Tools of the trade – affordable makeup brushes

Have you ever eyed up the brush belt attached to a makeup artist at a high end beauty counter?  I did, though I also realised that to own one of my own would involve forking out a small fortune.
However, having good brushes is almost as important as having good makeup, and should be an essential part of any girl’s cosmetic arsenal.  They are the tools of the beauty trade.
For example, the difference between a good and bad foundation brush is a streaky, uneven face.  While a bad eyeshadow blender is distinguished from a good one by a blink-and-you’ll miss it speckle of colour.
I’ve learnt from experience.  In my early teens, I thought the set of five brushes you’d get for the price of peanuts would do the job.  However, old photos told me otherwise.
However, recently I’ve discovered that there are some brushes out there which can help you achieve a flawless look, without costing the earth.  See below my warts-and-all review of them.


Cosmopolitan makeup brushes set
Cosmopolitan makeup brushes
Yes, we’ve all read the magazine, but did you know that Cosmopolitan also makeup tools, including tweezers, eyelash curlers and brushes?
I’ve tried a few of their brushes, which are mainly made of tapered synthetic hair (read: no animals were harmed in the production of these brushes).
The foundation brush, which costs around £7, is flat and soft and allows your makeup to glide on smoothly.  However, it does initially create streaks. But once you get buffing swiftly in different directions, you’re left with an even finish.  This brush is also long lasting, as I’ve already washed it a few times and find that once teased back into shape, it’s good as new.
Meanwhile, the eyeshadow blender is like a miniature of the foundation brush.  Smooth and flat – it’s great for a base colour, but it proved a little tricky for contouring and shaping around the eye socket due to its wide head.
Cosmopolitan’s collection also boasts an angled blusher brush, which is shaped to glide across your cheekbone.  The brush is great for sweeping colour.  For the finishing touch, Cosmo has a powder brush, which is plush and soft – perfect for a dusting of finishing powder.
Finally, one of my favourites of the collection, is the travel lip brush.  The brush is stiff and pointed, so can fill the fullest or thinnest of lips.  It is also small and compact enough to fit into the smallest of handbags, so is great to quick touch-ups, as well as for getting to the last bits of your much loved and much used lipsticks.
Plus, with each product costing under £10, you’re onto a good quality, low price winner.
Available in Boots, Superdrug and other beauty stores.


ecoTOOLS makeup brushes set
ecoTOOLS bamboo makeup brushes
For the Desi girl with an environmental conscience, new for 2011, ecoTOOLS have launched a range of brushes.  Each brush is made from Bamboo, with 100% cruelty-free Taklon brushes (yeah, I had to Google that, too.  It’s basically a synthetic fibre which is the ‘vegan’ alternative to animal hairs).
I was totally impressed by their retractable foundation brush, which costs just £10.  It looks like a small, neat, shaving brush, with its soft, dome-shaped head.  This initially put me off as I thought that the foundation would get lost in the many bristles.  However, I couldn’t be more wrong.  The round head makes it perfect for buffing, and a little foundation goes a really long way with this brush.  I used less foundation with the ecoTOOLS brush than I did with the Cosmopolitan foundation brush.  Also, as a bonus, the brush doesn’t leave any streaks at all.

For my MAC 210 eyeliner brush review, click here

The ecoTOOLS smudge eyeliner brush (£4.99) is the perfect tool for contouring and adding depth of colour with eyeshadow.  In fact, it’s the ideal companion for Cosmopolitan’s eyeshadow blender, which can provide a perfect base, while the smudge brush is used in the corner of the eye to shape and frame.
I’ve also tried the ecoTOOLS mini brushes (£4.99), which comprises six small brushes, which can be used for eyes, lips or face.  I’ve used the mini brush to apply concealer, and it did the job.
However, my criticism would be that all the brushes are exactly the same, and it would have been nice for them to come with different shaped heads, as they would then be able to perform different functions.  For example, I think the brushes are too wide to use for the lips, so it would have been nice for the collection to have a slightly thinner one for this use.
However, overall I rate the ecoTOOLS for their softness and ease of use.


A fat kabuki brush
Prestige kabuki brush
A blusher brush
Prestige blush contour brush
Prestige is another low-budget option for brushes.  While its kabuki brush is not as soft as the Cosmopolitan powder brush or the ecoTOOLS foundation brush, its blusher brush – with its flat, paddle shape, is perfectly for a waste-free gliding of colour.
So, while I’m not sold on the kabuki, the blush brush is a winner.  And at £4.99 each, Prestige proves that makeup brushes needn’t cost the earth.

About the Author


I’m a British-Bengali Muslim mum-of-two. My pictures aren’t filtered and neither are my words. I’m not a makeup artist, chef or lifestyle guru. I’m just me, sharing honest beauty reviews for brown skin, halal restaurant finds, travel inspo, mum life hacks, easy Bengali recipes and more. If that’s your bag, keep reading!

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