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8 best makeup brush sets for applying liquid, cream and powder products

From luxury sets to purse-friendly finds, every MUA needs the right tools

Louise Whitbread
Tuesday 20 December 2022 16:24 GMT
Creamy formulas are best applied with densely packed brushes, while powder works well with fluffier styles
Creamy formulas are best applied with densely packed brushes, while powder works well with fluffier styles (The Independent)
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The efficacy of your makeup products depends on two factors; the product itself and the method in which you apply it. If you prefer a brush, then there’s no shortage of choice.

From high-end luxury brands to affordable finds, one of the best investments you can make if you’re in need of new brushes is with a set, which comes complete with different designs and sizes to work with a variety of formulas across creams, powders, gels and liquids.

It’s often more economical to buy a set of brushes too, rather than individually, and depending on the brand, you can find styles suited to just complexion products, or with eyeshadow and lip tools included too.

If you’re a makeup novice, densely packed brushes are best suited to blending cream-based formulas such as foundation, concealer and contour, whereas powders and eyeshadows work best with a fluffier brush style and stippling brushes can provide a more natural finish with liquid products.

Not all brushes are made equal however, so we set about finding the best brush set for your makeup routine, spanning a range of budgets and needs, from designs crafted by professional makeup artists to budget-friendly kits that won’t break the bank.

How we tested

Over the past two months, we’ve put a range of makeup brush sets to the test, examining each closely for value for money, the number of brushes included, packaging, blendability, design, and how well they washed as nobody wants moulting hairs all over your bathroom sink. These are the best sets to buy.

The best makeup brush sets for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Bobbi Brown the luxury brush set: £82,
  • Best large brush set – Vieve the full expression: £250,
  • Best luxury brush set – Westman Atelier the brush collection: £526,
  • Best value brush set – By Beauty Bay 18 piece eye & face brush set: £45,
  • Best affordable brush set – Edy London essential set 505: £60, Edy.London
  • Best multi-purpose brush set – Brushes by Joy the full multi-use brush set: £130,
  • Best small brush set – Space NK ultimate edit brush set: £75,
  • Best eye makeup brush set – Spectrum pink 8 piece eye brush set sc004: £30,

Bobbi Brown the luxury brush set

best makeup brushes
  • Best: Overall
  • Number of brushes : Five
  • Purpose : Face, eyes and lips
  • Brush type: Synthetic

While this is one of the smallest sets we tried, it’s by far the best. Made up of five brushes, it covers all the basics, with each brush being multi-purpose, versatile and essential for all the products in your makeup routine.

The full coverage face brush is perfect for blending in foundation, bronzer and blusher, while the sheer powder brush is a dab hand at setting products to last all day with a light layer of powder. The full coverage touch up brush is ideal for blending liquid and cream products in targeted areas, the eye shadow brush evenly distributes matte and shimmer shadows while the ultra-fine eye liner brush is great for smudging out cream eyeliner along the lid.

It also comes in a large faux-leather and faux-suede case with enough room to add more brushes when you expand your collection later down the line, while also protecting them from getting dusty.

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Vieve the full expression

best makeup brushes
  • Best: Large brush set
  • Number of brushes: 13
  • Purpose : Face, eyes and lips
  • Brush type : Synthetic

This 13-piece kit is housed in a luxe-looking faux crocodile leather canister, with gold and black handles and soft synthetic brush fibres. Each is numbered with a short title describing what their use is for – e.g. 121 blush and bronze – which is a handy addition if you’re a makeup novice. We can’t fault the softness of the brush fibres, which even on the denser designs for cream and liquid products, still feel gentle on the skin. It’s clear that Vieve’s founder, Jamie Genevieve, has poured her professional makeup artist expertise into them.

Given how extensive this kit is, it’s best suited to someone who regularly applies makeup and wants to perfect their blending skills. Each has a specific purpose, they wash well without stray hairs falling out and feel lightweight. Our favourite brush of them all? That would be the 119 conceal and prime, a densely packed angled brush that was fantastic for seamlessly blending concealer under the eyes and around the nose.

  1. £250 from
Prices may vary
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Westman Atelier the brush collection

best makeup brushes
  • Best: Luxury brush set
  • Number of brushes: Nine
  • Purpose : Face, eyes and lips
  • Brush type : Synthetic

Westman Atelier is the brainchild of professional makeup brush artist Gucci Westman, offering luxury cream-based products, mostly in stick form. We tried a selection of brushes from the brush collection, a nine-piece set that comes in a fetching red and gold tube. Westman Atelier has excelled with its bigger brushes that are densely packed and perfect for speedy blending. Its liquid blender brush is a chunky, short design that takes just a couple swipes to buff in foundation, cream contours and blushers, while the tapered, flat brush is ideal for using with a stick foundation.

This kit isn’t essential given the eye-wateringly high price tag, but we can’t fault the quality of the brush fibres and the simple, luxurious packaging, boasting sustainably sourced wooden handles and protective covers on each.

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By Beauty Bay 18 piece eye & face brush set

best makeup brushes
  • Best: Value brush set
  • Number of brushes: 18
  • Purpose : Face, eyes and lips
  • Brush type : Synthetic

This is by far the best value brush set we tried, with a whopping 18 brushes available for less than £50. It’s a very extensive line-up with everything you need for eyes, lips and face products, and is ideal if you’re starting your collection from scratch. We loved that it came attached to a brush roll with elasticated loops holding each one in place, and a cylinder faux leather case which is attached via velcro, so it’s easily portable without any fuss. Each brush is very lightweight and easy to clean, and our most used one was BB105, a fluffy brush which we found very effective at softly blending cream blusher, sheer powders and highlighters.

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Edy London essential set 505

best makeup brushes
  • Best: Affordable brush set
  • Number of brushes: Eight
  • Purpose: Face, eyes and lips
  • Brush type : Synthetic

We loved the colourful handles on these synthetic brushes which have been created by celebrity makeup artist Edy London, who counts Trinny Woodall, Lily Allen, Ellie Goulding and Rita Ora as clients. They’re easy to find in a messy makeup bag and are available in turquoise, lemon, cool grey and pale pink.

This set of eight is the perfect size if you want all the basics and a little extra; there’s a foundation brush, contour brush, tapered face, large shader, medium angled blender, angled brow brush, mascara brush (for separating clumpy lashes) and a lip brush. They wash well without any moulting, are super soft on the skin and are multi-purpose. Our most used brush in this set was the 03 angled large contour face brush which we used for a variety of cream products, and found it worked really well to buff in foundation and bronzer.

  1. £60 from
Prices may vary
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Brushes by Joy the full multi-use brush set

best makeup brushes
  • Best: Multi-purpose brush set
  • Number of brushes: 10
  • Purpose : Face and eyes
  • Brush type : Synthetic

Professional makeup artist Joy Adenuga launched her range of brushes in 2020, and we’ve been impressed ever since we first used them in lockdown. You can buy them individually, create your own collection or opt for this 10-piece set. They’re soft, easy to blend with cream, liquid and powder products, never moult despite us washing them well over 10 times, and have a sleek black and silver design.

Whether you’re a professional makeup artist looking to extend your kit or a novice keen to invest, these are reliable, durable tools that will last you years and are easy to get to grips with. We especially love how multi-purpose they all are, the tapered 010 shadow placer brush packs on glitter and cream textures onto lids with ease, but can also be used to blend concealer in targeted areas.

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Space NK ultimate edit brush set

best makeup brushes
  • Best: Small brush set
  • Number of brushes: Six
  • Purpose : Face, eyes and lips
  • Brush type : Synthetic

In 2019, beauty retailer Space NK launched its own line of makeup brushes, and ever since we got our hands on them, we’ve had nothing but praise to give. This six-piece line-up has brushes designed for foundation, contouring, highlighting, concealer, eyeshadow and lipstick, all the synthetic bristles are super soft and versatile and the matte black handles are made from sustainably sourced wood too. The eye and lip brushes can also be bought on their own as a set (£40,

This is the ideal set if you don’t want a huge collection taking up room in your makeup bag but just need the core essentials. An added bonus is the zipped hard-shell case with elasticated handles to keep the brushes in place, but it also doubles up as a mini makeup bag when you’re not at home.

  1. £75 from
Prices may vary
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Spectrum pink 8 piece eye brush set sc004

best makeup brushes
  • Best: Eye makeup brush set
  • Number of brushes: Eight
  • Purpose : Eyes
  • Brush type : Synthetic

This eight-piece set is an affordable £30, meaning each brush costs less than £4 – an absolute steal. A mix of densely packed and fluffy bristles, they’re great with powder and cream products, buffing and blending with ease, and the colourful bristles stand out from the rest of the designs on our list. They’d make a great gift to a makeup enthusiast too, and there’s few that are as good value as this, even from other high-street brands. The bristles are soft and never shed, and despite their low price, the quality rivals luxury competitors on our list.

  1. £30 from
Prices may vary
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The verdict: Make-up brush sets

Bobbi Brown’s the luxury brush set is unbeaten after weeks of testing. While the set is one of the smallest we tried, it has all the essentials for products across an entire makeup routine and comes in a spacious zipped case that has room for brushes you may already own. Each blend seamlessly, work with a variety of textures and don’t moult or shed.

Want to find your perfect base? Check out the best lightweight foundations for every level of coverage

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