Makeup Tool Special: Brushes
By Melissa Gulden
The Big Brush Off
By Melissa Gulden
AS A SELF-PROCLAIMED beauty junkie, nothing excites me more than finding new tools, treatments and products to try. I hear many people say that they simply do not know how to use brushes with their makeup. They want to know which ones are the best, real or synthetic hair, and how to use them once you have them. Here are some general rules of tools to get you started.
The Essential Five
If you stick to a pretty basic routine (foundation, blush, liner, done) and leave the complicated contouring to the Kardashians, these are the only brushes required.
Eye Shadow: MAC 217 Blending Brush ($24). This brush is dense enough to deposit color and soft enough to blend it all evenly.
Liner: Laura Mercier Angled Eye Liner Brush ($22). A super-narrow tip lets you reach between lashes; the angled head helps you create the perfect set of wings.
Blush: MAC 168 Large Angled Contour Brush ($35). The slanted brush is ideal for bronzing around your cheeks and topping the apples with blush.
Powder: Kat Von D Lock-It Setting Powder Brush ($38). When you’re on shine patrol, a fluffy domed brush can nestle powder perfectly around your nose, on your chin and under your eyes.
Foundation: Shiseido Perfect Foundation Brush ($30). Use a tool with short, densely packed bristles to buff in your base for a natural finish.
Tip: ‘Tis the season for brush sets galore! Your best value when purchasing brushes is to try to find them all wrapped up for the holidays. Often, you get the same quality brush, but bundled together for gift-giving savings. Better act quickly – these gift sets rarely last long!
So now you’ve got the right tools. (Hooray!) Now learn to use them.
Always blend foundation into your hairline and blush upward toward your temples. You don’t want any lines of demarcation or an unnatural concentration of color anywhere on your face.
Never dip your brush into makeup and apply it directly onto your face; this leads to a splotchy, uneven distribution of color. Blot your brush or give it a good tap to shake off excess pigment before getting near your face.
Always put on makeup in light, sheer layers. This technique lets you slowly build color intensity and ensures your color wears off evenly.
Never sweep eyeshadow over your lids like a windshield wiper. Instead, pat on a layer of pigment with the flat side of your brush before using the tip to blend it in. You’ll get less flaking and fallout that way, which means less makeup to dust off your face later.
What’s the Big Diff? When it comes to brushes, costlier natural hairs like sable or goat aren’t always better than cheaper synthetics. Here’s the breakdown of what to use and when.
Natural vs. Synthetic
Animal hairs are best for grabbing and blending powders like blushes and eyeshadows. But to apply liquids or creams, such as foundation or lipstick, go for synthetic brushes, which distribute product without absorbing it, so you’ll get an even, seamless finish.
One last tip: Use those extra sponge applicators to apply lipstick as a stain. The sponge absorbs oiliness and deposits just the right amount of pigment.
Brushes help with more controlled coverage and an even, flawless, more professional finish. •
How to Wash your Brushes:
Clean your tools once a month to remove any icky buildup of oils, pigments and breakout-inducing bacteria.
1. Wash. Swirl the bristles in warm, soapy water (Try Dr. Bronner’s Castile liquid soap, $17). To cut through grease and intense pigments, try dishwashing liquid.
2. Rinse. Run the bristles under a steady stream of warm water until it’s clear and all soap and debris are removed. Blot the brush with a clean towel, and shape the bristles with fingers.
3. Dry. Standing a brush upright is a no-no: Water can wear away the glue around the metal band that secures the bristles to the handle, loosening the bristles over time.