There are so many brushes out there. If you aren’t familiar with what you need it can get overwhelming really fast. I prefer the tactic less is more. I would rather invest in a smaller amount of quality brushes that have multiple uses, than to buy cheaper brushes to have a whole arsenal. Years ago (no specific number in mind) they didn’t have all these specific brushes for cream shadows and highlighting and what not, you had to do the same thing with a brush you already had and you know, we did just fine. I’ve listed below the bare minimum for a full starter collection. Add and subtract as you see fit.
Foundation Brush: They make all sorts of foundation brushes, but the best one to do the job is going to be a flat foundation brush.
Powder Brush: Fluffy is good. I prefer mine to taper, it can get into smaller spaces like under the eyes without needing a separate brush.
Blush Brush: Angled is a fine choice, but I actually have a smaller version of my powder brush for blush, allows for precise application, but fluffy enough to blend. Also great for highlighting.
All Over Eyeshadow Brush: Again, you want a fluffier brush for this. To cover a large area.
Fluffy Crease Brush: This is going to be your best friend when it comes to blending. Great for softly defining the crease and buffing out those harsh lines. Also good for precision highlighting.
Defining Crease Brush: Smaller version of the fluffy crease brush. The bristles are shorter and more compact to apply color.
Flat Eyeshadow Brush: This is a smaller denser version of the all over eyeshadow brush. This is what you would use to apply color on your lid. Get a brush that can be used wet or dry to maximize usage.
Smudger Brush: The is my favorite brush of all. Designed to smoke out the lash line. great for using powder liner. A passable substitute for an angled liner brush as long as you aren’t using it to make a sharp cat eye. (This can be used to smudge your eye liner into a cat eye though.)
Beauty Blender: I have tried substitutes and nothing comes close to it. I don’t know what it’s made of. Magic? Science? Spend the money and buy the real deal. Great for applying skincare, foundation, concealer… the list is endless.