I am lucky enough to have a wonderful assortment of makeup brushes. I have dozens: Lancome, Shu Uemera, Laura Mercier, Trish Mc Evoy, and more. Nearly all I have had since I was a freelance makeup artist in my early 20s. They've lasted that long ;)
I also have a nice collection of Cat Cosmetics brushes, the Taklon and Kabuki being among my favorites from the line.
No matter what type of makeup you're using, it's only as good as the tools used to apply it. You can have a great foundation and it will never look as good applied with a latex sponge as it would with a high-quality foundation brush.
Unfortunately, most "good" makeup brushes are made with pony hair, goat's hair, squirrel hair, etc. A couple of months back, I decided I would not be using my better brushes anymore. This was easy to do because I found a wonderful line of very affordable and eco-conscious brushed right at my local Walgreens.
The brand is called EcoTools. All handles are made from sustainable bamboo. Recycled aluminum makes up the metallic ferrule. Even the ink used on the packages (which are reusable) is made from a plant source of ink! All brushes are animal free. The prices won't use much of your green, either!
Your best bet when trying out the line is their $10.99 pack of 5 assorted brushes. They are really nice. I also highly recommend the foundation brush, which I believe is the best of the bunch. It applies everything from traditional liquid foundation to mineral makeup to my favorite Smashbox Sheer Focus tinted moisturizer efforlessly. Did I mention this brush, which rivals $50 brushes, is only $5.99?
I am extremely impressed with this line. I didn't get any of that "cheap" feeling you typically get from drugstore synthetic brushes. Hairs from the brush don't fall off and sit on your face. They don't scratch or make your makeup go on in a choppy manner. These truly are good brushes!
The economy stinks right now. The environment is in peril. Some of these things we can control. Others we really cannot. We can help save ourselves some money, though, while being eco-conscious by trying EcoTools!