Monday, June 9, 2014

Brushes Demystified. Part One: Selecting Your Brush

A lot of my clients ask me about makeup brushes: how to pick the right ones, how to use them once you’ve got them, and so on. Follow this series “Brushes Demystified” for helpful tips on choosing and using the right brush for every job. This week, we’ll be talking about selecting the right brush for your makeup needs

Selecting Your Brush
When you’re choosing a makeup brush, it’s important to consider your personal needs. Are you seeking a brush for home use or are you a professional looking for an appropriate brush to use on clients? You should also ask yourself what you’ll be using the brush for. Just as there are many types of makeups, there are many types of brushes that will help you achieve your favorite looks. You can use these questions as a guide to choose the brush that’s right for you:

Is it mineral-based?
If yes, I’d recommend a kabuki brush. A short, domed brush is great for dispersing and blending makeup at the same time. (Note: Kabuki brushes are not synthetic. Look for a fluffy, hair-like brush for that great blend.)
If you’re looking to apply bronzer, it’s best to use a flat, mineral brush. Remember that flatter brushes deposit color and fluffier brushes blend.
Is it liquid-based?
If yes, I’d recommend a synthetic flat brush with an arched top. These vary in size, but the larger size works best for most parts of the face.
Is it concealer?
If yes, I’d recommend a small, synthetic brush with a flat, arched shape (it could possibly double as a lip brush, depending on the size). This is the smallest of the “foundation” brushes.
Tip: If you’re doing your own makeup, shorter-handled brushes are usually best. Longer handles work best when you’re applying makeup to others.
Renée’s Recommendation: Since you’ll need a smaller brush for your eyes too, it’s best for home users to have the largest and smallest-sized brushes and for professional artists to have all three (see picture). I like to use the large size for most face applications, the medium for eyelids, and the small concealer brush for undereye and detail work.

Eye Makeup
·     Do you wear eye shadow?
If yes, you’ll want a flatter brush, which will help deposit your color.
Eye crease and eye contour brushes can be used interchangeably in the crease of your eyelid. The eye crease is great for blending, and the eye contour lets you achieve a more dramatic look.
·     Do you wear eyeliner?
If yes, you have some choices as far as brushes go. For gel-based liners, an angle eyeliner brush works best. You can also use flat liner to get a defined application close to your lash line. The smoky/smudger liner helps to soften a straight line, while the small eye detail brush is great for fine detail work on the eyes.
In general, remember that:
Brushes with a flatter shape deposit color
Brushes with a fluffier shape are used to blend and soften, no matter the size 
If you add extra definition to your brows, I also recommend an angle brush.

A Note on Fan Brushes: These can be used to sweep away translucent powder under your eyes when applying eye makeup. They are also used when applying masks in facials.
A fluffy, flat brush is great for bronzers and setting translucent powders.
A medium-sized blush/cheek brush is best for cheekbones. This type of brush is meant for the cheekbone area, so it’s not as big or fluffy as a setting powder brush
A stipple brush is good for setting powder and applying cheek color.

Setting Powder
These brushes are usually bigger and fluffier than cheek/blush brushes.

      Are you looking for personal use?
If yes, you can probably go without a brush since brushes are mainly meant for detail work. Save your money or buy another lipstick shade (More color! Yay!)
      Are you a professional makeup artist?
If yes, you’ll want to apply with a synthetic brush for that perfectly defined pout. See picture for a concealer brush that can double as a lip brush. (I’m a big fan of “Less Is More.”)
A Note on Retractable, Disposable, and Freebie Brushes:
While they’re convenient for storage, retractable brushes aren’t very sanitary, since they carry products and germs back into their tubes. I’d only recommend this if you can open the tube to disinfect it, along with your brush. 

Other disposables, which are often included for free with makeup, are usually not going to give you good results. Most of the time, I open them up and throw them away immediately. Invest in good quality brushes, clean them with gentle cleanser and warm water (use a disinfectant when necessary), then dry them, handle side up. This will keep water from leaking into the handle. Once dry, put them in a cup on your vanity or, if you’re a professional, use a clean brush roll. (Make sure you clean the roll after every use so dirty brushes don’t contaminate clean ones.)

Can You Use Your Fingers?
Yes! You can apply liquid foundation, blush, and sometimes even lipstick with clean fingers. (Unfortunately, it won’t work very well for eye makeup). Make sure you remove your makeup with a disposable or washable applicator (never dip into your product with fingers) and use clean fingers to apply. You can achieve a pretty, soft effect this way, without even picking up a brush.

A Note on Brushes: When choosing any brush, make sure to look for a good quality bristle and an appropriately-sized handle. Use a disinfectant spray when necessary and wash in warm water with a gentle soap-based cleanser.  


Look for discounted brushes in my August brush sale and stay tuned for most posts in the “Brushes Demystified” series.

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