Achieving Kim Kardashian-level contouring is no easy feat. First, you have to master the technique. Then, you need to find the right products that work for your skin tone. And finally, you have to have the tools necessary for applying those products like a pro. There are flat brushes, flat angled brushes, flat brushes that come to a point in the middle, rounded brushes….well, let’s just say there are a lot of brushes, which means things get confusing fast.
We found the best contour brushes to take your contour game to the next level.
Best Budget: e.l.f. Studio Ultimate Kabuki Brush
When it comes to brushes on a budget, you can’t beat e.l.f. Cosmetics. The densely-packed, soft bristles are great for evenly applying powder to the skin, making it perfect for getting a sharp contour and blending that sculpted line. Use the flat edge for sweeping contours and the curved corners for an exact application. An added bonus: In addition to contouring, this brush can also be used for blending, highlighting, and stippling. Plus, animal lovers can rejoice, since the soft bristles are vegan-friendly.
Best Splurge: Charlotte Tilbury Powder & Sculpt Brush
We’ve yet to go wrong when buying anything from the namesake line of the beloved British makeup artist to the stars, and this brush is no exception. The versatile brush can be used for blush and contouring since it’s made to be utilized for any sculpting effect. The tapered end helps you work the hollows of your cheeks and temples, plus sweep highlighter across your cheekbones, nose, and even the cupid’s bow of your lips for a pucker that pops. Handmade by master brush makers in Europe, it’ll also be the star of your vanity with its rose gold and deep red design. But it doesn’t just look pretty — the ergonomic wood handle makes the application a cinch.
Best Angled Brush: Sephora Collection PRO Angled Contour Brush #75
If you’re wondering why we’re celebrating this brush’s angled bristles, it’s because they can pick up more product than a traditional brush, making it easier to carve out your contour in the most accurate way. Use the pointed side to access hard to reach spots, including around the eyes and nose. It brings on high definition with all makeup formulas, including blush, bronzer, foundation, and concealer.
Best for Powder Contour: Tarte Bronze & Glow Contour Brush
A dual-ended contouring brush means it has twice the power! Made just for brushing on bronzer, blush, and highlighter, the big, fluffy brush on one side is meant for buffing and blending cheek powders, while the other is for precise sculpting with the smaller, exacting brush. Use its more petite size to your advantage to really work those cheekbones for a slimming look.
Best for Cream Contour: Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Brush
Synthetic bristles tend to grab onto formulas better, and no one does synthetics better than avowed animal lover Kat Von D. This two-in-one eyeshadow brush has a tapered end for defining and a domed end meant for blending, meaning that it will help you achieve the best smokey eye you can imagine. Though it’s meant for the eye area, it can be used anywhere you want to get a sharply defined look. The vegan bristles are incredibly soft and have gradient tips for extra blending power. Another reason to spring for this brush? It comes with a cool hard coffin case to store it in.
Best Drugstore: EcoTools The Wonder Color Finish Brush
Ecotools is a fitting name for a PETA-certified brand whose products are completely vegan, made from recycled aluminum, have packaging made from post-consumer recycled plastic and is 100% recyclable, and their makeup brushes feature handles made of renewable bamboo. Even better, this brush is just as good for your face as it is for the planet. Made with 60,000 bristles to deliver a full, smooth application, the brush can be used wet or dry. Its oval bristle head is designed for precise placement of blush and contouring makeup. To get a sheer look, dampen the bristles first.
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This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated