There are people who will go on and on about the benefits of investing in an expensive set of makeup brushes, claiming that the money spent upfront will guarantee years of good use. I am not one of those people. I have yet to find a luxury brush that feels or behaves any better than a cheap brush I pick up on Amazon, which has made me something of an expert when it comes to finding the best makeup brushes on a budget. After years of product testing, I divulge the top affordable picks I’ve found on Amazon, ahead.
With that said, there are some measures you can take to ensure your brushes last and continue to work their best. It’s important to make sure you’re washing your brushes on a weekly basis if you’re using them every day. You could pay money for a brush cleaner, but if you’re on a budget, a mix of two parts dish soap and one part olive oil is a good DIY option you can whip up at home. The dish soap cleanses the brushes while the olive oil conditions them, so they stay nice and soft. Wet your brush, swirl it in the soap until it suds, and rinse, repeating until the water runs clear. Then leave your brushes out to dry for 24 hours on a dish towel (or even better, hang them on a brush drying rack).
If you’re using the dish towel drying method, it’s especially important that you lie your brushes flat. One of the most common mistakes people make while washing their makeup brushes is placing them to dry upright, which can cause the water to drip down the handle and break down the glue holding the brush together. Lying them flat or hanging them upside down on a brush tree also ensures the brushes will maintain their shape.
In other words? Take good care of your brushes, and they’ll take care of you and your face. And now, scroll on for the best cheap makeup brushes you can buy on Amazon.
1. Best Flat Top Foundation Brush
For a smooth, airbrushed-like effect when applying foundation, you want a flat top Kabuki brush, like this one. It works expertly with cream and liquid makeup, though you could use it with dry makeup (like powder, brush, and bronzer), too. The soft, synthetic bristles mean the brush is cruelty-free, and reviewers report no shedding, either.
2. Best Powder Brush
Get this fluffy powder brush for just $2. It’s great for applying all types of dry makeup, and its big size makes it easy to cover large surface areas, such as your cheeks or forehead. Wet n Wild’s entire line of affordable brushes are some of the best out there, so be sure to check out their other brushes, too.
3. Best Sculpting Brush
Aside from being affordable and high quality, this e.l.f. sculpting face brush has a unique bristle pattern that’s perfect for contouring: use it on along your cheekbones, nose, and jaw, or get right into your under-eye area. Another cruelty-free choice, it can be used with any type of makeup.
4. Best Retractable Kabuki Brush
Need a good travel brush? This EcoTools retractable Kabuki brush folds into itself, making it the perfect brush to keep in your makeup bag. Kabuki brushes are best-suited to dry makeup, like powder, blush, and bronzer. This one is made from cruelty-free fibers and recycled materials, making it an eco-friendly choice, too.
5. Best Brush Set For Contouring
For Kardashian-level contour, you’ll want a proper contouring kit, like this one from Lamora. It contains a round angled brush, a fan brush, a flat brush, a tapered brush, and a precision brush — all made with contouring in mind. The vegan bristles are cruelty-free, and the handles are made of sleek copper.
6. Best Eye Makeup Brush Set
Get the seven most essential eye makeup brushes for under $15 with this must-have kit, also from Lamora. It includes a classic shading brush, an angled shading brush, a small shading brush, an angled detailing brush, a detailed pencil brush, a precise shading brush, and a blending brush. Again, these brushes are cruelty-free, vegan, and anti-shed.
7. Best Full Brush Set
If you’re looking for a complete kit, at $10, this 14-piece set is one of Amazon’s best buys. It comes with five Kabuki-style brushes for face makeup and nine brushes for the eyes (including a dual-ended brow brush complete with spoolie). Over 5,500 reviewers gave this brush set a perfect five-star rating — get it in rose gold, black, purple, gold and black, or pink and gold.
8. Best Oval Brushes
Oval brushes are a popular choice among makeup artists and beauty bloggers for the flawless, Photoshop-level effect they produce. Their round shape and tightly-packed bristles make them ideal for streak-free blending. This set comes with 10 pieces and costs less than $15, and the synthetic bristles are cruelty-free.
9. Best Makeup Sponges
Makeup sponges are another makeup artist hack for smooth, velvet-y foundation that looks like an Instagram filter. They’re ideal for use with wet makeup, like foundation and concealer, but you can also use them for baking. This set comes with six sponges in various shapes and sizes, some of which are angled to fit into tricky areas like your under-eyes and brow bone. Just remember to wet them first.