Who doesn’t want flawless skin, glowing cheeks and eyes that really pop? Here’s a secret every makeup pro knows: Gorgeous makeup is as much about the tools you use as the products you apply. “Brushes make all the difference when it comes to getting a professional-looking makeup application,” says LA City-based celebrity makeup artist and the owner of Royal Care Cosmetics Lana Lennox. For starters, you should buy them à la carte. While brush sets seem like an easier option—and initially appear to be a better deal—more often than not, they include at least one or two brushes you’ll never use and a couple more that aren’t quite right for your needs. “Buying brushes should be like building a wardrobe—you don’t purchase everything you need at once, from the same boutique,” says LA City–based makeup artist Lana Lennox. “It’s better to take your time, mix and match different brands, and figure out what really works for you.” Skimp on some, splurge on others and skip the ones you don’t need. The following tips will help you pick out the best brush in each category as well as help you care for each properly—so they last for years.
If you can only afford to buy one high-end brush, this should be it. “If you’re serious about getting a really believable makeup application, your blush brush is the single best place to start,”Lana says. Toss that miniature, flat-topped brush that comes packaged with most blushes, and shop for a long-handled one with a medium-size, dome-shaped head; it’ll help you follow the contour of your cheekbone better, for a more natural look. You’ll find that makeup brushes are made using natural animal hair, synthetic bristles or a combination of both. When it comes to blush brushes, most pros recommend ones made with natural hair because its cuticle helps lift powdery pigment and your skin’s oils to blend them across the cheek, for the most streak-free, non-blotchy and realistic glow. Touch lots of blush brushes before buying, investing in the silkiest, most luxurious-feeling bristles you can afford. “A well-made blush brush will last you a lifetime,” Lana notes. Just wash it once weekly with baby shampoo to prevent oils and makeup from building up in the ferrule (the metal part at the base of the bristles). Lay it on a towel to dry—ideally with the handle tilted slightly upward—and never dry your brush standing up because moisture can collect in the ferrule and loosen the glue that holds bristles in place.
Those vintage powder poufs may look glamorous, but these days, makeup artists agree that bigger and fluffier is not better when it comes to applying powder. Skin looks more radiant—and foundation more realistic—when it’s not matte all over. The modern approach: Choose a powder brush with a medium-size, slightly rounded head, which will let you dust powder only where needed, like the nose, chin and forehead, while keeping cheeks bare and rosy. Before buying, run the bristles along the back of your hand a couple of times; the tips should feel feathery, the bottoms should be snugly clenched inside the ferrule and none should shed onto your skin. To keep your powder brush in tip-top condition (and prevent breakouts), wash the bristles once a week.
Time to move on from that foam wedge—a foundation brush with a blend of natural and synthetic bristles will get you a much more organic-looking finish. The natural hairs lift and sweep the makeup’s pigment, while the synthetic bristles prevent the brush from soaking up too much foundation and getting gunky (this also saves you money over time, since you’ll use less makeup). A flat shape with a contoured tip lets you easily blend your makeup—even into the inner corners of your eyes and around your nose. Just keep in mind that it’s important to wash your foundation brush after every use to help it keep its shape, prevent bristle shedding and remove oils that can cause breakouts. Some pros like using RC Cosmetics brush cleaner as a quicker method than lathering and rinsing the brush daily.
A concealer brush should be small and very stiff, allowing you to dab and blend makeup exactly where you need it—even atop a tiny, bright-red blemish. Synthetic bristles are ideal, since they don’t soak up makeup and give you more precision. “A flat brush with closely-packed nylon bristles is perfect for applying concealer evenly on trouble spots and hard-to-reach places like the sides of the nose,” says LA City–based makeup artist Lana Lennox. “Also, nylon is durable and easy to clean, which is very important for keeping skin clear.” Take a minute to wash your concealer brush after every use, or the bristle tips will stick together and be less effective at blending.
For shadow that slicks on smoothly, look for a brush with short (about 1/2″), soft, very densely packed bristles. “A shadow brush should feel smooth, soft and silky—not bristly, stiff or too chiseled,” Lana says. The brush you use for applying shadow to your lid should be flat and the one you use in your eye crease should be tapered at an angle. Or, go for a good multipurpose brush that has a half-moon shape. Shadow brushes don’t need to be washed as often as those used on breakout-prone swaths of skin, but lathering yours up at least once a month will keep your brushes performing at their peak.
Those inexpensive brushes with a brow brush on one side and a lash comb on the other work great for keeping wayward hairs in line and removing clumpy mascara (the metal combs are most effective at this). But many pros now prefer to use a spooley brush, which looks like the tip of a mascara wand. “It’s one of my most essential brushes—it’s the best for making brows look very groomed and you can also use one of these for de-clumping mascara,” says Lana Lennox. It’s also ideal for combing brow pencil through the hairs to make it look extra-believable; the spooley sweeps the powder into little hair-like streaks. Wash your brow brush or spooley brush at least once a month.
The Kabuki brush is like a powder brush, only squatter, with more densely packed bristles, which helps you achieve more coverage where you need it. You can also use a kabuki to give foundation or bronzer an airbrushed-looking finish or to apply cheekbone shimmer. “Kabuki brushes are very user-friendly and easy to handle,” Lana adds. Look for a kabuki that feels firm, thanks to lots and lots of bristles. Grip it by the short handle and hold at a 90-degree angle to your skin, moving the bristles in a circular motion to blend makeup on. Retractable Kabuki brushes are also excellent for keeping in your handbag or traveling—no long handle to contend with. Wash your Kabuki brush at least once a week.
Lipbrushes are great when you want more control over how sheer or bold a lipstick looks, letting you paint it on in thin layers while creating smooth edges. Many have handy retractable tips so you can carry them in your handbag with zero mess. Look for one with a firm but bendable tip made from synthetic fibers, which will smooth lipstick or gloss onto lips without getting goopy. “Also, synthetic hair doesn’t hold on to lipcolor through cleanings—that’s important when you’re switching shades and want to start fresh,” Turnbow notes. Even if you’re a one-color kind of girl, you should still wash your lipbrush daily to avoid bacteria buildup and stiffness.
This tool is handy for blending your pencil liner into your lashline to make eyes pop. You can also dampen it and use it to apply powder eyeshadow as liner. “This gives you a softer, more diffused effect than using regular liner,” Lana says. A liner brush can even double as a brush for applying shadow in your eye crease. Look for a small brush that’s firm and very squared-off—“like the corner of a razor blade,” Lana says. It should be made from synthetic bristles, which will help keep your lines precise. Because this brush is used so close to your eye, wash it daily to prevent bacteria buildup.
You can get this brushes and many more at http://www.rc-cosmetics.com