Ready to beef up your beauty arsenal, but not sure which products to invest in?
Here’s our complete guide to buying and caring for makeup brushes, guaranteed to streamline your routine and help you achieve a fresh, flawless look.
Say hello to your new favorite tools!
Must-Haves for Your Makeup Bag
From politics to price, when it comes to makeup brushes, it’s all about finding the set that works best for you.
First, consider whether you prefer working with synthetic or natural bristles. It sounds like a simple enough decision, but, as Melodi Erdogan points out at Bustle, “choosing between synthetic and natural makeup brushes is more political and detailed than the average…consumer might think.”
Because natural bristles use real animal hair, animal rights activists – or even people with allergies – tend to use brushes made with synthetic materials, like nylon. Even so, natural bristles are still prized by makeup artists for their ability to store and apply pigment, writes Erdogan.
When it comes to applying cream foundations, concealers, or eyeshadow, synthetic bristles are definitely the way to go.
“Synthetic bristles tend to gravitate towards one another, making them perfect for precision application,” writes Michelle Grossman at StyleCaster. This means they won’t gunk up when you’re trying to use cream-based makeups, making application extra simple.
There’s generally a big difference in price between synthetic and natural bristles, too.
Because companies have to carefully source animal hair for brushes made with natural fibres, these items often cost quite a bit more than brushes made from synthetic materials. If you’re not buying a designer brand, you can find quality synthetic brushes for $10 or less in most health and beauty stores.
Whatever your price point for makeup brushes, having the right tools in your bag makes a huge difference.
Like to head out the door with minimal muss and fuss? You can probably get away with a top-notch powder foundation and blush brush for everyday use – and still look like you floated off the runway.
But if you want your makeup bag to look like a pro’s, then you’ll need a few more tricks up your sleeve.
In case you need a little Makeup Brush 101, we’ve identified the seven brushes that make up a makeup artist’s best-ever toolkit.
At 100% Pure, we only make brushes with cruelty-free synthetic bristles, so you know you’re purchasing a product that’s safe and ethical to use.
This cruelty-free flat brush is perfect for blending cream eyeshadows or creating a nice, even wash of color across your lids.
If you’re looking for a brush that can handle more fine details or blend shadows into the crease of your eyelids, then try an eyeshadow brush that has a smaller tip with firm bristles.
Want to achieve the perfect a smokey eye? Drag a smudge brush along your lash line for a little extra va-va-voom.
This small, double-ended brush is the perfect travel companion for beauty on the go. Whether you want to define your eye color or apply liquid lip color, the double-ended brush is our pick for versatility and definition.
With its angled bristles and light touch, the contour brush will help you find your best angle. This brush is versatile enough to take you from powder foundation to blush or bronzer, highlighting your cheekbones and helping to define your features.
Eye Liner Brush
Apply your liner like a pro with our eye liner brush. Achieve a wide range of effects, whether you try your hand with a dry brush or use liquid liner.
With a little bit of practice, you can go from cat eye to glam to professional and polished – and back again!
This multifaceted angled brush can help you define your brows or shade your eyelid. With its firm, short bristles, you’ll be an expert in blending and contouring your lids and brows in no time.
Based on the traditional Japanese brush, our Kabuki Brush has wide, high, domed bristles perfect for distributing a fine dusting of powder across your forehead, nose, and chin.
For best results, “hold [the brush] at a 90-degree angle to your skin, moving the bristles in a circular motion to blend makeup on,” advises Petra Guglielmetti.
If you’ve been relying on that tiny, flat blush included in most powder blush packaging for your day-to-day application, it’s time for an upgrade.
Look for a blush brush with a domed top and a slightly more narrow base than a typical powder brush.
Use the brush to blend color directly onto the apples of your cheeks, sweeping upward toward your ears, for a flawless, dewy glow.
Makeup Brush TLC
Because makeup brushes are used primarily on the face – especially on sensitive areas like your eyes and lips – it’s important to keep them nice and clean.
Experts say you should give your brushes a bath every two weeks – but if you use a foundation brush or other liquid makeup brush every day, make sure to wash it directly after application.
Regular washing will prevent makeup from caking up in your bristles, and you’ll also reduce the risk of infection – not to mention the off-chance that you could give yourself pimples from brushing old, oily bristles across your forehead!
To clean your brushes, rinse the bristles in warm water until you’re satisfied that you can’t see any more makeup escaping from the brush head.
Then, use a little dollop of brush cleaner to massage and shampoo the bristles. Rinse again, making sure that you’re doing your best to protect the joint between the head of the brush and the wooden handle from taking on too much water.
While you can use alternative brush cleaners like light hand soaps and baby shampoo, makeup artist Kayleen McAdams prefers a specialized brush cleaner.
“I find that those products dry out the brushes and cause them to lose their shape,” she added.
Especially if you’re making the leap to expensive brushes, it’s important to take care of your new tools. Between using the right brush cleaner and cleaning your brushes regularly, proper brush care can extend the life of your investment.
One technique that makes all difference? Drying your brushes with a towel to prevent water from pooling around the metal joint and the wooden handle.
Once you’ve washed all the makeup from your brush, blot your bristles, then lay each brush flat on a towel to collect excess moisture.
“You do not want the brushes standing upright as they dry, or water may run down and loosen the adhesive that holds the brush feral in place, causing the handles to come off,” makeup artist Ramy Gafni explained to Stylecaster.
If you take good care of your brushes, they’ll definitely take good care of you – paying for your investment many times over. A well-made makeup brush can last up to five years – but only if you show it a little love.
Now that you’re armed with the best picks for building a picture-perfect brush set, get ready to fend off compliments from your many admirers! Once you have the best tools in the business, you’ll be shocked at what a difference you notice in your routine – and the mirror.
Do you have a favorite makeup application tip? Share your secrets in the comments below:
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