Makeup artists suggest that of the myriad of brushes available, the most you need are seven. You may get excited when you see a brush set on sale offering a full range of shapes and sizes, but chances are, most of them will end up being used by your kids to paint with. I made the same mistake buying a huge knife set and slowly realizing that I only use 3 of the knives! I could have bought 3 really good quality knives for less than I spent on the set. Invest in a few great brushes and take good care of them. They will last a long time, your application results will be better, and you will very likely use less product. I’ve been using the same big, fluffy brush for powder foundation and bronzer since 1995.
You shouldn’t have to give much thought to the brush fibers. Most brushes are made for particular purposes, so brushes for dry makeup like blush, bronzer, eyeshadow, and mineral makeup will be made from natural hair, and brushes for liquid lipstick will be synthetic, so they don’t absorb the product.
Powder and Bronzer – This brush should be large, soft, round, and made with natural hair. Dip the brush into the powder and then tap off any excess. Sweep lightly over the skin. For bronzer, apply a small amount where the sun would have naturally added color, starting at the top of the forehead, working down the nose, and along the cheeks.
Liquid Foundation – Look for a round, flat-tipped brush made with synthetic hair. Dip the brush into your foundation and apply it to your skin in a circular motion, buffing it into your cheeks and blending it toward the hairline.
Blush – Select a dome-shaped brush with long, soft, natural hair. Swirl a little color onto the brush and gently sweep upwards from the apple of the cheek toward the ear.
Eyeshadow – Choose a small, flat shape with stiff natural bristles. Starting at the inside of the eyelid, sweep color outwards. You will also want a tapered brush for blending. This will also be a natural bristled brush, but with soft hair. Use this one to define the crease by adding color and sweeping it back and forth along the ridge.
Eyeliner and Brow – Look for a small, angled brush with soft, natural, or synthetic hair. This brush can be used to fill in your lash line or your eyebrows with powder. You will want two if you use liquid eyeliner and dust on your brows.
Lips – A lip brush is a small, flat, round edged brush. A retractable one is nice because you can leave a little product on it for touching up. Your lipstick will last longer because you end up using a lot less by applying it with a brush. It is much easier to blend your lipstick and lip liner when you use a brush.
It is essential to clean your brushes regularly as they will harbor bacteria, which can cause skin irritation. I use warm water and shampoo in a coffee cup. After washing them, I rinse them several times in the white coffee cup, so it’s easy to see if the water is running off clear. I gently tap off excess water and then lay them to dry on a clean towel.