What is it?

What Is a Fan Makeup Brush Used For? It Depends on the Brush

You’ve seen them around: those weird brushes that look like they’ll cool you down if you wave them at your face.

Picture of a fan brush from BH Cosmetics
A refreshing looking fan from BH Cosmetics, famous for their brush sets. Source.

What are these fan brushes for? Well, it depends on what kind of fan brush it is!

The most common fan brush is thin and medium in size, and it’s used to apply highlighter. But small fan brushes can add a brow bone highlight or even be used for smudging or mascara application, and larger fan brushes are good for a sculpted blush or bronzer application.

We’ll talk about all of them here in this post!

The Medium Fan Brush

First off, we have these beauties:

Pic of Sigma's gold tipped, medium sized Roxstar F42 Strobing Fan Brush
This is Sigma’s gorgeous Roxstar F42 Strobing Fan Brush. Source.

They’re medium-sized brushes that apply highlighter onto the high points of your cheeks with precision.

That precision is courtesy of its shape, which, when used flat side down and swept vertically and up across the cheekbones, deposits color only on the highest point of your face.

Use it to highlight the tip of your nose and cupid’s bow, too! Why not? Again, it’s a great brush for getting product exactly where you want it and nowhere else.

Some people also use this size brush to multitask: brushing off eyeshadow fallout, applying powder lightly, and even creating sharper blush and bronzer lines for definition. But as for that last choice, I’d recommend going for our next type of brush…

The Large Fan Brush

Next, let’s talk these beefcakes:

Picture of short thick Heavenly Luxe Mega Fan Brush #9 from It Cosmetics
Heavenly Luxe Mega Fan Brush #9 from It Cosmetics. Source.

What can you do with this chonk?

Well, you could apply powder with it—the shape is useful for getting around your eyes. But I think the far superior use is for a chiseled blush and bronzer application.

If you like to pull your blush back toward your hairline, this is a great choice. (Generally, the fan shape is great for more horizontal applications.) And for bronzer, you can try a bronzer-as-contour look by taking the fan brush from the middle of your ear down to the under the apples of your cheeks.

If you like applying highlighter or bronzer to your body, these large brushes are perfect for it. They can cover a large area in no time.

And now let’s move on to the small fries.

The Small Fan Brush

Ah, the lesser-known, lesser-seen baby fan brush!

Picture Sigma's long, thin, tiny E04 Lash Fan Brush
Here’s Sigma’s E04 Lash Fan Brush. Source.

Sigma specifies that its small fan brush is to apply mascara. But if that seems too experimental to you, try using it in the way I’ve seen many people use small fan brushes: to highlight the brow bone, right under your eyebrow, with shimmery eyeshadow.

This fan brush is great for getting the most precise possible application of shine, so use it to your advantage if you love a good brow bone highlight. Or you can even try smudging—BH Cosmetics has a fan brush specifically designed for blending out that lower lashline or smoking out that thick shadow liner. Since the brush is in the shape of a line, you won’t blend too far up or down.

Closing Out

So there are some uses for fan brushes, differing depending on their size. Medium ones are mostly for highlight, large ones are mostly for blush and bronzer, and small ones are mostly for mascara and brow bone highlight.

If you haven’t tried a fan brush out yet, you should! This post isn’t exhaustive, and you might find a use that surprises and delights you.