It’s easy to rationalize splurging on a makeup brush. After all, you’re never going to run out of it, right? A high-quality makeup brush will last you years (if you treat it right and clean it properly, that is). But as long as you know what “high-quality” means, blowing your beauty budget on brushes isn’t actually necessary.
Here’s the thing: There are holy-grail makeup brushes at every price point. But if yours happens to be in the drugstore range, your beauty game doesn’t have to suffer. Want proof? Below, we’ve detailed the best drugstore makeup brushes for as little as $3—picks that can go toe to toe with their luxury counterparts. We’ve got foundation brushes, eye makeup brushes, contour brushes, and more, all from drugstore favorite brands like Sonia Kashuk, EcoTools, and Real Techniques. For your splurge-versus-save guide to the best makeup brushes, keep scrolling!
Flawlessly blend your foundation and contour products for less than the price of a green juice with this durable synthetic brush. You know you’ve got a good blending brush when the bristles are soft and densely packed, and this pick features both. If you’re a fan of Urban Decay’s Good Karma Optical Blurring Brush ($26), you’ll dig this one as well.
Not a brush per se, but makeup sponges are the 21st-century answer to the foundation brushes of yore, and this multipurpose tool yields a seamless finish for $7. Use it to blend, contour, or touch up. If you love your Beautyblender ($20), this is also worth a try.
This versatile brush boasts the perfect shape for highlighting your cheekbones or creating an angular contour. Plus, the product is made from all-natural materials, so you can rest easy knowing your purchase is socially conscious. If Kevyn Aucoin’s The Large Fan Brush ($60) isn’t in your budget, try this $7 find.
Every beauty junkie needs a good lip brush, and this convenient pop-up one works well to apply lipstick or gloss with precision. Love MAC’s 318 Retractable Brush ($25)? You’ll like this one, too.
Wet n Wild’s new line of makeup brushes is about the most affordable on the market. This fluffy powder brush allows an even powder application; plus, you can’t beat its pretty pink-and-white packaging. If you’ve found yourself lusting after Guerlain’s Météorites Powder Makeup Brush ($45) but can’t make the splurge, try this budget pick.
This five-piece kit is the ultimate score. It includes a large eye shadow brush, angled shadow brush, sponge applicator, crease brush, and smudge liner brush for all your eye makeup needs. (That comes out to less than $3 per brush!) If Sigma’s Basic Eyes Kit ($77) has been on your wish list for forever, try this fab set in the meantime.
Every brow enthusiast needs a great brow brush, and for $10, this pick helps you groom and fill in your arches with expert exactness. It’s got a spoolie on one side and an angled-cut brush on the other, making it the perfect tool to use with your favorite brow powder or pomade. If you’re obsessed with Anastasia Beverly Hills Brush #12 ($18), this is another excellent option.
This domed-cut brush is one of Eva Mendes’s personal faves. The bristles are both soft and dense, just how we like them, allowing for even blush and bronzer application. Love Nars’s Contour Brush #21 ($42)? This budget brush is also worth a go.
This convenient concealer brush is great to throw in your bag for on-the-go touch-ups. If Hourglass’s Brush for Concealer ($25) has been sitting in your shopping cart for a month, know that this affordable option won’t disappoint.
On the hunt for a top-quality foundation brush? This super-soft flat brush from Revlon makes for precise, airbrushed-looking application on the cheap. If you don’t want to splurge on Bobbi Brown’s Foundation Makeup Brush ($42), we recommend this.
For even more amazing drugstore beauty, check out the only cheap makeup products worth buying, according to makeup artists.
This post was originally published on February 26, 2016.