We’ve all heard the rule “Good ain’t cheap, and cheap ain’t good,” right? Well, that rule certainly doesn’t apply to makeup brushes! Once upon a time, back in my beauty school days and when I worked for Lancome, I would have shuddered at the thought of a cheapy $3 eyeshadow brush. I mean, how good could that be? Nowadays, as a mom of 3 running, a busy household on a budget, I’m always looking for the best deal, and spending $20-$30 on one makeup brush is just out of the question. Cosmetic brushes have come a long way in recent years, and I’ve found quite a few great quality brushes that give professional results and that don’t break the bank.
All of these brushes shown here are from e.l.f. Cosmetics- one of my favorite inexpensive makeup lines that can be found at Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and online. I tend to get a lot of my stuff at Target, AKA, my favorite place ever, but I also love browsing elfcosmetics.com because there are some products online that are exclusive to their online collection and can’t be found in stores. I also love to read reviews while I browse their latest products, that way I avoid grabbing something that’s just going to sit in a drawer or end up tossed in the garbage can.
I love love love my e.l.f. brushes. Like seriously…I can’t say it enough. Did I mention I love them?! I cannot believe how cheap they are, and these are not crappy, cheap brushes either! They are great quality and have a professional, luxurious feel to them. All e.l.f. brushes are made with synthetic, tapered fibers, so they don’t feel rough or scratchy, but are soft and feel really nice on my skin.They also don’t shed or leave hairs on your face- a huge annoyance for any makeup wearer. Another bonus: they’re cruelty-free and vegan friendly, which makes them the ultimate guilt-free beauty tool. You can stock up and just spend a little without sacrificing the quality. I’ve compared some of them to my high end, expensive brushes and there is virtually no difference, except for the price.
Here’s a roundup of my favorite cheap brushes and what I use them for:
e.l.f. Ultimate Blending Brush | $6 This is the best foundation brush I’ve found so far. It’s got a large dome-shaped head with densely packed bristles that pick up the perfect amount of foundation, whether it’s powder, liquid, cream, or mousse. I can seamlessly blend my liquid foundation with little effort, creating a flawless, professional looking finish. Ditch the sponge and try this brush! You’ll never look back.
e.l.f. Total Face Brush | $2 I love how soft and fluffy this brush is. It’s great for applying powder, like e,l.f.’s High Definition Powder. Just a light dusting with this brush and my foundation is set. Plus, it’s only 2 bucks!
e.l.f. Contouring Brush | $6 If you’re into highlighting and contouring (HAC), even if you’re just a beginner like me, you need this brush. It has a short, structured shape with dense bristles, perfect for creating dimension along the cheekbones, forehead, and jawline for contouring. I use e.l.f.’s contour palette with this brush and get some amazing results- you can really make your cheekbones pop! I know HAC can seem intimidating, but this brush makes it easy. Pair it with this cheat sheet and you’re good to go.
e.l.f. Small Stipple Brush | $3 I fell in love with this brush when I used it to apply e.l.f.’s HD Blush. It’s two layers of bristles give me a lovely, natural, airbrush look on my cheeks and can provide sheer to heavy coverage with powder, cream, or liquid products (cream blushes, concealers, foundation, etc). It’s a really unique feel with the long and short bristle combination and is perfect for your cheeks. It works so much better than using your fingertips for cream blush!
e.l.f. Eyeshadow “C” Brush | $3 This is the eyeshadow brush. Seriously. It’s soft and absorbent, so it really grabs onto the product and gives you a lot of control when applying color to the lids and crease. It creates a beautiful smokey eye and is super blendable. The bristles are also antibacterial and the brush can be used with wet or dry shadow.
e.l.f. Contour (shadow) Brush | $3 Not to be confused with the above mentioned Contouring Brush, I use this small, dome-shaped Contour Brush to blend out my shadow along my brow bone, crease area, and also to add depth to the corner of my eyes. It also works well to concentrate pigment on the lids and blend into the crease. When I first bought this brush I remember telling my mom “I can’t believe how much I love this $3 brush!” It’s amazing for blending.
e.l.f. Lash and Brow Comb | $3 I use this duel sided brush to comb and groom my brows into place, and it’s also great for combing out mascara clumps. It’s always great to have one of these in your brush collection, and everyone should be grooming those brows.
e.l.f. Angled Eyeliner Brush | $3 This brush is perfect when paired with e.l.f.’s Cream Eyeliner. The thin, soft, pointed brush is perfectly angled to get cream or gel liner right up against the lash line, and creates an amazing winged liner effect. People are always asking me how I do my eye liner, and this is it!
These are my top 8 favorite brushes, all hand-picked by me, and would make a lovely addition to any budget-savvy makeup lover’s collection. You can have nice things and not spend a ton of money. You can get professional looking results without having to spending a ton. You don’t have to sacrifice quality for cheap brushes. Whether you’re just dipping your toes into the makeup world, or even if you’re an experienced makeup guru, these brushes are the best bang for your buck!