Anyone who has had their makeup done by a professional makeup artist knows that their tool kits can be pretty intimidating — they have more brushes at their disposal than a Sephora stocks. So it’s easy to assume that some of the tools out there are best left in the hands of trained professionals. But using the right tools really can make a difference, even in the hands of amateurs, and can help anyone get a polished look that makes the most of both their features AND their fave products.
So, we’ve narrowed it down to some must-have brushes you’ll find yourself using again and again. (Trust us — it’ll help you avoid wasting time and money on brushes bound for the “I don’t even remember what that’s for” pile.)
The best thing? Using the right tools not only makes our makeup look better, it means we don’t waste product. And as celebrity makeup artist Julianne Kaye points out, using the right tools can make even the most inexpensive products look like a million bucks! “We spend all this money on our makeup and then so many women scrimp on the brushes. I work with mass brands, like Maybelline, and I know they come with the little sponge applicators, but when I use my brushes, the makeup looks just as good as Laura Mercier would look.”
And always remember that brush maintenance is key, particularly when using brushes made with natural fibers. “Brushes can last a really long time if you take good care of them,” says Kaye. “Give them a nice wash with shampoo and leave them out to dry — do it once a week. They’re going to last longer and you’re going to get better makeup application that way.”
1. Foundation brush
Using a foundation brush is one of the best ways to get a flawless, professional-looking finish. A brush allows you to apply a light, even coat that’s always streak-free, and then blend it into the skin for a barely-there look. “This is a really good brush for buffing the foundation into the skin so it’s seamless — and if you have rough skin, this brush is great for getting into those areas. If you’re using your fingers you’re really just gliding over the skin,” says Kaye.
2. Powder brush
This brush is perfect for the application of powder foundations, such as mineral makeup, or for that final touch of translucent powder to set a makeup look. “All of my powder brushes are really soft, because you are putting this on your entire face. And some of the synthetic fibers I find are a little rough on your skin,” says Kaye, whereas softer natural fibers offer a smoother finish. Kaye says that application technique is important, too. “I know it takes a little more time, but those circular motions of buffing really make a difference — if you just blob it on you can get a really streaky finish.” Try: A long, dome-shaped brush is great for precise application of loose setting powder or mineral foundations.
3. Concealer brush
Some concealers come in a self-applying stick or pen, so this brush is one that many people skip — but that can be a mistake, according to the pros. “I am such a big fan — the concealer brush is like my best friend,” says Kaye. “They can get into those areas that your fingers can’t get into and blend. Especially if you’re a little older and your skin is a little crepe-y around the eye area, in those inner corners, a concealer brush is really going to get product evenly smoothed out.” Kay also uses concealer brushes around the nose, and one of her tricks for killer brows is to smooth the brush, with just a little product on it, above and below the eyebrows. “If you just trace along the edge under the brow bone and above the eyebrow with the concealer brush you get that perfect edge to your brows — you can only achieve that with a brush.” Try: A small, synthetic brush with slightly stiff bristles and a tapered end (so that it can access all areas and disguise problems such as blemishes or under-eye circles)
For 5 other brushes that should be essentials in your makeup routine, check out this great article from Daily Makeover!