Makeup Brushes 101
When it comes to great makeup application, it’s not just what you’re putting on your face, but what you’re using to do so. There are literally dozens of different types of brushes that you can choose to use — but how do you know what’s best? First, some general information about makeup brushes. For cream and liquid makeup, like concealers, eye shadows and foundations, it’s best to use a synthetic (plastic feeling) brush. Powders are more suited to natural (hair like) brushes. Liquid on a natural brush is big trouble — picture trying to apply liquid foundation using the ends of your hair. Gross. Opt for fluffy brushes when a light application is required, and dense brushes for heavier makeup.
Not only are there many types of brushes, but tons of brands to sift through. When I’m at the drugstore and I need an emergency replacement, I’ll look for Real Techniques. Their brushes both great and inexpensive. Otherwise, I’ll go online and order Sigma or Morphe brushes, with Morphe being the more affordable of the two.
When I’m working on eyes, I’ll start with a fluffy crease brush. Choose a color a few shades darker than your skin tone and swipe across the crease of your eyelid like a windshield wiper. The fluffier the brush, the lighter the application, so start lightly and apply until you get the color you want. I keep 4 of these Morphe round blender brushes in my kit so I can blend until I get the perfect application.
To apply more intense color, I use a flat shader brush with a ton of bristles. The density allows me to put on more pigment on the lid. I also use this type of brush to blend a lighter color to the inner third of the eyelid, or to add a glittery accent.
For definition of the eye, a pencil brush is a must! Using eyeliner on the lower lid can border on harsh, so I use a softer dark brown and apply it using this to achieve a soft, smoky look. I love the pencil brush from Crown - inexpensive and dependable, Crown is a great choice to start building your brush assortment.
These three are great starters for any eye makeup brush kit and cover a wide range of needs — applying color, blending and adding definition. Keep in mind that for certain makeup, like a gel eyeliner, you may have better results with a specific angled brush.
When it comes to your face, a great foundation brush is crucial. I love the Morphe Deluxe Buffer Brush. It’s easy to use: stipple the foundation on, then buff in a circular fashion. I put liquid foundation on the back of my hand, then use the brush to apply it in small sections. Pumping makeup directly onto the brush is not as effective; the product can be soaked up by the bristles before it can be applied. You can also use this brush for powder foundation for a moderate application and coverage.
For concealer, I use a Beauty Blender sponge. The teardrop shape helps me apply the product evenly while getting into tighter areas, like the crease between the nose and cheek. Get it wet, squeeze out the excess water, and then pat the product onto your face; the moisture helps blend the makeup for a flawless look. If you prefer a brush, I use a fluffy (compared to a flat) one as I can stipple the makeup instead of dragging. This reduces the streakiness when applying.
After applying your liquid foundation, a light dusting of setting powder will suffice to seal the look. Use a big fluffy brush for this job; the fluffier it is, the lighter the application will be. I like this Ulta one for its large surface area and fluffy texture.
I use a similar one for blush to avoid heavy coverage — too much and your makeup can look clowny. This type of brush is also excellent for bronzing; to get that natural, sun-kissed look, a fluffy brush and a light hand go a long way. For a structured countour (i.e. the look popularized by the Kardashians), use a brush that has more bristles to provide a sharp, clean line. The unique angle to this Sigma brush helps define the cheek area.
To top it all off, use a fan-shaped brush to apply some shimmery powder for highlighting. Dusting it on your cheek and brow bones, along with the inner corner of your eye, will provide a little glow and oomph to your look. This fan brush makes for a gentle application, making it difficult to overdo it.
Or, skip the shopping around and nab this beautiful set from Morphe! This high quality collection provides the basic brushes any makeup needs while providing a beautiful accent to the home makeup counter.
No matter what brushes you have, remember to clean your brushes after every use. Desi Perkins has an excellent tutorial available on YouTube showing off several techniques, ranging from quick cleaning to overnight deep cleansing.