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Best eye makeup brushes 2023: Pro-level tools for blending, lining and more

No matter the look you’re trying to create, the best eye makeup brushes will help you achieve a polished, precise finish

The right eye makeup tools are an essential part of your beauty arsenal. And, just like face makeup brushes, there are several types available: from light and fluffy blending brushes to dense smudging brushes, under-eye concealer brushes to eyeliner brushes, and so many more.

In the past, folk had to navigate the sticky subject of natural vs synthetic, too, where natural brushes – with hairs that come courtesy of animals such as rabbits, squirrels, and horses – were known for being softer and to shed less. Thankfully, synthetic brushes have come a long way, proving just as good as their natural counterparts. In fact, almost all the brushes you’ll find on the market today are synthetic and vegan-friendly, with natural brushes far more difficult to find.

So, with so many options available, which brushes do you actually need? To help you on your way, we’ve rounded up our favourite eye makeup brushes, plus buying information to help you decode the shapes, sizes, prices, and more.

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Best eye makeup brushes: At a glance

How to choose the best eye makeup brushes for you

Do eyeshadow brushes really make a difference?

Using your fingers to apply makeup can be quick and easy, since the pads of your fingers fit into the planes of your face. However, using a brush can deliver just the right amount of product, thereby achieving a more polished final result. Brushes can also make your makeup look more natural. Take the application of eyeshadow, for example: rather than sitting on the surface of your skin, application using a brush will enable you to work the pigment into the skin, for a more even wash of colour.

Eye makeup application also focuses on a much smaller area than, say, applying foundation or highlighter, so brushes provide greater control in terms of the depth and definition.

How many eye makeup brushes do you need?

This very much depends on the level of makeup you’re applying day to day, but the consensus for those who prefer to keep their eyeshadow simple is two – one (possibly angled) for precision and a fluffy brush for blending. Add a brow brush and a liner brush to complete your kit.

How much should I spend?

In testing, we put numerous brushes through their paces in order to pick our favourites. Unfortunately, when it comes to price, we did find that you do have to spend a little bit more to get the best possible quality – we’re talking softer bristles and heavier handles. After all, the best beauty tools are created as a result of great craftsmanship, and when looked after such items will probably see you through years of use. We found that most of the best-quality single brushes came in at around the £20-£25 mark.

That said, the list below includes eye makeup brushes at a range of price points, and one of our favourites – the Fluffy Eye Blender Brush from e.l.f Cosmetics – will set you back just £5.

How we test eye-makeup brushes

We put a range of brushes to the test, all of which have been designed specifically for the application of eye makeup. We put the brushes through their paces over the course of a week, considering factors such as their shape, size, durability, density and price, alongside whether we feel a brush is easy to use and delivers the results intended. We also examine how straightforward the brushes are to clean after use, massaging the bristles in lukewarm water with a mild shampoo and allowing them to air-dry.

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The best eye makeup brushes you can buy in 2023

1. Fenty Beauty All-Over Eyeshadow Brush 200: Best for versatility and even application

Price when reviewed: £20 | Check price at Boots

This fluffy pink number does exactly what it says on the tin – flawlessly distributing pigment all over the lid (without caking), while effectively softening the edges and getting it into the creases, too. The tapered fan shape and flat edge meant our novice tester found it easy to apply the perfect amount of colour every time, and the baby-soft bristles are superb for layering, blending and buffing away any hard lines. This brush suffered zero shedding of its bristles – plus, it washed up well after several uses, with the bristles remaining soft. If you forced us to choose, this is probably the one we’d bring to a desert island…

Key details – Size: Medium; Cruelty-free: Yes

Check price at Boots

2. Jones Road Eye Detail Brush: Best for the upper and lower lash line

Price when reviewed: £22 | Check price at Jones Road

This ultra-soft, high-performing brush from Jones Road was without doubt our favourite for packing on some serious colour. The dense (but not stiff) fibres are the perfect length and shape for evenly applying pigment, particularly around the upper and lower lash lines where you may require more precision. It’s also a great tool for softening kohl eyeliner. The quality of the bristles is up there with some of the best (and softest) we tested, and the handle allows for great control. Pair with your favourite fluffy blending brush (or the brand’s Eye Blending Brush) and you’ve got yourself a winning duo.

Key details – Size: Small; Cruelty-free: Yes

Check price at Jones Road

4. Ruby Hammer 02 Magnetic Brush Set: Best liner/brow brush combo

Price when reviewed: £28 | Check price at Amazon

Whether you’re going full-feathered or au naturel, every beauty arsenal requires a quality brow brush. And if you’re in the market for just that then why not get three for the price of one? This travel-friendly set from makeup artist extraordinaire Ruby Hammer MBE is genius, not only because it includes a brow-grooming spoolie, but because it comes with an ultra-fine liner brush to pair with your favourite gel, cream or liquid eyeliner, and a square-ended brush that works well for lips, too. The magnetic brush heads are interchangeable and can be stacked on top of each other, making them perfect for on-the-go touch-ups. The brow/lash spoolie is firm and full for perfectly separated hairs, while the fine-point liner brush makes it easy to draw on an ultra-thin eyeliner flick. We love it!

Key details – Size: Varies; Cruelty-free: Yes

5. e.l.f Fluffy Eye Blender Brush: Best affordable eyeshadow brush

Price when reviewed: £5 | Check price at Amazon

At such an incredible price point, this lightweight brush is a must-have for anyone wanting a quality blending tool that doesn’t dent their bank balance. The synthetic bristles are as soft and fine as some of this brush’s more expensive competitors and does a brilliant job of smoothing and diffusing pigment to give a blown-out, soft-focus eye makeup look that’s worthy of a YouTube tutorial. We had no issues with shedding in testing, and the brush washed up well numerous times. A great everyday eyeshadow brush that’s perfect for seamlessly blending base colours.

Key details – Size: Medium; Cruelty-free: Yes

6. Vieve 219 Small Eyeshadow Blender Brush: Best for cream eyeshadow

Price when reviewed: £22 | Check price at Cult Beauty

Makeup that has a creamy consistency is notoriously difficult to apply with a brush, since it can end up looking streaky. While some prefer to use their fingers to blend such cream and liquid formulas, those who love the professional feel of a brush will want to get their mitts on this number from YouTuber and makeup artist, Jamie Genevieve, whose beauty brand has undeniably gone from strength to strength in the past few years. With a fluffy texture and dome-shaped bristles that fan out to flawlessly diffuse pigment, this brush’s slightly smaller size compared to most blending brushes allows for greater precision and definition. The quality is excellent, and it’s also a great weight.

Key details – Size: Small; Cruelty-free: Yes

Check price at Cult Beauty

7. Real Techniques Everyday Eye Essentials: Best value brush set

Price when reviewed: £20 | Check price at LookFantastic

Not only are Real Techniques’ brushes loved by beauty aficionados for being easy on your wallet, but the brand’s tools are renowned for delivering a flawless finish every time. The same can be said for this set, which offers excellent value at less than £20. Comprising eight different tools – including a shading brush, two kinds of crease brushes, a smudge brush to blend and blur eyeshadow and liner along the lash line, plus a fine liner brush, lash separator brush, and more – you’ll be well equipped to experiment with lots of different makeup looks. In fact, we were blown away by the quality of the brushes for the price point – if you’re starting out and looking for a great basic set, we highly recommend it.

Key details – Size: Varies; Cruelty-free: Yes

Check price at LookFantastic

8. Spectrum Pantherine 6 piece eye brush set: Best looking eye makeup brush set

Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at John Lewis

If you’re looking to start a collection of makeup brushes that look as good on your vanity table as they feel on your face, then this vintage-style set from Spectrum is a fantastic option. The set includes six brushes, which each have a sleek, caramel-toned tapered handle that fits comfortably in the hand, gold hardware and super fluffy taklon fibres.

When we tested these brushes, we were impressed by how smoothly they applied and blended eyeshadows. The set includes brushes that are perfect for sharp, precise looks, as well as softer washes of colour. Most importantly, the brushes are built to last – even after a few washes, no brush hairs were shed. At such an affordable price point, this set is a safe investment and you can even pick up a face brush set to match.

Check price at Spectrum

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