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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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!