The 1 Essential Brush That Belongs In Every Makeup Bag


Kabuki brushes date all the way back to 17th century Japan, where kabuki theater performers used them to pack on their signature white face makeup. Fast forward to today, and they're still used for a similar purpose: to apply and blend any makeup that's doled out in large swaths, like setting powder, foundation, bronzer, or blush. Therefore, the best kabuki brushes will have a dome of densely packed bristles to allow them to pick up a substantial amount of product and blend it seamlessly into your skin. The denser the bristles, the less chance of streaking; the bigger the brush head, the more surface area it will cover.

Traditional kabuki brushes tend to sport short, squat handles, but you’ll see some variations on the classic model, too. These days, kabuki brushes can feature angled bristles, slightly longer handles, or flatter brush heads, for instance. As long as the bristles are very dense and the tool is intended for face (or body) makeup, it can fall under the “kabuki brush” umbrella.

Ahead, you'll find a selection of the best kabuki brushes on the market — all for less than $10 on Amazon, nonetheless. Scroll on to shop now.

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The Best Kabuki Brush For Foundation

The extra-short, extra-dense bristles on this Real Techniques Foundation Blender brush are ideal for picking up liquid, cream, or powder foundation and buffing it into your skin with zero brush streaks. This brush deposits a fairly light layer of foundation, but you can build up the product wherever you want more coverage by pushing the brush gently into your skin. Get the Face + Body version (same brush, bigger size) for bronzer, self-tanner, body makeup, or anything else you want to apply in fewer fell swoops.


The Best Kabuki Brush For Powder

The bristles on this Matto kabuki brush are a little more loosely packed than the Real Techniques kabuki brush, so they're ideal for grabbing onto a thin layer of powder and sweeping it evenly over your skin. This one works really beautifully with loose setting powders, but you can definitely make it work with pressed powder, too. Alternatively, you can also use this brush to blend out your powder after pressing it in with a sponge or puff (aka "baking" your makeup). Reviewers also love that this brush is ultra soft, easy to clean, and doesn’t molt.


The Best Kabuki Brush For Contour

With its flat, dense bristles and wide, slightly longer handle, this Docolor kabuki brush is designed for controlled application of contour cream or powder wherever you want to carve some angles into your face. The ease and control of drawing the contour onto your skin with this brush is unparalleled, as hundreds of reviewers have noted. (You can also use it to blend your contour, but I prefer using a Beauty Blender or wedge-shaped makeup sponge for that.) Not to mention, the sparkly-rainbow-unicorn aesthetic is pretty impossible to pass up.


The Best Angled Kabuki Brush

Angled kabuki brushes, like this one from EcoTools, are useful for applying bronzer, blush, highlighter, or subtle contour, since the shape is meant to hug your face’s natural curves. But because it’s a little bigger and fluffier than other angled brushes, you can use this EcoTools brush to apply your finishing powder, too. This EcoTools model gets top marks for its silky feel, and for the brand’s sustainable and cruelty-free manufacturing practices.


The Best Travel-Friendly Kabuki Brush

If your makeup brushes require protection — whether due to a jostling handbag or an overly cluttered makeup bag — go for this kabuki brush from EcoTools. It’s retractable and comes with a recycled aluminum cover to keep the bristles safe from bending, getting stained, and other potential dangers. Aside from its portability, reviewers love using this face brush for everything from applying pressed powder to buffing away any creases or smudges that pop up midday.


Another Popular, Affordable Kabuki Brush To Consider

This e.l.f. Cosmetics kabuki brush boasts an almost-perfect score from over 1,000 reviewers on Amazon, so it’s well worth your consideration. This kabuki brush is about as classic as they come: It’s short, squat, dense, and soft, and has a grippable handle for maximum control. Another great thing: It costs just under $5 on Amazon.