Brush Anatomy 101: Highlighter

Hello everyone!

I’ll be making a new series of blog posts where I show you and explain the types of brushes used for different purposes like highlighting, foundation or contouring! Stay tuned for the continuation of the series and in the meanwhile, go ahead and read the post below about highlighting brushes.

First and foremost, I always get a lot of questions about highlighter brushes on Instagram. A lot of you are asking me which brushes I use for highlighting and what my favourites are. I do admit that I am a highlighter addict myself and I own a lot of highlighters from Sleek Solstice to MAC Oh Darling to TheBalm’s Mary-Lou Manizer so it’s inevitable that I have to have the brushes suitable for these guys to do their job, right? So here it is, let me introduce to you *drumroll* my highlighter brushes!

highlighting brush1.jpg

Left to right: BH Cosmetics #11 Highlighter Brush, Real Techniques by Samantha Chapman Fan Brush, Non-branded Fan Brush, Morphe M510 Brush, e.l.f Fan Brush, Real Techniques by Samantha Chapman Setting Brush, Sigma F15 Duo Fibre Powder/Blush.

BH Cosmetics #11 Highlighter Brush USD$3.5. Available here.

The BH Cosmetics brush is the most affordable highlighter brush of the bunch and I can say that for the price, it’s absolutely impressive. The brush is extremely soft and has minimal amount of shedding and is definitely a multi-tasker (you can use them as an eyeshadow brush too or knock-off excess powder or blend in liquid concealers). I do believe that the brush is a natural bristle brush so it’s great for picking up powder products and gets softer after each wash.

The brush itself will work well for buffing in pigmented highlighters like Jeffree Star Skin Frost highlighters, Sleek Solstice Highlighter palette or TheBalm Mary-Lou Manizer highlighters.


  • Extremely affordable
  • Super soft bristles
  • Buffs and blends highlighter products effortlessly
  • Small enough to reach areas like cupid’s bow, nose bridge and chin
  • Multi-functional brush


  • Maybe hard to use for beginners who are not used to highlighting products because of its size.

Real Techniques by Samantha Chapman Fan Brush AUD$25.6. Available here as a set of 3.

This brush comes as a set of 3 that includes a sculpting brush, a setting brush and a fan brush which makes the cost to be AUD$8.5 for each brush. The bristles are synthetic bristle just like the rest of the Real Techniques collection and is a sparse type of fan brush. The bristles are actually duo-fibre so it is denser at the base and tapers into sparse bristles at the end.

I personally do not enjoy the brush as much as I would like to because I feel like they are too sparse to apply highlighter with and the synthetic brush does not help pick up enough amount of product. This brush is a miss for me, but the set comes with another brush that I liked which I will be talking about later.


  • Affordable
  • Vegan and cruelty-free


  • Does not pick up enough product
  • The fan brush is too sparse to blend in highlighter or to apply them on the skin

Unbranded Fan Brush, Unknown price.

This brush is an unbranded brush that I actually get asked a lot about on Instagram since I feature them in a couple of my posts. I do apologise that I can’t tell you how much they were or where to get them but I will talk about it anyways in case you might see something like it on eBay, etc.

I believe that the brush is a natural bristle brush and it is surprisingly quite soft. I like that it picks up the right amount of product but the actual length of the bristle makes it a little awkward to blend or apply highlighter on the cupid’s bow or chin. This brush is a great addition to my collection but isn’t something I personally reach too often.


  • Picks up enough product
  • Inexpensive
  • Soft bristles


  • The length of the bristle is too long for blending
  • A little bit awkward for application on the nose bridge, cupid’s bow or chin but perfect for the cheekbone area.
  • Bristles splay after a couple of washes

Morphe Brushes M510 Brush AUD$11.7. Available here.

This brush is probably my favourite highlighting brush. It is super soft and pretty affordable at $11.7 in Beauty Bay (which was where I got mine from).

It is actually marketed as an eye brush by Morphe but I feel like it is definitely a little too large for applying eyeshadows or blending on the eyes but it’s the perfect size to apply and buff in highlighters on your face. It’s small enough to use on the nose bridge area, cupid’s bow and chin as well. This brush has been raved by so many YouTubers and I can definitely see why! If you want a cheaper alternative, however, the BH Cosmetics is definitely one to try as they’re pretty similar in shape and size.


  • The perfect size to apply and buff in highlighters
  • The bristles is not too long or too short
  • Soft bristles
  • Affordable
  • Multi-functional brush


  • Maybe hard to get as there are not a lot of Morphe Brushes stockists around.

e.l.f Fan Brush AUD$8. Available here.

Now this is another fan brush that I am going to talk about. I don’t want to talk much about this brush as I have a strong opinion against it. Don’t get me wrong, I love e.l.f products and I adore a lot of their products but this one is just a total miss for me.

The bristles are way too long and thin to do anything. Applying and buffing is just super awkward to do with this brush. It’s a definite pass in my opinion even if they are affordable. I would say the only positive credit I can give this brush is that it is all black so it looks amazing for my flat lays (hence why I feature them a lot, but in reality it’s not a great brush. I will start featuring the BH Cosmetics brush from now on, I promise).


  • A photogenic kind of brush – great for flatlays.
  • Vegan and cruelty-free


  • Bristles are way too long to apply and buff in product.
  • Does not perform what a fan brush should do.
  • Not worth the money even if it is $8.

Real Techniques by Samantha Chapman Setting Brush AUD$25.6. Available here as a set of 3.

This is the brush that I was talking about earlier. It’s the brush that comes together in a set with the Fan Brush I mentioned in the previous paragraphs. I said I did not like the fan brush but I liked the setting brush included in the set.

The brush is actually similar to the BH Cosmetics brush and the Morphe M510 brush in terms of shape and size so you know where this is going. I think this brush is the perfect size for buffing in highlighter but not necessarily for highlight application due to the synthetic bristles. Synthetic bristles are notorious for not being able to pick up powder products well and this is one of the cases where it doesn’t perform as well as the other 2 that I have mentioned purely because of the actual construction material of the brush. I do think it makes a great brush for buffing in concealer, though so you can definitely give it that.


  • Affordable (comes in a set of 3).
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Perfect sizing and perfect length
  • Buffs in highlighter well.
  • Extremely soft
  • Multi-functional brush


  • The synthetic bristles does not pick up powder products well but you can build it up if you have the patience to do so.

Sigma F15 Duo Fibre Powder / Blush Brush USD$24.3 (with coupon code MAKEUPSWATCHESAU). Available here.

This brush is probably the most expensive option from all the above. As you can tell from the name, it is marketed as a powder and blush brush and is a duo fibre brush, meaning that it has synthetic and natural bristle blend within the brush. Using it as a highlighter brush may be unconventional but works great and I will explain why below.

I actually used the brush as a blush brush prior to taking pictures for my blog post so that is the reason why it is stained bright pink but nonetheless this brush is one of my favourite brushes for applying highlighter. It is a duo-fibre brush just like the Real Techniques fan brush, but the significantly larger surface area of the brush allows you to apply and blend the highlighter seamlessly and doesn’t make it awkward like the fan brush does. It also comes in 2 ferrel options; Chrome (as shown in the picture) and Copper.


  • The brush comes in 2 colour selection (Chrome and Copper which is a rose-gold colour. Who doesn’t love rose gold?)
  • Picks up the right amount of product and blends product well.
  • A well-made and sturdy brush
  • Multi-functional brush


  • The brush is on the more expensive side

So, I hope you guys liked this post about brushes and functions and learnt about the different types of highlighter brushes. The reviews regarding the brushes are my personal opinion, so what might work for me might not work for you and vice versa. Thank you for reading!

*This post contains affiliate links. Please see disclaimer for further information.



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