Brushes on a budget

Brushes on a budget

The best budget make up brushes

The best budget make up brushes

When I first started watching Youtube I would watch countless hours of makeup tutorials, trying to perfect a classic smokey eye (still not there!) and EVERY SINGLE TIME MAC’s 217 featured. I truly thought that the 217 would be the answer to all my blending woes but once I went into store and saw it in person I was really underwhelmed- it looked stiff and the bristles were no way near as soft as I was expecting! To cut a long story short, I walked out empty handed and maybe 4 years later I have still managed to steer clear of the much heralded brush and I’m glad- the price alone is enough to put me off, and I’ve found so many amazing brushes that’re much kinder on the purse!

My favourite brands:

REAL TECHNIQUES: My all time go to- there are so many different ranges but I tend to stick with the classics, not least because they are the most affordable but they’re also just such fab quality as it is that I’ve not really felt the need to spend on the more expensive ranges. The ‘buffer brush’ and the ‘expert face brush’ are my holy grail when it comes to applying foundation and their crease brush (which sadly is no longer sold!) has been my ultimate for blending out shadow since I got it over 3 years ago!

ECO TOOLS: Another great brand that is readily available on the high street; Boots and T. K. Maxx regularly have them in stock. I love their powder brushes, so thick and soft, as well as their flat eye-shadow brushes which are great for packing on shadow when you’re using a few different shades in one look and don’t fancy washing your brush each time plus they’re extra travel friendly and also work for eyeliner/brows/lips!

ZOEVA: Perhaps one of the prettiest brush brands that doesn’t quite break the bank, although they’re definitely the priciest on my list I think you can tell at a glance. Their sets are by far the most valuable way to invest in the brushes and end up working out about the same price as Real Techniques brushes whilst looking that little bit more special! Although I don’t yet own any Zoeva brushes they’re sitting pretty at the top of my lust list, and I couldn’t not include the brand when so many people around me vouch for their greatness!

MORPHE: The latest brush brand I’ve tried and I fell in love at first use! The shadow brushes are so densely packed that the blend out ANY shadow in a flash and also apply cream shadows brilliantly and the price is akin to a morning coffee. Plus, Beauty Bay often does 3 for 2 offers on Morphe, making them even more affordable!

U-SPICY: I’d happily hedge my bets that you’ve never ever heard of this brand- they’re an amazon special and are some of the best value brushes I’ve ever come across, you can get a ten piece set for around £8. My sister only uses these brushes and has had the same set for a good few years now without any sign of it ageing and they look the part just as much as any other brand!

Make up brushes on a budget

Make up brushes on a budget

Other top tips:

  • REAP THE FREE EXTRAS: So many palettes come with free brushes, or in bundles where you can pay slightly more for the two products rather than just buying the makeup alone but still much much cheaper than buying the product and brush separately; I bought a Bobbi Brown brush in such a manner
  • DON’T BE AFRAID OF DUPES: I have bought countless brushes of Amazon and Ebay and *touch wood* I’ve never actually had a bad experience. I always make sure to give them a wash before first use, just in case they’ve been treated with any harsh chemicals or have been lying around for a while and gathered dust but aside from that their quality is plenty good enough!
  • LOOK OUT FOR DISCOUNT CODES: Feelunique and Asos are RIFE with offers at any given time and most outlets have discounts around Black Friday/Christmas and if you’re signed up to a mailing list in quiet periods you’ll often see one pop into your inbox
  • WASH YOUR BRUSHES: I tend to use hand wash (for its antibacterial properties) and whatever shampoo I have on hand (usually the blue Herbal Essences or baby shampoo) and it makes my brushes feel like new! I have never had a problem with any shedding and thus don’t feel the need to invest in a specific brush cleanser- although I do have a No.7 spot cleanser for in between proper washes

The best budget make up brushes

Have I missed your favourite budget brush brand? or do you have any other tips for buying and maintaining makeup brushes on a budget? Please let me know! I love discovering lesser known brands and tricks, plus anything that saves money is a major bonus!

Tara xo


  • Chloe

    Hi, I think I will take a look for the Eco Tools as they seem perfect for travelling and very versatile.

    • It’s also fab that you can get them on the high street a you can have a look & feel before you buy!

  • This is so incredibly helpful! My favorites are real techniques and eco tools. In my opinion, real techniques sponges are just as good as beauty blenders and I find that I can sometimes get 3 for half the price of a beauty blender!


    • I love the Real Techniques sponges! I’ve never felt the need to try a beauty blender because they’re so good!

  • Paola Arredondo

    I LOVE real techniques! I used them when I first started using makeup and I still have some of my first ones! Have you tried wet n wild brushes? They have a white and pink collection that is amazing! Super soft, they are comparable to sigma in their softness!

    • I’m exactly the same! Most of my real techniques brushes are years old and are still as good as new! No but I really want to! I keep toying with buying them off amazon as I can’t get them in the UK but they’re constantly going out of stock!

  • Amy 🌸

    I have some real technique ones at the moment, and they are so nice! Definitely my fav now. I had the eco tool brushes before these, and they were actually really good too – especially for their price (and I got them for 3 for 2 hahah). I’ve looked into dupes before on amazon, but never been brave enough to try them! Xx

    • I’ve only bought one’s that I’ve seen others rave about before and have had such good luck with them, plus when you’re paying a few pounds I don’t think I’d be too mad if they didn’t last the first wash!

  • I love real technique brushes and reaaally want some Zoeva brushes! My fav are the spectrum brushes atm although they arent cheap haha!!

    Sarah | xx

    • ah I’ve not tried any spectrum ones but they’re all so pretty!

  • I received my first lot of Real Techniques brushes for Christmas 2015 and have become so converted that I use them exclusively now. They’re so good for their price, even the more-basic ones that I tend to stick to. As well as their brushes, their beauty-blender-esque sponges are my holy grail! They’re so good at blending foundation in.
    I’ve been interested in eco tools for a while, too. I was going to get them before the real techniques, but they won over in the end. I’ve wanted a morphee brush for a while now, too. I definitely need to look into this list in more detail to look for the brushes I’ve had my eye on for a while!

    • I love Real Techniques and only have their standard brushes but find they do lack some choice when it comes to different sized eye brushes which is where Morphe & Zoeva come in handy!

      • Yeach, I agree. The eye brushes have been great to start off with, but I’m looking to try more brands this year to fulfil my needs now I’ve learnt more about eyeshadow.

  • Rachael Shortt (PaleGirlRambli

    Zoeva brushes are my favourite! You definitely need to get some! The luxe petit crease brush is amazing for the lower lash line!
    PaleGirlRambling xo

    • It’s the luxe crease & luxe petit crease that I have my eye on but can’t decide whether to bit the bullet and just get a full set with it being such better value!

  • saharasdreams

    Whenever I end up looking at the prices for makeup brushes I’m always so surprised at how expensive they are! I’ve heard of the real technique brushes – nearly always mentioned in every makeup video I watch! I should probably note I don’t wear makeup often but after seeing Fenty Beauty I think I may dive a bit more into makeup!

    I only have a few Elf brushes and they are amazingly affordable – literally the prices are perfect!


    • Ah I’ve never heard anything about the Elf brushes so will have to give them a look, thanks for the heads up!

  • I’ve had my eye on Morphe brushes for a while after reading a few reviews. Mine definitely need replacing so it might be time to take the plunge! I also really liked your tips for buying brushes on a budget — with a baby on the way, I need to watch my $$!!


    • I’ve really enjoyed mine and will definitely be buying some face ones next time they’re on offer! Glad you enjoyed the post lovely!

  • Ooh fab post! I feel like a novice when it comes to makeup brushes, I have a beauty blender and a set of storybook cosmetics eyeshadows brushes and that’s it, so this has given me an idea of what to look for.
    Cora ❤

    • I have the Real Techniques blending sponge and love it to bits! It has become my go to for foundation/concealer now that it’s colder & my skin is a bit drier!

  • Great post and advice for someone who can’t splash out loads on make-up brushes! Some of them can be extortionately expensive – I certainly couldn’t afford most of them xxx

    • Even some of the more budget brands have lines which seem extortionate to me! When you can get such good quality at the lower end of the spectrum I can’t understand why people spend more!

  • Envy

    This should be part of a Makeup 101 Book. Never knew anything about brushes but this post makes me feel like I now actually know stuff!

    x Envy

    • Thank you so much that’s so kind! Glad you feel like you’ve learnt something!

  • Olivia Alesha

    I LOVE Real Techniques so much and they are super amazing quality too! I really want to try some from Zoeva and also Eco Tools because I always see them around and really need to invest in some of them and give them a go.
    -Olivia Xxx

    • Real Techniques are my holy grail I just wish they had more of a selection of staple individual brushes!