Want to purchase some Japanese brushes but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place, today we’re talking eye brush basics! I’ve broken it down to 6(ish) brush shapes so you can customise your own ‘eye brush kit’ :)
If you’re new to high end or Japanese brushes, you might wanna read the Why Pay More For Makeup Brushes post.
NB: Brush preferences are largely dependant on eye shape and I’ll try to cover the popular options with emphasis on my favourites (which tend to be Japanese made, hence the title). I’ve also listed some more affordable/widely available options that might not be my first pick, but not everyone wants to order online or shell out the big bucks and I get that :) In chronological order or rather, the order in which I would use them…
1. Large Tapered Brush
A large, fluffy domed brush that is often used for a transition shade above the socket (refer to eye diagram below) and blending edges between steps. The large crease brush is often overlooked but is crucial (in my opinion) for attaining a perfect gradient, especially if you’re going for a complex or smokey look.
Widely Available Options: Mac 224
2. Medium Tapered Brush
The MAC 217 of the brush world; ideal for everyday, stock-standard socket shading. Typically a bit smaller and denser than the large crease brush – if you have smaller eyes, you might be able to skip the large option and simply go for two medium tapered brushes (one for application of colour and another to blend).
3. Small Tapered Brush
The small crease brush is ideal for precision shading in the outer V area or if you’re seeking a soft cut crease effect. Also handy for gentle shading across the lower lash line. Note that some are more pointed and others more rounded, a matter of preference.
Widely Available Options: Zoeva 224, Mac 226 (apparently discontinued, soz!)
4. Flat Shader Brush
Dense, flat brushes are used to pack eyeshadow or pigment onto the mobile lid. For me, softness is not as important here because typically, you’d be using a patting motion as opposed to a buffing motion. In a pinch, the point can be used for lower lash line shading.
NB: In this category, I actually favour the MAC 239 over the Japanese options as it’s stiffer.
Dat diagram doe…
A lovely commenter pointed out that an eye diagram may be a helpful tool for this post. I gave it my best shot…
An oversimplified explanation (use your brushes in whatever area you see fit!) but a visual is always nice :)
5. Pointed Pencil Brush
Handy for heavier lower lash line shading (using a back and forth buffing motion), diffusing eyeliner or even tear duct highlight placement. Softness is absolutely crucial here, because the lash line is very delicate and watery eyes ruin everything.
6. Eye Liner Brushes
I find that this is the category where preferences vary so vastly that you really have to investigate via your own trial and error. From a broad perspective, eyeliner brushes can be categorised into three basic shapes: fine liner, smoky liner and angled.
For gel liners, I tend to opt for fine liner brushes…
Widely Available Options: Most brands make fine liner brushes
If I’m using ‘Karima’s Easiest Winged Liner’ technique and smudging pencil liner into a wing, I’ll use an angled or smoky liner brush (the latter being less sharp and thicker in profile which provides a more diffused effect). I would classify the first two as smoky liner brushes, the final four are standard angled brushes (which many also use for the brows).
7. Miscellaneous Favourites
These brushes don’t necessarily fit the above categories but I love them all the same.
Hakuhodo J521 D1 or Wayne Goss 08: Teeny tiny push brushes. Perfect for tightlining the upper lash line with cake or gel eyeliner. Also handy for creating very fine eyeliner across the lash line. Hakuhodo J521-D1 can be purchased here, Wayne Goss 08 here.
Make Up Store 112 Smudge Brush: A favourite for pushing eyeshadow onto the lower lash line – uber soft! I think it has been discontinued, please let me know if you know of a dupe!
Synthetic Crease Brushes: Not Japanese made but a must-have for blending cream eyeshadows. I actually favour more affordable brands here, Ecotools synthetics are the bomb! Some other favourites: Real Techniques Base Shadow Brush (sold as part of a kit UGH), It Cosmetics All Over Shadow Smudger, Zoeva 227, Ecotools Highlighting Brush (part of this set).
So with these… 10ish brushes, I could create any complex eye look. If you favour simple shading, you may only use two or three shapes so feel free to pick and choose. If you’re not keen on selecting individual brushes and would prefer a ready-made kit, I highly recommend the Wayne Goss Collection Set (reviewed here).
Did you enjoy this post? Shall we progress to a Face Brush Starter Kit? Let me know in the comments and leave any questions down there, too :)
Disclaimer: Some of the brushes mentioned have been sent for consideration, I couldn’t even tell you which because I don’t keep no spreadsheet. This post is not sponsored, some links are affiliate links and many are not.