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8 best make-up brush sets for beauty newbies and budding MUAs alike

Whether you’re a professional or an amateur, these are the best make-up brush sets to invest in now

Lucy Partington
Monday 20 December 2021 16:05
<p>Rather than building up your collection brush by brush, it’s often better value to opt for a brush set</p>

Rather than building up your collection brush by brush, it’s often better value to opt for a brush set

Ask any make-up artist and they’ll tell you that half the joy of their job comes from the tools that they paint faces with. From buffing and blending with big, fluffy powder and bronzing brushes, the intricacy that comes with crafting the perfect smoky eye, or the teeny tiny eyebrow and lip brushes, there really is one for every part of your make-up application routine – but it’s crucial to know that not all brushes are made equal.

Using cheap or badly made tools can have a detrimental effect on your finished look, not to mention that they can often shed while you’re using them, which can leave you having to deal with lost bristles.

While you can buy brushes individually and build up your collection slowly, it’s often better value to invest in a set that features a mix of brushes to suit your needs; but with so much choice and a wide range of price points, how do you know what’s going to give you the best bang for your buck? From collaborations and creations by world-renowned make-up artists to travel sets and brushes from luxury designer brands, there’s almost too much choice, which is why we’ve narrowed it down to the best in class.

Our guide spans a range of price points from mainstream and indie brands, along with a mix of tools that use synthetic and real hair. Keep reading to see our honest thoughts on the best make-up brush sets available to buy now.

How we tested

We used each brush set to apply our usual make-up – including everything from foundation, powder, blusher and bronzer right through to eyeshadow, eyebrows and lipstick – in a variety of textures, from cream and powder to gel and liquid. We were looking out for ease of use, how well they worked to apply and blend products (especially eyeshadow), and the impact they had on the overall application of make-up.

Read more:

The best make-up brush sets for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Spectrum KJH 25 piece brush set: £159.99, Spectrumcollections.com
  • Best value – Lottie London brush set: £25, Lottie.london
  • Best for make-up lovers – MyKitCo my essential brush set: £60, Mykitco.uk
  • Best luxury brushes – Dior backstage pouch brush set: £115, Feelunique.com
  • Best for eyes – Lara Faye royal blue luxe eye brush set: £30, Larafaye.com
  • Best for gifting – Bobbi Brown luxury brush collection: £52.66, Boots.com
  • Best for travel – Sculpted by Aimee The Essentials Volume 2: £48, Sculptedbyaimee.com
  • Best for face – By Joy Adenuga multi-use face brush set: £75, Byjoyadenuga.com

Spectrum KJH 25 piece brush set

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

Make-up brush brand Spectrum Collections was founded by Welsh sisters Sophie and Hannah Pycroft back in 2014, and since then it’s gone from strength to strength. Known for its imaginative collaborations with Disney, Michelle Keegan and even Mean Girls, the newest (and arguably best) is with celebrity make-up artist Katie Jane Hughes, who has painted the faces of everybody from Ashley Graham to Naomi Campbell.

This 25-piece set not only looks stunning, but it performs extremely well. Hughes had serious input on every part of this collection and it really shows – the range of shapes and sizes is second to none, and even the shape of the handles (which was inspired by artists’ paintbrushes) has been carefully crafted. Plus each kit comes with a microfibre towel to dry brushes on after they’ve been washed, and everything is housed in a vegan leather tube. It’s a real make-up lover’s dream; whether you’re a professional or a novice, there’s nothing we can fault here.

Lottie London brush set

Best: Value

Rating: 8/10

The most affordable of the lot, Lottie London’s kit has a dense buffing brush, a tapered bronzing brush, a tapered highlighter brush, a pointed concealer brush and a tapered blending brush. The synthetic bristles are super soft, and this small but perfectly formed kit is well worth the £25 price tag.

The pale pink brushes look great on a dressing table, and they blended both powder and cream products beautifully for a truly seamless finish. The tapered brushes are great for targeted application of things like contour and highlighting powders, while the bigger, fluffier, more rounded brushes make applying bronzer and setting powder completely foolproof.

MyKitCo my essential brush set

Best: For make-up lovers

Rating: 9/10

A brand loved by professionals across the world, MyKitCo is the brainchild of James Molloy, a renowned make-up artist who has worked for designers including Stella McCartney and Moschino, and who counts people like Jourdan Dunn and Addison Rae as clients. MyKitCo is the industry’s best-kept secret, and these brushes are well worth a try.

The My Essential brush set is made up of five must-have brushes, including a foundation and powder brush along with a sharp angle eye brush, a tapered crease brush and an all-over shadow brush. The brushes are made with the highest quality synthetic fibre bristles that will help elevate any make-up application. It’s worth checking out all the other brushes and kits from the brand, too, as each one has been carefully thought out and created from scratch in Molloy’s home – who also tested, tested and tested everything again to make sure it was perfect.

Dior backstage pouch brush set

Best: Luxury brushes

Rating: 9/10

There really is no better feeling than being able to own a piece of a designer brand, and these brushes from Dior are really no exception. Beautifully made and even more beautiful to look at, this travel-friendly pouch contains a powder brush, a fluid foundation brush, an eyeliner brush and a retractable lip brush. The brushes are super soft, and surprisingly are made from synthetic bristles, plus the carry case will help keep the brushes safe and is ideal for packing in a suitcase without worrying about them getting damaged.

We especially loved the retractable lip brush – the tapered end made it ideal for lining lips with lipstick before filling them in, and the so-called “cat’s tongue” shape meant precise, even application, something that can often be difficult to achieve if you’re applying straight from the bullet. We also really liked using the firm, rectangular-shaped eyeliner brush too; it was great for perfecting a subtle flick with minimal effort.

Lara Faye royal blue luxe eye brush set

Best: For eyes

Rating: 9/10

Lara Faye is a brand we discovered via Instagram, and it doesn’t disappoint. We’re obsessed with the colour of this royal blue set, and we did a double-take when we realised just how affordable the handcrafted nine-piece set was. Made from high quality, synthetic bristles, the brand is cruelty-free and vegan-friendly, and in this set comes a precision detailing pencil brush, a small tapered crease brush, a small shader, a large shader, a flat blending brush, an angled detailing brush, a small angled liner brush, a large base brush and finally a precision lip brush.

It really does contain everything you’d need to give Adele’s make-up artist a run for their money on the smoky eye front – and even though it might seem overwhelming at first, with a little bit of practice you’ll soon be making use of every tool in this set. We especially loved the blending brushes and the tapered liner brush. We’d also recommend checking out Lara Faye’s website and looking at the other sets; you can get a full collection of royal blue, pink or black brushes for £70, which is incredible value for the quality of the product.

Bobbi Brown luxury brush collection

Best: For gifting

Rating: 8/10

For some reason, Bobbi Brown only offers this set of its much-loved make-up brushes at Christmas, but we love the pouch they are housed in and the value here is great. In total, the set is worth £147.50 but it costs just £52.66 to buy, and each set contains a signature collection of full-size, best-selling brushes. Inside there’s a full-coverage face brush, a precise blending brush, an eye blender brush, an eyeshadow brush and an ultra-fine eyeliner brush.

True make-up fans will know just how incredible Bobbi Brown’s make-up brushes are, and there’s a reason why you’ll find the majority of these brushes in the kit of professional artists. The full-coverage face brush was one of our favourites long before we tried this set, thanks to the fact it’s not too fluffy and it’s the perfect size for easily dusting on blusher or setting powder. The eyeliner brush works perfectly with gel eyeliner too.

Sculpted by Aimee the essentials volume 2

Best: For travel

Rating: 9/10

If you’ve never heard of Irish make-up artist Aimee Connolly, it’s time to get to know her – her range of make-up is truly incredible and it really performs. From her carefully curated face palettes to her bestselling second skin foundation (£25, Boots.com), we can’t rave about the whole brand enough. And this make-up brush set is right up there with the very best, too.

The essentials edit contains five brushes, but because they’re all double-ended you’re essentially getting 10 brushes in total. In the mix is a foundation brush, which combines one bigger brush for all-over application with a smaller, more condensed brush which is great for target application and adding extra coverage where it’s needed. There’s also a powder duo brush, a blending duo brush, a concealer duo and a definer duo which we loved for applying eyeshadow on the upper and lower lash lines, as well as using it to smoke out the colour for an effortless statement eye look. It’s the perfect set for travelling with, and the faux leather bag means you can keep them together in one place.

By Joy Adenuga multi-use face brush set

Best: For face

Rating: 9/10

If it’s a clever set of multi-tasking face brushes you’re after, look no further than Joy Adunega’s collection. Carefully curated and designed by the make-up artist herself, these brushes truly deliver a flawless look every time. Even before this trial, our tester has long used, loved and recommended the 001 big mama brush – the biggest brush in the set, it’s ideal for buffing on bronzer. Also included here is a dense, flat-topped brush which is great for stippling on foundation and two multi-use face brushes – one is shaped to fit all the facial contours, while the other has a sharper tip for precise application. Finally there’s a smaller, more tapered brush which is ideal for setting under the eyes, or applying highlighter with.

All brushes in Adenuga’s range are 10 per cent vegan and are made with synthetic hair, with a black glossy coated wood handle, which has been shaped to help aid the application process. There is nothing that hasn’t been thought of, and that really shows when using the tools.

The verdict: Make-up brush sets

There wasn’t a single dud in any of these kits that we tested, and we feel like they are all genuinely excellent value for money – it all depends on what you’re looking for. Spectrum’s KJH collection combines aesthetics with truly excellent tools that are loved globally, but if you just want to focus on eye make-up then we’d suggest choosing Lara Faye’s kit, and if you’re somebody who travels a lot, definitely go for Sculpted by Aimee; those brushes are as efficient as they are hardworking.

Voucher codes

For offers on make-up and other beauty products, try the links below:

Want to stay up to date on the latest beauty trends? Check out John Lewis’ beauty predictions for 2022

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