Top Ten Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own | Beauty Over 40

Nordstrom offers free in store makeup tutorials and makeup application for special occasions

Nordstrom In Store Services

If you have any beauty questions, whether it’s about makeup brushes, makeup application, or skincare…
Don’t forget you can always take advantage of the FREE in store services at Nordstrom.

The in store beauty experts can also do your makeup for special occasions like weddings, galas, and reunions!

Just book an appointment online here.
(about a week in advance.)

I needed a bit of help with my brush blog, so I contacted two Nordstrom experts, in the Denver and San Antonio stores.

10 makeup brushes every woman should own, including contouring, blush, powder, foundation, blending, pencil, liner, etc

Top 10 Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own

Moving to Colorado, and into a home with 3000 LESS square feet, is forcing me to minimize everything, even makeup.

This process of finding the TOP TEN must have makeup brushes has been wonderful.
It has inspired me to take a good hard look at my own makeup brush collection, and weed out the old and outdated ones.
I am also now ONLY using these key brushes (+ a few extras), which is quite freeing… and I believe saves a great deal of time.

When to Replace Your Brushes

If you take care of your brushes, washing them at least once a month,  they should last for years.

You will know it’s time to replace your makeup brushes when:

1) They are shedding like crazy
2) They are misshapen
3) The handle is broken

Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own, these are the brushes for the face

For the Face

Let’s start with the face. I’m going to try and list the brushes in order of use.

Nordstrom beauty experts recommend you invest more money in your ‘face‘ brushes, and save on your ‘eye‘ brushes.

Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own, this is a dense synthetic tom ford foundation brush


#1 | Foundation Brush

The brush I’m holding (above) is by Tom Ford.  Tom Ford #01.
Mention a Tom Ford brush to a beauty expert, and it always elicits the same giddy reaction.
Basically, Tom Ford can do no wrong.

This foundation ‘brush’ will give more coverage. The denser the brush, the better…so more product goes on your face, versus the brush.
(Saves you money in the long run because you use less makeup).

This TF brush also has a flat shape, with a domed tip, to help you apply more easily in the corners of your eyes, and around the nose.

Shop All Foundation Brushes Here.

Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own | Using a purple beauty blender to sheer out foundation for a more air brush like finish


Airbrush Finish

If you are like me and you prefer more natural coverage, sheer out your foundation application with a sponge like this one.

The newer ‘oval‘ foundation brushes like this one are also very popular.

Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own, this is a fluffy powder brush, short handle by Mac, Mac 129SH

MAC #129SH

#2 | Powder Brush

When it comes to powder brushes, bigger is not always better. And, you do NOT have to sweep powder all over your face.

You can choose a medium size, slightly domed, feathery brush, like this one (above) by Mac (Mac #129SH).
It will apply powder more strategically…where you need it most, along the forehead, bridge of the nose and chin.
Nordstrom beauty experts suggest keeping cheeks bare for a more natural look.

These “SH” or short-handled brushes are also wonderful for travel!

Shop All Powder Brushes Here.

Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own, this is a charlotte tilbury contour brush to contour cheeks and jawline


#3 | Contour Brush

The tapered end of this “Charlotte Tilbury Powder & Sculpt Brush” makes it ideal for sculpting your face.
Easily shade the hollows of your cheeks, the jawline, and the nose with this brush.

You can also use this brush to apply powder along the t-zone.

Shop All Contour Brushes Here

Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own, this is a blush brush to apply on the apples of the cheeks

MAC #168

#4 | Blush Brush

The “Mac 168 Large-Angled Contour Brush” can pull double duty, both as a blush AND contour brush.
The Nordstrom beauty expert I spoke with said she prefers it for blush application.
Apply blush in a circular motion at the apples of the cheeks.
The angle will help with precision. It is also fluffy enough, so even if you are heavy-handed, it gives you a lighter application.

Shop All Blush Brushes Here.

Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own, this is a fluffy highlighter brush to dust across the tops of the cheeks

Top Ten Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own | Mac 187 duo fibre highlight and contour brush, large angled for perfectly highlighted cheeks


#5 | Highlight Brush

This “Mac 187 Duo Fibre Face Brush” is incredibly soft and fluffy… creating the perfect subtle sweep of highlighter across your cheekbones.
(See my cheekbones after application above)

You can also choose a smaller, more tapered and precise brush like this one to apply your highlighter.

Shop All Highlighter Brushes Here

Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own, these are the brushes for the eyes

For the Eyes…

Now let’s move onto the eyes!
There are SO many eye brush options, it can be VERY overwhelming.
While researching this post, I actually got rid of 50 brushes.

F I F T Y!

I had an obscene amount… three-quarters of which… I never used.

My suggestion is to simplify your brush collection, only keeping the essentials. This will save you precious time getting ready in the morning.
Not to mention help you avoid frustration! How many times have you asked yourself, “Where is that brush?”

Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own, this one is an eyeshadow shader brush to pack color all over lid


#6 | Eye Shader

This “Mac 239 Eye Shader Brush” is the one you use to apply eye shadow all over the lid.
If you turn it so the tip of the brush is facing the eye, it is also great for packing shadow on the lid.

The Nordstrom beauty expert I spoke with suggested using this one for an all-over eye shadow application from the lash line to the brow.

I’ve used this one for over a year and it’s great!

Shop All Eye Brushes Here

Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own, this one is an eyeshadow blending brush to apply in crease


#7 | Blending Brush

This “Mac 217 Blending Brush” might be my favorite eye shadow brush of all time!
The oval shape, density and softness… make this brush ideal for creating a fool-proof, perfect crease.
It’s a no-brainer, and you will LOVE it!

Shop All Eye Brushes Here

Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own, this one is an pencil brush


#8 | Pencil Brush

This “Mac 219 Pencil Brush” is great for packing shadow onto the lid along the lash line.
It is also ideal for blending out liner or shadow liner along the lash line.

Shop All Eye Brushes Here

Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own, this one is an eyeshadow eyeliner brush to line eyes along lashlines


#9 | Eyeliner Brush

This “Mac 226 Small Angle Brush” is great for adding shadow in a very precise way.
The small angled brush makes it easy to wing out shadow or simply line the eyes, both along the lower and upper lash line.

Using this brush enables me to skip traditional “eyeliner” and use shadow liners instead.
(Saving me time and giving me more options).

Shop All Eyeliner Brushes Here

Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own, this one is an eyeshadow fluffy blending brush


#10 | Fluffy Blending Brush

Not to be confused with the “Mac 217 Blending Brush” (above) the “Mac 224 Tapered Blending Brush” is in a category all its own.
This is the brush you use last on your eyes, to blend out any excess shadows, or more seamlessly blend the crease.

It is soft, light and fluffy so it will undo most mistakes, by blending out the extra shadow.
I use this brush pretty mush every day!

Shop All Eye Brushes Here

Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own, Mac 195 Concealer Brush for under eye concealer application

Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own, charlotte tilbury retoucher concealer for under eyes

But What About…?

I know what you’re thinking…
Whaaattt? No concealer brush? What about the brows???

Again, in an effort to save time, I buy products with built in brushes.


For my concealer, I buy the Charlotte Tilbury “Retoucher Conceal & Treat” stick (pictured above), which has a built in brush.

If you want a more traditional concealer brush for spots and blemishes, I recommend “Mac 195 Concealer Brush,” (see above).

Eye Brows

And, for my brows, I use Anastasia “Brow Wiz” brow pencil with a spool brush on one end to brush my brows.

To add color or definition to my brows, I simply reuse the “Mac 226 Small Angle” brush (above).


Makeup Brushes Every Woman Should Own, these are the brushes for both the face and the eyes


Shop All Brushes

Don’t forget to book your in store makeup application tutorial with Nordstrom here.
It’s an awesome service that is FREE…
You can ask to use any/all brands.

5-Minute Makeup Routine, before and after pictures

More Beauty!

If you loved this post, be sure to check out “My 5-Minute Makeup Routine
(pictured above).

You may also enjoy the smokey GREEN EYE look I did here.
Or my wavy hair tutorial here.


Please let me know if you have any questions.
Don’t forget to subscribe to my exclusive newsletter.

HUGE thank you to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post.
All products were purchased and picked out by me.
All thoughts are my own.

Thank you SO much for stopping by!

 Erin Busbee signature



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