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Your Ultimate Guide to Makeup Brushes

If your makeup doesn't look quite as polished as you'd like, I bet it's your brushes. Good makeup brushes can truly make all the difference in achieving a blended, airbrushed, professional look. Makeup brushes are one investment worth making and if you care for them properly, they will last you through many happy years of makeup! These are the essential brushes you need for a great basic brush kit.
Flat-Top Foundation Brush
Kabuki Brush
Dome-Shaped Blush Brush
Fluffy Powder Brush
Angled Blush Brush
Crease Brush
Blending Brush
Flat Shader Brush
Smudge Brush
Small Flat Shader Brush
Even More Tips
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Flat-Top Foundation Brush

When it comes to applying liquid or cream foundation, you can't go wrong with a flat-top synthetic brush for the face. I like the Sonia Kashuk Synthetic Flat Top Multipurpose Brush because it allows you to pick product up by dipping into the foundation, lay the product down by stippling and buff it out in circular motions.

Kabuki Brush

If you're a powder foundation kind of girl, a dense, kabuki-style brush like Sephora Classic Mineral Powder Brush #45 will be your best friend. Swirl into your powder, tap off the excess and buff it into your skin using small circular motions. A bonus about this brush is that, due to its synthetic fibers, you can also use it with liquid or cream products!
 

Dome-Shaped Blush Brush

The tapered-dome shape of the Real Techniques Blush Brush makes it absolutely ideal for applying a softly diffused wash of blush. It has never gotten out of control as long as I've used this brush, and it performs like a high-end brush wearing metallic pink clothes.

Fluffy Powder Brush

For dusting on a setting powder, you'll want a large, fluffy brush to loosely disperse the product. The Eco Tools Bamboo Powder Brush is one of my favorites—it's so super-soft, lasts forever without shedding and doesn't deposit too much product.

Angled Blush Brush

I don't like the large-head brushes labeled as bronzer brushes. Because I like to apply bronzer selectively—under the cheekbones and around the hairline—the shape of the Sephora Pro Angled Blush Brush #49 is perfect. The brush tucks right under the cheekbone and slides easily around the temples. Of course it's great for blush, but I think it does bronzer best.

Crease Brush

This Sephora Pro Crease Brush #10 for eyes is non-negotiable. You need a delicious crease brush in your life or you'll forever feel challenged when you try a smoky eye. Tuck this baby into your natural eye crease and apply color in small circular, then windshield-wiper motions to soften and blend. This brush is ideal for softening the top edge of a smoky eye look, where the color meets your brow bone. Use a light hand and let the fluffy bristles do their work.

Blending Brush

I admit it. Up until a few years ago, I wasn't quite sure what this brush was for. Now that I know, the angels are singing. Similar to a crease brush, this blending brush softens color. And, due to its shape, the blend is more controlled and precise. I use a Sephora Pro Blending Brush #27 to blend my darker outer-corner colors inward.

Flat Shader Brush

You can't get too far without a flat shader brush! The Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics #007 Large Shader Brush is your go-to guy for laying down color all over your eyelids. You just pat-pat to really build the color. These brushes are for laying down pigment but not for blending. Stiff brushes simply can't blend the way more fanned-out shapes can.

Smudge Brush

Here's a brush that does what it says: smudge! I honestly don't like pencil eyeliner unless it's smudged, and the Sephora Classic Must Have Smudge Brush is ideal for that! You know what else I love a smudge brush for? Placing a dark color at the outer corner of my eye so I can blend it out with a blending brush. If you have ever watched my tutorials, you've seen me do this technique at least 800 times.

Small Flat Shader Brush

If you feel that you can't get a handle on your eye shadow brushes (pun intended!) and that you end up just overwhelming your eyelid, go smaller! The Sonia Kashuk Small Eye Shadow Brush is a baby version of a large flat shader. I love this for placing a pop of shimmer at the inner corner of the eye or as a brow-bone highlight! You can also use this brush to sweep color along the lower lash line.

Even More Tips

  • The farther out you hold your brush on the handle, the lighter and softer the application. Try it: Move your hand down a few inches and you'll be surprised at the difference it makes!
  • Synthetic makeup brushes are best with liquids and creams; only natural-hair brushes should be used with powders. Synthetic bristles lay down product and do not absorb. Natural hair is like a magnet for pigment and is best for blending.
  • Many companies are now finding innovative ways to treat synthetic bristles to feel and behave like natural hair fibers, making them cruelty-free! Ecotools, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics and Sugarpill all do a great job with this.
  • You can get the most bang for your buck by purchasing makeup brushes in sets. Nine times of out 10, this is a cheaper way to go, but make sure the set includes brushes you will actually use. Refer to the list for brushes to be looking for.


For more makeup tips and tricks from Ivy, go to Wake Up for Makeup.

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