This has been a very requested topic. Not officially, but I always get asked about makeup brushes and their uses, which ones are good to get, etc. For me personally, it has taken a very long time to figure out which brushes are useless, too expensive, or bad quality. My search led me to the brushes that I have now and use most often. Good brushes don’t have to be expensive, but stores like M.A.C. happen to make some very good ones. There are plenty of “dupes” (makeup lingo for cheaper duplicates) available, you just need to know what to look for. Here is a link of M.A.C. brushes for reference http://www.maccosmetics.com/flash/brush_finder/index.tmpl
Here are the type of brushes to look for and their uses:
1. Duo fibre stippling brush: This is one of my favorite face brushes. It is what I use for stippling foundation, dusting on powder, or applying cheek highlighter. I personally prefer the stippling brushes to the traditional foundation brush. The M.A.C. 130 or 187 is a good example of this brush. I love my Borghese one that I got as part of a brush set from Costco that was really cheap.
2. Tapered blush brush: This face brush should be slightly tapered and not to thick or thin. I cringe when I see people applying bronzer or blush with huge kabuki-like brushes. M.A.C 109, 168 are tapered face brushes. The one I use is actually from coastalscents.com 22 piece brush set which I LOVE, is super cheap and has some of the most useful brushes that are surprisingly good quality. http://www.coastalscents.com/brushes/sets-and-cases/br-set-011.html
3. Small flat foundation brush: This brush is good for applying cream contouring. I use this brush to draw the lines of contour and highlight (looks like tribal war paint) and then use my stippling brush to blend it out. Flat foundation brushes should be firm and dense, not too flimsy. M.A.C 191, or 190. The ones I use are from Essence of Beauty (CVS), and Coastal Scents. Here is a video on the method I use for contouring and highlighting with creams: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow1rdFOlxnk&feature=channel_video_title.
4. Flat concealer brush: This brush is supposed to be used for concealing, however that is not my usage for it most of the time. For concealer I usually like to pat it in with a clean finger. I use this type of brush for applying cream shadows, for packing on shadow to the lids, for applying pigments, and as a lip brush. The M.A.C equivalent is the 231 brush known as their flat shader brush but most places will call it a concealer brush.
5. Stiff domed brush: Most famously known as the M.A.C 217 or a blending brush, this brush is perfect for blending out the crease, or even for just applying shadows. The one I use is a perfect dupe by Coastal Scents called their pro blending fluff and is around $4. http://www.coastalscents.com/brushes/br-250.html
5. Pencil Brush: This brush is perfect for creating a dramatic line in the crease or outer v, or for going underneath the eye. The M.A.C equivalent is the 219, the ones I use are from my Coastal Scents brush roll which include a few variations of the pencil brush (ie: thicker, taller, fluffier) or from E.L.F.
6. Mini Shader Brush: I use this for highlighting the inner corner and under the brow, since it is so small and dense it really packs in the highlight. It can also be used for blending under the eye. M.A.C 228 or 231. The one I use is actually from BeautyCare (a store in Malcha Mall, Jerusalem which is megacheap) or from yet again, Coastal Scents.
7. Angled Liner Brush: This is the brush I use for putting on gel liner, and also for filling in the brows. The thickness and leangh of these type of brushes is a personal preference but I personally like the smaller kind for liner and the thicker kind for brows. M.A.C. 263 or 266.
All in all, those are my favorite brushes that I actually find useful. Good Luck!