Makeup brushes: sweep away the confusion

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  • Friday, June 1, 2018
Makeup brushes: sweep away the confusion
Makeup brushes: sweep away the confusion

Trying to understand the different makeup brushes seems intimidating, but there’s a logic to how the brushes are shaped. Anything angled is used for precision on specific areas, while the big, fun, fluffy brushes are for large surface areas. To make it simpler, most brushes come in a standardised set, with a different brush for each makeup technique – so you don’t have to trawl the aisles looking for the perfect brush. Be warned though: brush sets with natural bristles are notoriously pricey, so know what you need in advance. If you’re only concerned about brows, then you’ll only need a few brushes, whereas attempting full makeup mastery will demand you invest in the glorious full 15-piece set.


Foundation brush


These come in many shapes and sizes for makeup users who want different finishes and who use different textured foundations. The standard foundation brush is thick, dome shaped and fluffy, to provide full-face coverage and an even dispersal of product. This brush is best for scooping foundations that have a heavier texture. Other foundation brushes are thinner, with tapered tips to evenly apply foundation in hard-to-reach areas such as below the chin, the corner of the nose and around the eyes.


Concealer brush


This precision brush is used to apply concealer to small areas of your face and cover up imperfections and unflattering lines under your eyes. The bristles are small and slightly stiff to perfectly conceal and blend product for blemishes anywhere on the face.


Eyeshadow brush


A long and slightly convex handle below the head make this brush ideal for gripping with your finger and brushing just the right amount of eyeshadow onto your eyes. The bristles are soft and tapered to get the eyeshadow onto your face, but prevent it from spreading further around the eye.


Angled brush


There are many different types of angled brushes, including contour, concealer, highlighter and eyebrow brushes. The angled shape makes this brush perfect for precision application onto specific areas without affecting surrounding skin. Some brushes have inclined heads while others are angled at the handle.


Blending brush


It’s thin, slightly convex and cone-shaped near the brush head, perfect for smoothing lines and shadow on the eye crease area. Some blending brushes can have slightly firmer and longer bristles, to blend makeup on cheeks and jawbone during a contour.


Blush brush


This thick and dome-shaped brush is used to apply blush to your cheekbones. The brush head is made fabulously thick to hold more powder and ensure a softer, gradual colour during application. Blush brushes can also come in smaller and thinner forms for a more concentrated blush effect on your cheeks.


Kabuki brush


The short, stocky and thick handle, paired with a long dome-shaped brush head, makes it the best brush for grip and reach. Kabuki brushes are so popular they even come in their own set. They are a dream when applying liquid products and light sprinkles of bronzer.


Stippling brush


For makeup users who don’t want full face coverage but rather a light application of foundation, stippling (or rapid dot application) is the way to go. The stippling brush is cone shaped at the head, with a distinctive flat top and bristles of equal length.


Smudger brush


Created to help you get that smouldering or blurred effect, this brush has some of the shortest bristles in the brush family, designed to slightly move the right amount of colour on a smaller area. The handle is long and thin to provide a precision grip when creating the winged eye look.


Eyebrow brush


This is a thin, small brush, and the most effective ones come angled. The bristles are short to best reach the fine and small hairs of your brows. A great investment is an eyebrow brush that come with a coiled spoolie brush (similar to a mascara wand) on the other end to groom your eyelashes and sweep out any unsightly mascara clumps.


Fan brush


This multipurpose brush shape is the broom of brushes, used to clean up any extra product on the face. Its wide, semi-circular head is spread out like a fan (as you probably guessed from the name) and is mainly used to apply a light dusting of highlighter and bronzer.

Powder brush

Probably the most useful brush in your collection, because it can do anything. Its thick and stiffly fluffy bristles are perfect for applying dense powders to the whole face. Meanwhile, its shorter and concave handle makes it more precise than the foundation brush and provides better grip for flawless finish. The brush’s perfectly round head shape makes it ideal for applying powder to a wide surface area of your face.


Highlighter brush


This brush has a soft tapered, sometimes angled, head for better precision. If you’re into contouring, strobing, or other precision applications that make use of highlighter, this one’s for you.


Lip brush


Lip brushes are because we can all use a little more accuracy when lining our lips and applying lipsticks. Lip brushes provide a more efficient way of creating shapes and outlines compared to direct application from a lipstick bullet. This brush has a square-shaped head and soft bristles.  

Take time to learn which brushes perform which functions as makeup brushes affect application, precision and finish. The basic rules to keep in mind are that thick brush heads hold more colour and enjoy more surface application, while thinner brush heads offer precision for smaller, specific areas. 


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