August 27th, 2012

The Ultimate Make-Up Brush Guide.

I love the idea of make-up brushes but beyond a blush and bronzer wand I’m pretty useless. Brushes make a massive difference to your make-up application (the difference between a professional and amateur job) and do things like contour, shade and blend – stuff your fingers and sponges just don’t have the finesse for.

Here Nica Marcello, Education & Artistry Manager at Bobbi Brown Cosmetics Australia explains what tools you actually need, how to use them properly and look after them so they last.

The Types.

What should you look for in each of these make-up brush types?
Powdernatural hair, fluffy large tapered (slightly pointed) dome shape head.
Foundationflat tapered dome shaped head, made of synthetic fiber.
Concealeralso needs to be made of a synthetic fiber and have a small dome like head.
Bronzerlarge densely-packed natural hair.
Eye shadowsmall angled dome shape. Great for applying colour on the lid and also in the crease.
Lipa flat brush with long pointed bristles made of a natural hair.
Browa stiff angled brush. Bobbi Brown’s Eye Brow Brush is made of boar hair and has just the right amount of firmness to ensure your brow product us distributed evenly.

Any tips for identifying a good (and not so good) make-up brush?
Always test how the brush feels on the back of your hand. If the bristles feel hard or scratchy, steer clear. If the hairs shed straight away, it’s also not a good sign. Handles are also important. Plastic handles, although strong, can also crack and snap easily. Look for handles made of wood.

What different types of hair do make-up brushes come in? What’s the difference?
There are generally two classes; one being synthetic and the other non synthetic. Synthetic fibers are often made up of nylon or takelon and are ideal for cream and or liquid products, such as creamy concealers and liquid foundations.

Non synthetic brushes such as pony and goat hairs are best suited to dry products such as blush, bronzer and powder based eye shadows.

What’s the difference between a Blush Brush and a Bronzer Brush?
A Blush Brush is specifically designed to work with the shape of your cheeks. A well-designed Blush Brush will have a dome like shape that easily deposits product upon the natural contours of the face. A Bronzer Brush will predominately be larger in size, to enable an even distribution of colour, ensuring mistake proof application.

Describe the different type of eye shadow brushes you should be using.
The Eye Blender Brush is a flat short and condensed natural bristle brush with a beveled edge for smooth application. Bobbi Brown’s Eye Blender Brush has a long soft head for easy blending made of soft pony hair.

The Eye Shadow Brush is a short dense tapered domed brush that easily fits into the crease (socket) of the eye. Great for blending the perfect smoky eye.

A great Eye Liner Brush is also essential. A finely pointed dense synthetic brush is perfect for liquid and gel formulas of eyeliner. I can’t live without Bobbi Brown’s Ultra Fine Eye Liner Brush.

The Application.

What are your top application tips for using a make-up brush?
Have a look at the shape of the brush to know how to use it. Quite often there are different ways to use a brush in relation to its shape and size.

What are the advantages of using a brush over your fingertips?
Not wasting product! By using a brush you are not going to waste any product. You get just the right amount for application. The bonus is it’s hard to go heavy handed when you’re using the right tools. Our fingers hold natural oils; when mixed with product the application will never be as smooth, especially when applying foundation.

When are your fingertips better than a brush?
I would still always recommend using a brush to apply makeup. Fingers are ok to warm product into the skin after you have applied with a brush. Cream blushes are best worked with your fingers, and of course skincare!

The Essentials.

CLICK TO BUY: 1. Bobbi Brown Bronzer Brush, $70; 2. Bobbi Brown Angled Eye Shadow Brush, $50; 3. Bobbi Brown Foundation Brush, $68; 4. Bobbi Brown Blush Brush, $90.

What are the must-have brushes?
A good Foundation Brush, a dual-purpose Eye Shadow Brush, a Bronzer Brush and a Blush Brush.

What brush do you carry with you in your handbag?
My absolute must-have is my Bobbi Brown’s Angle Eye Shadow Brush. I also carry my Bronzer Brush as it’s the quickest and easiest way to update your make-up when you don’t have time to redo your whole look.

The Care Guide.

How often should you clean your make-up brushes?
It depends on how often you use them. You should be cleaning brushes that you use cream based products with more often, ideally washing them in warm, soapy water every one-to-two days. Brushes such as your powder, blush and bronzer brushes are best to be cleaned weekly.

How do you clean make-up brushes?
A good brush cleaning spray or conditioner. In between use its ok to use an antibacterial hand wash. A light shampoo, just like the one you use for your hair is great. You can even leave a little conditioner to really condition the natural hairs. Rinse and allow to dry overnight on a towel.

How often should you replace your make-up brushes?
Good quality make-up brushes should last you for years. When the hairs start to shed and there are more bristles left on your face than makeup, it’s time to replace your brushes.

  • Carly

    Hi Paula, I have a MAC foundation brush and ever time I use it, I end up with streaks all over my face and have to blend it with my fingers or a sponge. Do you have any tips or are there any online tutorials to avoid the streaky look?

  • Anna

    Do you wet it slightly before dipping into the product?

  • Chelsea @LifeStyled

    Hi Carly. Here’s Nica’s advice: “It’s all in the application technique. A quick cross-hatch movement with the brush will ensure the foundation is well blended.”

  • Jasmin

    Maybe you need a better base before applying foundation (moisturiser and/or primer). Or you may be overloading the brush.

    Hope this helps!

  • Jasmin

    Paula, the BB brushes are fab but have you had a go with Mr Ford’s? Amazing!

  • Pingback: Best brush | Ghyou

  • Nancy Jorden

    I have been trying to find something for makeup. This has been a great blog .Thanks for sharing.


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