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Five of the best makeup brushes and what to use them for

By Megan Bedford

Five of the best makeup brushes and what to use them for
These must-have makeup tools will take your makeup application to the next level.

Do you often look at others and wonder how they got their makeup to look so seamless?

It can be frustrating buying cosmetics that come well-recommended but then struggling to apply them to achieve the results you’d like.

Practice makes perfect but beyond that, the secret is in the tools you use to apply your makeup and the techniques you use with them. Sure, you can use your fingers or a sponge, but many people find the best application results are achieved using dedicated makeup brushes.

You might have seen makeup artists wearing a belt stacked with dozens of different brushes and found it intimidating.

Fear not. You don’t necessarily have to own a lot of bushes, but at least one or two good ones will up your application game in a major way, buffing and blending so any colour looks almost airbrushed on.

If you are just starting out, buying a brush set containing several options can be a good way to get a handle on what you like to use, but they can be pricey. For more affordable options we like the brush sets from Morphe, Real Techniques or Zoeva.

Prices of single brushes do vary, so novices could select single options from the brands above.

If you want them in your kit for years to come, it’s worth spending a bit more.  Good brushes should be soft rather than scratchy, densely-packed and shouldn’t regularly shed hairs.

With the right care and cleaning, brushes should last years, so cost-per-use they’re more worthwhile than the need-it-now lipstick that will be forgotten at the bottom of your bag in month!

There are five main types of makeup brushes that are likely to come in useful when applying a face of makeup:

Best Foundation Brush: Bobbi Brown Full Coverage Foundation Brush

Traditional tapered “paintbrush’ style foundation brushes are still popular but for an ultra-polished ‘HD’ finish choose one of the more modern dense, tightly-packed brushes and use it to buff on liquid foundation in small circular motions all over your face. The densely-packed bristles and softly rounded head of this brush applies liquid foundation like a dream. It means you can apply a high-coverage product, but very little of it, blending it out as you go so it looks natural, rather than overdone.

Best blush brush: Real Techniques Blush Brush

A domed shape with soft, fluffy bristles can do double duty to flawlessly blend powder over your whole face or precisely place blush and bronzer. The different lengths of the bristles in this brush are good at ensuring any placement looks airbrushed, rather than muddy or patchy. apply blush on the hihg planes of your cheeks, angling down from your ears.

Best flat eyeshadow brush: Dior Backstage Eyeshadow Shader Brush N° 21 

If you only want one eye brush – this is it. Stiff bristles enable you to pat on colour over the lid. For bold or dark shades, start with a wash of colour and build up gradually. For a smoky evening look, smudge a little shadow along the upper and lower lashlines. This one, designed by Peter Philips, Dior’s Creative and Image Director for make-up, is incredible at picking up powder and packing across your eyelids for excellent colour payoff.

Best eyeshadow blending brush: MAC Cosmetics 224S Tapered Blending Brush

We’ve had at least one of these in our arsenal for well over a decade, nearly two. It’s ideal for blending the edges of a previously-patchy application of eyeshadow until it looks seamless. It’s also useful for applying a sheer wash of colour over eyelids and is a smoky-eye essential. Use it to pick up a deeper colour of shadow and blend just through the crease of the eyelid for more depth and definition. If you clean it well, you can also use it to blend in a featherlight application of liquid concealer under the eyes.

Best brow/liner brush: Benefit Dual-ended Angled Eyebrow Brush

Simply brushing brow hairs upward and outward with a spoolie can provide facial definition and elevate a face of makeup in seconds. Plus, one of the most important steps in filling in your brows is using the tiny conical brush to help diffuse the product once it has been applied; it’s the best way to achieve a natural look with no sharp lines. It’s also good for setting brows in place with gel or wax for a look that mimics brow lamination. This brush also has an angled brush end, which is perfect for use with a pomade or brow powder to create the perfect shape and in a pinch can also be used to apply gel eyeliner from a pot.


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