When it comes to brushes, a higher price tag does not always equate to better quality. Most of the brushes I reach for on a daily basis are on the more affordable end of the spectrum, and many of them outperform my high-end brushes from MAC, NARS, etc. These are some of my favorite budget brushes that I would recommend to anyone on the market for soft, non-shedding brushes, whether you're actually on a tight budget or not.
Left column, from top to bottom: Real Techniques Buffing Brush, Fine Liner Brush, Domed Shadow Brush, Contour Brush, Multi-Task Brush, Expert Face Brush // Right column, from top to bottom: EcoTools Retractable Kabuki Brush, Domed Bronzer Brush, Bamboo Powder Brush, elf Blush Brush
Real Techniques // I own quite a few Real Techniques brushes, and I love most of the ones I have (the Stippling Brush was great at first, but then it started shedding and losing brush hairs like crazy, so I tossed it). In terms of face brushes, the Buffing Brush is a favorite for applying liquid foundation, the Contour Brush is the perfect size for contouring, but it's also great for applying blush and highlighter (both from the Core Collection $18), I love the Multi-Task Brush for working powder foundation into the skin or dusting on bronzer, and the Expert Face Brush ($9) is my go-to for cream blush application. For eyes, the Domed Shadow Brush from the Travel Essentials set ($18) is like the love child of a flat shader brush and a crease brush. I use the sides to pack color onto the lid and the tip to gently blend shadow into the crease. Their Fine Liner Brush ($6) is super tiny and although perhaps not ideal for newbies, it's perfect for precise gel or cream liner application, especially when a flick is involved.
EcoTools // I only have a few EcoTools brushes, but they're staples in my routine. I often keep the Retractable Kabuki Brush ($8) in my handbag to apply powder touch-ups on the go. I love the Domed Bronzer Brush ($10) in conjunction with some of my less pigmented or lighter bronzers, as it really packs on the product but still blends it out well, and the Bamboo Powder Brush ($8) is what I use on a daily basis with my setting powder.
elf // I used to have a lot of elf brushes when I was first starting with makeup, because they're just so darn affordable. While they're not all fantastic from what I remember, the Blush Brush ($3) is great for patting on blush, and the tip can double for highlighter application too. It's quite small, but as a result, it gives me control over where my blush goes.