You can buy the most expensive contour stick, cream, or palette in the world, but without the right tools, your makeup can only do so much. Sure, your fingers can blend everything out in a quickie, but if you want pro-level definition, streak-free blending, and precise application, using one of the best contour brushes around is essential. Thought your foundation brush was a can-all, do-all? Think again: in order to create a chiseled, flawlessly sculpted look, you’re going to need the right high-quality makeup tool that’s specially made for accenting the hollows of your face.
First off, how does one even contour in the first place? Well, it all depends on your face shape, but New York City-based makeup artist Benjamin Puckey previously told Allure that there’s one simple rule for all contour beginners to know. “Anything you shade will optically recede,” he said, so remember to use your contouring products on shadowed areas of your face, such as your jawline, under your cheekbones, and/or the perimeter of your forehead. It’s also worth noting that contour and bronzer are two different products: “Contouring is about shaping and defining the structure of the face, while bronzing is about warming up the skin where the sun would naturally hit,” New York City-based makeup artist Daniel Martin previously told Allure. Since contouring is all about mimicking the natural shadows on your face, a matte finish is essential to creating a natural-looking finish.
Now, it’s time to get to buffing and blending. Below, take a look at some of the best contour-sculpting brushes for dagger-sharp definition no matter your budget.
If there’s one thing that professional makeup artists and Allure editors can agree on, it’s the contour-defining powers of Patrick Ta’s Major Sculpt Contour Brush. This Allure Best of Beauty winner has won over the hearts of our editors and New York City-based makeup artist Judi Gabbay Braha for its densely-packed bristles (which are synthetic, by the way) that work magically with powder and cream contour products. “Its bristles create a perfect stamp of contour with a seamless finish,” she says. “Simply etch your contour with the brush under cheekbones and along the jawline, lightly buffing for a clean blend.”
Looking for something a little more luxe? Enter: the Chanel Les Pinceaux de Chanel Contouring Brush N°109. This angled brush hugs the contours of your face as it sweeps subtle strokes of makeup for a natural-looking finish. It’s worth noting that this brush can only be used with pressed or loose powder contour products, so keep that in mind before restocking your contour routine.
Allure associate manager of special projects Talia Gutierrez says that E.L.F’s. Dual-Ended Nose Contour Brush is a mainstay in her makeup bag. This dual-ended brush features soft synthetic bristles on each end that are shaped to effortlessly apply and blend your product of choice. The firm (yet gentle) angled end provides precise application and sharp lines while the softer end is slightly tapered to blend any and all of your cream, liquid, or powder products.