The 10 best make-up brush sets
Keep your face looking flawless wherever you go with these handbag-friendly make-up brush sets. Sarah Young reports
The right make-up brush can make all the difference to perfecting your look but with so many to choose from it's hard to know where to start. The first hurdle to tackle is whether to go synthetic or natural. Well, natural make-up brushes are typically made from animal hair meaning they move freely and allow you to pick up product in just one swipe so they're especially great for powders. Synthetic fibres on the other hand are constructed from manmade bristles giving them extra precision and making them perfect for liquid or cream products.
The true test of a good brush is in the strength of the bristle so be sure to run the brush against your hand before your purchase for any sneaky fallout from the fibres. If it's super-soft and stays intact, it's a keeper.
1. Morphe Brushes 11 Piece Sable Brush Set: £31.50, Cult Beauty
This Californian brand is well-known for its professional-grade make-up tools and sumptuous palettes so we had high hopes and thankfully this 11-brush kit didn't disappoint. The mix of natural and synthetic brushes means you can apply creams, liquids and powders perfectly to deliver a flawless, airbrushed finish and improve overall makeup application. Housed in a portable black faux-leather roll, this is a travel-friendly kit.
2. Kevyn Aucoin The Expert Brush Collection Travel Set: £195, Net-a-Porter
While this set is the most expensive in the bunch, the knowledge that Kevyn Aucoin made up some of the world's most famous women throughout his career, including Elizabeth Taylor, helps us justify the spend. Ideal for travel with a curated set of five dual-ended brushes that fit your every need. Comes in faux leather case, which has a zip pocket for stowing away small items such as tweezers or a sharpener. The brushes are crafted from a mix of natural and synthetic fibres.
3. Illamasqua Set of Five Makeup Brushes: £80, Net-a-Porter
A brand that challenges the conventions of the cosmetics industry with cruelty-free make-up, Illamasqua is one of the best in the business. Enclosed in a sleek black case with an elasticated pocket and a handy mirror, alongside five precision-shaped brushes perfect for applying colour to the lips and eyes, as well as concealing and highlighting. Our only bugbear is the lack of foundation brush.
4. Real Techniques Core Collection: £21.99, Boots
Real Techniques was set up by pro make-up artists and PixiWoo Vloggers Sam and Nic Chapman in attempt to bring hard-working, high quality brushes to the masses. This is the cheapest set on our list, but is by no means the least impressive. These four high performance brushes are made from ultra-plush synthetic bristles which are hand-cut and 100% cruelty free. The panoramic case they come with is revolutionary and doubles up as a stand to keep your brushes organised whether you're at home or on-the-go.
5. Bobbi Brown Basic Brush Collection: £145, Bobbi Brown
Bobbi Brown is known in the industry for simplifying beauty for the everyday woman so it comes as no surprise that this modest collection of brushes ticks all the right boxes. Described as "basic in function, but vital in form", this kit contains a selection of six must-have brushes to create seamless glamour on the go. Foundation, concealer, blending, shadow and brow - they've got it all covered. It also comes in a smart black case with a convenient carry handle and multiple inside pockets. While a little pricey, if your budget allows it's definitely worth investing in these.
6. Too Faced Pro-Essential Teddy Bear Hair Brush Set: £49, Too Faced
This all-in-one portable set from Too Faced has all the essential brushes you need and what's more, they're made from Teddy Bear Hair - well, a blend of synthetic fibres that feel silky smooth and super-professional. Packaged in an adorable pink and gold pouch, the zip even features a teddy bear charm for added cuteness. Again, this one's missing a foundation brush.
7. Sigma Beauty Travel Kit Mr Bunny: £69, Cult Beauty
This collection of seven brushes is made with the brand's 'Sigmax HD fibers' which, in practice, allow product to buff seamlessly into the skin leaving you with an airbrushed, high definition look - just what you need when you're constantly on the go. Handily, the collection comes with a free two-year warranty.
8. Zoeva Rose Golden Vol.3 Luxury Brush Set: £75, Beauty Bay
If you're a bit of a make-up magpie then this set was made for you. The third instalment from their Rose Golden range, Zoeva has created a set of eight essential brushes that not only look good but perform too. The rose golden ferrules and handles are of course eye-catching and make a great addition to your dressing table, but for us, the super-soft bristles are what make this a standout collection. Soft enough to blend but built with enough density to pack on pigment, each brush lives up to its name to provide excellent application. Our favourite is the fan brush for highlighting. In a textured faux leather clutch with matching rose gold detailing.
9. Spectrum The Glam Clam: £60, Beauty Bay
This has to be one of the most unusual brush collections we've come across from the bountiful selection of 10 brightly coloured brushes to the dreamy lilac shell case; it's totally mer-mazing. The two-toned pinky-purple bristles and turquoise handles are eye-catching but they're also really great quality. The case is slightly larger than others in our selection but it's still very much suited to travel.
10. Chantecaille Travel Brush Set: £155, Look Fantastic
This New York-based company is well-known for its premium products that cover all your beauty needs from botanical skincare to luxury lippie. As a high-end brand, it's the attention to detail that sets this kit apart. Encased in a metallic, faux crocodile pouch you will find a set of five short-handled brushes to create a full make-up look on the go. Each brush is crafted from wood with a pale ivory coating making them extremely light to handle and super-easy to use. This one will last you a lifetime as long as you make sure to wash and care for them properly.
Overall, our must-have make-up brushes have to be from Morphe; not only does the set contains the most brushes out of all the contenders, they're also amazing quality and definitely out to rival those at the higher end of the price scale. If you're looking to splash the cash, Bobbi Brown's offering is our high-end favourite and for sheer eccentricity, Spectrum's Glam Clam is a worthy winner.