Good contour brushes are half the good contouring game, but with what seems like millions on offer, here is my guide to the best I’ve tried.
All of these are quite intuitive and although most are already industry favourites with professional make up artists, they are equally effective and easy for the normal, sometimes clueless, consumer.
Kevyn Aucoin The Contouring Brush, £33
Kevyn Aucoin is probably the most renowned contour artist who ever lived so I would expect The Contour Brush to be the brush of all contour brushes – and it didn’t disappoint.
This is quite a small contour brush, but I think it much too large for nose contouring. It has a small domed head made of goat-hair bristles and it’s perfect for creating precise cut glass and soft cheek contours alike!
It’s a great size for fitting snugly into the hollows of the cheeks or dusting a portion of shimmering highlighter along high-planes of the face. It has a luxurious and expensive look and feel with a long Perspex handle coating the signature maroon internal panel with the gold Kevyn Aucoin logo on it. It is perfectly weighted for easy use, and it works really well at distributing evenly and blending out the edged with its bristles simultaneously.
It has to be said, for an expensive brush, these bristles are a little bit coarse and I would expect slightly softer bristles from the brand and the price point. But it does do an amazing job at blurring edges for an airbrushed finish that helps everyone get a professional looking finish so I’m happy to put up with a little roughness. If you have easily irritated sensitive skin then you might want to give this one a miss, but for most of us The Contour Brush is a brilliant addition to every make-up arsenal!
Nars Ita brush, £43
NARS Ita Kabuki Brush undeniably a cult classic contouring brush that features a unique (code for weird) design both in the shape of the bristles and in the handle itself. The slimline handle is in the signature Nars rubbery matte black packaging. It gets as dirty looking as all the other Nars packaging which irritates me, but that aside, it’s ultra lightweight design featuring a split end and holding soft-ish bristles is the most intimidating but also the easiest contouring brush you’ll ever hold and wiggle.
And hold and wiggle is exactly what you’ll need to do.
Start by applying a great contouring powder or crème (I have a post on those HERE) right under the cheekbones. The goat hair tapered, narrow bristles allow for precise placement of the product so you can’t go far wrong if you angle the brush so it makes a straight line from the top of your ear to the corner of your mouth. Don’t let the product go beyond level with the centre of your eyeball. Then start the satisfying “wiggle” motion, softly pushing the brush back and forth to place the powder on the cheek and up and down to diffuse hard edges. Focus more on blend upwards than downwards to carve out cheekbones perfectly.
Ita might not be worth every ounce of hype it gets on YouTube but it has a really innovative design that makes it a fool-proof makeup applicator that is perfect for everyone from the most inexperienced to the professional. It really does make the often tedious job of contouring, fun, quick, and could change your contouring game for good.
Also, if you buy it for a Beauty YouTuber loving teenager, they’ll love you forever!
Charlotte Tilbury Powder and Sculpt Brush, £35
Charlotte Tilbury is a world renowned makeup artist who launched a beautiful range of products almost four years ago that took the cosmetics world by storm – a mixture of Charlotte’s outrageously brilliant self-promotion, magnetic personality, superstar friends and lastly but crucially, stunningly decadent packaging that houses gorgeous products.
The handle is a burgundy/night-crimson coloured wood with a rose gold colour ferrule and engraved ‘Charlotte Tilbury’ logo. It’s light but nicely weighted and has an ergonomic multifaceted design that creates an anti roll element which is actually quite handy when you’re used to brushes rolling off the table or dressing table!
The goat and squirrel hair mix bristles are soft and fine to the touch but (maybe not quite soft enough for the hype and the price – if you’re very sensitive the bristles might irritate so try it at a CT counter before committing to the purchase!) and the beautifully tapered tip is perfect for precise facial sculpting and works brilliantly in conjunction with her amazing Filmstar Bronze and Glow duo reviewed here.
The aforementioned gorgeous, hand-cut, perfectly tapered tip fits right into the hollow of the cheeks and the high-planes of the face, as well as the apples of the cheeks for a touch of blush. It deposits the right amount of powder on the intended area and distributes it evenly.
It is also great for blending out a cream-to-powder blush or highlighter for a diffused look, and the tip is sharp and petite enough to contour the sides of the nose, and highlight the tops of the cheekbones, the Cupid’s bow and centre of the nose (if you are that way inclined). It would be too time consuming to powder the whole face with this, in my (lazy) opinion, but for spot-powdering or setting concealer (including under-eye – the tapered point is effective for this) it’s a good one.
It’s more versatile than it looks and I really do love it!
Cassie Lomas Polly Brush, £22
Polly is such a lovely, easy to use brush from Cassie Lomas’ first foray into the luxury brush world. Her soft bristles are cut at a gentle angle, which makes creating a non-severe angle easier than ever. It’s a must have for easy contouring and blusher, as well as buffing in illuminating highlighters. She’s a perfect size for sculpting gently but also giving enough precision. It seems to buff out edges perfectly as it applies product and creates as seamless a finish as I’ve seen. You can get great contour with Polly, but also great blusher and highlighter and that’s rarer than they tells us it is. She’s a great price for what she does, and is number one on my stocking filler list this year.
Cassie Lomas Kassy Brush, £20
Kassy is made of soft natural hair that’s very tightly packed giving a stiffer feel than the others on this list. She’s the best at creating the ‘night out’ contour and she buffs in contouring powder or crème into the hollows brilliantly. If you love a more dramatic contour I think she’s your best bet at creating that easily. But sometimes I like to apply a contour with Kassy and then sponge foundation on top to give a really amazing, natural and undetectable contour. She doubles up as a brilliant brush for buffing in foundations (especially creamy textured ones) too. If you’re a contour queen you need a Kassy!