PR + purchased by me.
I’m always asked for makeup brush recommendations, so today I’m sharing the best cruelty free makeup brushes for gifting. The right blending brushes have really helped me to improve my makeup application technique. These are best sets and individual brushes to help elevate your makeup game.
All brushes are cruelty free and vegan. Some brands are also eco friendly.
Urban Decay Pro Brushes
The Urban Decay Pro Brush line is my go-to these days. I bought a ton of brushes from the collection this summer and fell in love with them. They’re very elegant looking, with long textured handles. The super soft synthetic hair is made from recycled plastic bottles. They’re very easy to clean. In addition to being cruelty free, vegan, and chic, they’re also eco friendly. (check out my review)
My must-have brushes
- Tapered Blending – This replaced my Goss 6 brush because it’s perfect for blending in the crease and feathering out color to create a seamless gradient.
- Iconic Eyeshadow – The best multi-purpose eyeshadow brush and definitely worthy of the iconic name. I’ve been practicing doing my makeup with it and you can pretty much do an entire eye look with just this brush. You can use it to pat color on the lid, sweep color into the crease, blend it into the transition, etc. It’s wonderful.
- Detailed Smudger – I prefer this for applying shadow to the lower lid or to smudge a color along the lash line.
- Tightline – Best at smudging liner right at the roots of my lashes.
- Moondust – Perfect for packing color onto the lid.
- Angled Lip – I know this is a lip brush, but because I have hooded eyes, I also use it as a lid brush, it works especially well at the inner lid for my limited lid space.
- Large Eyeshadow – I use this to apply my eyeshadow primer to my entire lid.
- Large Blending – This makes everything perfectly diffused.
- Diffusing Blush – This is the best blush brush for my face shape. It’s the perfect size to apply blush between contour and highlight.
- Flat Optical Blurring – I just bought this brush. It’s supposed to be the best for giving you full coverage with your foundation.
- Optical Blurring – Great for applying foundation.
Urban Decay Pro Essential Brush Stash – $75
This set is made up of the finger, optical blurring, iconic eyeshadow, flat eyeshadow, and diffusing blush brushes. It also comes with a sleek carryall bag.
Urban Decay Pro Brush Vault – $375
If you truly want it all, here’s the full collection of the new pro brushes. This comes with the smoky crease, large blending, large eyeshadow, iconic eyeshadow, flat eyeshadow, medium eyeshadow, smoky smudger, tapered blending, moondust, eyeshadow contour, detailed smudger, angled eyeliner, precise eyeliner, tightline, angled brow, essential eye tool, angled lip, the finger, domed concealer, detailed concealer, diffusing blush, diffusing highlighter, contour, large powder, large tapered, finishing powder, large tapered foundation, optical blurring and flat optical blurring brushes.
Makeup Geek Brushes
I love the Makeup Geek brushes and they’re an affordable, indie alternative. The brushes have a bronze gunmetal ferrule and espresso tinted handle. The fibers are all synthetic. (see my review)
My must-have brushes
- Pencil – Best for lining around the eyes, smudging out color.
- Defined Crease – Perfect for the smoky dome shape on hooded eyes.
- Bent Liner – One of the best ever for gel liner.
- Soft Dome – The best for blending and applying a transitional color.
- Pointed Crease – Good for blending.
- Chiseled Cheek – Really great for contouring the cheeks and chin.
- Face Buffer – Great for applying powder to the face.
Makeup Geek Eye Brush Bundle – $49
The Eye Brush Bundle comes with the soft dome, outer v, bent liner, pencil, small crease, pointed crease, and dual-ended brow brush.
Makeup Geek Face Brush Bundle – $45
The Face Brush bundle comes with the angled stippling, rounded blush, face buffer, angled contour, and cheek highlighter brushes.
Real Techniques Brushes
Real Techniques, founded by Sam and Nic Chapman (the Pixiwoo sisters from Youtube), is an awesome brush brand. I’ve bought, used and gifted their brushes many times. They’re perfect for someone who loves color, since many of the brushes are purple and pink.
My must-have brushes
- Base Eyeshadow – It’s perfect for applying your base eyeshadow shade to the lid or for softly blending. Also good for applying a light transition color.
- Setting – This is the best at applying highlighter. It’s also for setting powder. It’s my go-to highlighter brush.
- Duo-Fiber Contour – I love this for contouring the cheeks and it can be used for blush too.
- Stippling – I find this is best for applying a thin layer of foundation.
- Accent – Perfect for applying eyeshadow to my tiny lids. Most lid brushes are too big for me.
- Smudge – Great for applying color to the lower lash line.
Real Techniques Starter Kit – $17.99
This comes with the base eyeshadow brush, deluxe crease brush, accent brush, eyeliner brush, brow brush and a case. This was the first brush set I bought by RT. It’s also the set that I’ve gifted the most. People love it.
Real Techniques Your Picks Set – $29.99
I just bought this set. It comes with a buffing brush, contour brush, stippling brush, deluxe crease brush and base shadow brush.
Real Techniques Sculpting Set – $19.99
Made up of the Sculpting brush for contouring or blush with cream and liquid makeup, the Fan brush to sweep on powder and whisk away excess makeup, and the setting brush.
Real Techniques Mega Set – $49.99
It’s such a massive brush set! It comes with the miracle complexion sponge (a beauty blender dupe), duo-fiber face brush, contour brush, base eyeshadow brush, angled eyeshadow brush, deluxe crease brush, eyeliner brush, fine liner brush, stippling brush, cheek brush, setting brush, and sculpting sponge.
Real Techniques Eyelining Set – $20
I LOVE this set. It comes with a smudge brush, eyeliner brush, precision liner brush and pointed liner brush. Perfect for hooded eyes.
Real Techniques Multitask Set – $19.99
I’ve been lemming this set because of the new face brush. It’s an angled cut face brush for contouring or blush. It also has a cheek brush for highlighting, contouring or blush. The eye brush can be used to apply crease color, highlight the browbone or softly smudge along the lower lash line.
Sigma Beauty Brushes
The Sigma Beauty SigmaTech fibers are synthetic fibers engineered to outperform animal hair brushes. They don’t absorb cream or powder products, they’re antibacterial, hypoallergenic and will maintain their original shape and color even after multiple washes. The handles are made from sustainable wood. They have a ton of brush gift sets, but I’ve listed 4 of the best here.
My must-have brushes
- E06 Winged Eyeliner – This brush is the reason I can do winged eyeliner. It’s the best! It’s so tiny and precise that it’s perfect for getting along my lash line and creating the base of a wing. I also like it for when I only want to tightline my eyes.
- E36 Blending – This brush is the best brush for hooded eyes! It’s small and fits perfectly into the socket to help diffuse color. Use it to deepen the crease or to blend out the transition.
- E25 Blending – This is very similar to the goss 6 brush, so it’s great for blending. You can also use it to pat color on the lid.
- E21 Smudge – I use it to apply highlighter precisely under the eyebrows, to smudge shadow at the lower lid, to cut a crease, or to line.
- E30 Pencil – This is a good pencil brush.
- E40 Large Blending – This is great for making sure you have a seamless gradient of color in the crease.
- E47 Shader – I like this to highlight at the inner corner, for blending out the lower lash line, and for blending the outer v.
- F88 Flat Angled Kabuki – This is great for applying foundation to the face. It’s worked for me with tricky creams, powders and liquids.
- E32 Exact Blend – Good for adding a pop of color to the outer corner or precise blending.
- E38 Diffused Crease – Perfect for blending the crease and transition together.
Sigma Beauty Performance Eyes Kit – $58.80
The Performance Eyes Kit comes with the E11 eye liner, E16 tightline, E17 waterline, E21 smudge, E36 blending, E46 inner corner, E47 crease, and E56 lid.
Sigma Beauty Basic Face Kit – $83
The Basic Face Kit comes with the F30 large powder, F40 large angled contour, F50 duofiber, F60 foundation and F70 concealer.
Sigma Beauty Baking Kit – $84
The Baking & Strobing Brush set has the F06 Powder Sweet, F42 Strobing Fan, F79 Concealer Blend Kabuki, F89 Bake Kabuki, and P89 Bake Precision.
Sigma Beauty Best of Sigma Beauty Kit – $92
The Best of Sigma Beauty Kit comes with the F80 Flat Kabuki, P88 Precision Flat Angled, F64 Soft Blend Concealer, E57 Firm Shader, E38 Diffused Crease, E34 Domed Utility and E21 Smudge brushes.
Kat Von D Beauty Brushes
Kat Von D Beauty does not have very many brushes, but the few brushes they have are stylish, beautiful, and perfect for gifting.
My must-have brushes
- Shade+Light Eye Contour – Really the best for creating a cut crease and blending. Comes in a cool coffin case. Very goth chic.
- Lock-It Edge Concealer – This is the best concealer brush for around the eyes, nose and brows with concealer or foundation. I love it.
- Lock-It Edge Foundation – This is a must-have for full coverage liquid foundations.
- Lock-It Setting Powder – Great for baking and setting around the face.
- Lock-It Precision Powder Brush – Specifically for use under the eyes.
- Shade + Light Face Contour – It’s supposed to be perfect for contouring and highlighting the face.
When I first started getting into makeup, I had one set of ancient MAC brushes, so I bought some ecoTools brushes. I was pleasantly surprised that brushes from the drugstore could be so eco friendly, cruelty free, vegan and good quality. These brushes are made with sustainable bamboo handles and synthetic taklon bristles.
My must-have brushes
- Large eye – Perfect for applying your base shade.
- Petite eye shading – The best lid brush for hooded eyes.
- Smudge – Great for the lower lid.
- Highlighting – Good for highlighting at the inner corner and blending.
- Angled crease – Good for the outer lid / outer crease color.
EcoTools Essentials Set – $10.99
Comes with the large eye, angled crease, petite eye, highlighting and smudge brushes. I’ve included this brush set in many giveaways on my blog, plus bought it for friends and family who expressed an interest in makeup.
EcoTools Best Sellers Kit – $19.99
It comes with the large powder, precision blush, flat foundation, custom coverage, and eye enhancing duo brushes.
EcoTools Day to Night Set – $16.99
This looks like a great set with a cute brush case. It comes with the angled face, pointed concealer, highlighting fan, eyeshadow, and lip brushes.
Other Brush Sets
Too Faced Teddy Bear Hair 5 Piece Set – $65
This adorable set has – powder, contour, all-over eyeshadow, blender, and liner brushes. It also includes the heart print bag with teddy bear zipper pull.
Sugarpill Brush Set – $60
The Sugarpill set comes with a lip brush, precision eyeliner brush, tapered blending brush and large eyeshadow brush. I love the large eyeshadow as a base brush.
It Cosmetics Your Superheroes Full-size Travel Brush Set – $50
It Cosmetics makes super soft, cruelty free, vegan brushes. Their sets at Ulta are usually among the best you can find in the store. This one comes with the Powder brush, foundation brush, effortless crease brush, smoothing concealer brush, absolute shadow brush and flawless liner brush.
With so many brush brands out there, I know it can be hard to choose a set of brushes. The ecoTools brush sets are the most budget friendly option, with the Essential Eye set at $10.99. If you want to splurge on a brush set, the Urban Decay Pro Brush Vault at $375 is perfect. Both Real Techniques and Makeup Geek have affordable brush sets for under $50. If you want to spend a little more, the Sigma brush sets are really tempting. You could also put together your own gift set with individual brushes.
Will you be gifting any makeup brushes this year?