I must have about a million* eye makeup brushes in my collection, which is ironic given that I use only one to do my eye makeup most days. I do have a few favourites and must-haves in the bunch, though, each suitable for specific tasks and I thought I'd share those with you.
1. Stila #5 All Over Shadow Brush
I think this was one of my first brushes and is still my go-to brush for applying a base shade all over the lid. It's a nice size and the tightly packed, softly tapered bristles pick up a nice amount of pigment, apply neatly to the whole lid and blend smoothly.
For a similar brush, try Liz Earle Eye Colour Brush (animal-friendly)
2. Becca Soft Focus Shader 44
Funnily enough, this one was actually a freebie with an online order, but it's all I use at the moment for applying and blending out a single shade of eyeshadow across the upper lid. The small head keeps things neat and it picks up a fine layer of powder that makes it easy to build up intensity. It also blends out really nicely at the edges.
For similar brushes, try Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow Brush, MAC Mini Shader Brush
3. Stila #28 Smudge Brush
This is actually a dual-ended brush, with a liner at the other end. But it's the smudge brush I love. The short bristles, tightly packed and cut into a slight dome shape, are perfect for smudging shadow or pencil into the base of the upper lashes. I like to take either a very dark, matte shadow or a soft pencil and smudge itjust into the outside of the upper lashes, above the lashline, to add a bit of impact. And the bonus is that it doesn't really require any artistry skills.
For similar brushes, try Laura Mercier Smudge Brush, Urban Decay Good Karma Smudge Brush (animal-friendly)
4. Laura Mercier Flat Eyeliner
I got this with Laura Mercier's cake liner, determined to teach myself the art of tightlining. It takes some practice, but works very well when I have the time for it. Unlike some other flat eyeliner brushes I've tried, this one doesn't feel sharp against my eyelid and gives a good thick line on the first go, so I don't have to go over it again to achieve the look I want. It's also animal-friendly if that's important to you.
For a similar brush, try NARS Push Eyeliner Brush (animal-friendly)
5. Becca Fine Eyeliner 06
This teeny tiny brush might look sort of ineffective, but it is actually brilliant for applying gel liner in a nice neat line. I dampen it slightly with water or mixing medium, pick up the gel liner evenly on each side and I get a nice fine line, no skipping, on the first go. Probably the second most "must-have" after a good eye shading brush for me.
For a similar brush, try MAC's Precise Eyeliner Brush
*may be a slight exaggeration