Blush brushes are, without a doubt, the most important and useful brushes a makeup lover can own. Okay, maybe I'm biased as a devoted blush lover, but really, aside from the teenager I witnessed applying blush by rubbing the product directly on her cheek, powder blush is really difficult to apply and blend without a good brush. So, read on to help you find one.
Classic Blush Brush
MAC 129, goat, Dior Blush Brush, Real Techniques Multi-Purpose Brush, synthetic
Dense and fluffy, I refer to these brushes as classic for a reason. They are sized to apply blush over the apples of the cheeks in a classic fashion. They're great for medium pigmented blushes when you want to apply over a large area on your cheeks. They have pinched ferrules, but they tend to have a lot of bristles and they fluff out a lot. This makes them pretty good blenders and good for bronzer, if you wear it.
For highlighting or contouring (which will be the next post in this series), this would not be directional enough to place the color precisely. Similarly, they are not good for applying color to the cheekbones only. The fluffy bristles are not well suited to either densely pigmented blushes or sheer blushes, as the former would end up with too much color on the cheek, and the latter would mean little color was applied to the cheek.
Small Blush Brush
MAC 116, goat, Hakuhodo Kokutan Blush S, blue squirrel/synthetic, and Sephora Classic Complexion 53
The less fluffy and smaller little sister of the classic blush brush, these brushes also have a pinched ferrule. They do not splay or fluff as much as the classic blush, however, and this makes them better for applying blush to a smaller area. You can still use these for the apples, but they also make for fine contour and highlight brushes, and are great for applying blush to the cheekbone area.
Perhaps more than any other brush, the hair fibre will make a big difference in the performance of the brush. The goat MAC116 and the blue squirrel/synthetic Hakuhodo Kokutan Blush S will apply a different level of pigment to the skin. The softer hair is therefore better for more pigmented blushes when you want a lighter touch with them. No matter what hair you choose, this is my favorite blush brush for all around blush application. They make it easy to build up color in layers and apply a variety of products easily.
Flat, Round Blush Brush
Trish McEvoy Sheer Blush 2B
Featuring a very pinched ferrule, this blush brush is like a larger flat shader brush. Instead of using the tip of the brush in circular motion, this brush is great for patting on blush. That makes it great for a (forgive me for using this cliched term) pop of color on the apples of the cheeks. This is also one of my favorite powder contour brushes because the patting motion allows for dense application in some places and lighter application elsewhere--instant blending.
This is not a blending brush, however, and works best with sheer to medium pigmented blushes. I don't often use this for blush application.
Hakuhodo large pointed yachiyo, goat
This is supposedly a traditional Japanese brush; I can't vouch for that since I know nothing about Japanese traditions outside of woodblock prints in an art appreciation class in college. It's certainly traditional looking, with its cane wrapped handle and lack of a visible ferrule (though I imagine there's one under all that cane). This is one of my favorite blush brushes. I like it for sheer blushes, but I also find the dense, stiff hairs great for getting a small amount of a denser colored blush, too.
Yachiyos also come in less pointed versions (called "purple" by Hakuhodo. I don't know why.), but they all share a round "ferrule." They are great for contouring, especially the pointed version, which fits nicely under the cheekbone and jawline. Another great all around blush brush.
Pros: You need a blush brush; don't even try to argue with me. If you are not already wearing so much blush your neighbors think you may be an 18th century French prostitute, get yourself one of these brushes and one of the beautiful powder brushes from a brand like Tarte, Illamasqua, Chanel, Burberry, or any of the other brands that make awesome blushes, and fix that because blush is life and life is blush. Er...what I really meant to say was big fluffy classic blush brushes are good for apples of the cheek and medium pigmented blush, small blush brushes are good for all around blush application and any sort of blush, flat, round blush brushes are good for sheer application, contour, and bright colors on the apples, and yachiyos are good for getting the most out of sheer or dark blushes and contour. And they can all be used to apply powder, too.
Cons: Repeat after me, there are no cons to blush. The classic blush brush is probably too big for most people's faces. And I guess you don't need a powder blush brush for cream blush. I tend to use stippling/duo fibre brushes for that. If you were to want more information on that subject, see my ground-breaking stippling brush post here: http://bepeachy.blogspot.com/2012/12/a-guide-to-brushes-stipplingduo-fibre.html.
The brushes featured in this post are: MAC 129 Powder/Blush Brush, Dior Blush Brush (this is pretty old, the handle is different and the name has changed, so I have no idea how the cheek brush currently in their line compares to this one), Real Techniques Multi-Purpose brush (from Travel Essential set), MAC 116 Blush Brush, Hakuhodo Kokutan Blush S, Sephora Classic Complexion 53, Trish McEvoy Sheer Blush 2B, Hakuhodo Large Pointed Yachiyo. All were purchased by me and I receive no compensation for featuring them.