I wholeheartedly believe in the idea that the best investment a person can make in their makeup application is in their application tools. Brushes, eyelash curlers, beauty sponges. High quality makeup brushes in particular will last you a lifetime. I have had some brushes for over ten years now and they’re still going strong. Using high quality tools really does take your eyeshadow to a whole new level.
Most of brushes that I am recommending today are on the higher end, and many of them are handmade by artisans in the city of Kumano, Japan. Yes, this sounds extraordinarily boujee but I can truly feel the difference when it comes to high eye brushes. These artisans have been making brushes for generations and they pick out the best quality animal hairs to make their brushes. The goat hair in a Japanese brush is not the same as the goat hair in a $3 brush from Ulta.
I’ve tried certain cheap brush brands that are pedaled by Makeup gurus on Youtube *cough* MORPHE *cough* and they are always scratchy and end up frayed and messy after a few washes. Quality brushes are absolutely worth the investment – it’s a one time cost that will last for years and years! That being said, I’m a lot less picky about my face brushes and love drugstore options such as Real Techniques and Elf’s $3 studio line.
ANYWAY. Here are my top 5 picks for eye brushes I think everyone needs!
1. Flat Blending Brush – Hakuhodo J5523
If you’re going to buy ONE type of brush from this entire pot, this would be my pick. You can do a lot with cheap brushes, and even with your fingers, but you can’t blend eyeshadow with your fingers.
I use this brush every day I wear eye makeup, whether it’s to apply one color across the entire lid, such as urban decay smog or MAC satin taupe, or to build up gradients. Hakuhodo is known for their high quality brushes which are handmade by artisans Kumano, Japan. It is honestly so, so soft, I could run it across my eyelids all day long without irritation. I bought this brush when I was in Japan at the Hakuhodo store in Kyoto but you can also buy it online.
I love this brush so much I have it in like 8 different brands, including the original MAC 217 which popularized this brush shape. I don’t recommend the new 217s, but below are some alternatives that I have own and like.
Alternatives: Wayne Goss 18 (made in Japan) Volare E03 (Made in Japan) Sonia G Worker Pro (made in Japan) Sigma E35 (not as great as Hakuhodo but an okay alternative) Zoeva 227 (synthetic, not as great as Hakuhodo but cheaper)
2. Detailed blending brush – Hakuhodo J5529
Another Hakuhodo recommendation – this brush is perfect for micro blending. I use it for adding depth and dark colors to the outer corner of my eye and also for blending out my lower lash line. If you have smaller eyes (like me), this brush is a must have!
3. Large fluffy blending brush – Chikuhodo GSN-10
Chikuhodo is another Japanese brand. I love this brush so much, I have 3 of this exact one, and a few other versions in different brands!
This is a great all purpose blending brush. I normally don’t use it to apply color, but rather use it to blend out harsh lines and melt different colors together. I know Hakuhodo makes a great version of this brush too, which I haven’t tried, but I will link it below as an alternative.
Alternatives: Volare E02 (made in Japan) Hakuhodo J142 (made in Japan) Wayne Goss 17 (made in Japan) Sigma E40 (made in China and synthetic, not nearly as soft but similar shape) Zoeva 227 (made in China, synthetic, not as soft but a cheaper alternative)
4. Small flat shader brush – Volare E06
This is another must have for everyone who has small eyes. I find it easier to control packing color onto my lids with this brush, especially for more precise application where I’m only interested in putting a color on the inner corner of the eye, or the outer half.
Alternatives: Hakuhodo J242
5. Large flat shader brush – Hakuhodo J004G
This is the shader brush that probably works best for most eye shapes and sizes. It’s perfect for packing on all over color or adding shimmer to the eyelid. I actually only use this brush and the Volare brush above for shading because they are so easily to clean between washes with my Color Switch.
Thank you for reading!
What are your favorite eyeshadow brushes?
Disclaimer: All brushes featured in this post were purchased by me and are not sponsored. The images and text are my own. Several links are affiliate links, but all other links are regular links.