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 and foundation. Therefore, the best kabuki brushes 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. What is a kabuki brush for?
Kabuki brushes were traditionally used solely for applying powder products — whether loose or pressed powder foundation, setting powder,
blush, or bronzer — and those with domed or round heads work wonderfully for that purpose. But kabukis with extra-dense bristles and flat tops can seamlessly lift and apply liquid foundations, as well. As a general rule, the denser the bristles, the less chance of streaking; the bigger the brush head, the more surface area it will cover.
Indeed, traditional kabuki brushes tend to sport short, squat handles, but you’ll see some variations on the classic model. These days, kabuki brushes can feature angled bristles, slightly longer handles, or those flat 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 $10 and under on Amazon, no less. Scroll on to shop now.
1 The Best-Selling Kabuki Brush On Amazon
With a 4.6-star average from over 25,000 ratings, the
Keshima Flat Top Foundation Kabuki Brush is far and away the most popular kabuki brush on Amazon. Reviewers report that this works flawlessly with both liquid and powder formulations; and unlike some other brushes, it doesn’t eat up product, so you can get away with using less of it than usual (and save money in the long run). The silky-soft bristles feel amazing against your skin as well, and customers across the board are impressed by the luxury quality for such an affordable price. Rave review: “I read many amazing reviews about this brush and decided to try it. It is AMAZING!!! Way better than my expensive brush and does a beautiful job applying the foundation evenly and effortlessly. The handle feels great in my hand and the bristles are super soft against my skin. [...] Seriously, for this price, I can't believe how awesome it is. I bought the small size and it's perfect!” 2 The Best Kabuki Brush For Foundation Also available at Ulta, $13
The extra-short, extra-dense bristles stippling 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. Rave review: “I immediately saw a difference when I used this brush...the soft bristles move the foundation to a flawless finish, yet cover imperfections well! The shape, for me, was easier to maneuver, with a shorter oval handle and shape that could fit into corners of the nose and hairline. I haven't had any fibers come out of the brush in the 4 months I've used it, and highly recommend it!” 3 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 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. Rave review: “I use this with my overall face powder and it applies evenly without making a mess everywhere. Very soft on my face and compact for easy storage. Have noticed NO hair loss from the powder brush either, which can sometimes be an issue with poor quality brushes. Highly recommend.” 4 The Best Kabuki Brush For Contour
With its flat, dense bristles and wide, slightly longer handle, this popular
kabuki brush from DUcare 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 applying and blending contour with this brush is unparalleled, as its 12,000+ reviewers have noted, though it works equally well as a stippling brush. Not to mention, the ridiculously low price tag (and pretty pale-pink handle) is pretty impossible to pass up. Rave review: “I love this foundation brush, I’ve been looking for a good brush for foundation and cream contour. This brush leaves no streaks and blends perfectly, I will definitely buy another one for a back up.” 5 The Best Angled Kabuki Brush Angled kabuki brushes, like this one from Daubigny, 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, this is also clutch for applying setting powder or powder foundation. Customers rave about this model’s luxurious feel (check out that gleaming, stiletto-pointed handle) and its super-soft bristles that don’t shed. Rave review: “OK, I'm a bit of a makeup and brush snob. [...] As everyone knows, the right brush makes a huge difference in how good your makeup looks. I figured I had nothing to lose and ordered this. I used this to buff on my setting powder and was floored! The brush was soft but not too soft to buff out my face and blend my foundation/concealer/blush. The brush also did NOT lose any bristles! [...] I use it almost every day and it still seems like new.” 6 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. Rave review: “The bristles are densely packed and of excellent quality, and the retractable aspect of the brush means that you can actually vary how dense you would like the bristles to be. The lid ensures that the brush remains hygienic, especially if you are travelling, and I love the dark silver colour of the handle and lid - it does indeed give the brush an expensive feel.” 7 The Best Palm-Sized Kabuki Brush
kabuki brush from Daubigny is designed to fit in the palm of your hand, while the unique hexagonal handle offers an ergonomic, no-slip grip — design details that result in maximum control while you’re applying makeup. The super-dense, flat bristles work best for blending liquid foundation, since they won’t leave behind any streaks. Reviewers also report that you can use less product with this brush than you would with a traditional foundation brush or makeup sponge, since it holds, deposits, and blends the pigment so efficiently. Rave review: “This is by far the best foundation brush I have ever used. The shape and size of this brush makes this the most efficient brush. [...] I only need to do 3-4 swipes with this brush to get a flawless very natural look. [...] The bristles are very soft and dense, the brush is large but with the two narrow ends it's easy to get to spots like under eye and nose. Very little foundation is needed when using this brush.” 8 Another Luxurious, Affordable Kabuki Brush To Consider
How pretty is this
kabuki brush? Between the shining rose gold handle, dusty rose bristles, and delicately curved, mushroom-shaped design, you’ll want to keep this brush on display on your vanity. Functionally, it’s about as classic as they come: It’s short, squat, dense, and soft, and has a grippable handle for maximum control. It’s about $9, so a small price to pay for bringing some luxury into your daily routine. Rave review: “For the price this brush can't be beat. [...] I use it for mineral powder foundation, and I love the big size and soft bristles. Applies my makeup nicely.” 9 The Best Kabuki Brush Set
If you’re in the market for
kabuki brushes, why not pick up two for the price of one? This set includes one rounded brush, which is ideal for evenly diffusing powder formulas; and one flat-top brush that works beautifully with both powders and liquids. The premium synthetic fibers are silky-soft yet sturdy, so they hold up well to repeated use and cleaning. Bonus points for the wooden and gold metal handles, for an earthy-luxe look and feel. Rave review: “I use to sell luxury makeup and brushes, this is one of the best deals for quality brushes! love love LOVE them. The flat liquid foundation brush creates a flawless blend while the powder kabuki brush evenly distributes the mineral makeup I use and creates a poreless clean finish. 10/10 would recommend!” 10 You Might Also Like: This Full Brush Set That Comes With 5 Kabuki Brushes
Speaking of makeup sets for a great value, you’d be hard-pressed to find one better than this
BEAKEY Makeup Brush Set. This all-in-one kit contains five types of kabuki brushes for all your base makeup needs (plus bronzer and blush), regardless of whether you prefer powder, liquid, or cream formulations. You’ll get five eyeshadow brushes in addition, along with a brush cleaner and one of the brand’s cult-favorite makeup sponges — and the whole kit rings up at under $10. This highly rated set is an excellent option for those just building their makeup kits, or if you need to replace or replenish your existing kit. Rave review: “These are amazing brushes! Better then high end ones I've had in the past. Very easy to work with. The bristles are so soft. The longer handles are great for stability. I highly recommend these brushes. Packaged well with directions and a laybout of each brush and their uses.”
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This article was originally published on
April 25, 2020