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When you're working with cream eyeshadow, the right brush can make all the difference. Whether you're using a matte, dewy, or shimmery shade, the best brushes for cream eyeshadow are designed with synthetic bristles, according to makeup artist Neil Scibelli. "Synthetic brushes do a better job at picking up cream formulas because the bristles tend to stick together better for a smoother application, without the risk of the product clumping from the natural hairs or the bristles falling out," Scibelli explains to Elite Daily. As for the size and shape of the brush, that will depend on how you plan to apply your cream eyeshadow, but generally, Scibelli recommends opting for something with densely packed bristles. "I like a pretty dense, and semi-flat shape so that you can really work the cream product into the lid while also zeroing in on the area that you want to cover," he says.
Neil Scibelli is a New York City-based makeup artist who specializes in editorial, television, music videos, and red carpet events. He is a frequent on-air expert and contributor to publications like PopSugar, InStyle, and Women's Health.
How To Apply Cream Eyeshadow
Because of its superior staying power, you don't need to worry about using a primer before applying cream eyeshadow (though if you have oily skin, you may want to start with a dusting of translucent powder to soak up any excess oil). "When dipping into the product, I always suggest pressing it into the back of the hand first to avoid any pilling or clumping of your cream shadow," Scibelli advises. "If you're looking for an all-over-lid cream application, then a fluffier, versatile shadow brush would work great," he says. In this case, you'll want to start by applying the shadow at the center of your lid, then use your brush to buff the color outwards and along the inner corners until there are no harsh lines.
You can also smudge your cream eyeshadow along your lower lash line, almost like you would an eyeliner, to create a more cohesive finish. And "If you're applying the shadow on the lower portion of the lid, then I would suggest going with a brush that's a little smaller and more concentrated," Scibelli says of when to reach for a thinner brush.
Shop The Best Brushes For Cream Eyeshadow
In a hurry? Here are the best brushes for cream eyeshadow:
- Best Brush Set: Real Techniques Everyday Eye Essentials Makeup Brush Kit
- Best Brush Under $5: Wet N Wild Small Eyeshadow Brush
- Best Dual-Sided Brush: EcoTools Eye Enhancing Duo
- Best Blending Brush: Sigma Beauty E25 Blending Brush
- Best Precision Brush: NYX Pro Flat Detail Brush
1. The Pro's Pick: Best Brush Set For Cream Eyeshadow
No matter how you apply your cream eyeshadow, Scibelli says you'll find your match (and then some) in this Real Techniques Everyday Eye Essentials Makeup Brush Kit, which he calls “truly a great set at an accessible price.” Cruelty-free, vegan, and made of synthetic bristles, Scibelli explains that they have “dense but soft bristles, which allows the product to go on smoothly,” and “come [in] a range of sizes as well.” He adds, “I love the definer brush and the crease brush, but then you also get an angled brush, which is great for creating a liner or a shadow with more detail.”
Relevant Review: “Great quality brushes set. I use a few of them with cream eyeshadow. I want to buy a second set. Highly recommended.”
2. Best Brush Under $5
For applying cream eyeshadow along your lash line, you'll want to follow Scibelli's advice and opt for a smaller brush, like Wet N Wild's Small Eyeshadow Brush, which features short, domed synthetic bristles and only costs about $1. An ergonomic handle makes the brush easy to hold, and the two-toned pink bristles add a pop of color to the otherwise basic white design. The brand also offers other eyeshadow brushes in the range, all of which are cruelty-free and vegan (and have the same cute pink ombre design).
Relevant Review: “The bristles are incredibly soft and pick up a lot of eyeshadow product. The quality is absolutely phenomenal for the inexpensive price. Highly recommend.”
3. Best Dual-Sided Brush
Whether you're simplifying your makeup routine for a vacation or you're always on the hunt for products that allow you to streamline your collection, multi-tasking brushes are a good place to start. Though the EcoTools Eye Enhancing Duo is just two brushes (as the name suggests), you actually get four different eyeshadow brushes that let you expertly apply not only cream eyeshadow, but powder and eyeliner, too. Cruelty-free and vegan, the bristles on the brushes are made from synthetic Taklon fiber, and the handles are made from renewable bamboo.
Relevant Review: “Love the dual ends. Great brush for eye make up - creams and powders. Easy to control, great for beginners and pros! Brushes are soft, but not too soft [...]Highly recommend!”
4. Best Blending Brush
When you're sweeping your cream eyeshadow across your lids, you can use a slightly larger brush (though Scibelli says that you always want to consider the size and shape of your eyelids since everyone is different). Sigma Beauty makes dozens of eyeshadow brushes to choose from, but their E25 Blending Brush is a solid place to start for buffing away harsh lines and sheering out thicker cream eyeshadows. The rounded brush is made from synthetic and antimicrobial fibers, and the handle is waterproof so that it can hold up to frequent washing (which you should still be doing, even with the antimicrobial bristles).
Relevant Review: “After using just drugstore brushes for quite sometime, I am so pleased with Sigma brushes! This brush is a multitasker, not only does it blend harsh lines, but it is great for applying primer, laying cream shadows down neatly and evenly and also applying powder and mineral colors. This is a must have in your brush collection!!”
5. Best Precision Brush
NYX reports that you can use their Pro Flat Detail Brush to pack on eyeshadow for more intense color payoff, but the smaller brush head is also ideal for blending cream eyeshadow along the lower lash line. To give your eyes a more wide-awake look, you can even use the detailing brush to blend a white (or any lighter color) eyeshadow along the inner corners of your eyes.
Relevant Review: “This is the perfect brush for packing on eyeshadow, especially wet eyeshadow. It's small and tapered, so it can also be used for cutting the crease.”
Neil Scibelli, New York City-based makeup artist and beauty education expert.