Your Complete Guide to Makeup Brushes
July 10, 2022
If you’ve ever been to a fancy restaurant, it’s possible you sat down and found a plethora of utensils accompanying your dinner plate. It was probably intimidating and quite challenging to know which utensils you were supposed to use for each course (what is that tiny fork really for anyway?). Selecting makeup brushes is very similar. There are so many different types of makeup brushes to choose from that you may find it difficult to know where to begin.
You’ll need to consider the type of makeup brush and the quality of the brush. High-quality makeup brushes are fluffy, easy to use, and they make applying makeup a breeze. Use our ultimate makeup brush guide to help you select the right brushes for your makeup kit.
Types of Makeup Brushes
Let’s start by exploring the various types of brushes available and how to use them.
Face Makeup Brushes
Foundation or Kabuki Brush - A flawless foundation application requires a really solid foundation brush. The bristles on this brush are shorter, finely packed, and allow for ample product to be packed onto the brush. You can apply by dotting the product onto the face or brush, then dab the product into the skin and sweep in circular motions across the face to blend. Continue until the product is no longer visible and is blended in nicely.
Concealer Brush - This brush is rounded on the edges, firm, and very dense. To apply, put your concealer on the desired areas, then take the brush and sweep back and forth until blended into the skin.
Powder Brush - Probably one of the easiest brushes to use, a good powder brush is big, very fluffy, and soft. Simply pack the powder of your choice into the bristles, tap away any excess, and sweep across your face. Make sure there is no excess product visible on the skin.
Blush Brush - Similar to a powder brush, but smaller and a bit more dense allowing for a more pigmented application. Apply as you would powder by dipping brush into product, and sweeping in circular motions across the cheeks.
Contour Brush - This brush is usually angled, with longer, more dense bristles. The angled bristles allow you to follow the natural contours of your cheeks. It’s best to dab this product along the natural contour of your cheek while blending out in circular motions.
Bronzing Brush - Different from a contour brush, a bronzing brush allows you to apply a beautiful bronze across the natural shadows of your face. This brush is similar to a powder brush—very big and fluffy. Apply your favorite bronzer with this brush by dipping into the product and sweeping in circular motions, following the natural shadow of your face. You’ll have a beautiful glow after application.
Highlighting Brush - Make your face radiant by adding highlighter. There are different highlighter brushes available, but a good highlighter brush will look like a mini powder brush. It is small with long, fluffy bristles. Apply highlighter to the high points of your face, areas such as your cheek bones, tip of your nose, and the top of your lips.
Eye Makeup Brushes
Eyeshadow crease brush - Your best friend when applying eyeshadow. This brush is round, fluffy but somewhat dense, and perfect for applying in and around the crease of your eyelid. Use a lighter to medium color when applying with this brush, all around and into the crease of the eye, as a base color. Adding a base will help when building and blending other colors, avoiding a harsh line around the eyes.
Pencil brush - A very small and finely pointed brush used for targeting very specific areas of the eye such as in the crease or on the lower lash line. Use this brush to apply darker colors and to target very small areas. Avoid applying makeup all over the eyelid.
Fluffy blending brush - Blending is a girl's best friend. This brush is very fluffy and is not meant to apply eyeshadow. It is meant strictly for blending, which is the secret to applying a flawless eye makeup look. After applying eyeshadow with your crease brush, use this brush by blending in circular and windshield wiper motions, all over the eye. Continue by adding more eyeshadow and blending until you are happy with the pigmentation and the blend.
Flat eyeshadow brush - This is a very flat, dense brush with rounded bristles. It is similar to a concealer brush, but it is meant to pack product onto the eyes. Use this brush for a glitter or shimmer eyeshadow. Pick up product onto the bristles and dab onto the lid of the eye. Here’s a fun tip: for higher pigmentation, spray a setting spray onto the bristles after you pick up some of the product and dab onto the eyelid. You’ll be left with a very pigmented look that is set into place for the day or night.
Eyeliner brush - This brush is flat, square, and dense. You can use it in a variety of ways. If you apply a pencil eyeliner directly onto the eye, use this brush to smudge the eyeliner out so there isn’t a harsh edge or line. You can also use this brush to apply eyeliner directly by dipping into a black or very dark color and applying right up against the lash line, sweeping outward as you move to the outer corner of your eye. This brush is also great for applying a dark color on the bottom lash line, lining the outer third of your eye. Blend out with your pencil brush for a flawless look.
Eyebrow brush - Usually a double-ended brush. One end will have a brush and the other will have a very small angled brush that is flat and dense. Use the brush end to comb through your eyebrows, setting into the desired position. Dip brush into your favorite eyebrow product and start outlining your eyebrow’s natural shape. Finish by filling in the bare areas with your product, and combing through with your brush to avoid harsh lines and for a natural finish.
Natural or Animal Makeup Brushes
Natural makeup brushes are made from animal hair such as goat, squirrel, or weasel hair. The bristles are super soft and very easy for blending powder-based products. Liquid-based products are not as easy to use with natural or animal makeup brushes. These brushes are also more expensive and harder to care for in the long term. Another thing to note is that the brushes are not animal or cruelty-free, since the hairs do come directly from the animal.
Vegan or Synthetic Makeup Brushes
Vegan makeup brushes apply all products—powder and liquid—very nicely, are more affordable, and are cruelty-free. They are easy to clean and care for, and are hypoallergenic, which is a great option if you have sensitive skin.
Storing and Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes
The best place to store your makeup brushes is in a spot where they are not susceptible to any dust, spills, or any other airborne particles. We recommend placing them in a cosmetic zipper bag to keep them safe. They are an investment, and should be taken care of.
Keeping your brushes clean is imperative to maintaining their quality and important to the health of your face and eyes. Clean them often—at least once every couple of weeks—to avoid collection of bacteria.
Begin by running warm water, gently wetting the brush, and adding a small amount of gentle soap in the palm of your hand. Dip the brush into the soap while moving the bristles in a circular motion in the palm of your hand. Rinse the brush and make sure there is no product visible on the bristles. If you still see any product, continue the cleaning process until everything is completely clean.
Pat dry with a clean towel, and lie flat or upside down to completely dry before using.
Knowing which makeup brushes you need is easy, once you know what to look for. Purchasing a good set of brushes is a good investment. High quality makeup brushes are necessary for a flawless makeup application. Caring for your brushes is just as important as the selection. Be sure to maintain their quality with regular cleanings. Most importantly, have fun with customizing your makeup brush collection. You can never have too many!
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