Meet the New Crop of Affordable Makeup Brushes

Anastasia makeup brushes.

Buzz isn’t an issue for Anastasia Beverly Hills. In the early days of Instagram, the company played offense and quickly dominated the beauty industry’s treasured social-media outlet. The early hustle paid in dividends, which is why, when the brand or one of its surrogates glibly teases information about a new launch, excitement undulates throughout the internet. Such was the case for Anastasia’s massive makeup-brush launch, which catapulted onto the market late last month.

The collection feels familiar. From an appearance standpoint, the brushes are equipped with a common front — a black handle and silver ferrule (the metal part that connects the bristles to the handle). From afar, the brushes are indistinguishable from M.A.C’s hallmark line and Sigma’s cost-saving alternative. The range of 24 brushes seemed to ring a bell, too, from the fluffy powder brush (A20) that I used to thwart forehead shine to the eye-shadow brush with the stiff bristles (A3) that made applying color a quicker and less Herculean effort.

Familiarity isn’t bad, though. For example, when I reached for the diffuser brush (A10), I knew its exact purpose: to blend eye shadow in the crease above my eyelid for a smoky-eye effect. The same could be said of the small contour brush (A12), which was obviously created to blend eye shadow in the crease above my eyelid for a smoky-eye effect. Of course, it’d be neglectful not to mention the tapered blending brush (A25), the crease blending brush (A26), and the small blending brush (A5) — all of which (and I can’t believe I have to explain this) are the perfect tools for blending the eye shadow in the crease above your eyelid for a smoky-eye effect.

After I ran out of eyelids and eye shadows, I moved on to the face brushes, which offer an elevated dimension in variety. The pointed cheek brush (A22) swept on blush in the precise area on top of my cheekbones, and the short, densely packed bristles in the angled chiseler brush (A18) made it easy to dust bronzer in the cavity below my cheeks and in the space at the top of my forehead. On a separate occasion, the domed kabuki brush (A30) laid the groundwork for an even layer of liquid foundation, and the large tapered blending brush (A23) efficiently grabbed powder highlighter from a compact and dexterously diffused the golden pigment on my skin.

There are several pillars on which a good makeup brush must stand. It must pick up and deposit makeup competently. It must not violently shed bristles, or feel irritating on skin. And, ideally, it must not cost a small fortune. Sure, Anastasia Beverly Hills launched a collection with five virtually identical blending brushes (appealing to the persnickety professional, I suppose), but it also launched a collection that’s affordable and effective. I’d use these brushes on all five of my faces any day of the week.

Anastasia Beverly Hills makeup brushes, $16–$35 at Anastasia Beverly Hills.

Meet the New Crop of Affordable Makeup Brushes