Even the best make-up artist is nothing without their tools. While foundation, primer and powder all play their part, if applied incorrectly, they’ll only look flat, flaky, patchy or cakey on the skin.

Finding the right brushes is often down to trial and error and can seem time consuming, both before and during your beauty routine.

Nobody wants to rifle through dozens of similar brushes, hoping to find the right one, and with so many on the market, it’s difficult to know where to start with your search.

In our search for the perfect set, we only chose brushes that are sturdy and dense enough to apply as much product as possible without soaking it up in the process. These collections feature high-quality brushes that leave complexions smooth and evenly pigmented.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Laura Mercier paint the town luxe brush collection: £70, Harvey Nichols

Perfecting your base is the most vital part of your beauty routine, but thankfully this set has you covered. Whether you’re looking to contour, highlight or sculpt, the five brushes cover all bases and are gentle on the skin. This particular collection is designed for party season, coming with a red leather pouch to protect your brushes on the move. We loved how easy these were to use — the shorter, travel-ready handles give you more control than other brushes and allow for more precise application.

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it Cosmetics heavenly luxe must-haves brush set: £55, it Cosmetics

Formulated by a team of plastic surgeons and dermatologists, it Cosmetics products are consistently impressive. These brushes not only work well with the brand’s infamous CC cream, but flawlessly blended out multiple layers of our tester’s make-up. While they’re synthetic, the brushes feel luxurious and plush against the skin without shedding too many fibres. We were particularly impressed by the powder brush, which saved us from the cakey finish of some heavier powders on oily skin.

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Charlotte Tilbury magical mini brush set: £35, Charlotte Tilbury

Everything from Charlotte Tilbury looks luxurious and this set is no exception. Beyond the beautiful, navy velvet case, each of the four brushes more than fulfils its purpose. With one for blusher, eyeshadow blending and smudging, and a precision brush (exclusive to this set), they’re smaller but just as effective as the full-size versions. While those who prefer an elaborate, full face of make-up may find this set a little lacking, our tester found it easy to complete an everyday look.

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Huda Beauty mercury retrograde brush set: £34, Cult Beauty

Huda Beauty founder Huda Kattan is the queen of glam, making her the perfect person to design the tools behind the cut crease. Three double-ended synthetic brushes — the pack and blend, fender blender and contour and blend — perfect any look. We particularly loved the contouring brush, which makes quick work of the most elaborate eyeshadow. They also come in a sleek, holographic make-up bag, which is much bigger than needs be for three brushes, making it perfect for all the other bits and pieces behind your beauty routine.

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Real Techniques everyday essentials set: £19.99, Boots

When it comes to value for money, Real Techniques can’t be beat. This set has four brushes and a sponge, all focusing on the complexion. The standout was the blush brush, which blended out the most pigmented of products. Despite being team sponge when it comes to applying her foundation, our tester even loved the foundation brush, which didn’t soak up too much product.

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Dior backstage brush set: £115, Boots

For those looking to invest in a professional-quality set, this Dior collection features five brushes used by the brand’s make-up artists backstage. Covering your complexion, eyes and lips, each is versatile enough to work as a complete set for any look you hope to achieve. While they’ll make a significant dent in your purse, you can both feel and see the quality of this set — the foundation brush is one of the most impressive our tester has ever tried, applying foundation smoother than any other.

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Crayola makeup brush set: £25, Asos

Inspired by the spirit of individuality embodied in their crayon namesakes, Crayola’s brush set is designed to resemble the pencil case from your childhood. The blush, highlighter, eyeshadow and lip brush are all completely synthetic and vegan-friendly. Although they may seem too gimmicky to be effective at first glance, they’re sturdy enough for multitasking a whole face of make-up. If you’re looking to create a complex cut crease, however, you may have to look elsewhere for additional tools.

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Zoeva make-up artist brush belt professional brush set: £175, Cult Beauty

Pro and amateur make-up artists alike will find everything they’re looking for in this Zoeva offering. With 11 face brushes and 14 eye brushes, for those less literate in beauty tools, each comes inscribed with a description of its purpose. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer amount of options, but our personal favourites are the buffer, face shape, luxe sheer cheek, luxe soft crease and brow line, all of which are essential for an everyday look.

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Nude By Nature ultimate collection professional brush set: £50, Nude By Nature

These nine synthetic brushes offer you options without too many distractions. Each is reliable, high quality and will last for many years if looked after properly. This is aided by the faux-leather zip-case, which will keep your brushes safe and intact on your travels. While some of the brushes did experience a bit of shedding during first use, this stopped after a quick clean.

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Fake Bake scream & pout makeup brush set: £12, Asos

Fake Bake might be best known for its tanning products, but the brand’s evolved in recent years, adding the likes of this brush set. The lip, eyeshadow and powder brushes are all pretty standard, but we especially liked the lash and brow comb, which is one of those things that you didn’t realise you needed until you have it.

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The verdict: Make-up brush sets

For an all-round set covering your complexion and eyes, Laura Mercier is our top choice and is sure to last you for years to come. However, if you’re looking for a purse-friendly option that gets the job done, Real Techniques’ everyday essentials set is a make-up bag staple.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.