Essential Makeup Brushes

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Makeup brushes are a funny thing.  They can be insanely expensive or incredibly cheap.  There are makeup artists out there that tell you to just use your fingers, and some who swear you need every brush out there.  

As a beauty writer and blogger, I tend to fall somewhere in the middle.  I like to use my fingers to apply things like my foundation and concealer, though I blend with a BeautyBlender sponge or a brush.  I have a ton of makeup brushes, but reach most often for the same 3 or 4 eye brushes, all of which cost under $5.
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Eye Shadow Fluff

This is perhaps the most basic of eyeshadow brushes, it's the major workhorse of my eye brushes.  

I use a medium fluff to place shadow over my entire eye, larger fluffs are perfect for a lighter wash of color.

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Angled Shadow Brush

A bit more specialized than the fluff, the angle can be used to sweep shadow over a large area or concentrating a dark shadow into your outer "V."
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Pencil Brush

The pencil brush is usually stiffer and more tapered than the fluff brushes, making them ideal for strategic placement of shadow.  I love to use them to place a highlight in my inner corner.
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Crease Brush

Slightly bigger than the pencil brush, it can be up to the size of a typical eye blending brush.  Use this to sweep a medium toned shadow onto your lid, aiming for the area just above your crease to help open up the eye and add depth.
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Eye Liner Brush

The liner brush comes in flat and angled versions, it is up to you which one you use.  The bristles are much stiffer than the other brushes, making them ideal for applying gel liners down into your lash line.
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Smudge Brush

Similar to the fluff brush but with shorter bristles, this brush has a huge array of uses.  It can apply darker shadows to your outer "v", contour your crease or smudge your liner for the perfect smoky eye.
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Concealer Brush

Concealer brushes are usually synthetic, the better for evenly spreading concealer.  The bristles are flexible, ideal for using this flat brush to gently pat concealer onto problem areas.
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Foundation Brush

A larger version of the concealer brush, though foundation brushes are easier to find in natural bristles than the concealer brush.  
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Blush Brush

This brush is usually very soft, slightly domed and fits on the apple of your cheek.  Go bigger for a less intense, glowy application or smaller for a more intense application.
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Powder Brush

A big fluffy brush that is designed for a lighter application of a powdered product.  Perfect for bronzer, translucent powder or highlighter.
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Contour Brush

An angled version of the blush brush, this brush is usually ideal contouring under the cheeks, applying highlighter or blending face powder.
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Blending Sponge

There are a lot of blending sponges out there, all based on the original egg sponge, the BeautyBlender.  

The sponge can be used wet or dry, for application or blending. The best results come from rolling the sponge or stippling rather than sweeping it across the skin.
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Kabuki Brush

Most kabukis have no handle, they are similar to a powder brush but more densely packed.  You could use them for application, but are better suited for blending of face products.
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Skunk Brush

There are many sizes of skunk brushes.  Their bristles are very flexible and the brushes are not densely packed.  While you could use them for application, they're great for blending face products.
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