20 Makeup Brush Sets That Will Level Up Your Beauty Game

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They say an artist is only as good as their tools, and that's certainly true of makeup brushes. Use the wrong blush brush, for instance, and you just might wind up with clown cheeks. Grab too wide of an eyeshadow brush, on the other hand, and your perfect "smoky eye" will quickly become a smoky mess. The easiest way to ensure you've got all the proper equipment on hand to create a masterpiece from your canvas is with a great set of makeup brushes.

Whether you're looking for your first grown-up makeup brush kit or you're getting an early birthday gift for a beauty-loving pal, the abundance of choices can be a little intimidating—which is exactly why we've "brushed up" on the 20 best makeup brush sets around. Before you skip ahead to our list, here are some handy tips and tricks to consider.

The Best Makeup Brush Sets at a Glance

What to Look for in Makeup Brush Materials:

  • Bristles: Makeup brushes are made with either natural bristles, which come from animal hair, or, far more commonly, synthetic bristles, which can be made of anything from nylon to taklon and polyester. While some believe natural bristles offer more even application due to their natural ability to spread out when pressure is applied, they can be difficult to clean and may shed more than synthetic materials. They also have a coating on the hairs called a "cuticle" that lifts and absorbs skin oil, which can be helpful for application with powder-based products. Manufactured bristles, on the flip side, are ideal for liquid or cream makeup and are also more animal-friendly. Regardless of which type you prefer, brush bristles should always feel soft and smooth.
  • Handles: Brush handles can be made of many different materials, from wood to bamboo or even metal. As long as they're balanced and comfortable, they should get the job done. You'll also want to consider the length of the brushes's handles, as short ones can provide better control and precision, while longer handles force a lighter touch for a more natural look.

How Many Different Makeup Brushes Do You Need?

The next thing to consider when shopping for a makeup brush set is the size. Are you seeking a few basic brushes that will do most of your daily heavy lifting for you or an all-encompassing 24-piece collection that will enable you to experiment with lots of different looks? While the latter will have everything you need to handle anything from lined lips to full-coverage foundation, the former can be useful if you're short on storage space (and take more of a minimalist approach to makeup).

Types of Makeup Brushes

  • Foundation brush: This brush is designed to apply your liquid or cream foundation evenly for a flawlessly smooth makeup base.
  • Stippling brush: For a more lightweight foundation application, you can try a stippling brush, which allows you to press the product into your skin instead of sweeping or buffing it.
  • Powder brush: Long and fluffy, this brush is ideal for loose powders.
  • Blush brush: As the name implies, you can use this one to get a more concentrated application of powder or cream blush, right where you want it.
  • Angled contour brush: For something like bronzer, which requires a more contoured application, you can try an angled brush, which is meant to deposit with minimal fallout.
  • Kabuki brush: With a flat top and tons of bristles, this versatile pick is great for blending everything from powder and blush to cream highlighter or bronzer—you name it!
  • Fan brush: This uniquely shaped design helps to distribute highlighter more evenly for an über-natural application.
  • Eyeshadow brush: There are different sizes and types of eyeshadow brushes, but for the most part, you'll want an all-over one for base hues and a blending eyeshadow brush for your crease.
  • Liner brush: For powder or gel liners, you can use this tool to get a finely defined line.
  • Concealer brush: Liquid or cream concealer will be applied with more pigment using one of these brushes than it would with your fingers alone.
  • Lip brush: When applying darker lipstick shades, a brush like this will help you get a more clearly defined line—and fill it in.

How to Clean Makeup Brushes

Taking good care of your makeup brushes will not only ensure that your cosmetic investment lasts longer, it will help to eliminate a natural build-up of dirt, germ and oils from your face that can cause irritated eyes or skin. Regular gentle cleaning (once a day for brushes that touch cream or liquid products, once a week for those that handle powders) with either hypoallergenic dish soap or facial cleanser and warm (not hot) water is all it takes to rid your tools of gunk and grime.

Make sure to hold them upside down as you wash them so as to avoid getting water on the handles (this is especially important if they're wood, since wood is porous and water can cause them to expand). In order to avoid shedding or thinning out of the soft bristles, you should also carefully squeeze out any excess water and let your brushes air dry overnight, so they'll be ready for their next use.

Every Type of Makeup Brush, Explained

1. Zoreya Makeup Brush Set

Best Full Makeup Brush Set

  • Comes with: 12 brushes, 1 sponge
  • What we like: includes a variety of brushes, comes with a holder
  • What we dislike: n/a

This 12-piece set from Zoreya has all the makeup brushes you'll need to do a full face, from its large powder brushes to its brow and lash tools—you'll even get a blending sponge. Its synthetic bristles are completely cruelty-free, and its wooden handles have an ergonomic design that makes them more comfortable to hold—just ask the more than 1,000 glowing reviewers who adore this set, which fits neatly inside its included cylinder holder.

2.  Artis Elite Makeup Brush Set

Best Expensive Makeup Brush Set

  • Comes with: 10 brushes
  • What we like: brushes are sturdily made and the synthetic bristles are super soft
  • What we dislike: high price point

When you're looking for the best of the best, you can't go wrong with these luxe brushes from Artis, which are often used by makeup pros backstage at runway shows. This set can easily be used by amateurs as well, however, for top-notch results. It includes 10 synthetic CosmeFibre brushes for applying everything from liquid, cream and powder foundations to eyeshadows, eyeliners and lipsticks. The brushes themselves are fine for precise, effortless application, and they’re long-lasting and won't fall apart.

3. Sonia Kashuk Essential Collection Complete Makeup Brush Set

Best Makeup Brush Set Value

  • Comes with: 10 brushes
  • What we like: brushes give an airbrushed finish, vegan
  • What we dislike: bristles shed occasionally

Not only does the two-tone design of these brushes give them an ultra-chic aesthetic, the nylon bristles allow for airbrush-quality blending for both liquid and powder products. The brushes themselves range from round, pointed, flat and fanned shapes, all of which have easy-grip metal handles. One reviewer also reported that this vegan set does a great job of not absorbing too much precious product.

4. BS-Mall Makeup Brush Set

Best Cheap Makeup Brush Set

  • Comes with: 14 brushes
  • What we like: brushes are labeled, comes with a canister for easy storing when not in use
  • What we dislike: occasional shedding of bristles

This amazing kit is beloved by Amazon shoppers (seriously—it has more than 86,000 reviews!) for the name-brand quality at the affordable price point. There are 14 individually labeled brushes with wooden handles, and beginners will appreciate the included instruction book that details how to use all your new items. The bristles are synthetic, and there's also an included canister for storage.

5. Docolor Eyeshadow Makeup Brush Set

Best Eyeshadow Makeup Brush Set

  • Comes with: 15 brushes
  • What we like: comes with every type of brush you'll need for creating any eye look, neon-colored brushes are fun
  • What we dislike: doesn't include any brushes for the rest of your face

In order to get the beautifully defined look you want for your eye area, you'll want to choose a makeup brush set with slender grips, so that you're not fumbling around. This sleek neon-colored set has wonderfully slim aluminum-wooden handles that will allow you to focus on your makeup rather than your grip. With multiple brushes for shadow, blending, shading, defining and more, you can get as detailed as you want to be, and the vegan bristles reportedly hold up well, too, making for a set you can use for years to come.

6. Jenny Patinkin Sustainable Luxury Dual-Ended Makeup Brush Set

Prettiest Makeup Brush Set

  • Comes with: 6 dual-ended brushes
  • What we like: brushes are very soft and dual-ended to take up less space, comes with a luxe carrying case
  • What we dislike: higher price point

Leave it to Jenny Patinkin to take an everyday makeup basic next level. The makeup guru's clever kit comes with a selection of six dual-ended brushes that we're loving, including a full coverage face brush, eyeshadow and eyeliner brush, so as to guide you through your application beginning to end. The real star of the show, however, just might be that buttery soft faux leather case, which is perfect for your next vacay.

7. Emaxdesign Makeup Brush Set

Best Bamboo Makeup Brush Set

  • Comes with: 12 brushes, 1 sponge
  • What we like: brushes are made with fluffy nylon bristles and a bamboo handle
  • What we dislike: doesn't come with a carrying case

This makeup brush set is made of super-soft nylon fibers with a high-quality bamboo grip, and that's good news, since bamboo is highly sustainable (it can reportedly grow up to 3 feet in 24 hours if the conditions are right!), strong and durable and has naturally antibacterial properties in the wild. The bristles, meanwhile, are reportedly silky and luxurious. As an added bonus, you'll get a latex- and allergen-free blender sponge that will be gentle on sensitive skin.

8. Sephora Collection Complete Brush Set

Best Basic Makeup Brush Set

  • Comes with: 7 brushes
  • What we like: brushes are synthetic and soft, streamlined set
  • What we dislike: doesn't include a lip brush

With this Sephora Collection set, the only brushes you'll need for a flawless face are the powder, foundation, crease, concealer and shadow ones found here. The bristles are wonderfully soft, say shoppers, and use synthetic materials that which won't irritate your skin.

9. Real Perfection Makeup Brush Set

Best Wood Makeup Brush Set

  • Comes with: 16 brushes
  • What we like: diverse set of brushes including wider, kabuki styles and fine-tipped precision brushes
  • What we dislike: not the longest lasting set on this list

This impressive 16-piece makeup brush set includes five big kabuki makeup brushes for blending to your heart's content and 11 precision brushes, all of which come in an attractive rose gold color—it even includes an eyebrow shaver. All in all, it's one of the more diverse collections on this list. We also love the sturdy wooden handles.

10. Artis Elite Gifting Holiday Makeup Brush Set 

Best Holiday Makeup Brush Set

  • Comes with: 5 brushes, 2 brush cleansing foams, 2 zippered pouches
  • What we like: comes with two separate set of brushes, cleansers and pouches so you can gift one and keep one for yourself
  • What we dislike: higher price point

This sleek and shareable collection from pro-favorite brand Artis is ideal for gifting. The set includes five brushes to help create controlled looks for the eyes and cheeks, making them ideal for even serious contouring and highlighting aficionados. The classy red leather case, meanwhile, makes it a perfect holiday gift for your friend (although there’s no shame in treating yourself either—especially seeing as how the set comes with a couple extra brushes, another case and a bottle of cleansing foam.)

11. Ducare Duo Makeup Brush Set

Best Makeup Brush Set for Minimalists

  • Comes with: 2 brushes
  • What we like: brushes are super fluffy, very streamlined set
  • What we dislike: there aren't any brush options for creating detailed eye or lip looks

If simplicity is the name of your game, this dual-ended makeup brush duo might just be tailor-made for you. In this package, you'll get two double-sided brushes that will have you blending, buffing and contouring, all without the hassle of too many items overrunning your space.

12. Nevsetpo Professional Makeup Brush Set

Best Makeup Brush Selection

  • Comes with: 15 brushes, 2 sponges, 1 sponge cleaning pad
  • What we like: set includes everything you'd need to create any makeup look, brushes are soft and sturdy
  • What we dislike: might be excessive for the average makeup user, not the most space-efficient pick

This quality collection comes with all that you would expect from a makeup brush kit but also has some bonuses that will be a welcome addition to your cosmetics routine. Along with five regular kabuki style brushes, you'll be treated to both a large and small fan brush, an eyelash and eyebrow spoolie and multiple smudge brushes to help create a your most detailed, eye-catching looks. They're made so as not to shed and have nice, solid wood handles. Bonus: It also comes with two makeup sponges and a cleaning pad for all of your tools.

13. Docolor Rainbow Makeup Brush Set

Most Colorful Makeup Brush Set

  • Comes with: 15 brushes
  • What we like: brushes are vibrant and easy to spot in any makeup bag
  • What we dislike: bristles aren't as sturdy as some others on the list

For a colorful makeup set that's just as vivid as you, feast your eyes on this vibrant 15-piece kit from Docolor. Backed with durable handles and soft bristles, these come with bright, cheerful splashes of bold colors that Andy Warhol fans will no doubt appreciate. It's got aluminum ferrules (that's the part of the brush that connects the handle to the bristles) that won't easily deform, and a medium-sized handle that won't be too tough to grip.

14. Morphe Rosé Away Travel Brush Set 

Best Mini Makeup Brush Set

  • Comes with: 6 brushes
  • What we like: brushes are densely packed, mini handles are great for travel
  • What we dislike: there are fewer brush options for creating detailed eye or lip looks

You won’t want to miss out on the mini brush set from Morphe. Perfect for traveling, this set comes with six mini brushes. More specifically? One for powders, one for blush and bronzer, one for concealer, one for a supremely smooth eyeshadow application, a smudger brush with densely packed bristles for that sexy smoky eye and one for blending everything out. Even the case is made for easy packing, with snap enclosures and a flat bottom for standing up on any countertop.

15. Ecotools Makeup Brush Set

Best Cruelty-Free Makeup Brush Set

  • Comes with: 5 brushes
  • What we like: brushes are cruelty-free and vegan, PETA approved
  • What we dislike: there are fewer brush options for creating detailed eye or lip looks

For a fantastic animal-friendly alternative to natural options on the market, there's this five-piece brush set that's made with 100 percent cruelty-free, vegan materials. The brand has been backed by even famous eco warriors, such as Alicia Silverstone, and every piece of this kit, from the angled foundation and blurring brush to the angled liner brush, has been PETA-approved.

16. Real Techniques Makeup Brush Set

Best Makeup Brush Set for Beginners

  • Comes with: 4 brushes, 1 sponge
  • What we like: brushes are streamlined and soft, also includes a makeup sponge for versatility and blending
  • What we dislike: there are fewer brush options for creating detailed eye or lip looks

With four brushes and one sponge, Real Techniques gives you a nice starter set that will be perfect for your basic makeup and blending needs without being overwhelming. You'll get a bronzer and highlighter brush, a blush brush, a concealer brush, an eyeshadow brush and a makeup sponge. Each one is labeled so that you know exactly what to use it for, and buyers say they're surprisingly sturdy, too.

17. Shany Artisan’s Easel Makeup Brush Set

Best Large Makeup Brush Set

  • Comes with: 18 brushes
  • What we like: comes in a water- and dust- resistant case that has secure elastics for each brush
  • What we dislike: n/a

The next time you're in a rush to put on your makeup, you'll be thankful for the conveniently laid out design of this large professional kit. Each of its 18 brushes have their own designated spot in the carrying case and are held in place with specially designed elastics. More impressively, the water- and dust-resistant case can be made to stand upright like an artist's easel, so your brushes will be at the ready. The bristles are a blend of synthetic and natural materials, too, so you'll get the best of both worlds.

18. Eigshow Professional Makeup Brush Set

Best Eco-Friendly Makeup Brush Set

  • Comes with: 12 brushes
  • What we like: made with eco-friendly materials, vegan, cruelty-free
  • What we dislike: the green packaging isn't at all subtle

If you want to turn out stunning looks without harming the environment, then this makeup brush set could be the ideal option. The handles are made from coffee and tea-based plant material that forms a delightful water-wave pattern, while the bristles have been created from soft, synthetic hairs that render the entire collection vegan and cruelty-free. Even the carrying case adds to its sustainability, as it's designed from recyclable materials.

19. IT Brushes For ULTA Your Beautiful Basics Airbrush 101 Makeup Brush Set

Best Makeup Brush Set for An Airbrushed Finish

  • Comes with: 5 brushes
  • What we like: made with very soft, fluffy bristles for easy blending, comes with a carrying case
  • What we dislike: doesn't include any detail brushes for eyeliner, eyebrows or lips; not as sturdy as some other IT brushes we've tried in the past

Created in collaboration just for Ulta Beauty, this five-piece collection from IT Cosmetics features a powder, foundation, concealer, and two eyeshadow brushes. The bristles on these are so incredibly soft that they were described as "bunny butts" by one reviewer. One downside to them? Because of how tightly edited the collection is, you won't be getting any eye-or lip-lining brushes.

20. Memebox Pony Effect Pro Touch Brush Set

The Underrated Brush Set

  • Comes with: 8 brushes
  • What we like: pro brushes are made with soft bristles for easy blending, comes with a zippered carrying case
  • What we dislike: limited edition (so you better snag one while it's still available)

IYKYK: This well-rounded set was curated by Pony aka Park Hye-Min, who is a famous Korean makeup artist, blogger and beauty YouTuber with over 8.7 million followers on Instagram alone. The set includes a powder brush for the face, as well as a highlighter and contour brush, and several eye brushes for smudging, lining and blending your shadows—plus, an eyebrow spoolie and coordinated pink carrying case.

How Often Should You Wash Your Makeup Brushes? (Psst It's More Than You Think)

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Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director (and resident skincare expert) who is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of the latest beauty products, trends and ingredients over the last 10 years. Equally comfortable in front of the camera as she is behind a computer screen, she always aims to deliver information that's educational, entertaining and accessible to all. On that note, please subscribe to Youngish, her weekly beauty newsletter for millennials here or find her on Instagram (where she will happily reply to any DMs regarding nail polish, sunscreen and K-Pop sensation, BTS).

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Desirée O is a freelance writer who loves to track down the best products and share the hottest deals. She's written for Adweek, Best Life, Brit+Co and more. When she's not doing...

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Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...