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In case you haven’t heard (and how would that be possible?!), contouring is all the rage in the beauty world. No longer just a mainstay of the Kardashians, contouring has entered the mainstream and is here to stay, thanks to all the endless palettes and YouTube tutorials. The technique centers on chiseling and defining your face, making you look slimmer and helping you work those cheekbones.
Whether you want just a hint of definition or a jawline and cheekbones that can cut glass, options abound. No matter if you’re using powders or creams to get the look, the brushes that you apply them with are crucial for mastering your face shaping dreams. There are choices out there for every wallet too, from sticking to your budget to splurging on a luxe brush. These are the seven top contouring brushes that will help you get your face on.
Best Overall: IT Cosmetics Ulta Velvet Luxe Soft Focus Sculpting Brush #315
IT Cosmetics is known for making some of the best brushes in the beauty biz, and their Velvet Luxe Soft Focus Sculpting Brush is certainly in the top ranks. The super dense sculpting brush is specifically designed to apply and blend makeup along the curves and angles of your face, delivering loads of definition, especially when you use the brush at an angle. It works equally well with cream or powder makeup, and the ergonomic, custom molded design of the handle makes it a cinch to use. The ultimate multitasker, this brush can handle your every contouring need.
Best Budget: e.l.f. Studio Ultimate Kabuki Brush
When it comes to brushes on a budget, you can’t beat e.l.f. Cosmetics. The densely-packed, soft bristles are great for evenly applying powder to skin, making it perfect for getting a sharp contour and blending that sculpted line. Use the flat edge for sweeping contours and the curved corners for an exact application. An added bonus: In addition to contouring, this brush can also be used for blending, highlighting, and stippling. Plus, animal lovers can rejoice, since the soft bristles are vegan friendly.
Best for Powder Contour: Tarte Bronze & Glow Contour Brush
A dual-ended contouring brush means it has twice the power! Made just for brushing on bronzer, blush and highlighter, the big, fluffy brush on one side is meant for buffing and blending cheek powders, while the other is for precise sculpting with the smaller, exacting brush. Use its more petite size to your advantage to really work those cheekbones for a slimming look.
Best Angled Brush: Sephora Collection PRO Angled Contour Brush #75
If you’re wondering why we’re celebrating this brush's angled bristles, it’s because they can pick up more product than a traditional brush, making it easier to carve out your contour in the most accurate way. Use the pointed side to access hard to reach spots, including around the eyes and nose. It brings on high definition with all makeup formulas, including blush, bronzer, foundation, and concealer.
Best Drugstore Option: EcoTools The Wonder Color Finish Brush
Ecotools is a fitting name for a PETA certified brand whose products are completely vegan, made from recycled aluminum, have packaging made from post-consumer recycled plastic and is 100% recyclable, and their makeup brushes feature handles made of renewable bamboo. Even better, this brush is just as good for your face as it is for the planet. Made with 60,000 bristles to deliver a full, smooth application, the brush can be used wet or dry. Its oval bristle head is designed for precise placement of blush and contouring makeup. To get a sheer look, dampen the bristles first.
Best for Cream Contour: Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Brush
Synthetic bristles tend to grab onto formulas better, and no one does synthetics better than avowed animal lover Kat Von D. This two-in-one eyeshadow brush has a tapered end for defining and a domed end meant for blending, meaning that it will help you achieve the best smoky eye you can imagine. Though it’s meant for the eye area, it can be used anywhere you want to get a sharply defined look. The vegan bristles are incredibly soft and have gradient tips for extra blending power. Another reason to spring for this brush? It comes with a cool hard coffin case to store it in.
Best Splurge: Charlotte Tilbury Powder & Sculpt Brush
We’ve yet to go wrong when buying anything from the namesake line of the beloved British makeup artist to the stars, and this brush is no exception. The versatile brush can be used for blush and contouring, since it’s made to be utilized for any sculpting effect. The tapered end helps you work the hollows of your cheeks and temples, plus sweep highlighter across your cheekbones, nose, and even the cupid’s pow of your lips for a pucker that pops. Handmade by master brush makers in Europe, it’ll also be the star of your vanity with its rose gold and deep red design. But it doesn’t just look pretty — the ergonomic wood handle makes application a cinch.
Our writers spent 4 hours researching the most popular contour brushes on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 25 different brushes overall, screened options from 20 different brands and manufacturers, read over 40 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 5 of the brushes themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.