Soon after I started wearing makeup on a regular basis I realized that the brushes from art supply stores beat the heck out of the synthetic wispy things that were sold in drugstores or, worse, the little plastic apparatuses that came with the makeup itself.
Art supply stores tend to carry tons of beautiful natural bristle brushes in almost any dimension you can imaginable. They last forever and typically cost not much more than the ones made for makeup. Alas, the art supply type are made expressly for an artist painting a canvas, so they don’t always work exactly as planned when applying makeup to the face.
However, the key here is that you must have high-quality brushes if you’re going to wear makeup. Buy less makeup if it means you are going to buy better brushes.
Good brushes will overcome most of the easy to make blunders that happen during rushed or not-so-pro makeup jobs, such as the harsh breaks between blush and the real you, or the visible streaks of shadow on the lids. The key to “no-makeup” makeup has everything to do with blending and blending and more of it. Great brushes will blend colors better and faster; they will feel better, more gentle, on your skin, and; if taken care of, they will last forever, making the initial investment worth it.
May I suggest an assessment of your current brush situation and a tossing of those you have outgrown? I think it’s crazy to invest in high-end or professional makeup and not have the right tools to apply it. Until recently I too have sometimes been guilty of this. I didn’t think much of brushes, and in my makeup box alongside great brushes I had some cheesy or broken-down brushes, and would be trying to apply some fantastic Chanel shadow with a clumsy synthetic brush I’ve had since high school, for instance, its plastic pink swirl handle chipped and faded.
I have since mended my ways and can recommend the following:
- When it comes to brushes go as pro as possible, and get them in a kit version, since buying them separately is not as good a value.
- Brush sets typically come in a roll case, which is where you should keep them so they stay clean and are in one place when you need them.
- I have noticed that there are many brush kits out there, and many of them have a professional or sleek “look,” but are really subpar when it comes to quality. Beware the more-than-you’ll-ever-need huge collection of brushes with pretty shiny handles offered at some low price. When buying new brushes, look for quality in the brush hair (natural hair is best), density of the brush hair, shape of the brush and overall construction and durability. Include in your inspection the handle, and note how different types of brushes feel in your hand.
*I really like Royal & Langnickel, mostly because they started in business forever ago by making art brushes–and they also make beauty brushes. (Before I learned that they also made beauty brushes, I had been using some of their art brushes for makeup duty; two indestructible fan brushes for contouring and a couple of thin detail brushes that made excellent eyeliner brushes.) Their consumer-oriented beauty brush line, here, has some excellent values, like the 12 piece set that, at $35, comes out to about $3 a brush. And you’ll use every one of them.
Tip: Wash your brushes regularly with super-mild soap and handle them with care. Keep the brush hair in the same direction while cleansing it, and keep water out of the ferrule (the black part of the upper handle seen in the brushes above that separates the brush hair from the handle). Water can get trapped in here and cause mold to grow, which is not something you want happening near your eyes and face.
On a clean towel, dry your brushes flat to keep the brush hair intact and to avoid moisture seeping into the ferrule. Rotate them on the dry part of the towel until they are completely dry.