As a self confessed make-up novice, I never really used brushes until recently.
I had a Benfit Kabuki brush a while ago that I used to apply mineral powder but since I started using a liquid foundation (applied with my grubby mits) and a pressed powder (applied with sponge), I never really had much need for a brush - particularly when I delved into blush but came out with Benetint!
I decided to try a foundation brush as I wasn't happy with the application of my foundation and not wanting to spend too much on something I might not use - I bought the ELF Foundation brush for the princely sum of £1.50. This got me started, I loved the overall effect of the application but the brush wasn't the easiest to use for me - it was too small and didn't clean well I found - the bristles were quite tough after first wash.
My next purchase was the Real Techniques foundation brush as I mentioned in my haul post here and I love it. It's mega soft and seems to do exactly what I want it to - makes my serious lack of skill unnoticable! It holds product well and distributes evenly and generally is wonderful.
Because of my success with the foundation brush, when I needed a new powder brush there was no question of where I was going to go. I'd been using a No.7 brush that had came in a set for Christmas but the bristles felt like they were litterally scraping across my face and I was getting patches of dry skin (Possibly not linked but I felt like it could be). I bought this brush last night and applying powder this morning was like using a CLOUD to do so.
There's absolutely no guessing what's next on my list since I've bought the Topshop cream blush and managed to convince my fiancé to let me use his boots points (let's be honest, I've earned them!)
So if you've not tried Real Techniques, do it.
I plan to do a Real Techniques giveaway when I reach 50 followers (around 20 to go I think, so spread the word) so you could be chosing from the foundation, powder, blush or stippling brush in notime =]