This is the fourth and much anticipated installment in the Non-Blonde's Ultimate Brush Guide (see the previous parts here). It took me a long time to pick the brushes and write this part because there are many excellent blush brushes of different shapes and materials just as there is a wonderful variety of blushes. The blush's texture and intensity determines what brush would be ideal for a smooth application and even blending. Of course, the best brushes are the ones you can use with most blushes.
One small note: as a beauty blogger I test (and own) many blushes. Pressed and loose powder blushes, cream and liquid. Most makeup users don't keep that wide of a range and don't need as many brushes. So, when I say that these are my favorites, it definitely doesn't mean you should buy everything. Choose the ones that suit your needs.
Yachiyo brushes, the traditional Japanese tools, are probably my favorite blush brushes because they are practically fool-proof. They suit very pigmented blushes as well as average ones, and as long as you don't use one that's too big for your face (beware of the NARS Yachiyo and the large Hakuhodo if you have very small features). Yachiyo brushes are also great at blending and diffusing, and if you get the smallest ones you'll find they can multitask for blending just about everything. Hakuhodo Yachiyo brushes come in three sizes and two shapes. What you see here are the pointed ones which are my favorites.
Going back to the more traditional shape, most brands have something to offer. My favorites are the very fluffy Louise Young LY06, the thin and precise Sue Devitt and Trish McEvoy Sheer 2B (this one has a shorter and more portable handle), and the workhorse Shu Uemura 20. The Shu is very soft, very sturdy and could probably be considered best in class.
Along similar lines but just a bit smaller and more luxurious are the super-soft blush brushes from Rouge Bunny Rouge (#002), RMK Cheek S and Le Metier de Beaute blush brushes. Each one of them has a slightly different shape: RBR 002 is the fullest, LMdB is flatter and can work be used for precise application s well as blending when you turn it, and the RMK brush is the smallest and most directional.
Speaking of luxury, Hakuhodo S103 is my precious. The pointed shape is efficient and easy to use while the extraordinary quality of Hakuhodo's S100 series makes the S103 into perhaps my most beloved. The company offers the same brush in the Basic and 200 series, priced a bit lower.
The next three brushes are multitaskers: The angled shape of Shu Uemura 20H and Hakuhodo B512BkSl makes them just as good for contouring and highlighting (Hakuhodo B512BkSl is actually labeled as a highlighter blush). Hakuhodo 210 has a small, round and dense head. It blends and buffs like a dream and I use it for just about every face color task, powder and cream, including foundation.
Our last group of blush brushes is dedicated to the application of cream and liquid cheek color. You can see that these brushes are very different from each other, so it's a matter of your preferred technique and how they feel in your hand. Hakuhodo Mizubake is the most unique: a cross between a Yachiyo and a flat-top Kabuki brush, the Mizubake, a goat hair brush, blends even the most saturated cream blushes. A reader also suggested using it to stipple foundation, so that makes this brush a great multitasker. Julie Hewett's Cheekie is a classic synthetic brush that buffs cream blushes into natural sheerness. It's easy to use and the small circumference allows it to fit into odd-shaped pans. Last, we have Hakuhodo's duo fiber G544. It's extremely useful with dark and very pigmented blushes when you only want a hint of color. Of course, many of your favorite flat-top duo-fiber brushes (the MAC 187 and 188 type) can be used for blush- cream or powder. Just as when using them with foundation, in my opinion Sephora Platinum #44 leaves all the others far behind.