Best kabuki brush reviews: Buyer’s Guide

It’s always good to have a variety of makeup brushes available on hand. But If I could only own a single makeup brush – I would go for kabuki.

Kabuki the most versatile brush around. Ideal for applying foundation, bronzers, blushers and shimmers flawlessly.

But with so many of them around, how to find the very best kabuki brush?

Our picks for the best kabuki brush

Best kabuki brush - our recommendation

✓  Sigma Beauty Round Kabuki F82
✓  Kabuki Foundation Brush by Studio 5
✓  Kabuki Brush by W3LL PEOPLE
✓  Kabuki Face brush by E.l.f. Studio


Our recommendation: There are lots of great kabuki brushes available, but we recommend Sigma Beauty Round Kabuki F82
 *There is more information about them below, but you can see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon by clicking the links above.



What is a kabuki brush?

“Kabuki” is one of those mysterious words that you stumble upon when shopping for makeup. I get that same question all the time:

The name isn’t made up. It originates from the Japanese Kabuki drama theater, where male actors wear heavy makeups known as Keshō, made out of rice powder.

Back then and until quite recently, Kabuki brush had a unique, distinctive look:

  • Short and dense bristles made out of natural animal hair
  • Rounded “mushroom” shape
  • Short, round ferrule
  • Flat end of a short handle, so the brush can stand upright on a table

Today, makeup brands are using the “kabuki” name for many different brushes, including those with synthetic hair, longer handles and flat brush tops.

Have a look below – both of these brushes are called a kabuki brush – NARS Kabuki Ita Brush and Tarte Airbuki Bamboo Powder Foundation Brush:

NARS Kabuki Ita Brush - Love this brush for contouring! | @cath_millen
Tarte Airbuki Bamboo Powder Foundation Brush - the coverage and finish you get with this brush is unparalleled! | @Cath_Millen

What they do have in common is the high density and a similar length of the brush hair.

So how a Japanese theatre brush got so popular in the US?

The credit has to go to Bare Escentuals, an US brand who has entered the beauty market by storm with its range of bareMinerals makeup. Their starter set came with a kabuki brush – which made complete sense, as applying mineral makeup with a kabuki brush is a bliss.

As the popularity of mineral makeup rose, so did the demand for the kabuki brush. Suddenly, it started to have a large variety of uses including the application of a good old powder foundation.

What is a kabuki brush used for?

A kabuki brush is used to create a soft, poreless looking skin.

Kabuki brush blends the makeup very evenly, giving your face a natural look. You can use any form of loose powdered makeup such as a mineral foundation, blush, bronzer and many more.

Each shape will get you a slightly different result, it’s a great brush for your everyday routine.

Still unsure what to get? We’ve tested them for you.

Best Kabuki brush reviews

***WINNER*** Sigma Beauty Round Kabuki F82

Features: Rounded, synthetic, non-retractable  Density: 5/5
Absolute favourite & a clear winner.

The best kabuki brush EVER! Learn who is the winner at | @Cath_MillenI bought it after reading many positive reviews (such as this one) online. I was a bit hesitant to begin with because it was kind of pricey for a brush and I was broke at the time. But after doing even more digging and really seeing how many people loved it, I decided to just go ahead and ordered it.

What an awesome decision that was!

Sigma Beauty Round Kabuki brush is very dense and extremely soft at the same time, making it the best kabuki brush EVER. It doesn’t irritate even the most sensitive skin.

High density of bristles blends in the foundation beautifully. Perfect for liquid & powdered foundations. Price is reasonable for such a high quality brush.


  • Very dense
  • Blends foundation flawlessly
  • Value for money


  • Couldn’t find any 🙂

Kabuki Foundation Brush by Studio 5 Cosmetics

Features: Flat, synthetic, non-retractable Density: 3/5

This Kabuki brush is made of quality materials, so you don't have bristles falling out every time you use it. Kabuki Foundation Brush by Studio 5 can easily compete even with the more expensive brushes. Very soft & gentle for the skin. It doesn’t absorb the foundation as a lot of other brushes do.

If you are just starting your makeup adventure or looking for a low budget brush to travel with I would highly recommend Studio 5 brush to you. If you don’t fall into those categories I would say save your money and invest in one of Sigma’s Kabuki Brushes.


  • Beginner-friendly
  • Inexpensive
  • Doesn’t absorb too much product 


  • Smaller than standard
  • Could be a tiny bit denser

Kabuki Brush by W3LL PEOPLE

Features: Flat, synthetic, non-retractable, made in USA Density: 4/5

Simply best kabuki brush for powder foundation! | @cath_millenThe size of W3LL PEOPLE Kabuki Brush is a bit larger than standard, but it’s pretty easy to get used to.

Despite its format, it applies foundation so evenly, it’s almost unreal.  One of the softest kabuki brushes I have ever worked with. It’s also ideal for mineral powders, since it facilitates full coverage and help with picking up the powder easily.

I’ve used this brush for over a year and haven’t noticed a single bristle fall out of it.

Pricey, yes – but then again, we only have one face, it’s worth investing in a quality brush!


  • Superior quality
  • Zero bristle-loss
  • Made in USA 


  • Higher price-point
  • Picks up & holds a lot of product

Kabuki Face Brush by e.l.f. Studio

Features: Rounded, synthetic, non-retractable Density: 4/5

My favorite brush by ELF. I can't believe the quality of this brush! | @cath_millenLast, but not least – extremely popular brush by e.l.f. Studio, a budget-friendly beauty brand.

I bought it after seeing someone use it on a YouTube tutorial. The brush head is very soft and very densely packed. Due to the enormous amount of bristles, even a little product now goes a long way.

It blends the foundation very well for an airbrushed type finish.

The reason for the lowest position in this ranking? My main pain with this brush is in the cleaning: it takes a long time to wash the product out completely. I cannot figure exactly why, since it’s just as dense as the W3LL PEOPLE kabuki brush…
Still, it’s an awesome brush for a ridiculously low price. Don’t overthink it, just get it!


  • Very affordable
  • Inexpensive
  • Doesn’t absorb too much product 


  • Size on the smaller size
  • Tricky to clean

Best retractable kabuki brush

ACEVIVI Retractable Kabuki Brush

Features: Rounded, synthetic, retractable Density: 4/5

Perfect travel size and perfect compact design! | @cath_millenAcevivi makes the most reasonably priced, high quality retractable brushes available. I’ve tried other brands of retractable kabuki brushes and I always come right back to this one.

This portable retractable Kabuki Brush is perfect size for your purse – 4” tall when closed. It’s lightweight too!

The sleek design of the black metal case gives it a luxury touch. Works equally well with powder and liquid-based foundations, applying it evenly and flawlessly. The hairs are soft enough that they will not irritate sensitive skin – they’re like a kitten fur!


  • Affordable
  • Compact
  • Stylish case 


  • Some report bristles falling out

Best kabuki brush set

Malika Jafrin Kabuki Makeup Brush Set with Case

Features: Set of 10, synthetic, non-retractable  Density: 4/5

A great variety of brushes. The kabuki and contour brush are my absolute favorite! | @cath_millenFor the price you cannot beat this kabuki brush set. I’ve owned a number of kabuki brushes over the years, ranging from budget-friendly to extremely expensive. While this set is definitely cheap, it works just as well as some of the more premium brushes I own.

It comes in a nice and sturdy case, which organizes the brushes nicely. There are 10 pieces in this set, rounded, flat, angled – you name it, it’s there. Great as an ultimate starter kit for a kabuki newbie 🙂

The case has an elegant look – would make an awesome gift (go on, just get it, it’s lovely!).


  • Good value for money
  • A variety of shapes
  • Premium looking case 


  • Smaller size of the brushes

Kabuki Brush Buyer’s Guide

How to pick the best kabuki brush for me?

When purchasing a kabuki brush, there are few things you should consider.

  • Real versus synthetic bristles

I would suggest you go for a synthetic brush that isn’t made with animal hair. In the past, the fur-bristles were considered more durable, but that isn’t the case anymore.

Animal hair has pores, which tend to absorb old makeup and dirt. Synthetic ones are more hygienic, 100% clean after every wash. Moreover, you can be sure that they are cruelty-free.

  • Shape of the brush

As I have mentioned before, kabuki brushes do vary in shape.  

Flat kabuki is good for an even distribution of foundation. Rounded kabuki works best for applying pigmented powders (blushes, bronzers, highlighters) onto your cheeks. Angled kabuki is great for contouring.

A classic Dome kabuki is my go-to brush for blending multicolored products together /For instance, when applying a dark powder to the hollows of the cheeks and a highlighter directly on the top of the cheekbone, I brush over “the border” between them in a rounded motion to blend them into one another/

  • Home use versus travel kabuki brush

If you plan to carry the brush in your handbag or luggage, go for a retractable kabuki brush. They don’t get damaged when tossed around.

Overall, I would recommend a cheaper travel kabuki brush and a more premium brush for home use for that flawless finish.

Top Kabuki Brushes - the very best | @Cath_Millen