Essential make-up tools

By Bobbi Brown

MiNDFOOD lists the tools that every make-up lover needs to keep in their makeup cabinet.


Brushes make all the difference in make-up application. Everyone from the most skilled make-up artist to the woman who wears only the basics can benefit from using the right tools.

Consider investing in at least a few key brushes. High-quality blush, eye shadow, eyebrow, and eyeliner brushes are basic. Good brushes are not hard to find. Look at those made by make-up artists’ lines as well as less expensive versions available at beauty and art supply stores.

To find out what brushes you need and which ones are good quality, familiarise yourself with a variety of styles, shapes and bristle type. 

Before purchasing brushes you have to know what you are looking for and which brushes are worthwhile investments. Assess the quality of a brush by testing the way the bristles feel against the skin and by running your fingers through the bristles to make sure that they don’t shed.

It’s important to test how a brush feels when you hold it in your hand. It needs to feel comfortable and easy to maneuver.



Brushes that come with most compacts are too small and narrow for proper application.

Natural bristles

Natural bristles are very soft and offer a more blended, natural application. They work best when used with blush powder and eye shadow.

Synthetic bristles

Synthetic bristles are the best choice for application of creamy products such as concealers, gel liners and lip colour.


Blush brush – Make sure they are wide enough to cover the apple of the cheek. The bristles must be soft, natural hair with beveled and curved edges.

Bronzer brush – This is thicker and fuller than a blush brush and has a flat profile. It is designed for sweeping and pressing bronzer over the cheeks, forehead, nose and chin to provide natural looking warmth.

Brow brush – Stiff, short bristles cut on an angle. Designed for applying shadow to the brows. Look for a synthetic/natural blend of bristles, as the 100 per cent synthetic brushes are too stiff.

Brow grooming brush – This is for brushing brows into place. It has stiff bristles cut straight across, like a toothbrush.

Concealer brush – Should have firm, but soft bristles that aren’t too hard or scratchy, as the brush will be used on the delicate skin under the eyes. Look for a brush with glossy, synthetic hairs that easily slip across the skin. The ends of the bristles should be tapered to help place concealer in hard-to-reach spots, such as the inner corners of the eyes.

Eye blender brush – A soft, fluffy, natural haired brush with long bristles designed to blend eye shadow and eliminate lines on the lids after applying multiple shades. It is also great for applying set corrector, concealer, or foundation around the eyes or over blemishes.

Eye contour brush – A round, flat-head, natural haired brush, with short, dense bristles to apply a greater amount of shadow in the crease to contour the eye,

Eye shader brush – A wide, flat-head brush that can gently sweep eye shadow colour over the entire lid.

Eye shadow brush – Wide enough to cover about half the eyelid. This brush has natural, soft, rounded bristles with beveled edges that deposit a sweep of shadow across the lower lid without leaving harsh lines.

Eye smudge brush – A small-head brush with a slightly rounded point. This brush has soft, flexible bristles that help smudge eye liner to create a smoky look.

Eyelash comb – This has a straight, stiff (often plastic) teeth and is designed to separate lashes immediately after applying mascara. Mascara wands work just as well and are more convenient.

Eyelash curler – Look for a basic, metal version with rubber pads. An eyelash curler shapes lashes into a natural-looking curl. Replace pads regularly. To avoid breakage, always curl lashes before applying mascara.

Eye definer brush – A small brush with short, dense bristles cut on an angle. It is designed to use with shadow to strengthen thin brows or as an alternative to an eyeliner brush.

Eyeliner brush (flat) – With flat, dense, synthetic bristles that are slightly rounded at the tip. It can be used wet or dry to apply a precise line on the lash line.

Eyeliner brush (ultra fine) – Dense, synthetic bristles that curve to a point. Perfect for the precise application of liquid and gel liners.

Face blender brush – A natural or synthetic brush used to deposit shimmer, bronzer, powder, or blush.   

Face brush – A natural or synthetic, fluffy, curved brush that can be used to apply bronzer, blush or powder.

Foundation brush – Synthetic bristles with a full, flat edge to deposit just the right amount of foundation onto the skin.

Lip brush – Firm, long bristles that come to a slightly pointed tip. This brush allows for the precise placement of lip colour. Bristles can be either synthetic or natural.

Powder brush – A natural-hair, large, fluffy brush with soft bristles that bevel to a slight point. Designed for use with both loose and pressed powders.

Powder puff – A velour puff that is about the size of your palm. Designed to press powder onto the face to lock foundation into place. Can be hand washed or tossed in the dishwasher (at least once a week).

Sponges – Disposable sponges are invaluable. Wedge-shaped ones are great for applying foundations around the nose and other hard-to-reach places, as well as for blending. Don’t bother washing them – throw away dirty ones. Higher quality ones can be washed and reused many times.

Touch up brush – Short, firm, natural-bristled brush used with foundation for spot touch-ups and for hard-to-reach areas around the nose and mouth. This brush can also be used to touch up concealer and apply eye shadow.

Tweezers – It’s well worth investing in a good pair. Look at the Tweezerman or Rubis brands. Tweezers that are angled at the tip are easier to control than those that come to a sharp point. Always cover tweezers’ tip with the included rubber tip when they are not in use.


  • Using your fingers. Nothing beats the warmth of the finger to blend make-up into the skin. Lipstick can be blotted onto the lips to create a stained effect. Face creams balm or oil rubbed between the hands and gently pressed onto the cheeks adds moisture and a youthful glow to the face. I use my hands to warm concealers, blend foundation, and mix lip shades together. I also use my hands to work make-up into the face so that the make-up feels like a part of the skin and not a mask.
  • Choose cruelty-free brushes!
  • makMost manufacturers note this information in the product description.


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