I will never forget the advice my beauty instructor told us in school: you can make even poor quality makeup look amazing if you use the right brushes. She was right – makeup brushes and tools are necessary for achieving even the most natural and basic of everyday looks. But I know many women have concerns about buying brushes and tools, especially when it comes to the vast variety of which brushes to choose. Featured below are the brushes and tools I use everyday, and my advice on why to use them.
#1: makeup brushes
- Foundation brushes: depending on which formula of foundation I wear, I choose either my Clinique brush (great for liquids) or my Real Techniques brush (great for creamier or BB formulas). I’ve had my Clinique brush for close to 8 years – the synthetic bristles are especially soft on sensitive skin. The Real Techniques brush is also great for concealer, as the bristles are shorter and provide more detailed control.
- Powder brush: my favorite powder/blush/all-purpose brush is the Magic Brush from Cargo. The bristles are super soft, but firm, and you can get great detail in application. I love using it for powder foundations too.
- Eyeshadow brush: my favorite eyeshadow brush is the Magic Eye Brush from Cargo. Like it’s bigger sibling the Magic Brush, the bristles and construction give it an amazing flexibility and versatility for application. The dome shape blends, shades, and also allows for detail in the crease.
- Liner brush: I really love the Eco-Tools flat cut liner brush, as it works wonderfully for creating a smokey eye with darker shadows. The flat edge creates an even line, and is perfect for using on the lower lash liner. This also an awesome brush for blending eyeliner too.
- Contouring brush: the LORAC contour brush that comes with the PRO Contour Palette is awesome for highlighting and contouring. I was really surprised with the quality of the bristles and cut of the brush. It creates even application, targeted detail, and blends smoothly.
#2: brush cleaner
So, if you are going to make the investment of buying quality makeup brushes, then you absolutely need to keep them clean. Two reasons: 1. the brushes will last you for years (seriously) and 2. your skin will have much less risk for breakout or irritation. This little bottle does the trick daily for me – after I’m done with my makeup, I spray each brush and wipe clean on tissue. Then I lay flat to dry, which only takes a few minutes. It takes me only about 2 minutes to clean all of my brushes that I use. The additional benefit is that they are ready to use the next day without any traces of remaining color, meaning I’ll get a fresh application of whichever color I want each day. It’s surprising to me how many people don’t regularly clean their brushes. If you don’t, you run the risk of not only ruining your investment of potentially expensive brushes, but also risk causing breakouts or dermatitis from buildup of oils, makeup and dead skin.
#3: foundation sponges
Sometimes when I want to switch it up from my brushes, I’ll use foundation sponges to apply any liquid or cream makeup. These work great for cream blushes or liquid highlighters too. My two favorites that I’m using are the Miracle Complexion Sponge from Real Techniques and the Beauty Blending Sponge from Walgreens’ brand of Studio 35. Note: if you use the sponges wet, you will have more sheer coverage. I would rather invest more money in brushes than sponges, since the brushes will last you longer. But for the price, these sponges are a great tool to have when you want to achieve different looks. You can easily use the daily brush cleaner from e.l.f Cosmetics to clean the sponges too. Just make sure you let them air dry.
#4: makeup tools
Last but not least, these little necessities can make or break your beauty routine. Let’s chat about why these are essential tools to have:
- Pencil sharpener: I love the version from Cargo, as it can handle the two standard sizes of liners and pencils. This is essential for hygenic and precise application of eyeliners – no professional makeup artist would be caught dead without a pencil sharpener. The secret for everyday fabulous eyeliner looks is making sure the pencil is sharpened – the line will be cleaner and precise, which you can easily blend out with a liner brush if wanted.
- Tweezerman eyelash curler: this is one of the easiest ways to make the most of your mascara. Hate applying false lashes? Then simply use this instead. If your lashes are straight or grow downward, this is the best way to enhance your mascara’s formula.
- Tweezerman slant-edge tweezers: these have been with me for about 15 years, and are the gold standard in the beauty industry. My skin doesn’t wax easily without irritation, so I tweeze daily. There’s nothing that ruins a great eye makeup look faster than messy or unkempt eyebrows. Keep them under control, people! It’s super easy to tweeze and clean up brows daily with these tweezers – they grab every last hair.
- Clean-up razors: these little razors are awesome for hard to reach areas or wispy/fine hairs around your chin or upper lip. A pack of two will last you years, and you can also use them in cleaning up your hairline or bikini area. If you don’t like waxing or have super sensitive skin, I really recommend having a pack around for small grooming needs.
One last tip I want to make extremely clear is the tip to never share your tools. Salons, spas and makeup counters have the proper sanitizing techniques to keep tools ready for using on clients. But it’s harder to guarantee the correct hygiene at home, so I recommend keeping your tools to yourself to prevent risk of contamination of makeup or eye infections. Bottom line, if you keep your brushes and tools clean, they will keep you looking fabulous for years to come!
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