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An Easy Guide to The Brushes You Need to Use for Perfectly Flawless Makeup

30 Jun, 2020
By Cathi Trevor
A lot of us don’t give a second thought to our makeup application, choosing to just use the applicators that came with our products or our fingers. However, we bet you’ve always wanted that perfectly flawless makeup artist finish but just didn’t know how to get it. The secret to that finish is in the application. That’s the reason why the pros won’t go anywhere without their makeup brushes and tools.

Whether it’s perfectly arched brows, a professionally done eyeshadow application or that airbrushed look from a well-applied foundation you’re after, there’s a makeup brush for that. You’d be surprised just how easy it is up your game with a few well selected tools.

Apart from the flawless finish you want to achieve, there are other good reasons for using brushes. Using your fingers means you could be transferring blemish-causing bacteria to your face or product. Fingers and sponge applicators are also not as precise so your application is likely to be thin and uneven. And did you know that you actually use less product by using a makeup brush? So you can even save money if you use the right tools.

Here’s a guide to the most important makeup brushes and how to use them (the good news is that many are multi-purpose) - so you can up your makeup game right now…

Foundation Brush

This brush is thin and flat with a rounded edge and is mainly used for foundation, but is also great for applying cream blush. The dense bristles pick up and distribute your liquid foundation perfectly and the rounded tip is well-shaped for reaching into awkward areas such as the inner corner of your eye or around your nostrils.

You can either pump a coin-sized amount of product onto the brush or lightly dot your face with product, then apply in sweeping motions from your nose outwards. Remember to always go in the same direction as your hair growth for a super smooth look.

Quick tip: Before you apply your foundation, dip your brush in some warm water, and then gently squeeze out the excess. The water allows for a more even, streak-free application and also reduces the amount of product you use.

Our product pick: Barbara Hoffman Professional Foundation Brush.

Stippling Brush

If you are lusting over the perfect airbrushed skin seen in the selfies of the rich and fabulous you need to get yourself a stippling brush. These brushes are usually two-tone, thick, rounded and the top layer of bristles is spiky in appearance due to them being finer and feathery.

To use, first add a little foundation onto the back of your hand and dip the tips of the brush into the product. Next, delicately dot or stamp the foundation onto your skin using small, light tapping motions. This will distribute the pigment in tiny dots, or ‘stipples’, all over your face. To blend, use soft, light swirling and circular motions so that just the top layer of bristles are being used.

Quick tip: This brush can also be used for blush (it’s really good for cream blushes) or powder - just remember to clean it between uses.

Our product pick: Barbara Hoffman Silver Stippling Foundation Brush

Read More. Confused About the Best Foundation to Use? Here's All You Need to Know

Sponge Blender

Makeup artists generally favour brushes over sponges as they give a more seamless and natural finish. Sponges tend to absorb lots of your product (and so you use more) and are harder to clean.

A good teardrop-shaped sponge, or a ‘beauty blender’, however, is the perfect accompaniment to your makeup tool collection when it comes to creating a flawless complexion. Use the thicker base to apply foundation, the thin point to blend concealer, and the sides to blend your foundation or contouring. Sponges are also available in many other shapes and sizes.

You can also try a silisponge, a face blender made of silicon which does pretty much the same job as a sponge but doesn’t absorb any product. It’s easier to clean too.

Quick tip: A beauty blender can also be used to apply cream blush, blend out harsh makeup lines, and remove excess product.

Our product picks: Basics Teardrop Sponge Blender and Basics Cosmetic Silisponge.

Concealer Brush

This brush looks like a mini version of the foundation brush with its short, dense bristles and rounded tip. Because the bristles are so firm it applies product exactly where you want it. It’s ideal for precise application on under eye circles, spots, blemishes, in your nose crease and for other small imperfections.

Quick tip: Use concealer on a brush to set lip lines and clean up messy lipstick edges.

Our product pick: Cala Bamboo Concealer Brush.

Read More. Colour Correctors Are Your New Insta-Filter When Concealers Are Not Enough

Eyeshadow Brush

This is the standard fluffy, slightly tapered brush you would be most familiar with. Some eye shadows come with a small sponge-like applicator, which gives a more harsh and defined look. It’s always best to ditch it for a good eyeshadow brush that allows for softer focus, seamless blending.

Use it to apply your all-over base eyeshadow shade on the lids and the transition shade between the crease up to just under the brow (see angled brush for the more precision looks).

Quick tip: Use to dab on shadow under the lower lash line for a smudgy morning-after-eye look.

Our product picks: Cala Blending Brush and Cala Large Shading Brush.

Angled Eye Brush

A brush with short bristles and an angled edge is another multi-use wonder brush. Use to create more intense eye shadow looks, apply gel eyeliner with precision, or fill in brows (the thin tapered end is for reaching the thinnest part of your eyebrow).

This brush is a must for creating defined eye looks (it’s great for smudging shadow into your lash line for a perfect smoky eye) – use it with darker shades for some serious definition on the outer corner of your eye or in the crease.

When using it to apply brow gel or powder, brush in upward and outward motions using sharp short strokes so that they look like your natural hairs, making sure to come to a defined point at each end. Remember that your brows are sisters, not twins - so embrace your natural shape.

Quick tips: Because of the angle and the fact that its bristles are more tightly packed, this brush is also perfect for fixing mistakes. Use to seamlessly blend out any harsh lines or knock back a shade which is too intense.

A brow and eyelash groomer or a spoolie can also be useful tools for both your brow and lash grooming.

Our product picks: Barbara Hofmann Silver Eyeshadow Brush Angular and Cala Angled Eyeshadow Brush.

Read More. Simple Insider Secrets on Exactly How to Apply Eyeshadow Right

Powder Brush

Probably the most well used of all brushes is the large fluffy powder brush. A large loose bristle brush diffuses product application more evenly over the face so makes it look a lot more natural. Lightly swirl in circles or use soft sweeping strokes until you achieve even coverage.

Use it with your bronzer to apply an all-over glow to your face, or for a light dusting of powder to mattify your skin and set your makeup. Powder brushes are also great for adding colour like blush when you want a more natural rosy cheek result.

Quick tip: To avoid an overly powdered face, be sure to gently tap the brush on the side of the container after you've dipped it into the powder to remove any excess.

Our product pick: Barbara Hofmann Silver Powder Brush.

Angled Contour Brush

If you need more of a precision brush for contouring and blush application, an angled contour brush is the one for you. The short denser bristles allow more precise application and for you to deposit more colour on the face where it’s needed.

It’s perfect for contouring along the hairline, down the sides of your face, under the cheekbones and along your jawline. Because it is denser, its best to use it in a circular motion on the apples of your cheeks for seamless blush application.

Quick tip: The secret to subtle contouring is a lot of blending so you may need more than one brush. To help soften harder lines, use a full-fibred powder brush or a kabuki brush.

Our product pick: Cala Angled Contour Brush.

Read More. How to Cleverly Contour and Highlight to Flatter Your Face Shape

Lip Brush

After a few uses the shape of your lipstick bullet changes, making it less and less defined and harder to use to shape your lips. A lip brush is thin and flat, has a sharp or rounded edge and is great for creating the perfect Cupid’s bow and building colour on your lips.

Swipe your brush along your lipstick to pick up the product and apply with sweeping strokes from the corners of your mouth inwards. For longer wear, blot your lips with a tissue after one application before applying the second layer of colour.

Quick tip: A lip brush is one of the best tools for ‘pinpoint’ concealing of moles and small blemishes. After you have applied your foundation, dot a little concealer onto the back of your hand, and dip the end of the brush into the product. Lightly dot it only onto the mark or blemish, and then gently dust with a touch of powder to set.

Our product pick: Cala Retractable Lip Brush that helps keep your brush clean and free from fluff.

Read More. Here’s How to Choose Your Absolutely Ideal Lip Colour

Fan Brush

One of the most fun brush shapes on the scene, the fan brush is a great multi-purpose tool. It’s thin and flat with soft bristles that fan outwards. It’s perfectly designed for applying a light sprinkle of highlighter to your cheekbones, dusting away excess product (such as dark eye shadow that’s fallen onto your cheeks) or applying blush if you want a lighter, more natural look.

Because of its sharp edge the fan brush is great for contouring sharp lines like killer cheekbones, down the sides of your nose or along your jawline, plus the soft body of the brush makes for a good blending tool when you want to soften harder lines.

Quick tips: Use a fan brush to apply your mascara for beautifully separated and natural lashes. Pick up some product off your mascara wand, and run the edges of the fan brush along the base and the length of your lashes. Or you can dip the ends in powder and lightly dust over your first coat of mascara for longer wear.

Our product pick: Cala Fan Brush.

Kabuki Brush

The Kabuki brush is short, thick and has a rounded edge. Its most common use is for evenly applying translucent or pigmented face powder all over your face.

It’s also great for applying blush or bronzer when you want a more natural and lighter look plus it can be used to blend out harsh lines left by your contouring. A true multitasker, it can also be used to apply foundation for a flawless airbrushed effect.

Quick tips: Use a Kabuki brush to add some shimmer to your décolletage by swirling an illuminating powder in large circles.

Some hair pros also like to spritz a bit of hair spray onto a Kabuki then dab at flyaway hairs to tame them. So if you suffer from fluffy baby hairs it might be worth your while to buy a Kabuki especially for this reason.

Our product picks: Cala Kabuki Brush and Colorescience Kabuki Application Brush.

Read More. Natural No-Makeup Makeup: The Savvy Girl’s Guide to Dewy Fresh-Faced Skin

How to Clean Makeup Brushes

To keep all those nasty bacteria at bay, you should wash your sponges and brushes after every few uses. When washing your brush try to avoid its base as this could weaken the glue and cause the bristles to fall out.

Combine baby shampoo (gentle on your tools) and a few drops of tea tree oil (it kills the bacteria) with a little warm water. Wet the bristles and gently work the soapy mixture through them with your fingers. Or skip the fingers and use a silicone brush cleaner instead - a lot easier. Then run under warm water until it runs clean. Reshape your brush and leave it to dry naturally on a towel. Avoid hairdryers as the heat will only destroy the brush.

For sponges, run under warm water then add a bit of shampoo or a mild soap and squeeze it until it lathers. Rinse the sponge with warm water until it runs clean, wring it out gently and leave it to air dry.
 
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