The Ins and Outs of Makeup Brushes

To create a painting, what everyone needs is a little creativity and the right tools. This logic applies to makeup as well. After all, what is makeup but paint to enhance your face? Using the right brushes to apply your makeup is essential for having a flawless finish.

There are thousands of makeup brushes in the cosmetics industry today. However, despite what the salesperson at the cosmetics counter may say – unless you are a professional makeup artist or someone who needs elaborate looks every day – you do not need more than a few brushes.

Here are the essentials:

The Powder Brush


A powder brush is a must-have in every girl’s makeup pouch. It will be the brush that you use every day.

A powder brush can be dipped in loose power and used to set liquid foundation by dusting the powder lightly across the desired areas. It can also be used to apply powder foundation if you only require a light layer across your face.

When choosing a powder brush, I prefer to get one with natural bristles (made with animal fur) as I find that it is softer and facilitates a better application than synthetic brushes. But it’s really up to you.

However, whatever the preference, it is best to get a rounded, fluffy powder brush. Remember to test it on your hand first! If it feels rough, it’s not good for your face. You can use a good kabuki brush or a long-handled brush.

The Blush Brush


A good blush brush is needed to apply powder blush smoothly and evenly on your cheeks. Usually, you’d want a soft hue, not a severe patch on your face. A good blush brush gives you that. Look for one that is fluffy, but not overly so, and with a soft rounded edge. However, there are many varieties of blush brushes to suit every face shape. If you have a small face, you may want to go for a blush brush that is a little bit flatter.

The best way to test a blush brush is to ask a salesperson to use it to apply blush on you. If you’re happy with the result, that brush is for you! Whenever in doubt on the technique of using it (there are various techniques for different face shapes), don’t be afraid to ask for a quick lesson from the salesperson. They’ll be more than happy to oblige.

The Eyeshadow Brush


When watching the makeup gurus on youtube, you may get the impression that you need dozens of brushes to achieve a single look. That may be true for some looks, but how many of us actually have the time and energy to do those looks often?

In reality, for less elaborate looks, all you really need is a blending brush. The brush featured has a flat-ish shape that can be used for patting on powder eyeshadow but is fluffy enough on the edge to blend. You could also choose to invest in a single fluffy brush as you can use your fingers to place the colour on your lids.

The Angled Brush


This brush is a must have for every girl! An angled brush is incredibly versatile – it can be used to apply gel eyeliner, to apply a highlighter eyeshadow to the tear ducts and be used to apply eyebrow powder. You can even use it (dipped in foundation) if you wish to reshape your lips or clean up any lipstick smudges.

How to Clean and Maintain Brushes

Contrary to industry marketing, you do not need the cleaners sold by cosmetic brands.

A gentle shampoo is enough to clean your brushes effectively. However, if you choose to get natural hairbrushes, you may consider conditioning the brushes so that the bristles will not dry out.

When washing makeup brushes, try not to get the base of the bristles wet. This may affect the glue in the handle and cause shedding. Not good. You want your brushes to last as long as possible. Be sure to gently squeeze out any excess water from the bristles so that it will dry quickly and not drip into the handle.

Store your brushes in a cup so that they can stand upright. This enables you to access them easily and make sure that the brushes do not lose their shape from being “squished” together.  

I would advise washing your brushes about once a week as bacteria will grow in the brush. Also, too much make-up residue will get trapped in the brush and make the bristles rough. A quick wash will rectify both situations.

All brushes featured here are from Urban Decay. Despite my personal preference for natural hair brushes, not everyone can be committed to their maintenance so I have used Urban Decay’s animal friendly, vegan brushes as examples. Urban Decay is not the only brand with good brushes. Most other cosmetic brands have good brushes as well. However, please remember that it all comes down to personal preference and the feel of the brush.

About the Author: Aileen Bak, an undergraduate doing a double major in Law and Japanese, is also an aspiring fashion designer and stylist. She wishes to eventually have her own very exclusive by-appointment-only boutique. In the meantime, she focuses on enriching herself in all areas of cosmetology possible. She loves sharing her extensive knowledge pertaining to fashion and beauty with people.

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