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
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.
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
Absolute favourite & a clear winner.
I 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
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.
- Doesn’t absorb too much product
- Smaller than standard
- Could be a tiny bit denser
Kabuki Brush by W3LL PEOPLE
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
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
- Doesn’t absorb too much product
- Size on the smaller size
- Tricky to clean
Best retractable kabuki brush
ACEVIVI Retractable Kabuki Brush
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!
- Stylish case
- Some report bristles falling out
Best kabuki brush set
Malika Jafrin Kabuki Makeup Brush Set with Case
For 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.