Brushes! Hurrah! Brushes are one of my new favourite things. One of the things I learnt very, very early on is that makeup as a whole is just that much easier when you have the right tools for the job. As a rule, the teeny tiny brushes and spongy applicators that come with eyeshadow and blusher and the like are every bit as shit as they appear, and are at their best when immediately chucked into the nearest bin upon opening.
Some people like to stick with one brand of brushes the whole way and use the same brand for everything, but I’m a shameless brush tart. If I like the look and feel of a brush, and if the reviews suggest that it will do what I want it to do, and if it’s not eye-wateringly expensive, I’ll buy it. Consequently, I have a bit of an assortment!
This is my current crop. Please excuse the state of them, Friday is brush washing night and I have’t quite got round to it yet!
1. Younique Powder Puff Brush. I love this brush, it’s as soft as a kitten’s belly! Although it’s labelled as being for powder, generally that’s not what I use it for (you will notice this becoming something of a theme…). I use it for applying my cold weather foundation, which is a liquid and which blends beautifully with a large, soft brush. I also use it for bronzer. Because it’s so soft and flexible, it’s easy to pick up just a tiny bit and get it exactly where I want it. This brush is made with capra hair and is therefore not vegan.
2. Look Good Feel Better Powder Brush. This is the one I use for powder. Again, velvety soft and fluffy. I love the handle on this one, having a longer handle makes it much quicker and easier when you’re sweeping powder over a large area. Look Good Feel Better is the only charity which specifically deals with helping cancer patients deal with the visible side-effects of cancer and cancer treatment. For each one of their brushes that is sold, 10% of the price goes to the charity. They are available on the High Street at M&S and also online – Google pops them up very easily.
3. Real Techniques Blush Brush. Does exactly what it says on the tin! The shape of the bristles is perfect on this one, they are tapered away from a point, making it very easy to get the blush exactly where you want it. Not a lot else to say, I love it!
4. Real Techniques Expert Face Brush. This is my main foundation brush. I like it much more than any I’ve tried before because the bristles are shorter, denser and stiffer. It’s very versatile, I use it to dab foundation on when I start, then blend it all together, then go back over and fill in any gaps and missing bits. It works very nicely. The bristles being shorter also makes it easier to clean.
5. Real Techniques Expert Concealer Brush. This is a new one in the ranks, I’ve only had it a week or so. So far I’m liking it a lot. Like its stablemate above, it has short, dense bristles which make for easy blending. It also helps with being able to blend concealer right up to the edge of my eye without accidentally flicking any of it into my eye (which is painful, messy, and ends up with me spending the whole morning explaining that I’m perfectly OK and not actually about to cry, it’s just that my eyes are gooped up with concealer…).
6. No 7 Lash Comb and Eyebrow Brush. This one is a bit of an oddity. It came as part of a set of brushes I got for Christmas 15+ years ago. Over time the others in the set have been lost or damaged, but this one remains – probably because I literally never, ever use it! But it’s pretty and I love it, so it has a home among the others and probably always will.
7. Real Techniques Bold Metals Collection 203 Tapered Shadow. Another relatively new one, this has very quickly become my favourite eye brush. You can use it to apply colour, build it up and blend it. The bristles are big enough to apply colour over a good sized area, but also slender enough to apply shadow into the crease of your eyelid. It blends beautifully too. I particularly love the handle, it’s well balanced and faceted instead of being smooth, which means it doesn’t roll off the table and it’s easy to get a firm grip on it without it slipping in your hand. Another small but significant thing is that the bristles being white (and they do stay white if you wash it regularly!) means you can see exactly how much colour you have on the brush. I love this brush, it’s a keeper.
8. Younique Blending Brush. Like its friend the Powder Puff, absolutely velvety soft and lovely to the touch. This one has one job, and it does it beautifully. Hard edges where eyeshadow joins and finishes are a thing of the past. This brush is made with capra hair and is therefore not vegan.
9. to 14. All by Real Techniques. I was given a set of eye brushes as a gift at Christmas a few years ago. A set which is similar but not identical is available here. The ones in my set are the Deluxe Crease Brush, the Base Shadow Brush, the Shading Brush, the Accent Brush, the Brow Brush and the Fine Liner Brush. These are really useful and versatile, I use at least three of them daily. I’ve found the Base Shadow Brush to be the perfect size and shape for applying powder over my under-eye concealer, of all things. As you will have worked out by now, I’m a big fan of Real Techniques brushes!
15. No. 7 Eyeshadow Blend & Contour Brush. I don’t really use this one, I have other brushes that do all the things it does better. Much like the eyelash comb, it stays for sentimental reasons as much as anything. Boots no longer sell this brush, it has been discontinued and replaced by one of a different shape
16. No. 7 Smokey Eye Brush. I use this one mainly for applying darker colours in the outer corner of my eyelid. I have hooded eyes, which doesn’t leave me with very much space to work at all, this one has a small, very tightly packed head, so it’s easier to be precise in a small area. This brush is made from “natural hair” and therefore not vegan.
17. Beautyblender. I can hear you thinking. You’re thinking “this is not a brush”. And you’re right, it’s not! It is however very much a part of the brush family and generally an all round ridiculously useful piece of kit. You wet it, squeeze it a few times until it absorbs the water and almost doubles in size, then squeeze out the excess water and use it damp by patting or bouncing it against your skin. You can apply foundation/tinted moisturiser with it, apply and blend concealer with it, blend liquid highlighter with it. Blending is what it does, and it does it well. Where you have a hard or obvious edge, the Beautyblender will take care of it and smooth it out. I use it for blending the edges of my under eye concealer, for applying liquid highlighter, and for a quick touch up to make sure my foundation is perfectly blended before I set it with powder. I absolutely love this thing.
The one thing to be aware of with Beautyblenders is that they get very grungy, very quickly. The hygiene aspect bothered me a bit from the outset, so mine have always been washed with hot water and a soap designed for the job after every use and then put in the airing cupboard to dry. As well as keeping them clean, it helps to prolong their life. By their very nature, it’s pretty much inevitable that they fall apart eventually, but keeping them clean and drying them thoroughly after every use makes a world of difference.
That’s it for this one, I’m going to do “things I’ve learnt about brush cleaning and maintenance” on a separate post, when it’s not late on Friday night after a long week. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!