Remember using those tiny sponge applicators with play makeup when you were a kid? It’s also time to ditch those makeup brushes and wands that come packaged with compacts and eye shadow palettes. They may have worked for you but to get the most out of your makeup collection and take your makeup application to the next level, you really need the right tools for the job.
To create a work of art, whether on canvas or your eye crease, artists will often reach for a brush. Specialized makeup brushes exist to help us apply and blend colors to create different makeup looks. Buy as many different brushes as you can comfortably afford. You’ll use your brushes every day, and you won’t regret having a variety from which to choose. Makeup brush design varies across brands and according to function. Brush heads may be made from natural fibers like squirrel, goat, sable, or horse hair, while others are made from synthetic fibers. Don’t be afraid to experiment with a variety of brushes made from different fibers, that is the only ideal way to find your ideal brush. Try to use just a single new brush or beauty product at a time, and limit its use initially. That way, if your skin does react, you’ll know which product to blame. The different kind of brushes you will acquire are used to apply foundation, concealer, powders, lipstick, blush.
Here’s a rundown:
Foundation brush: Used to apply foundation to the face. They are typically made from synthetic fibers. Most foundation brushes have a small, rounded brush head shaped like a tiny spatula.
Concealer brush: Concealer brushes look like mini foundation brushes. Being smaller than foundation brushes makes them better suited for covering blemishes or for applying liquid concealers in hard to reach places like the corners of the eyes.
Powder brush: With a large, fluffy brush head and soft bristles, powder brushes are ideal for applying loose powder to the face.
Blush brush: They resemble smallish powder brushes with either a sloped or rounded tip. Great for applying blush or bronzer to cheeks.
Eyebrow brush: Eyebrow brushes have firm, angled brush heads like the tip of a marker. Use them to apply powders, creams or waxes to brows.
Eye shadow brush: Not as stiff as an eyebrow brush, eye shadow brushes have square heads used to evenly apply both powder and cream shadows to eyelids. Expect to use these a lot.
Blending brush: Like the name implies, blending brushes are used to blend different colored products and to wipe out harsh lines. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Not as firm as eye shadow brush heads, the heads of blending brushes are usually tapered. This will be your second staple brush after your eye shadow brush.
Crease brush: Fluffy and soft, crease brush heads come in several different shapes, from thin and tapered to round and fluffy. The shape you choose will depend more on personal preference than anything else. Look for a brush head that feels soft against your eyelid and fits into the hollow of your eye.
Lip brushes: At one time or another, most of us have applied lipstick straight from the tube. Even though applying lipstick straight from the tube is much easier than reaching for a lip brush, especially when you just don’t have the time, a lip brush is however, the only way to go. It provides more control and precise lipstick application than a tube. Like concealer brushes, lip brushes have a firm, thin tip. For on-the-go lipstick application, look for a covered lip brush, which comes with a cover to protect the brush head while you’re traveling.
Choosing the right brush
Brushes range from budget-friendly to super-expensive. But it is best to save for them and buy the expensive ones because they’ll get plenty of use. Buy the best brushes you can afford. MAC Cosmetics brushes have a good reputation, but do shop around.
How to clean your brushes
Regularly cleaning makeup brushes extends their useful life. Some makeup lines sell liquid brush cleaning solutions, but baby shampoo and water also works well. Antibacterial wipes provide a quick way to clean brush heads in the car or wherever water would make a mess. After cleaning your brushes, reshape the brush heads with your fingers and line them up on the edge of a shelf or sink to dry.
Short or long-handled brushes?
Brush handles come in different lengths and weights, and which one you choose depends on your personal preference. People with small hands might prefer short brush handles.
How to store your brushes
For cheap, easy brush storage at home, stand them up in a glass, brush heads up. When you’re on the road, use a brush roll, which is a folding bag with slots for each brush. It rolls up like a sleeping bag.
Other make up tools
There are a few other tools you might consider adding to your makeup arsenal.
Eyelash curler: These are hand held crimpers used to curl the upper eyelashes. The best eyelash curlers won’t pinch as they curl your lashes. Always curl your lashes when they’re dry and clean. Curling lashes with mascara on them may leave you with broken lashes.
Round and wedge sponge: Round and wedge sponges are handy for blending and smoothing out makeup lines on the face and around the eyes.
Q-tips: Use Q-tips to remove excess makeup around the eyes or lips or, in pinch, to apply eye shadow.
Brow comb: Used to style eyebrows or to brush out excess eyebrow powder.
Fingers: Even with a huge collection of brushes, you’ll still sometimes use your fingers to apply makeup. They’re just that handy. Fingers excel at applying products like cream blushes and stick foundations that soften when slightly warmed.