6 Portable Makeup Brushes You Can Take Anywhere

We’ve done our makeup in plenty of questionable environments: while sitting on a towel at the beach, in an airport bathroom stall, and inside a moving car. Thankfully, we always pack our bags strategically, knowing that a makeup moment can arise any time and any place. To prepare, we usually rely on the help of dual-purpose makeup stickstravel-size products, and portable makeup brushes. 

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Travel makeup brushes are surprisingly helpful, take up very little room in your bag, and will calm the nerves of every makeup lover who gets antsy when separated from their everyday makeup brushes

Ahead, we’re rounding up some of our favorite portable brushes, featuring retractable options for the beauty guru with the bag that’s bursting at the seams, the sleek pink set your friends will ask to do their touch-ups with, and the palm brush for seamless, your-skin-but-better coverage.

IT Cosmetics Your Superheroes Full-Size Travel Brush Set

For those of you who just can’t live without all of your brush essentials, this set of six brushes comes housed inside a cute metallic makeup case. Pack it in your beach bag, store it in your carry-on or bring it in your purse to the bar — no judgment, ever.

EcoTools Retractable Brush

At under $10, this retractable brush is super affordable and will help you apply powder and bronzer in seconds. It includes a cap to make sure your brush stays safe from whatever has collected at the bottom of your makeup bag.

Artis Elite Mirror Palm Brush Mini

If you’ve tried an Artis Palm Brush before, then you’ve witnessed how beautifully these brushes blend makeup into your skin. The coolest part is, you could realistically use this mini palm brush for your entire makeup routine which is ideal when on-the-go — just don’t forget to wash it afterwards

lilah b. Retractable Crème Foundation Brush

Prepare to fall in love with this brush’s super soft, dense bristles. It makes application fast and easy leaving practically zero room for error. We love pairing it with PRO FILT’R SOFT MATTE POWDER FOUNDATION.

Easy-Taken Travel Makeup Brush Set

This blush-colored case comes complete with five mini brushes and a mirror so you can perfect a full face en route to wherever your busy schedule may take you.

Fenty Beauty Portable Contour & Concealer Brush 150

Who would’ve thought that a portable makeup brush could leave you at a loss for words? This one was designed for portability — to conceal, contour and touch up no matter where you are.

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10 Ways to Use a Fan Makeup Brush

Of all the makeup brushes out there, a fan brush often seems to be the most confusing. While we normally see it being used to highlight the high points of the cheekbones, a fan brush is actually a very versatile beauty tool that can be used several different ways. Not sure how? Ahead, we rounded up ten ways to use a fan brush that will make your routine a lot easier. Thank us later. 

1. Brush Away Eyeshadow Fallout

You’ve applied the perfect bronzy eye, only to end up with eyeshadow all over your under-eye area. Don’t smudge it with your fingers; instead use a fluffy fan brush to swipe away any fallout without making a mess.

2. Apply Facial Masks

Use a small-to-medium-size fan brush to apply a facial mask with the utmost precision. Bonus,  you won’t waste as much product as you would if you were using your fingers.

3. Contour Facial Features

Because of its unique shape, a large fan brush is the perfect tool for contouring your cheekbones, nose, jawline and forehead.

4. Highlight to Perfection

This brush also makes for the perfect highlighting tool. For glowing skin, use it to lightly dust powdered highlighter along the tops of your cheekbones and the bridge of your nose.

5. Dust on Blush for a Natural Look

We all get a little heavy handed with our blush application from time to time. To avoid overly bright pink cheeks, dust blush on with a fan brush — its soft bristles will diffuse the powder for a subtle hint of color.

6. Apply Tinted Moisturizer

If your skin is typically dry, applying tinted moisturizer with your fingers can zap the moisture right out of your skin! Use a fan brush to evenly distribute your lightweight coverage option without using too much of it.

7. Distribute Powdered Foundation

Once you’ve applied your favorite foundation, use a fan brush with compact bristles to buff out the powder (don’t forget the neck area) for a perfectly blended complexion — the IT Cosmetics Airbrush Radiance Fan Brush #116 is our favorite for this.

8. Blend Bronzer, Blush and Highlighters

After laying down your foundation, blush, bronzer and highlighter, use a large, fluffy fan brush like the Lancôme Dual Ended Highlighter Fan Brush #31 to blend out any harsh lines — especially if you’ve over-applied — for an airbrushed finish!

9. Remove Shine in the T-Zone Area

Skin starting to look greasy? Touch up throughout the day by lightly dusting translucent powder onto your T-zone to banish shine.

10. Apply Mascara

You can even use a small fan brush to apply mascara to your top and bottom lashes for a natural, barely-there look and zero clumps.

The Best Makeup Brush Sets (Approved By Makeup Artists)

Sometimes buying a one-off makeup brush makes sense – like a replacement for one of your old brushes or one that fits a specific need, like a kabuki brush. That said, it’s usually way more time (and cost) efficient to throw your bread at a full set of cosmetic brushes. That way you’ve got everything you need, and it all matches perfectly. (Let’s not discount the shelfie potential here.) To help you find the best makeup brush sets for whatever your makeup needs and wants, we asked MUAs to share their faves.

1. For the Newbie: Real Techniques Sparkle and Shine Set, $50

Best Makeup Brush Sets

If your makeup brush collection is practically non-existent, this set serves as a one-and-done deal that covers everything you need for not a ton of cash down. “Real Techniques offers well-made, vegan brushes at a really great price,” says global makeup artist Bryan Cantor. “This set comes with 11 brushes that perform a wide variety of makeup tasks, plus a sponge with its own carrying case.” Real Techniques has long been a fave brand for us, and we couldn’t agree more!

2. For the Aspiring Pro: Morphe Babe Faves Face Brush Set, $68

Best Makeup Brush Sets

“I personally love to use Morphe brushes. Not only are they ridiculously affordable, but they are really great quality. When I first started getting into makeup, I was able to afford every single brush they offered, and I’m still using the same brushes I bought,” says Kimberly Culbertson, a permanent makeup artist and owner of Beauty Babe Club in San Diego, California. This comprehensive set includes nine natural and synthetic brushes plus a blender.

3. For the Legit Professional: Glo Skin Beauty Filled Brush Belt, $190

Best Makeup Brush Sets

Not only does a professional makeup artist need a full set of cosmetic brushes, but she needs an easy way to carry them. “This particular set includes a professional brush belt with 28 pockets that are already stuffed with 12 professional-quality vegan brushes. This gives you all the brushes you need to create a complete look, plus room for any other brushes that you care to carry,” says Cantor.

4. For the Wanderlust: It Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe On The Go 6-Piece Brush Set + Case, $50

Best Makeup Brush Sets

“This is the absolute best travel-friendly makeup brush set. It’s only $50, has a value of almost $160, and comes in a sleek traveling case,” says Culbertson. The set includes six full-size brushes, including the multi-powder, foundation, eyeshadow, concealer, crease, and eyeliner/brow brushes.

5. For the Minimalist: Real Techniques Everyday Essentials, $20

Best Makeup Brush Sets

Culbertson agrees that Real Techniques is the place to go if you’re seeking quality brushes for a low price. She says their Everyday Essentials set is especially great for those who don’t need a whole slew of brushes but could benefit from owning, well, the essentials. It comes with a makeup sponge and four brushes, including a blending, crease, setting, and face brush.

6. For the Ultimate Makeup Enthusiast: Sigma Beauty The Ultimate Chrome Brush Set, $153

Best Makeup Brush Sets

Serious makeup enthusiasts, aspiring influencers, and anyone else who’s all about trying a wide range of makeup looks: this set is for you. With a whopping 16 full-size brushes, this brush set has almost every brush a makeup enthusiast could ever need,” says Cantor. “All of the brushes are created with ultra-soft SigmaTech® and Sigmax® fibers, both of which are vegan and cruelty-free. If that wasn’t enough, the makeup brush set also comes with a free two-year warranty.” Now that’s quality we can get on board with!

7. For the Disney Fan: Spectrum Ariel Shell Brush Set, $110

Best Makeup Brush Sets

Sometimes you want a brush set that fits your aesthetic, and if you’re a Disney fan (umm, isn’t that #allofus?) then that’s a very specific niche. Spectrum makes a handful of Disney-themed brush sets, including this one inspired by our favorite red-headed mermaid. Not only does the set include 10 brushes with sea blue glitter handles, aquamarine ferrules, and splashy coral bristles, it’s all packaged in a gorgeous clam shell case you can use as either storage for your brushes or a legit purse.

8. For the Luxe Lover: Wayne Goss The Face Set, $250

Best Makeup Brush Sets

If you’ve got money to spend on brushes, you really can’t go wrong with a set created by makeup hero Wayne Goss. “If you’re really into makeup and contouring, this is the best brush set. It’s pricey at $250, but these are luxury brushes that will last you a lifetime,” says Culbertson.

9. For the Busy Body: Marc Jacobs Beauty Your Place Or Mine? 5-Piece Petites Brush, $139

Best Makeup Brush Sets

Whether you always find yourself on your way to happy hour straight after work, feel like you live out of your car, or are forever traveling, this set of petite makeup brushes by Marc Jacobs is a must. Cantor says, “The five travel-size brushes it contains are perfect for creating your look for a night out or getting yourself ready for work wherever you happen to wake up the next morning. Plus, I love that it comes with a gorgeous emerald green vegan patent leather case.”

Have you guys got any of these brush sets? Let us know your fave brush sets in the comments below.

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