Makeup is a complicated business. It’s hard enough figuring out what colours, shades and formulations suit you, let alone having to work out what tools you need in order to apply the stuff. Believe it or not, every makeup brush has its purpose (yes, all 37 M.A.C. brushes have a different function!) but for simple, everyday makeup all you need is a few. Read on to find out what four makeup brushes you just can’t live without.

1. 129SH Powder/Blush Brush, M.A.C., $42
This rounded, fluffy brush is a multitasker. Use it to apply your loose powder, pressed powder or foundation powder. Pinched for time or money? You can also apply your powdered bronzer or blush with this guy. Just make sure to clean or dust off any excess colour with a tissue or brush cleaner before you use it for your base products again.

2. Essential Eyeshadow Brush, Kimiko Beauty, $38
Simplify your makeup routine with this double-ended beauty brush. Sweep base colours all over the lid by using the angled end. Rotate the brush sideways to get perfect crease colour application. On the other end is an accent brush that can be used to smudge and soften eye pencil application, intensify the lash line with eye shadow or to add a touch of light shimmer at the inner corner of the eye.

3. Smokey Eye Liner Brush, Laura Mercier, $35
This amazing tapered brush can be used wet (to apply liquid cake eye liner à la Betty Draper) or dry for creamy eyeliner formulations. The synthetic bristles are firm enough to give you a precise application but flexible and forgiving for those who aren’t 100 percent confident with liner application. The pointed tip allows you to create a winged liner or a classic thin line. Also, using the side of the brush you can build eye shadow colour for a sexy smokey eye.

4. Stippling Brush, Real Techniques by Samantha Chapman, $10
Create a flawless, just airbrushed-looking complexion with this synthetic fiber stippling brush. On a clean face, apply your liquid or cream foundation by working in circular motions. You’ll get high definition results in just seconds. Created by pro-makeup artist Samantha Chapman, this brush can also be used to apply powder highlighter as well as cream and powder blush.

Brushes don’t have to be scary and you don’t need a thousand of them to create your favourite looks. The more comfortable you are with makeup the more brushes you will likely accumulate but if in doubt just stick with the basics and know that almost every brush can be used for more than one task.

Louise Griew is a Toronto-born makeup artist whose second home is Melbourne, Australia. Her work can be seen in national and international advertising campaigns, magazines, music videos and on TV.