The Best Brush Sets To Gift But Really To Buy For Yourself

You know who deserves something nice? YOU.
Publish date:
December 18, 2015
shoppables, It Cosmetics, makeup brushes, MAC cosmetics, gift sets

For a long time, makeup brushes were always an afterthought to me. I was more excited about the actual products I was putting on my face than how I was applying them. I had makeup brushes. I had a bunch, actually, but I would always neglect them and end up haphazardly using a sponge to do my face.

And then I got smart. I realized that, though brushes themselves were hard for me to get excited about, a good brush can really change both how you do your makeup and how it looks on your face. Like all of the worst things in life, they're boring but essential.

Brushes also make great gifts! Your niece might roll her eyes when she opens your anticlimactic present, but I guarantee she'll text you a sincere thank you in two weeks once she plays around with them and realizes how valuable a good brush set is. She probably wanted something more tech-y, but you can't do you face with an iPad Mini. I've tried.

But also, screw your family and everyone else in your life. You know who deserves something nice? YOU. Brush sets are great way to lace up your vanity with all of the essential tools without spending a whole ton of money, and around the holiday season, you can even snag them on sale if you keep your eyes peeled. Here are some you should consider:

MAC Look In A Box Kit/Basic, $52.50

It includes:

  • two foundation brushes
  • a concealer brush
  • two shadow brushes
  • a pointed liner/detail brush

All of the drag queens I know are like "MAC brushes!" They're also all terrible so don't take their word for it. Take mine.

What we have here is a solid beginner's set with everything you need for go simple or full glam. Apply foundation, blend your blush, highlight and contour, and knock out your smoky eye all with this one kit. Bam. It's everything you need.

Plus, it's MAC, so the quality of the brushes is fantastic. Bought individually, this kit would be a $170, so this set is basically a steal. It's less than ten dollars a brush or something, I don't know dude. Plus, if you're buying it for a gift, what could make you cooler than giving the gift of MAC brushes? It will make you look like you spent a ton of money and really know your shit. Help me help you.

IT Brushes For Ulta Experience Velvet Blurring 5 Piece Ultimate Luxe Set, $98

It includes:

  • a powder brush
  • two foundation brushes
  • a shadow brush
  • a crease brush

Okay hold on, so truthfully I wanted to keep this whole roundup at like, a $50 price point, and I realize that we could probably do better than damn near one hundred bucks for five brushes, but hear me out.

I'm including this brush set because these brushes are what I use.

These brushes are way nicer than I deserve, but I have the whole set so I clearly tricked someone into thinking I was worth it. IT Cosmetics describes the bristles as "micro-fine velvet luxe optical blurring hair" which is so extra, but I'm not gonna sit here and disagree because they are so, so nice. The bristles are dense and so soft that the word "bristles" seems too hard to describe them.

They work to blend your product out to a flawless, airbrushed finish. I'm decent at putting on makeup but these things make me look like a pro, and they make foundation and concealer imperceptible. The foundation brushes changed the way I put on makeup, and the way I use brushes, now that I think about it. Next to my Clarisonic, they're the most cherished things in my bathroom.

They're a good weight, feel nice in your hand, and are a sleek all-black-everything Jay-Z whatever etc.

IT Brushes For Ulta Your Beautiful Basics Airbrush 101 5 Piece Getting Started Brush Set, $58

It includes:

  • a powder brush
  • a foundation brush
  • a concealer brush
  • a shadow brush
  • a crease brush

Could the names of these sets be any longer? I swear to god.

So if you're not trying to drop a C note on makeup brushes, I get it, this set is a great alternative, also from IT Cosmetics. These brushes all feature densely packed hair that fans out to a fluffy dome, which are great for blurring away anything you don't want seen and perfectly blending your eye makeup.

They're a bit more lightweight and a little less serious than the previous set, but still killers. These are the ones I travel with. The brush all the way to the left, the Airbrush Powder brush, is my favorite Big Floofy Brushthat I use every day to set my face.

Sonia Kashuk Facet-nating Ten-Piece Brush Set, $39.99

It includes:

  • a large powder brush
  • a buffing brush
  • a small powder/blush brush
  • an angled foundation brush
  • a pointed concealer brush
  • a large eye shadow brush
  • a angled crease brush
  • a pointed blending brush
  • a precision pencil brush
  • a synthetic flat top eyeliner brush

Ten pieces. Forty bucks. Fight me.

I love Sonia Kashuk's whole damn line, especially her brushes. They're quality shapes and materials at an insanely reasonable price, and they're available at Target. Sonia makes luxury brushes accessible to everyone, which I love. It's also a great way to hone your makeup skills without having to drop a ton of money on a million different brushes every time you want to try something new.

And she releases new brushes and sets all the time so you can build up your arsenal each season! I think I'm only just now realizing how in love with this collection I am. The brush I always reach for to apply concealer is a Sonia brush. I rely on it.

Morphe Set 686 - Vegan Brush Kit, $49.99

It includes:

  • a pointed liner brush
  • a lip brush
  • a smudger brush
  • an angled liner brush
  • a flat liner brush
  • a mini concealer brush
  • a small shadow brush
  • a concealer brush
  • a blending crease brush
  • an oval shadow brush
  • a deluxe shadow brush
  • an angled blender brush
  • a pointed foundation brush
  • a contour brush
  • a bronzer brush
  • an angled blush brush
  • a powder brush
  • a fan brush

Shout out to vegans! I couldn't do a brush story without including Morphe, let's be real. I don't need to tell you how good Morphe brushes are, because at this point, I feel like it's common knowledge.

What I do want to point out is that this big ass brush collection is only fifty bucks, it's vegan, and it comes with its own brush role so you can cart it around with you. The website breaks down every brush included in the kit so you really know what you're getting.

Vegan or not, this set is basically a must-have.

Sephora Collection Karen Walker Amber Craft: Beauty Brush Set & Stand, $125

I hate myself for throwing this in and I hate myself for loving it. This dumb brush set is $125 for no reason other than its a collaboration with designer Karen Walker, who I legit love. That's not a reason to buy this stupid set but I'm probably going to anyway.

Listen, you can fool my dumb ass into paying too much money for anything for no good reason. This? I mean. The handles are the Karen Walker tortoiseshell and the gold accents are 24 karat gold. lol.

One of my favorite pairs of sunglasses are Karen Walker and tortoiseshell so obviously I need a brush set to match it, right? There's also a $175 Alexis Bittar set which I'm not even going to get into.

Anyway, go out and buy yourself some brushes. You'll feel like a pro and your makeup will look better than ever. What do you use to apply your makeup? Are you team sponge or team brush? Wage war in the comments.

Tynan is washing his makeup brushes, and you should be too, to Twitter @TynanBuck.