The subject of whether or not you need a make-up brush - and which one to opt for if you want one - is understandably confusing. Some make-up artists bang on about application with fingertips, citing the warmth of skin as the best way to meld make-up with a face. Others love blending sponges, preferring to stipple.
The vast majority, though, will tell you that you need a brush in your make-up bag. You might not need them for every part of your face - but if you want seamless, well-blended make-up, you'll need a brush.
And that's where this guide will help. Rather than buy a bunch of brushes you don't need, be discerning. If you are all about blending out a perfect smokey eye, get your hands on eye brushes. If you want your red lipstick to be perfectly outlined, a brush to get precise edges may work for you.
In terms of picking a brush bristle material, you need to make two decisions: 1) Is buying a cruelty-free brush important to you? If so, look for the leaping bunny symbol on your brush packet, and opt for synthetic bristles, and 2) Are you working with liquid or powder? As a broad rule, natural bristles are structured differently, so are better at working with picking up and blending powder, while synthetic are able to do both.
Finally, a bit of housekeeping: wash your brushes. Not only because make-up brushes caked in product don't work as well and will blend ineffectively, but also because make-up brushes unwashed will breed bacteria that can lead to acne and a host of skin issues. Try a gentle shampoo, or a dedicated brush-cleaning product for best results.
Now, onto the brushes we'd recommend...
1. Chanel Pinceau Fond De Teint N°6 Foundation Brush, £32
Sleek and perfectly weighted, the Chanel No6 foundation brush is a traditional, flat, synthetic brush, making it ideal for stroking on liquid foundation.
Chanel available at | £32
2. Zoeva 102 Silk Finish Brush, £13
If you prefer to buff your foundation into your skin for an airbrushed finish, you need a flat-top brush with synthetic bristles. If you like to apply cream blush or bronzer, you can also apply them with this brush.
Available at | £13
3. Mac 239 Eye Shader Brush, £21
MAC's 239 eye shadow brush is a small, natural hair brush that is perfect for laying on your cream or powder eye shadow. It is densely packed so picks up plenty of product and lays it down on your lids with minimal fall out.
Available at | £21
4. Tina Earnshaw Small Eyeliner No. 6, £12
Oscar-nominated film make-up artist Tina had created the ideal liner brush. It's super slim, which means you can shimmy it between lashes if need be for perfect definition, and is easy to wield along a lash line.
Available at | £12
5. Mac 217 Blending Brush, £21
This is a make-up artist favourite for good reason as it's a fantastic eyeshadow blending brush that can also be used to sweep shadow across the lid or to blend into the socket line. The trick with getting the best finish from this brush is to blend in little circles at edges.
Available at | £21
6. Charlotte Tilbury Powder and Sculpt Brush, £35
Charlotte Tilbury created this tapered brush to go with her Filmstar Bronze and Glow contour and highlight palette as it's perfect for adding a soft haze of powder contour and then dusting highlighter onto the high points of the face.
Available at | £35
7. SUQQU Cheek Brush
This softer than soft Suqqu brush dances colour over cheeks for a freshly-flushed (but not pantomime-y) finish. It can also be used to apply powder - just whisk it in your powder and gently press where you want to take down shine.
8. Zoeva Buffer Brush 142, £8.99
This multitasking brush is a whizz at blending eyeshadow - but it's even better if you want to apply concealer and buff it out at the edges so that you don't have any telltale lines.
Available at | £8.99
9. Real Techniques Bold Metals Arched Powder Brush, £17.25
This powder brush from beauty blogging gurus Sam Chapman and Nic Haste (nee Chapman) aka Pixiwoo, is a brilliant does-it-all brush. Use it to pat on powder, or to highlight, add blush, or even to sweep a big wash of colour across eyelids if you're after an effortless finish.
Available at | £17.25
10. Tom Ford Bronzer Brush, £82
If you like to apply bronzer all over your face and need it to look like you've spent a month in St. Tropez honing your tan, get this one. The head is packed with bristles, meaning your bronzer will sweep on evenly and blend out with ease.
Available at | £82
11. Charlotte Tilbury Rose Gold and Night Crimson Lip Brush, £18
Square-tipped to make getting precise angles a breeze, use this to sharpen up your lip line, or simply lay down colour with the flat end.
13. Louise Young L14 Socket Brush, £14.50
If you like to blend your shadow so that it makes for a soft haze of definition, you need this brush in your life - it gently blends a powder shadow out.
Available at | £14.50