Whether you’re a makeup connoisseur or you prefer the au naturale look, makeup brushes can seriously up your application game. But they can feel like an investment—which is why we’ve rounded up the best makeup brushes from clean beauty brands so you don’t have to try them all.
By: Lisa Fennessy
IN THIS POST:
- The best brush for liquid foundation
- The best brush for masking
- The best brush for eyeliner
- The best brush for concealer
- The best brush for all over powder
- The best brush for cream eyeshadow
- The best brush for powder eyeshadow
- The best brush for blending
- The best brush for brows
- The best mascara wands
Part of the fun of natural, organic makeup is how easy it can be to apply, on top of the killer benefits it can have for your skin. And the accessibility of a stick foundation or a pot ‘o color blush is irresistible for on-the-go application, travel (we’ll get back to it one of these days!) or creating a quick, everyday look.
But, as any makeup artist will tell you, the secret to getting the most out of your makeup is to employ high-quality brushes. Not only can they help you conserve product, but they offer a pulled-together finish that’s trickier to get when you just pat-pat-pat with your ring finger (though we love a makeup routine that engages our artistic side).
RELATED: Nontoxic Makeup On A Budget
That’s why we’re rounding up on the best makeup brushes from clean beauty brands—check them out to up your makeup routine ASAP.
The best ethical beauty makeup brushes
LIQUID FOUNDATION: Vapour’s Foundation Brush | $46 (2024 note: Vapour is not longer in business.)
When it comes to liquid foundation, it’s a toss-up between Vapour’s Foundation Brush and Clove + Hallow’s Perfecting Buffer. Both are very similar, but I think the Vapour brush is a little softer—so I’m going with that one as my top picks. If you want to save a few bucks go with C+H. Here’s why I love Vapour’s Foundation Brush…
Let’s start with brush density. Some foundation brushes are too loose and I’m often left wondering if it has the capacity to move/blend product. On the other hand, other brushes are too dense, which is a problem because I feel like it actually removes product. Vapour’s Foundation BrushVapour’s Foundation Brush hits the sweet spot in the middle and leaves your foundation looking flawless.
Also, size matters. Vapour’s is big enough to cover a larger surface area, but small enough to get into all the crooks of the nose and sides of the face. But it’s also not too small that you have to do 50 passes. If it sounds like I’m describing the Goldilocks of foundation brushes, I am. Bonus: It’s the perfect size for the apples of cheeks, so it can double as an effective cream blush or cream bronzer blender as well.
Okay, so back to the softness. It features vegan fibers held together via an FSC-certified Birch handle, Vapour’s brush is like velvet! I mean, there’s nothing worse than a foundation brush that pricks your face. Can I get a witness?
And since you asked, this is my favorite foundation and my favorite BB Cream!
A long-time favorite, nothing even comes close to Laurel’s Fan Treatment Brush. It’s a champ at mixing product, holding product and evenly applying product. Plus, it delivers product to a wide surface area with very little effort ensuring your mask goes on evenly and treats evenly. It’s also wicked easy to clean.
Some mask brushes are just TOO MUCH BRUSH and it soaks up all the mask and leaves none for your face. And girl, when you’re investing in your skincare, the last thing you want to do is waste it on your brush.
I also love that this vegan bristle brush is held by a slender walnut handle made from reforested land. It’s a great size and easy to hold.
You can’t buy this brush separately which is actually a blessing because it comes with the ultimate handcrafted pottery, ivory mask dish. I have had this duo for years and use it weekly!
I use Gressa’s vegan Angle Liner Brush religiously with any gel or powder eyeliner.
Wet the tip a bit and it picks up product like a champ—then you can just press it into your lash line almost like a stamp. I also like it to blend and smudge out pencil liner too. It’s a great shape and angle that replicates the lash line. Plus it’s structured enough to deliver product, yet soft enough to blend/smudge.
Fitglow’s vegan Conceal + Correct 2-in-1 is super soft, super practical and dual-sided—HALLA! I tend to apply my concealer with my fingers but 9 times out of 10, it looks way better when it’s blended with a brush.
I love that this one is dual sided so you can flawlessly blend smaller areas or bigger areas. You can even use the smaller side to apply and then the larger side to blend.
I actually like using the smaller side on my lids when I use an eye primer too. Both sides are dense enough to blend product while still being super soft.
SAVE: Use NEWKNEW20 to save 20% on Fitglow’s Conceal + Correct brush at Fitglow.
Does anyone else love a powder brush the size of a dinner plate? Just me? Lol. That is not this, but it’s close.
I like that this vegan brush is super soft, large and symmetrical. Some of the powder brushes are tapered or angled and I just really like the feeling of an all over, all at once application when it comes to powders. It’s the size and the softness that gets me here every time.
I used to hate cream shadows, but now I love them. Just a wash of color and eyes look bright, alive and dewy. I think one of the reasons I hated it for so long is because I was applying it with my fingers. This wasn’t giving me the precision I wanted and it was also adding more oil to the finished product.
Now that I discovered RMS’s Eye Polish Brush, I’m converted.
This vegan brush is fantastic at picking up product, laying down product and blending product. It’s a great size to apply shadow to all over lids. But, it’s not a detailing brush, so keep that in mind.
RMS makeup brushes are all plastic-free—read my full list of plastic-free beauty products here.
POWDER EYESHADOW: Clove + Hallow’s Shade + Blend | $28
Let’s keep it real. I am no makeup artist. When I apply shadow, it’s an all-over-wash kinda look. One color on the lids…maybe a highlighter on the brow bone or the corners of my eyes and that’s it. (AKA, the crossroads of having hooded eyelids and lack of skill).
I mean don’t get me wrong—I am so envious of women who can do full eye looks. I covet that dark sultry eye with mad eyeliner like where-does-the-liner-stop-and-the shadow-start-we-don’t-know looks. I would wear the crap out of that look.
But alas…not my strong suit.
Enter Clove + Hallow’s Shade + Blend, the all-over shadow brush. So easy to use. Applies shadow evenly with little effort. This brush is double-sided although I tend to apply with the blend side and blend with the blend side. A TNK staple. #foolproof
When I was younger, I put on eyeliner pencil in a straight line (which is not wrong…but I’ve learned a few tricks as I’ve gotten older). Now, I like to use a smudge brush like this one to go in and blend the straight eyeliner line. I like this one because it’s such a tiny point that you can really go in and blend the line—and you don’t have to worry about if you missed a spot or if the line is straight. And this smudge brush helps prevent the liner from smudging over the day. You can’t do that with any other brush.
First and foremost, I love this brush because it’s dual-sided. One side applies product and the other side is a spoolie to blend.
Now, maybe you think all eyebrow brushes are built the same because they all look the same. Well take it from me—they are not! I have tried several other EcoBrow Defining Brush doppelgangers and I can spot a fake via first swipe.
When it comes to brows, it all boils down to how much product a brush transfers. Too much and you look like Burt from Sesame Street. Too little and you’re like, Hello?! Is this thing on? This brush picks up just the right amount of product without over or under doing it.
The other thing I love about it is you can use this brush to apply brow products in diagonal swipes to replicate brow hair OR you can apply it in wide horizontal swatches to fill in brows all over, which I personally love doing.
And not to be forgotten, the spoolie is everything when it comes to blending. I also love using this to brush brows up and hold in place before trimming.
RELATED: My picks for the best natural mascaras.
ILIA departed from their patented Limitless Lash Mascara (LLM) wand to transition to what they are calling a violin-shaped wand….or an hourglass-shaped wand. This synthetic-bristled wand has longer, thicker bristles than the LLM wand and is able to deliver a ton of product with each swipe. This mascara pulls lashes together as part of its volumizing strategy. This means it’s going to give you a chunkier lash look as opposed to a feathery, natural, separated look. If you like lash separation and a natural look, this one is not for you. Read my full review here.
RELATED: ILIA Beauty review
What are your go-to, best makeup brushes?
Common questions about makeup brushes from clean beauty brands
The perfect brush should not be too dense (to avoid soaking up all the product) and it also needs to be wide enough to apply product on large areas of your face.
Big enough to cover a larger surface area, but small enough to get into all the crooks of the nose and sides of the face.
ILIA Beauty Finishing Powder, RMS Eye Polish Brush and VERT’s Beauty Blending Shadow Brush. Click here for more.