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In the makeup world, you’re often taught that to create the best looks, you need the best tools. That’s true to some degree. However, your look won’t suffer if you don’t use a makeup brush. In fact, there are other types of brushes you can use to create the same look. You may have these lying around on your desk. That’s right! Paint brushes for makeup application!

Paint Brushes as Makeup Brushes

Can you use paint brushes as makeup brushes? The short answer: yes you can use paint brushes instead of makeup brushes!

The long answer includes which brushes you should use or shouldn’t and the reasons behind it. Think of our face as the canvas to a painting.

When you put on makeup, you’re painting the canvas. To do this correctly, you’ll need the right brush materials and tools.

Some paint brushes will work better in certain areas than others. For example, you wouldn’t use a small detail paint brush for your foundation or a larger flat brush for your eyeliner. Others might have bristles that are too hard and irritating to the skin. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t replace your entire makeup brush set with a paint brush set. You just have to discover the best brand and note the type of bristles they use.

Oil Acrylic Watercolor Paint Brushes 100% Natural Chungking Hog Hair 6pc Filbert Paint brush Set

Difference Between Makeup Brushes and Paint Brushes

Paint brushes and makeup brushes almost look identical. Certain paint brushes might feel as soft as a makeup brush. They might look like one you’d use for your eye shadow or your foundation.

However, there are differences in the brushes despite many similarities. Watch the video below:

Brush Handles

One thing you’ll notice immediately is the handles. The handles for paint brushes tend to have longer handles and are thicker. They’re made this way because when you paint, it makes it easier to get the type of strokes you want. It’s also easier to hold the brush since you’re often holding the same brush for a long time.

Makeup brushes have much shorter handles and usually vary in thickness depending on the type of brush. For example, foundation brushes have thick handles while brushes for eyeshadow or eyeliner aren’t as thick. It can make application harder with a longer handle if that’s not what you’re used to, so it might take some practice.


Another key difference involves the price. Makeup brushes start relatively expensive and get even more expensive the more popular the brand is. For example, e.l.f brush sets cost anywhere between $12 to $20 for 8 to 15 brushes. Higher-end companies like Morphe and MAC charge about $45 for a set of 8 and can go up to $200 if the set is part of a collaboration with a Youtuber or Influencer.

Paint brushes start at $5 for a set of 25 brushes and can cost up to about $50 or $60 for a high-quality acrylic paint brush set. Artist brushes are easier on your wallet. Keep in mind artist brushes might cost even less if the hobby store you buy from is having a brush sale. Sometimes you can get a brush for just 1 penny!

Brush Size

Another difference with using artist brushes for makeup involves the size of the brushes and the feel.

Just like with makeup brushes, some bristles are stiffer than others. In some cases, you want a firmer brush, but you don’t want a firm one for your eye area unless it’s eyeliner. Consider that it may irritate the skin too. If you have to press harder or buff harder, it may cause redness or irritation. Try to stick with the softest brushes possible when you can.

The size of the bristles matters too. Most makeup brushes come in set sizes and standards. Most of the time, this works for everyone. However, not all of us have the same skill set with makeup. One person may apply makeup in a different order, starting with eyeliner and a small, angled brush with ease while someone else struggles to get it perfect.

This is where paint brushes can help. Paint brushes come in many different sizes and include small brushes for detailed parts of your painting. You can use these small, detailed brushes to get the ideal look you want. It can improve the way you apply eyeliner or your brows because of the fine tips or angles.

You might want to reconsider using paint brushes as makeup brushes if you intend to only use powder makeup. Many paint brushes aren’t designed to apply powders but some brands apply powders well enough. They do work extremely well for creams and gels though. We recommend that you use paint brushes for eyeliner, lips, concealer, foundation, or gel and liquid brows.

Kabuki Makeup Brush Set - Foundation Powder Blush Concealer Contour Brushes - Perfect For Liquid, Cream or Mineral Products - 10 Pc Collection With Premium Synthetic Bristles For Eye and Face Cosmetic

Best Paint Brushes for Makeup

If you’re interested in using artist brushes as makeup brushes, we discovered a chart the beauty community made that you could use. It compares paint brush dupes for MAC brushes.

We found a brush on Amazon to get you started.

Dagger by Dynasty

Black Gold Series 206D DAGGER - Size 1/4
Buy on Amazon

This Dagger paint brush from Dynasty is a bit on the thicker side with the bristles at ¼ inches. However, the thickness makes it perfect for cat-eye and smoky eye looks. You can’t create thinner eyeliner looks with it because of the brush but you can always pick up another brush to create a thinner look. This paint brush that you can use as a makeup brush also has a two-toned handle that’s handcrafted and kiln-dried for durability.

What Can I Use Instead of Makeup Brushes?

You may not have access to tools like makeup brushes or want to pay for them either. There are ways you can apply makeup without using any type of brushes at all.

Here are some ways you can apply makeup without a brush.

  • Q-tips for smudges or lipstick application
  • Your fingers for eyeliner, foundation, lips, and concealer
  • Wedge sponges for foundation, concealer, or shadow
  • Cotton pads for blush application or face powders
  • Tissues to replace blotting paper, face set, and reduce fall out

Paint…Your Face!

You don’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars on makeup brushes to get the makeup looks you want. You can use paint brushes to recreate any look you want and for a fraction of the cost. If the thought of buying any brushes at all makes you want to look the other way, then there are other tools you can use to apply makeup.

Go out there and just have fun with makeup!