The Art of Makeup : Paintbrushes on Trial

I’ve been curious about the use of paintbrushes as makeup brushes ever since I saw one of Lisa Eldridge’s Youtube videos, where she was pinpoint concealing with a tiny paintbrush. Logical, right, because artists must need tiny paintbrushes for detailed works of art. But then, really what’s the difference between painting a canvas or a face? I decided to test how far I could push the use of paintbrushes as makeup brushes, by doing half a face of makeup with each different set of brushes, and seeing if I (or you guys) could tell the difference.

First, I visited a local art supplies shop in Leicester, Gadsby’s Arts, to choose a few brushes. I was amazed to see how much cheaper they were than makeup brushes. They had a promotion running, where you could pick any five paintbrushes by the brand Royal and Langnickel for £13. I was blown away, some of my makeup brushes cost more than that for one. These are the paintbrushes that I bought:

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Left to right: Oval Mop in 1/2, Sable Shader in 10, Angular Shader in 0, Half Moon in 1/2, Oval Mop in 3/4.

When I was choosing, I thought about the shape of my makeup brushes at home, and did my best to figure out which paintbrushes would work best. I also made sure to choose the softest brushes possible. I chose brushes suitable for applying highlighter, bronzer/blusher, eyeshadow, eyeliner and for  blending eyeshadow. I decided not to choose one for my foundation because I use the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge day to day rather than a brush.


I realised after taking the photo of the makeup brushes on their own that I had cheekily added in my blush brush, making it six makeup brushes, so I decided to remove it to make it completely even. The photo that follows shows you exactly which brushes I was pitching against one another. Working from the top row down are the brushes I decided to use for highlighter, base eyeshadow, eyeliner, eyeshadow blending and contour/blusher. I was pretty nervous about starting, considering these were a) paintbrushes after all and b) brushes I had never used before. I mean, sure they were cheaper and everything, but could they really stand up to my reliable (and more expensive) makeup brushes? I was still a bit cynical.

Before I reveal which side of my face I did with paintbrushes and which I did with makeup brushes, take a look and make a mental note of what you think! Made up your mind? Check out the answer below…


…I did the right hand side of my face with paintbrushes (which appears on the left hand side of the photo) and the left hand side with my makeup brushes! Give yourself a ridiculously big pat on the back if you got that right! I was absolutely gobsmacked with the finished result. I couldn’t believe how similar both eyes turned out considering the brushes weren’t exactly similar in shape or size. The makeup was just as easy to apply with the paintbrushes as my normal makeup brushes, the only difference being that the Angular Shader brush was better at applying eyeliner than my Real Techniques one! You can see that on my right eye my eyeliner is a little smudgier and less defined.




Cost: Paintbrushes – £13 vs. Makeup brushes – £50.97 
Okay so the difference between those numbers makes me feel a bit sick. The problem with Real Techniques is that I couldn’t find these brushes online individually, instead they come in sets (I have no idea why this is). Real Techniques are some of the best quality brushes you can buy in drug stores, but even if you wanted to buy an individual brush in store you’d still be paying over £10 for one. It seems crazy now that I’ve tried paintbrushes that work equally as well, if not better.

Versatility: The paintbrushes that really stood out for me were Oval Mop in 1/2 (highlighter), Sable Shader in 10 (eyeshadow blender) and Angular Shader in 10 (eyeliner). I needed a new highlighter brush as my cheap one from Boots just wasn’t cutting it, but in all honesty couldn’t justify spending money on a better one. I am happily replacing this one with the Oval Mop, it’s soft and picks up just enough product but not too much so you end up with a streak of shimmer on your face. The Sable Shader brush is incredible at blending and it really is just as good as my Real Techniques one. The Angular Shader brush was incredible at neatly lining my eye, it’s so small that you can be really precise with the application. The only downside to the paintbrushes is of course, they have pretty long handles. However, if you’re willing to spend a little bit more money and look a little harder, you can buy smaller handled ones like the Angular Shader brush (which is from the Mini Majestic range).

I really didn’t expect to fall in love with any brushes when I first began this experiment, but I can now say hand on heart, that I will be looking in more art supply shops for brushes. I think this might become my new obsession.
Give it a go yourselves, and please leave a comment saying which side of my face you thought I had made up with paintbrushes, I would love to know!




  1. 13th September 2016 / 1:21 pm

    I honestly could not have guessed which side was with the paintbrushes!!
    Such a cool and creative post idea, loved it. And I’m definitely gonna have to look into trying out a few paintbrushes myself!


    Izzy |

    • gingeybee
      13th September 2016 / 1:34 pm

      Yay! Thank you so much, I loved writing it 😊 Yess I’ll take you to the shop I went to! Xxx

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