Hey Everyone! I get a lot of questions surrounding makeup brushes, including which are the best to buy, which are the most versatile, and of course basic questions on which brushes do what. To help answer some of these questions, today I have compiled a list of the best budget-friendly face brushes. I have also provided links (non-affiliate) to all of the products reviewed, in case you are interested in purchasing any of them.
Today’s post is Part 1 of a 2 -part series on makeup brushes. Next week I’ll have a list of my favorite budget-friendly eye makeup brushes, so stay tuned if you are interested in learning more!
Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge- $10.99 2-Pack (Ulta)
If you’ve never used a face sponge in applying foundation, I would highly encourage you to give it a try. I know many people swear by using makeup brushes to apply foundation, but for me and my skin type (normal/dry) I personally prefer using a makeup sponge (especially in the winter months), as it blends the product effortlessly and gives my skin a dewy/moisturized look.
I have been using this particular sponge for a little over a month and I’m in love! Previously, I used a Beauty Blender, which I also really like but I now prefer the Real Techniques one over the Beauty Blender for a couple of different reasons.
First, the texture of the two sponges is quite different. The Beauty Blender is very dense and seems to have a rougher texture, while the Real Techniques sponge is very soft, airy, and feels great on the skin. I also feel that with the Beauty Blender I have to add a pretty good amount of water for it not to soak up a lot of product, while with the Real Techniques I just do a quick run under the faucet.
Another plus with this sponge is the shape. I personally apply my eye makeup before applying foundation, so the shape of this sponge was a definite plus in my book. You’ll notice in the photo that it has a flat side, which is marvelous in getting areas under the eye and around the nose, without messing up your eye makeup.
I purchased this sponge in a 2-pack from Ulta for $10.99, and after using my $3.50 off $10 coupon, it came out to be only $3.75 per sponge which is an awesome deal. I highly recommend this product.
e.l.f. Ultimate Blending Brush- $6 (elf cosmetics)
This is one of the newest brushes in my collection, but by far one of my favorites. If you’ve been following along, I recently reviewed it in my New e.l.f. Products Haul.
This brush works wonders in applying liquid foundation, powder foundation, bronzer, and blush, and is a very versatile tool. The brush has a unique dome-shaped head which is great for even coverage and blending, and the dense bristles help create more defined looks.
Although I’m a huge fan of all e.l.f. brushes, this is one of their more “higher-quality” brushes, and will definitely give you the most bang for your buck.
e.l.f. Powder Brush- $3 (elf cosmetics)
As the name insists, this brush is intended for use with powder products. This is an excellent brush and I’ve found it works great with applying all-over face powder, bronzer, blush, and have even used it to apply liquid foundation when I didn’t have another brush with me.
I personally use this makeup brush in applying blush/bronzer. One way I do this is by shaping the end bristles out flat with my fingers to get a more defined/sculpted look. This brush is a must-have in my collection, and I use it on almost a daily basis.
Real Techniques Buffing Brush- $14.98 3-Piece Set (Wal-mart)
While I use a makeup sponge quite frequently in applying foundation, I also use this buffing brush for days that I want a full-coverage, flawless look. This brush is heaven-sent, and is my go-to foundation brush.
It effortlessly buffs liquid, cream, and mousse foundation onto the skin, resulting in a streak-free, flawless finish. The bristles on this brush are so soft and it feels great on the skin.
While I mostly use this brush in applying liquid foundation, I would also like to add how useful this brush is in buffing out a contoured look. After I have applied bronzer with my contouring brush, I use this brush to go back in to further sculpt and define my cheekbones.
This brush was part of the Real Techniques Core Collection Brush Set that I purchased from Wal-mart, which also comes with a contour brush and a pointed foundation brush.
e.l.f. Small Stipple Brush- $3 (elf cosmetics)
A stippling brush is a very useful tool to have in your makeup collection. It can be used to delicately apply finishing powder, concealer, and works great in applying cream blushes.
I personally use it to apply concealer under the eyes and to apply setting powder. Because the bristles are so long and delicate, the brush is able to leave almost an air-brushed look when used correctly.
Tip: If applying concealer, use the brush in a stippling (dabbing) motion. This will ensure a fuller coverage, while still removing any excess product that will result in creasing.
e.l.f. Professional Bronzing Brush- $2 (elf cosmetics)
A bronzing brush is the perfect tool for applying bronzer, blush, and highlighter to the face. The angled shape of the brush helps ensure precision of the product, while the soft bristles allow for just the right product amount.
I use this brush on days that I’m going for a softer look and I sweep on a light dusting of blush, bronzer, or highlighter for a pretty, delicate look. This brush is great for those who aren’t really interested in contouring their face, but just want to add a nice color to their cheeks or brow bone.
So there you have it, my list of the best budget-friendly face brushes! I hope this post was helpful and if you have any other questions, feel free to leave me a comment. Do you have any other favorites you’d like to add to the list?
Thanks for stopping by!-Cara
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E.L.F. has so many great inexpensive options. I really want to try the Real Technique brushes too.
I’ve actually been using the RT brush a lot this past week and it’s so great for blending!
Thanks for the advice, I’ve never tried Elf brushes! Baci, Coco et La vie en rose fashion blog – Valeria Arizzi
i’m a fan of ecotools brushes! they’re budget friendly and the bristles are so soft!
I have several of their eyeshadow brushes and I agree they are very soft!
I swear by elf brushes. I love them. They are affordable and work so well!
I completely agree! Not sure why anyone would pay more when they work so well!
ELF makes some great brushes on a budget. and i love RT sponge too. the closest i’ve found to the beauty blender in terms of feel and performance!
I agree, I was a little worried I wouldn’t be as impressed with it due to the price difference, but I love it!
Amazing brushes!! Cute brand!
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They truly are amazing! Thanks for stopping by!
I don’t get it the beauty blender that is.. I really need a makeup-makeover!
Makeup sponges are really great for applying certain types of foundations, as it helps provide a more even coverage. The concept behind it is when you wet the sponge it helps soak up any extra product from your face for a more even complexion, giving you an airbrushed look. Makeup sponges are also very good for certain skin types, including those who have dry skin or those with oily skin, as it helps balance everything out. I personally love mine and use it regularly! Hope that helps explain it a little better 🙂
i’ll check all of them
Awesome, hope you like them!
I needed this post! I’m looking to get all new makeup brushes for the new year, but can’t spend a fortune. E.l.f. seems like a great brand and a good way to go. Thanks for sharing!
So glad to help! E.l.f. brushes are amazing!
I have that Elf powder brush and love it for my all over translucent setting powder!
I loved the beauty blender….like totally in love. But you are so right, it soaks up so much product! It was hard to clean and so expensive. I am totally ordering the ones you suggested. Two for that price is a steal if they work just as good!
Awesome, hope you love them!
I have an ELF brush and love the way it feels! I’ll have to try some of their others.
They are awesome!
I use the Elf brushes all the time! They work great and you really can’t beat their price
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I agree, Carly!
Ever since I discovered elf, those are the only brushes I buy!
Even after trying other brands I always go back to using my elf brushes. They are amazing!
Elf is the best! I just love all their stuff!!
Me too! Such a great brand!
Oh I have the real techniques brush and love it!
Great post, Love!
ELF has some really great products right now. Thanks for sharing.
I agree! You’re most welcome!
elf and Real Techniques make some of my favorite brushes! And you definitely can’t go wrong with the price.
I agree! I love that they are easily available and I can pick them up at my local Target or Wal-mart. Very convenient!
I love my beauty blender, esp under my eye area since I have hereditary dark circles but it does soak up a lot of my foundation when I try to use it that way. (& its EXPENSIVE) I will def try this Ulta version. Also that small stipple brush from ELF is my LIFE! best brush ever!
I love the RT sponge, it’s amazing! & I agree the small stipple brush is the best! 🙂
I’ve never tried ELF brushes before, but I’ll have to try them! I love their makeup setting spray.
Their spray and brushes are awesome and they are constantly improving their brushes and adding new types. It’s also great because they are so economical!
ELF brushes are definitely my favorite budget friendly brushes, and I love that I can pick them up on my weekly Target run! I’ve never tried a makeup sponge and am super intrigued <3
Makeup sponges are great! They give you almost an airbrushed look with your makeup and are great if you have dryer skin. Target is so smart in selling elf 🙂
I am so tempted to try the Real Techniques sponge! I have a Beauty Blender but I think the other one would be better. The prices of the elf brushes are amazing!
It’s a great sponge! I thought that there wouldn’t be a huge difference between them but for me it’s like 5x better.
YES! I love all those brushes, except I’ve never tried the Real Techniques brushes although I’ve heard nothing but good things about them! But e.l.f. is totally my jam and I LOVE my Real Techniques sponge, it’s the best I’ve ever tried! Great post Cara, I hope you are having a wonderful week! XO -Kim
Real techniques is a great brand as well, and I’m with ya e.l.f. is amazing! Thank-you, you too!
e.l.f. makeup brushes will always be my favorite because you really can’t beat the quality and price! I just got a beauty sponge in my ipsy bag and am in love with it!!
I completely agree! & beauty sponges are awesome! Glad you like yours 🙂
I have several ELF brushed and absolutely love them. I’ve had some more expensive brands, but definitely prefer the elf 🙂
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I agree, I’ve had some of the more expensive ones but honestly can’t tell that big of a difference to spend more. Thanks for stopping by!
Thats good to know about that sponge because the only one you ever hear anyone talk about is that pink blender…
This one is better in my opinion and is actually a little cheaper in price. Highly recommend it!
Oooh I definitely want to give that blender from Ulta a try! I have one right now from CVS and it’s not great – the only other ones I’ve seen were waaaay more expensive from Sephora.
A lot of Youtube beauty gurus were recommending it so I gave it a try, and I love it! If you can pair it with a sale/coupon at Ulta it makes it an even bigger score!
I love makeup brushes! I have never used any of these before. I have a brush set from BH cosmetics and love them. I will have to venture out and try some of these as well. Thank You for sharing!
They are great brushes! I will have to look into BH Cosmetics. Thanks for stopping by!
I’ve never tired the Elf brushes, but I need to. I love that RT buffing brush—it is perfect. Have you ever tried the Sonia Kashuk brushes from Target? THey’re my favs.
I haven’t, but I’ve seen a few sets in the store and they look so pretty! I’ll probably give those a try next, thanks for the recommendation!
Great list! I’m in need of a new brush so this was super helpful!
Thanks, happy to help! 🙂
I adore those Elf brushes so much and what an amazing price point! Hope you’re having a wonderful day!!!
Thank-you, same to you!
I love Elf stuff. I love how inexpensive they are and that they don’t test on animals!!! I’ve never used a sponge to blend in my foundation, mainly because I’m nervous to try it out but I’ve been wanting to for awhile now.
It is awesome to apply foundation and/or to use for applying concealer. I feel like it leaves your skin looking more air-brushed, and you will never have to worry about foundation looking cakey. I highly recommend giving it a try 🙂
Brushes sort of mystify me, and it’s actually about time for me to replace all of mine so this is very timely.
You’re welcome! 🙂
Is Elf really that great? I love some of their makeup products and their lip exfoliator. But it gets better? I must try them!
Yes, their brushes are their best products, in my honest opinion! Highly recommend 🙂
I have recently heard so many good things about the elf makeup brushes, and I definitely need to give them a try. The Real Techniques brushes are amazing…I swear by them!
I love both of them because they are great quality but they don’t break the bank = win-win!