very pigmented blushes (only do a very light tap and then lots of blend); for my cream blushes, especially Colourpop’s Super Shock Cheeks, I like the RT Stippling brush, and then going over with my WG Air Brush with finishing powder to blur out and blend the edges.

With stiffer blushes I like to use some of my older Bare Minerals goat hair brushes that I have that are more paddle shaped and pick up product well.

I also bought a Sonia Kashuk (no. 24 I think which is discontinued) which is super dense so I can only use with very light blushes and a very light hand, then I use the WG Air brush to blend and blur out the edges.

I’m very interested in the Hakuhodo J116 you mentioned, It seems like that would work well for me, although it’s maybe too small… not sure. Do you use any “angled” contour style brushes for blush application? Why or why not? Or do you have any that you like these that you could see working for blush application? Thanks Christine!

Hey Priscila,

You might find you like two brushes – maybe something smaller for application and then maybe a more general, blending/buffing style brush for any time when you need a little extra diffusion? (And I bet you already have some brushes that would do the latter!)

I’d say the 116 is more similar to the Wayne Goss Air Brush, which you have already. I don’t think I have this one, but the G5536 has a brush head of 42mm in length and is still a flatter brush at 9.2mm (per Hakuhodo). https://hakuhodousa.com/collections/blush-bronzer/products/g5536bksl-blush-brush-round-flat

I very occasionally use angled brushes, but I’m fortunate that I have a ton of blush brushes so I tend to keep my angled brushes for contour. The ones I use most often are Hakuhodo’s B512 and G511 – they’re similar, just the G511 is smaller.

I suppose you’re right… I kinda already more than one brush to apply blush products, one for application and another to buff and blend. =)

I checked out the brush you mentioned, the G5536, and I’m intrigued. I think that’s probably a better size for me and I’m going to add that to my b-day wish list. I also like the size/shape of the B512 you mentioned too.

Thank you Christine for your reply. The Hakuhodo site can be so overwhelming and intimidating to me. =)

I like the Real Techniques Blush Brush. It doens’t pick up too much color, and it diffuses it easily. That’s very important considering how pale I am.

I use it for bronzer, too, on the rare occasions I wear it. I don’t do my whole face, just where the sun touches, so RT Blush Brush works perfectly for blending that out.

My go-to blush and bronzer brushes:

Powder products:
– WG 12 is relatively new to me though I’m enjoying using it for bronzer, (stamping it on, then blending). Also like the WG 00 for bronzing the face.

– WG 15 fan brush especially when blush/bronzer is in a narrow band like TF Afternoonerer Palette or in a multi-shade compact and you want to pull out a shade or two, like Chanel’s Sunkiss Ribbons blush palette. Also great when a light hand is needed.

– WG Air Brush is great when wanting to use the same brush for bronzer and blush and don’t intend to use it for buffing pressed powder to set the look at the end.

– Bobbi Brown Angled Face Brush really good when I want the blush to hug the underside of my cheekbones. The brush works well for any intensity and when wanting to swirl a brush through multi-coloured products.

– Bobbi Brown blush brush – it’s dense but can be used for any intensity by varying how tightly you hold the brush. I reach for it when in a hurry as it gives a good placement and blends the edges easily.

– WG 14 and Holiday 2017 with medium to intense shades to build coverage slowly. (I love the glow that the Holiday 2017 brush imparts.)

– Charlotte Tilbury Powder and Sculpt brush for those difficult blushes that have an overspray or hard material that softens once a scratchy brush has gone over it.

Cream products:
– WG 10 is a current favourite for cream blushes as it really polishes the cream into the skin.

– WG 01 Anniversary Vol 1 to blend in cream bronzer and blush. I like the effect especially if I used the brush for foundation that day.

– Bobbi Brown Full Coverage brush, for cream blush and bronzer.

My preference is for an angled brush for applying blush. I’ve been using a ratty old PUR minerals “freebie” for years because I can’t find something similar to replace it – at least not something that gets a decent rating on MUA for a reasonable price.

Hallelujah I saw some TF brushes finally! I have the set, but completely agree; there are better brushes out there at a more competitive price point. I was starting to wonder if the cheek/face brushes had fallen out of favor as I’ve never experienced any other brushes beyond TF’s that are made in Japan. Thanks for the comparative posts. LOVE that you compare performance across so many brands; helps us make savvy decisions.

TF’s brushes are definitely great, and if you dig the aesthetic, they’re well-done. I love the handles – they aren’t like any other brand that I own.

Hi! I reached out to you on twitter about asking a question so I thought I’d do it here- which of the cream friendly-brushes would you most recommend for blending out ColourPop super shock cheek products? I love my blush and highlighter from them and always apply with my fingers, but I feel like beauty blenders pick up too much product and my fingers aren’t effective for blending.

I’d say the MAC 159S might be the better bet, since the bristles are more feathery, so I feel like you should be able to get the diffusion you’re after without it grabbing a lot of product.

When I apply Super Shock Cheeks, I usually use my fingertips. What I’ll do is swirl my fingertip in the pot, then I’ll pat the color where I want it and then use a clean finger and use the edge to gently blend the edges – almost like a scuffing motion but very gently.

For some reason, my absolute favorite blush brush is the Sephora Professional blush brush 49. It’s a moderately dense angled synthetic brush and mine has a silver handle and pale yellow bristles that are gray at the ends (I bought it on sale when they discontinued the silver handles). Honestly, the main reason I like it so much is it’s pretty, and its easy to see color on it (and it looks even prettier with colorful powder blush on its ends), but it puts on a sparse, blended coat of blush that’s fairly difficult to overdo. I’ve never seen the need to replace it.

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