How to Use Makeup Brushes and Which Ones You Actually Need

Here’s a hot take: You don’t actually need a thousand makeup brushes at all. You don’t even need a handful. Seriously! Some of the most renowned makeup artists prefer to use the warmth of their hands and (clean) fingers to blend and melt most makeup into the skin. But if you are not a famous makeup artist (whattup, beginners) and need all the extra help and tools you can get, makeup brushes can be your very, very best friends—albeit kinda tricky to decode.

Makeup applicators come in not only a wide range of sizes but also different materials, bristle shapes, lengths, and density. And just to make the whole thing more confusing, brands rarely name their brushes by WTF you’re supposed to do with them and instead rely on a network of gibberish numbers. Cool, cool. So to help you sort through all the noise, I broke down the 11 makeup brushes and sponges you might actually need, depending on your makeup routine, so you can spend less time Googling and more time blending.