If you expect to achieve flawless foundation coverage or the appearance of naturally lush eyebrows, you need to have the proper makeup brushes on hand.
“Everyone should invest in good quality brushes. My philosophy is the right brush will make the application process easier and much smoother,” says Adi Lando, Sephora PRO lead artist, “and I use different brushes for different tasks.”
When Lando wants to define the eyes, he reaches for a brush with a small, firm tip cut to a tapered silhouette to address the crease; then picks up a brush with large, fluffy bristles to finish the job. The first one is for densely applying product and saturating colour on the lid, while the second one is ideal for blending and depositing minimal product, he says.
The composition of a brush also comes into play, with a choice between natural and synthetic bristles. “I use and recommend both,” says Victoria Falcao, a Toronto-based makeup artist and beautyBOUTIQUE manager. “I find synthetic brushes better suited for cream applications like foundation, concealer, and cream blush. Natural bristles, on the other hand, are better for blending eye shadow or other powder cosmetics. Natural fibres have a cuticle — a coating covering the hair — that allows for picking up and depositing the product more evenly, giving a more even finish.”
Personal preference can also be a guiding light to what works best for you. “Synthetic brushes are great for people with sensitivity to natural fibres,” says Lando.
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When the objective is a complexion that boasts a uniform tone you’re likely to call on makeup that appears in liquid form. From lightweight BB cream to viscous, full-coverage foundation, a brush designed to disperse moist product and achieve smooth coverage over the contours of the face kicks off the pros’ must-haves list.
Lando’s go-to features a round head with fine, densely-packed bristles. “It instantly and evenly buffs foundation into the skin, and also allows you to achieve the ideal coverage you need,” he says, “you want to lightly buff product in small circular motions, starting from the centre of the face and then buffing out towards the edge.”
Choosing a domed or slanted brush shape, rather than a flat foundation brush, makes this style of seamless application easy for anyone. “Use it in a patting motion versus swiping up and down to avoid streaks. And start with a small amount of product, paying attention to the areas that need more coverage,” says Falcao.
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From face-framing eyebrows to defined lash lines, the eye area is a hot spot for cosmetic tweaks that deliver big rewards. For a daily boost, Falcao makes arches a priority and relies on one multipurpose tool: a small angled brush. “Opt for a powder product if you want a natural brow look. You can also define the lash line by running a dark brown powder into the base of the lashes for some subtle definition,” she says.
This is when the full and fluffy power of a crease brush becomes essential. For a standout choice, Lando favours the tapered one shown here with an airy design. “It is my favourite brush of all time. I love how lightweight and precise it is. [It allows you] to seamlessly define and blend crease shadow,” he says. Whichever way you go, always finish lashes with mascara to lock down a bigger, brighter gaze.
With a deft hand wielding the right brush, concerns such as dark under-eye circles, hyperpigmentation, redness or blemishes can be easily diminished.
Related: This is how to clean your makeup brushes so they last.
“Even when I want a more natural application, I always use a concealer brush to apply concealer,” says Falcao. “Using a brush rather than a finger gives more accuracy and helps feather out the product. If you do need more coverage, use a stippling motion.” Her choice of a traditional flat concealer brush features short, firm bristles and a slightly rounded edge to adeptly maneuver around facial nooks and raised skin textures equally.
Angled designs, which Lando is a fan of, are another option in the concealer brush category. “A tapered brush head has dual benefits; offering one side to place and smooth the product, while the other side is used to sheer and blend. You can also use it to apply colour correctors or cream eye shadow,” he says.
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Blush. Highlighter. Bronzer. There’s no wrong way to get your glow on, but there are rules about the right tools to apply them. For most radiance-enhancing powders, the experts champion slanted designs. “I love an angled blush brush!” says Lando, “It is a multitasker that can be used for blush, highlighting and contouring. The slanted bristles are designed to hug the contours of the face for an even, precise application and will define your cheeks in a single sweep.”
When it comes to a bronzer, Falcao prefers using a large powder brush for an effortless effect. After dipping the brush in bronzer and tapping off excess product, she sweeps in the shape of the number “3” over each side of the face from the forehead along the hairline to the upper cheekbones (further back than blush) and underneath the bottom of the jawline. The combo of tool and technique diffuses powder on all the areas where the sun would naturally touch the skin, she says. “Putting a little bronzer across the nose gives a more sun-kissed look.”
Related: How to choose the most flattering blush for your cheeks.