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Best Makeup Brushes for Brows & Detail Work

Best Makeup Brushes for Brows & Detail Work

This is the last post in my series on my favorite eye brushes, and it covers the more miscellaneous brushes for brows, detail work, and the like. These are the brushes I typically rotate through each and every week like clockwork (though there are more I use in a week, but these are the ones I’ll use first!).

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


For the last couple of years, I’ve been using brow gel/creams to fill my brows (like Anastasia Dipbrow), and I prefer a stiff, angled liner or brow brush that isn’t too thin nor too thick. For grooming my brows, I’ve had no trouble using various spoolie brushes, but after discovering Smith’s angled spoolie, there was no going back!

Best Makeup Brushes for Brows & Detail Work
Smith 214, NARS 47, Zoeva #17, Smith 205

  • Smith 214 Spoolie Brush ($16.00) is an angled, spoolie brush that is excellent for grooming brows into place while simultaneously softening the brow after it’s been filled in.
  • NARS 47 Angled Eyeliner Brush ($28.00) is a thin, angled brush that’s firm and stiff but in the best of ways for a really controlled, precise application of brow color.  Mine is actually the 38, but NARS updated their brushes, and it’s now the 47 (I have both and there’s no difference in the brush head, just the handle).
  • Zoeva 317 Wing Liner ($9.80) is a strong, angled brush with a firmer feel that has just enough give to move in fluid strokes for filling in brows.  I have a few of these (they’re in a lot of the limited edition sets), and they’re always in my weekly mix of brushes to clean.
  • Smith 205 Angled Liner Brush ($) is a small-to-medium, angled brush that’s firm without being overly stiff or rough on the skin.  It’s narrow enough to yield more hair-like strokes but gets the job done quickly.

Details & Lash Line

If you’ve seen my looks, I love a good punch of color on my lower lash line, so it’ll come as no surprise that I have several picks for detail work, particularly the lower lash line. I use these brushes for depositing more intense, deeper color into my crease (typically after I’ve applied other shades) as well as for applying color and blending said color out on my lower lash line.

Best Makeup Brushes for Brows & Detail Work
Urban Decay Smoky Smudger, Hakuhodo G5548, Hakuhodo B5520, Zoeva 230

  • Urban Decay Smoky Smudger Brush (E208) ($24.00) is a small, rounded domed, synthetic brush that is excellent with powder and cream products for depositing color into the crease without losing opacity.  It also works well for diffusing and blending out areas for a very blown out, diffused look.
  • Hakuhodo G5548 Eye Shadow Brush ($27.00) is a medium, tapered pencil brush that is exceptional for depositing color into the crease (I prefer to do this after I already have done some blending work with crease/transition shades) to darken the area.  It also works well on the lower lash line! It’s like the big sister to the B5520.
  • Hakuhodo B5520 Eye Shadow Brush ($22.00) is a small, tapered pencil brush that comes to a more noticeable point at the edge, so it can deliver precise application.  I reach for this one for inner corner work as well as for when I want a very thin line of color underneath pencil eyeliner.
  • Zoeva 230 Luxe Pencil Brush ($11.50) is small enough to be precise but fluffy and rounded enough to smudge and blend eyeshadow (or liner) on the lower lash line easily.  It’s not the softest of pencil brushes (though not rough/scratchy), which I find practical for smudging pencil liner in particular.

Lower Lash Line

The first brush is my go-to for applying liquid glittery eyeshadows (like Stila’s Glitter & Glows) to my lower lash line, usually on top of another powder. The other two brushes I find particularly useful for really blown out, diffused lower lash line work.

Best Makeup Brushes for Applying Eyeshadows
Urban Decay Tightline, Hakuhodo J5529, SUQQU Eyeshadow Brush M

  • Urban Decay Tightline Brush (E213) ($22.00) is a flat, synthetic brush with a domed edge that is quite small, which makes it perfect for applying liquid and cream products to the lash line.  I tend to use it with liquid, glittery eyeshadows that function as top coats on top of my eyeliner or other eyeshadow.
  • Hakuhodo J5529 Eye Shadow Brush ($17.00) is a thin, narrower crease brush that’s a bit shorter than the average tapered, crease brush that I’ve learned to love for blending and diffusing darker eyeshadows along the lower lash line for a supremely diffused gradient of color.  It has quite a bit of give, which I think works on the lower lash line but can be too much for use in the crease.
  • SUQQU Eyeshadow Brush M (£48.00 / ¥8,000) is a small, tapered crease brush that I’ve found invaluable for diffusing matte eyeshadow underneath my lower lash line, especially along the outer portion of my lash line.  It also works well for depositing color into the crease and for more precise blending work around the crease area.  The big downside is (besides the price) availability, as it takes some legwork to get shipped to the US.


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Ginny Avatar

Morphe B5 flat liner brush, I use this every single day with cake liner to tightline or do a wing. It works so quickly, just stamp it on.

Morphe M560 which I already mentioned but it fits better in this category. It’s called “detailed crease” but it makes a quick, hazy wing with powder shadow.

Other than this I don’t do a lot of detail work, if I do I just reach for whatever little brush is clean.

Yenners Avatar

I recently discovered the Lancôme brow brush – it is a triangular shaped brush – the pointed bit is in the middle instead of the usual diagonal slant – and it has fantastic stuff bristles. I love it!! It fills in my brows beautifully each time with great precision and also good placement of colour, while still managing to give me natural looking brows. I’d highly recommend it. I love it so much that i have abandoned all my other eyebrow brushes!

Susan Avatar

Christine, besides MAC, I noticed Laura Mercier has re-done her brush line into synthetics as well. Do you think this is going to be a trend in the industry? I haven’t used synthetics except for cream eyeshadow, and I was reading the suggested instructions for the new LM powder product brushes, and it seemed… more complicated? time-consuming? I know there are many concerned with cruelty-free products, but do you think synthetics perform as well for eyeshadow & powder face products?

Christine Avatar

I think there is a push toward synthetics, and the better they get, the better it is for all of us. I’m not sure what the environmental footprint is of synthetics or if there are any ingredient/labor concerns in the process.

I haven’t tried the new LM brushes (and probably won’t buy any unless I hear tons of raves!). What they say about all the steps just seems to be consistent with what issues I’ve had using synthetics with powders (and perhaps, it’s merely because I “grew up” using naturals, so my application style is very informed by that experience) is an excessive amount of product gets picked up, dislodged from the pan, and/or fair amount of fallout during application – so Laura Mercier seems to be emphasizing to use a lighter hand with powders. Alternatively, they’re just trying to be thorough 🙂

With Anastasia’s Subculture palette, I tested synthetic and natural brushes, and it was definitely true that natural brushes kicked up less product compared to say, a fluffy, synthetic blending brush. With MAC eyeshadows, I think any differences are more minimized due to their eyeshadows having a harder press – in a way, synthetics are better for grinding, jabbing, or digging into an eyeshadow. I think synthetics work well or better than natural hair when products are denser or creamier (think silicone-heavy eyeshadow formulas).

I’m still trying to find more synthetics that I like, though, and it is a trial and error process for me as I find that they are different and so it takes me much longer to try them thoroughly (if I’m testing an eyeshadow palette for review, I can’t go in and use brushes that I’m unfamiliar with that could alter the application results!).

Karen Avatar

Do you have any opinion on the Tom Ford blending brush, I recently ordered it and have not used it yet but now after seeing this post I am wondering if I should keep or return and buy one of these?

Karen Avatar

Thank you! I couldn’t see a number on it but it was an eye shadow brush called the blend brush. I am definitely trying your recommendations thank you so much for these amazing posts they are so very helpful!

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