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Makeup Brushes Guide

Why gunk up your hands when makeup brushes do a better job, mess-free? They help create gorgeous looks and can help save you money.


A good makeup brush can often be the difference between a blotchy application and a flawless appearance. They help you apply your makeup with better precision and can make a significant difference to your finished look. Having a quality brush is a worthwhile and relatively minor investment given the fantastic results it can help provide.

Makeup Brushes 101

Brushes as Investments

Some experts liken the need for a good makeup brush to an artist’s reliance on the right painting tools. Consider your face as the canvas. Having the right brush can help you to create your vision by blending colours in a controlled and exact manner. Fingers might be suited for certain application jobs, but to achieve that work of art the best tools can make all the difference.

Additionally, using a quality brush can save you money over time. With a brush you are better able to use the right amount of product, having far less wasted on your fingers, puffs and other application tools that do not work as well. You might find purchasing one or two good makeup brushes is preferable than purchasing a makeup brushes set of a lesser quality.

Natural or Synthetic?

Some cosmetic experts feel that brushes with natural hair bristles (often made with sable or pony fibres) are better for dry products like eyeshadow and blush. While brushes with synthetic hair bristles are good for cream or liquid products like foundation and concealer, as they soak up less product than natural hair. When considering a brush, try to match the task and design of the brush to the kind of the makeup you are applying.

Types of Brushes

Foundation Brush

A foundation brush has a flat shape and long, tightly packed bristles with a tapered tip. This design helps ensure foundation is completely applied and flawlessly blended. Dip the brush into foundation and apply it using a circular motion. Start on the cheeks and blend back towards your hairline.

Concealer Brush

A concealer brush helps to better concentrate concealer on the area you're trying to cover. They look like smaller foundation brushes and their more manoeuvrable size makes them better suited for covering blemishes and for applying liquid concealers in hard to reach places like the corners of your eyes. Look for a flat, firm, tapered square head for concealing undereye details and a tapered round end for covering blemishes. Use small amounts of concealer in short precise strokes, blending well.

Powder Brush

These brushes feature soft, round, large bristles and are excellent for dusting loose powder over your face, setting your makeup and reducing shine. Choosing a powder brush over a puff means you’ll likely use less product for a more efficient application and a more even, natural-looking finish.

Eyebrow Brush

Eyebrow brushes often feature an angled tip to help shape and direct your hairs where needed, resulting in neatly groomed brows that frame your face with a striking polish. Use these brushes to apply powders, creams or waxes to your brows.

Eyeshadow Brush

Not as stiff as an eyebrow brush, eyeshadow brushes often have square heads to evenly apply powder and cream shadows to eyelids. They are effective at getting into the crease of your eye and defining the lid with exceptional precision. An angled eyeshadow brush is designed to create depth in the eyelid crease and add definition to the outer eyelid, where darker shades are often applied.

Eyeliner Brush

This small brush is ideal for creating a precise, even line with gel, liquid and powder eyeliners and for applying eyeshadows to the lash line. Eyeliner brushes are also useful for smudging out kohl eyeliner for a dramatic smoky effect. For a striking look use a brush that is damp.

Lash Comb

Lash combs have a reputation for being challenging to use but with some patience they can be helpful for applying mascara glob-free and keeping lashes nicely separated. To use a lash comb, apply mascara at the lash base, then wiggle the lash comb through to the tips of your lashes. For best results remove old mascara with a hypoallergenic makeup remover first.

Blush/Bronzer Brush

This workhorse brush is one of the larger tools in a makeup brush set and is used to add colour and life to the cheeks. It has soft, longer bristles that can apply and blend colour and is great for defining and contouring your cheeks. A good blush brush is designed to allow the most natural distribution of pigment. Look for a full, large head with slight tapering designed for even distribution and natural-looking definition across the cheeks and cheekbones. If you intend to apply both blusher and bronzer, you might consider investing in two brushes – one for each product.

Lip Brush

While lipstick is most often applied directly from its case, a lip brush is a fantastic tool for building up lip colour, defining your lips with greater precision and achieving dramatic, lush and vibrant results. Its tip is designed with bristles that are often short and firm for a controlled application. Using a quality lip brush will help your lipstick last longer as less is used than when applied directly from the case. This can save you money and time shopping over the long term. If possible, invest in a lip brush that has a cover or retractable design so you can have it with you for on-the-go touch-ups.

Cleaning Your Brushes

As makeup brushes are an investment and can house bacteria and dirt it is important to properly care for them. Regular washings can help keep brushes soft and your face clean. To clean makeup brushes, run their bristles under warm running water. Apply a small amount of baby shampoo to the bristles (avoid soap and detergent) and create a light lather. Rinse bristles thoroughly under running water and continue until the water leaving your brush runs clear. Air-dry after rinsing.

It is recommended that you wash your brushes once a week, and try to give particular attention to your eyeshadow brushes by cleaning them every 2-3 days. Wash your eyeliner brushes after every use.