Makeup tools may be small items, but they are heavy-duty lifters when it comes to your daily beauty routine. For this roundup we reached for our favorites that get the job done—and stand up over time. Some are classics, and a few are new surprises. Here are our most beloved brushes, curlers, tweezers and more.
Best Lip Brush: Jane Iredale Retractable Lip Brush ($20)
For a more even application than applying straight from the tube or with a finger, try applying lipstick or gloss with a brush. We like one with a point for nailing the perfect swoop of your cupid's bow, and you can use the fatter side of the brush to apply on the rest of your lips. Jane Iredale's option has both and is retractable, meaning no sticky mess in your makeup bag or purse.
Best Foundation Brush: Giorgio Armani Designer Foundation Expert Shaping Brush ($51)
For the smoothest, most natural, glowy skin, a foundation brush is key—and Giorgio Armani's version is best. It's big, so you don't have to keep redipping it into your foundation, but it's also tapered so you can get into tricky areas like the hairline and into fine lines to camouflage them. Plus, the mix of natural and synthetic fibers means they won't wilt under even the most heavy-duty foundation formulas.
Best Eye Shadow Brush: Bobbi Brown Angled Eye Shadow Brush ($29)
The difference between a great eyeliner/brow brush and a great eye shadow one is all about stiffness. A softer, more giving fiber is more comfortable and makes for a smoother, better blended shadow, which is why we love Bobbi Brown's version. It doesn't pick up too much powder, and the angled edge makes it ideal for getting into the creases and corners of the eyes.
Best Blush Brush: YSL Blusher Brush ($43)
The worst blush brushes you could possibly use are, ironically, the ones that come packaged with blush. A longer handle and a dome shape help you sculpt cheekbones and add a soft wash of color, not a streaky line. YSL's blush brush is pricey, but it makes blush look natural and it feels luxuriously light and as soft as a kitten.
Best Eyeliner Brush: MAC 263 Small Angle Brush ($19)
Some makeup artists like a flat brush, some a skinny pointed type and others an angled version. We're firmly in the latter camp. Angled brushes are simpler to use—especially with a less-than-steady hand—and get cream, gel or wetted powder liner perfectly down into the upper lash lines. This MAC one is easy to hold and wield precisely. It also works well for drawing individual eyebrow hairs.
Best Foundation Sponge: BeautyBlender ($19.95)
Nothing looks grosser in a makeup bag than a foundation-splotched, used-to-be-white foam triangle. The BeautyBlender sponge is hot pink, which makes it harder to see foundation stains, and its teardrop shape makes it easy to blend around tough spots like the nose or the jawline. Other benefits: it's hypoallergenic, odor-free (just remember to wash it regularly) and won't break down and crumble after multiple uses.
Best Tweezers: Slice Slanted Soft-Touch Tweezers ($19.99)
We've long hailed Tweezerman for super-grabby tweezers and an awesome policy where you can return yours for a free sharpening if it ever gets dull. Plus, partnerships with fashionistas like Cynthia Rowley make for tools so cute you'll want to keep them outside your medicine cabinet. That said, we've fallen for the new kid in town: Slice tweezers, which are designed by architect Michael Graves and spent two years in development. These are ergonomically comfortable to hold. They can also grab even the teeniest-tiniest hair. They're seriously tweezer-magic.
Best Eyelash Curler: Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler ($20)
The reason the Shu Uemura eyelash curler is what you find in every makeup artist's kit is because its patented hinge means it never gets stuck, clamps down too hard or generally makes you feel like you're pulling on your delicate eyelids. The silicone pad also never clings to lashes (unless you make the beauty no-no of curling after you've applied mascara), so you won't lose any fringe when using it. But most of all, it gives a visible, intense curl without any janky 90-degree bend.
Photo: Courtesy of the brands