10 best make-up brush sets

Keep your face looking flawless wherever you are with a handbag-friendly set of tools 

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The Independent Online

Just because you’re on-the-go doesn’t mean that your beauty regime needs to suffer, and making sure you’ve got the right tools is the first step to achieving glam on the go. Switching out a mass of well-worn brushes for a ready-made, travel-friendly set will make travelling light much easier.

The right makeup 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.

Whatever option you go for, 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. From ultra-lavish sets to purse-friendly options, we’ve rounded up our favourite kits that will fit in your handbag. 

1. Morphe Brushes 11 Piece Sable Brush Set: £31.50, Cult Beauty

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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 but it’s also brilliant as a starter collection for make-up newbies. It’s hard to find fault with this set; from its super-soft bristles to its chic black carry case, it’ll make you feel like you have the right tools for the job, at least. 

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2. Kevyn Aucoin The Expert Brush Collection Travel Set: £195, Net-a-Porter

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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. But there’s so much more to this kit than celebrity status. It’s ideal for travel with a curated set of five dual-ended brushes that fit your every need, which means this collection has huge space-saving assets without sacrificing on any of the essentials. The brushes come in a textured, faux leather case, which has a zip pocket for stowing away small items such as tweezers or a sharpener. A heads up for those concerned by using animal products: while these brushes are ideal for any makeup maestro, they are crafted from a mix of natural and synthetic fibres.

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3. Illamasqua Set of Five Makeup Brushes: £80, Net-a-Porter

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A brand that challenges the conventions of the cosmetics industry with cruelty-free make-up, Illamasqua is one of the best in the business, and this travel friendly brush kit doesn’t disappoint. It’s 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. These brushes are great for both the novice and those looking to start building their collection. Our only bugbear is the lack of foundation brush but there’s more than enough space for additional brushes in the case if need be.   

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4. Real Techniques Core Collection: £21.99, Boots

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Real Techniques was set up by pro make-up artists and PixiWoo Voliggers Sam and Nic Chapman in attempt to bring hard-working, high quality brushes to the masses. Just because you don’t have a huge budget doesn’t mean your brushes shouldn’t work as well and despite the fact this is the cheapest set on our list, it’s by no means the least impressive. This carefully crafted collection of four high performance brushes are made from ultra-plush synthetic bristles which are hand-cut and 100 per cent 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. These are a fantastic option for first time buyers and the purse-friendly price tag guarantees that you get way more than money’s worth.

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5. Bobbi Brown Basic Brush Collection: £145, Bobbi Brown

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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.

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6. Too Faced Pro-Essential Teddy Bear Hair Brush Set: £49, Too Faced

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If you’re super-girly or just looking to inject a little sweetness into your make-up tool collection then look no further. 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 not really, it’s actually a blend of synthetic fibers 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, but the quality of the rest of the collection makes up for it. 

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7. Sigma Beauty Travel Kit Mr Bunny: £69, Cult Beauty

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This next travel-friendly kit sits in the middle of the price range but it’s anything but average. The 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. Every application need is covered here from tapered blending to contour and the cylindrical case splits in half leaving you with two handy brush holders. What’s more, the collection comes with a free two-year warranty.

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8. Zoeva Rose Golden Vol.3 Luxury Brush Set: £75, Beauty Bay

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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. The brush set is packaged in a textured faux leather clutch with matching rose gold detailing, bringing you a set that’s just as posh as it is portable. 

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9. Spectrum The Glam Clam: £60, Beauty Bay 

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This has to be one of the most unusual brush collections we’ve come across from the bountiful selection of ten 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. They’re so soft and super-stylish, but more importantly they do a really great job at creating an all-over flawless makeup look. The case is slightly larger than others in our selection but it’s still very much suited travel; it’s wide but super-slim making it an ideal partner for achieving getaway-glam. 

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10. Chantecaille Travel Brush Set: £155, Look Fantastic

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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.  

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Verdict

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. The leather roll is super chic and they make putting on your makeup an absolute dream. 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 for the mer-mad beauty buffs among you.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing

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