Ever wonder why there are so many makeup brush choices out there? There are hundreds; it can be confusing and overwhelming when you walk into Sephora or local makeup counter. Which one do you need and which one can wait until later? Let’s be honest, most of the time you get excited about all the amazing things the girl at the cosmetics counter tells you about the newest brush but after a few days it ends up in the makeup brush graveyard because you really use your “go to” 5 brushes and then all that shiny new brushes collect dust. And then a whole new category of brushes come out that make you think…hmmm, do I need that? Well if you are a beginner or just want to hone your mad brush skills this guide will help you weed through the never ending brush options. Here we only discuss the essentials; those brushes that you can regularly use in your everyday life to get from point A to point B. We’ll leave the fancy brushes for another article when you start adding some flare to your makeup routine.
Okay so, what do you need to do to get ready every morning; Foundation, brows, lips, cheeks a little eye shadow and hopefully some lashes to finish the look. At least I do lashes every day. What brushes do you need to do these simple tasks to get yourself ready in the morning? Now this may be surprising but I propose that every woman only need 5 brushes to do most everything to get ready; even for those evening smokey eyes you love so much. Yes I said it; 5 brushes plus a beauty blender. Most women apply their bb & cc creams on with their fingertips and to be honest your brushes can be multi-taskers. Unless you have a strict one brush per application rule, you don’t really need 100 brushes to get the job done. And here’s the best part, since you don’t need so many brushes you can stand to spend a little more them. You’re tools are the most important thing in your makeup bag. If you need to budget, don’t do it on your brushes if you’re trying to get great results. Spend a little more on your brushes to ensure smooth application, quality that will last and softness in the brush so you don’t give yourself a rash every time you apply. Investing in, using the right makeup brushes and tools will not only help give you a flawless makeup look, but you’ll save money in the long run. How? You’ll use less product and your makeup will last longer (i.e. remain germ-free longer) if you keep your hands out of your colors and formulas.
Beauty Blender: Not a Brush but Your Still Need it
Before we get into the brushes, I will say the one thing you need in your beauty arsenal is a beauty blender. This has taken over a lot of the brushes that you have once thought you needed. A beauty blender is an amazing tool to apply any cream or liquid based makeup. You can use it for foundations, cream/liquid contour & highlighters. You can use it for powder based makeup as well but I generally stick to cream/liquids for beauty blenders. For either application you do the same, you wet the blender & then towel dry it until you need to use it. You don’t want to use it dry or completely wet; it needs to be damp as to not water down your product or soak in too much product into the blender. You can apply product directly to the blender or apply product to your face and dab it to blend it all in; either way it’s an essential product to have in your makeup bag. Its round and tapered shape allows for multiple applications without mixing colors. If you don’t have one, go get one. And if you only get one get the Original Beauty Blender. It’s the best out there. It’s a little pricier than its competitors but well worth the money. You can get it for $20 at Sephora.
Okay so now that we have that out of the way, on to the brushes. Again, I say you only need 5 brushes to get probably 80% of your makeup looks together. These are all very straightforward functions and all these brushes are multi-functional. There is no differentiation between brushes based on colors although you can do that but why when you can just keep it simple.
Makeup Brush No. 1: Concealer Brush
What is it: This is a synthetic flat brush, not puffy at all; typically either a straight or rounded edge. The tip is your own preference, but we say the rounded tip is more versatile to get to smaller corners like your inner eyes. Because of its shape & synthetic hairs it can stand up to any cream based makeup. Use it for your concealer, foundation, cream bronzer, contour etc.
Why You Need it: It will get perfectly into all the small nooks and crannies around your eye and nose. A flat top or pointed shape will effortlessly build color and coverage for flawless skin and it can even do double-duty with any cream product, like blush, bronzer, and highlighter.
How to Use it: Pat concealer, foundation, bronzer or any cream based product directly on the area. Use the rounded edge to get into the smaller areas like around your nose & eyes. If you’re using a liquid contouring product, use the flat brush to draw a line on areas you want to recede (always moving the brush upward). Be sure to blend well with a separate brush, like the Beauty Blender.
Makeup Brush No. 2: Kabuki Brush
What is it: The Kabuki brush was developed in Japan when women wanted to apply heavy thick powder to their face. It has a short base which makes it easy to handle and a rounded fluffy top to apply to more surface area of your face. The thicker hairs can pick up any powder product pressed or loose with ease and if you wanted you can use it on crème products as well. It’s totally versatile with multiple application uses and its compact size makes it easy to be your “on the go” brush.
Why you need it: This is probably one of the most popular and versatile brushes available today because of its efficiency to apply any powder. Its smaller base makes it easier to handle and it’s large, fluffy, and rounded top makes it ideal for applying product evenly to large areas of the face.
How to Use it: Use it to apply a light to medium coverage of foundation or BB cream by dotting the makeup on your face first, and then lightly buffing in. For blush and bronzer, dip the brush in the powder, shake off the excess, and then apply just above or under the cheeks with a light hand. Kabuki brushes can be large, so be careful not to over-apply color when focusing on one part of your face. You could also get more exact placement by using liquid blush or bronzer, dotting it on your face where you want it to go, and then blending with the brush. Finally, you can use the kabuki to lightly buff finishing powder over your makeup to reduce shine and to set your look for the rest of the day.
Makeup Brush No. 3: Eye Shadow Brush
What is it: A small, flat brush that is typically wider at the edge than the base. Its hairs are packed together to pick up more pigment of the eye shadow and applying them to your lids with minimal fallout. There is also a fluffier eyeshadow brush option which is better for blending color to your eyebrow bone. It does not pick up as much color as their flat counterparts but do the job. There are also dual-ended brushes with both of these brush heads attached, then you will be set for all of your shadow needs.
Why you need it: Because this brush is typically denser than other brushes it is ideal for applying all over color or padding in darker colors on your lids for a smokey eye look. These brushes pick up lots of pigment, will give your lids a smooth finish and can build up to be more intense color than a fluffier brush would.
How to use it: Sweep shadow over the lids from the inside of the eye, outwards. To intensify the color, use a windshield wiper motion to add more color. You can also pad the color on to your eyes for darker colors that need to be caked on.
Makeup Brush No 4: Eye Shadow Blending Brush
What is it: A flower-shaped similar to a closed tulip made of soft natural hairs. Its pointed tip makes this brush ideal to blend colors and reduce any stark lines that come up. This is a fluffier brush so it doesn’t pick up pigment as well as the eye shadow brush…to intensify the color you will probably need to reapply multiple times.
Why you need it: The ultimate blending brush for your eyes with a pointed tip that can get into the crease of your eyes and define the lid. You can customize your eye color with this brush because it can help to tone down color in a single stroke. It can also be used to apply liquid concealers on dark circles for bright eyes with a natural finish.
How to use it: Dip the tip of the brush into your eye shadow using a circular motion and then tap off the excess product; then, starting at the outer edge of your eye, use the tip of the brush to blend the shadow into your crease using a windshield wiper motion. This will contour your eye.
Makeup Brush No 5: Eyebrow Brush
What is it: A brow brush is designed to be stiff and angled for a reason. And we use the slanted edge to shade and the tip of the edge to outline. Put those components together and a brow brush is quite frankly a thing of perfection!
Why you need it: Whether you’re filling in some sparse spots or drawing in an entirely new pair an amazing angled brush is a crucial beauty weapon. Look for a brush that has VERY firm bristles and a really narrow edge; the finer the actual angled part of your angled brush is, the more delicate you can keep your lines, and the more natural-looking you can keep your brows.
How to Use it: Use the slanted edge at a 45-degree angle on its side to shade. Use the slanted edge at a 90-degree angle to outline quickly. Use the tip of the edge to draw a line or draw individual hairs by flicking it repeatedly upwards.