Makeup brushes are big business now – as the techniques we want to emulate become more and more sophisticated, and the array of products in our makeup bags becomes ever more complex, it’s important to pick the right brush for the job to get the best results.
I frequently get asked while working, “how do you know what brush does what?” ~ and with that in mind I thought I’d give you an insight into some of my favourites, starting with Face Brushes. I’ll follow up with an eye brush post too if you find this helpful! It’s worth mentioning that whilst I’ve tried to cover common brushes, they are lots of hybrids of these brushes – so you may find an angled buffing brush, a square stippling brush etc, but hopefully reading the below will help you to understand what features produce what results, and help you to choose the right brushes for your needs. The golden rule – the firmer and more tightly packed the bristles, the more product your brush will pack on to the skin, and the looser the pile and the fluffier the brush, the less product it will put on to the face. The other golden rule – synthetic brushes can be used for powder and liquid. Natural Hair (animal) can only be for powders and dry product – as it’s like the hair on our own heads, it will absorb wet product and you’ll end up with a clumpy brush and nothing on your face if you use these brushes with creams and liquid. Most high street brushes are synthetic and have an almost shiny, smooth texture, whereas animal hair are coarser and tend to age faster (if you aren’t sure what you’ve already got).
Best with ~ liquid foundation, tinted moisturiser, finishing powder, shimmer powder
Use for ~ light – medium coverage foundations, water-based products. This won’t put lots of product on to the skin, just a wash/light layer. The dual fibres mean that there is a fuller pile at the base of the brush, so it will apply a thin layer with a natural coverage but firmly used will have some buffing properties.
Try ~ Mac 187, Real Techniques Stippling Brush, Crown brush C406
Best with ~ light to full coverage creams, liquids, tinted moisturiser, mineral powder foundation
Use for ~ My favourite and a must have for blending a polished finish to foundation! Buffing on layers of product for even, airbrushed coverage – this is also perfect for building controlled coverage one layer at a time, and gives a long lasting base which is completely fused with the skin. This is great for powder foundation too, as it will push lots of product on to the skin. A loose fluffy brush is never going to build great coverage with a powder foundation, as you’ll lose a lot of product in the pile of the brushes and as you apply you’ll experience drop down. If you use a buffing brush with powder, you’ll find it literally transfers product from the pan to your face.
Flat Foundation Brush
Best with ~ liquid and cream products – foundation, contour cream, primer
Use for ~ this brush will lay down lots of product in a paint brush style – it will cover plenty of area quickly, but doesn’t give a particularly refined finish, so if I’m going to use this I would often buff over the top to push product into the skin with a buffing brush or maybe a Beauty Blender.
Domed Powder/Face Brush
Best with ~ powder – finishing, blusher, bronzer, highlighter
Use for ~ Similar to the angled face, this is tapered in the middle. If you like a soft blush on the apples which “blooms” outwards, this is great as it gives a soft but buildable finish. A shape like this will also help to diffuse colour, so rather than creating a little round “aunt sally” effect, it’ll naturally taper away at the edges. This is great for bronzer too, as again, it’s fluffiness won’t apply too much product all at once.
Round Blush Brush
Best with ~ cream (if synthetic) and powder blush
Use for ~ this has an almost “ball” shape, which will help you to find the apples of the cheeks and apply a flush of colour to the fleshy part of the face. The smaller and the more compact the brush, the more colour it will put on so for a natural buildable effect go looser and slightly larger, for a strong blush finsih go smaller and more compact.
Angled Face Brush
Best with ~ powder bronzer, blusher, highlighter
Use for ~ This brush will follow the shape of the face, making it easy to find the hollows of your cheeks, temples and jaw line. Use with bronzer or powder contour to add buildable definition and add shape to the face.
Best with ~ powder highlighter, bronzer
Use for ~ detail work on the skin. Where you want powder product onto small, specific areas of the face, the flat edge of this brush will apply soft but precise colour or highlight too. Good for building product slowly and with control, as well as dusting away excess powder products.
Flat Concealer Brush
Best with ~ Cream or powder concealer, contour cream, also eyeshadow primer and base
Use for ~ Concealing blemishes and under the eyes, this is a mini version of your flat foundation brush, so will lay down plenty of product for a buildable light to full coverage.
Small Domed Blending Brush
Best with ~ Cream concealer, liquids, contour cream, cream and liquid highlight
Use for ~ detail work on the skin. Blending in concealer, blending in contour, buffing foundation round nose and tucks and tapers of the face. This is again, a mini version of your full size buffing brush, so will help to polish product on to the skin and build up even coverage.
I hope this will be useful! If you’d like to see the eye makeup brush post do let me know.