Face Brushes: Which One Does What?

face makeup brushes

In the past few weeks, we’ve talked about what cheek and eye brush does what. It’s now time to demystify face makeup brushes too.

Think that’s gonna be short and easy? Think again. Foundation, concealer, and powder brushes come in different shapes and sizes too, each one better suited for a different technique and texture.

You don’t need them all. But you do need to know which one suits your needs best. Otherwise, you’ll try to cover that pimple with the wrong brush, wondering in frustration why you never manage to hide it completely (or did that happen only to me?)!

So, let’s make some sense of this face makeup brush kerfuffle, shall we?

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Is Lining Your Lashlines Dangerous?

pink night 02

Back in high school, one of my friends decided to try tightlining. I had never heard of it then, but she swore it’d make her eyes more defined and her lashes look longer and fuller. That was the idea. But when she gave it a go, she just stabbed herself in the eye with the pencil. Ouch!

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Eye Brushes: Which One Does What?

eye makeup brushes 101

Last month we talked about which cheek brush does what. If you thought there were too many of those, eye makeup brushes are going to confuse you even more. They are lots and lots of them. They come in different shapes and sizes, each better suited to a different area or technique.

While you don’t need to buy them all, you do need to know what they do so you’ll be able to choose those that best suit your needs. Otherwise, you’ll end up blending your eyeshadow with the wrong brush, wondering why on earth it never looks good (something yours truly did for ages, ahem).

So, let’s get started:

all over fluff brush

All Over Fluff Brush

This is my favourite eyeshadow brush. Why? It is so versatile! You can do almost anything with it. Thanks to its dense, tapered bristles, it works well to apply eyeshadows all over the lid. You can use it to pat eyeshadows on the lid for an intense look, or to sweep them on the browbone for a sheer wash of colour. In a pinch, you can even use it to blend eyeshadows in the crease.

My favourite all over fluff brush is E.L.F. Essential Eyeshadow Brush. It’s only $1.00, but sooo good! The bristles are dense and soft, and, almost six years later my brush is still as good as new. MAC 213 Shader Brush ($24.00) is another great, but pricier, option.

angled eyeliner brush

Angled Eyeliner Brush

This brush has – you guessed it – an angled shape that makes it easy to apply pencil, liquid, and gel eyeliners at an angle to your eye.

Sephora Pro Angled Liner Brush #22 ($16.00) allows you to easily and precisely create a variety of eyeliner shapes. Travelling? Take with you the Japonesque Travel Angled Eyeliner Brush ($11.50).

angled shadow brush

Angled Shadow Brush

A tapered angled shadow brush that fits your crease well is perfect to create a smoky eye. I use it to apply a dark shade in the outer V. It adds depth to a look. You can also use it to apply eyeshadows on the lid.

Bobbi Brown Angled Eye Shadow Brush ($30.00) is a great investment that will last you for years. On a budget? Try Coastal Scents Classic Angled Liner Medium Synthetic (also available in small and large sizes). Its only $1.95 and does the job well.

bent eyeliner brush

Bent Eyeliner Brush

Have trouble tightlining your eyes? Want the eyeliner right there, on your lash line? Then this is the brush for you. Its bent handle allows you to reach even the most difficult areas for a very precise application.

Sonia Kashuk Core Tools Bent Eyeliner Brush No 107 is only $5.99 and delivers a smooth, straight line every time. Japonesque 150 Degree Application Pointed Liner Brush ($13.00) is a pricier, but great, option too.

blending brush

Blending Brush

A must that should be in any woman’s stash, this fluffy brush is perfect to blend eyeshadows after application. Sweep it back and forth, and see hard edges morph into a seamless gradient.

The best blending brush ever is MAC 217 Blending Brush ($24.00). It makes blending eyeshadows a breeze. It’s the only brush I haven’t found a perfect dupe for yet, but if you want something similar, but cheaper, you can try Sonia Kashuk Core Tools Pointed Blending Brush ($3.99).

flat eyeliner brush

Flat Eyeliner Brush

Short and stiff, this brush can’t be used to apply or blend eyeshadows. Instead, its job is to apply eyeliner to the lashline. It allows you to push it right on the edge for a very intense look.

You don’t need to splurge to get a good flat eyeliner brush. Coastal Scents Classic Flat Liner Synthetic Brush ($2.95) works very well, and so does Sephora Pro Flat Liner Brush #25 ($17.00).

mascara comb

Mascara Comb

This mascara has two sides. One features a stiff brush that’s suitable only to brush your brows. The other side is handier. It features a comb that separates lashes and removes clump just after mascara application. My favourites are the metal ones. You need to be more careful with them, but they work much better than those cheap plastic ones.

Coastal Scents Classic Lash Brow Comb ($3.95) and Real Techniques Lash/Brow Groomer are both cheap and effective options.

mascara fan brush

Mascara Fan Brush

This is a new type of brush, and only a handful of brands make it. It is very easy to use. You pick up some mascara from the wand with the brush and then apply it on your lashes. Less product is deposited, so you get a more natural result (with almost no clumping!). This brush also makes it easier to deposit mascara right at the root of your lashes.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found an inexpensive mascara fan brush yet. The cheaper I’ve come across is Paula Dorf Perfect Mascara Fan Brush ($18.00). A slightly pricier option is MAC 205 Mascara Fan Brush ($20.00).

pencil brush

Pencil Brush

This type of brush has a pointed, rounded tip, just like that of a pencil. It is very handy for placing and blending eyeshadows in small areas, guaranteeing a precise application. You can also use it to apply eyeshadow in the crease or on the lower lashline.

My favourite pencil brush is Gosh Eyeshadow Brush, Round (£4.99). It’s just the perfect size for my small eyes. If you have larger eyes, you’ll like the MAC 219 Pencil Brush ($25.00) more.

smudge brush

Smudge Brush

If you love the smoky look, you need this brush. With short, flat, and dense bristles, it is ideal for smudging eyeliners for that softer, flattering look. Choose one with firmer bristles as it makes smudging eyeliners a lot easier.

One of my favourite smudge brushes is MAC 214 Short Shader Brush ($25.00). MAC brushes are pricey, but you really can’t go wrong with them, and, if you take good care of them, they last forever. But if you prefer something cheaper, there’s always E.L.F Essential Smudge Brush ($1.00). It does a great job too.

spoolie brush

Spoolie Brush

I don’t use spoolie brushes often, but they can be very useful. You can brush yours through your eyebrows, just after you’ve applied your pencil. It’ll help blend the colour and tone it down a bit for a more natural look. You can also use it to remove clumps from lashes just after applying mascara.

Don’t spend a lot of money on a spoolie brush. An old, but clean, mascara wand does the job well too. If you want a proper spoolie brush, get Sonia Kashuk Core Tools Spoolie Brush No 127. It’s only $1.99.

How many eye brushes do you use? Which ones are your favourites?

Cheek Brushes: Which One Does What?

cheek brushes 101

Doesn’t matter how wonderful your blush or bronzer is, without the proper tools to apply them, you’ll never gonna achieve a flawless, natural look. I learned this the hard way. When I was a teen, there were only a handful of poorly made, scratchy brushes in the shops. Using your fingers was often the better option!

But even that wasn’t always ideal. So, I sometimes ended up with muddy or clown cheeks, or unblended lines of blush on the cheeks. Not good looks! But if once we often lacked the proper tools, now we have too many. Cheek brushes are available in all kinds of shapes, each one best suited to a different product or technique.

Which ones should you buy, and which ones are unnecessary in your personal kit? Read on to find out:

angled cheek contour brush

Angled Cheek Contour Brush

This brush has an angled tip that perfectly fits the cheekbones (to find yours, simply suck in your cheeks), allowing you to easily sculpt and shape them. Just pick up some bronzer or blush and apply it right on your cheekbones. Then, using short strokes, start blending it out, making your way across towards your ears. For best results, choose a brush with dense and firm, but soft, bristles.

My favourite angled cheek contour brush is from MAC. Although a bit pricey, the 168 Large Angled Contour Brush ($35.00) is an investment that’ll last for years. My only problem with it is the colour. Those white bristles get dirty so quickly!

If you don’t like white bristles, you could try Laura Mercier Angled Cheek Contour Brush ($45.00), which can be used for both highlighting and contouring. On a budget? Opt for E.L.F. Studio Angled Blush Brush ($3.00). Their studio line has never failed me yet.

blush brush

Blush Brush

This type of brush has large and dense, but fluffy, bristles that taper at the tip to give it a rounded shape. This allows it to pick up a generous dose of blush and blend it out easily. If, like me, you have pale skin, use this brush only with sheer and medium pigmented blushes, or you may end up looking like a clown!

Pretty much any brand makes this type of brush. My current favourite is E.L.F. Studio Blush Brush ($3.00). I’ve had it for years and it is still going strong. Another good option is MAC 116 Blush Brush. Again, pricey, but well worth it. You just can’t go wrong with a MAC brush.

bronzer brush

Bronzer Brush

The best bronzer brushes have a rounded head, which allows for a more even application. Not designed for contouring, this brush is ideal for applying, diffusing and swirling bronzer all over your face, cheeks included, for that pretty sunkissed look.

If price is not a problem, Nars Bronzing Powder Brush #11 ($52.00) is well.worth the splurge. If you’d prefer something cheaper, opt for Eco Tools Bamboo Bronzer Brush ($11.99). If you want something you can easily carry in your bag with you everywhere you go, consider Real Techniques Retractable Bronzer Brush ($12.99).

fan brush

Fan Brush

The most underrated makeup brush ever, the fan brush is both useful and versatile. Originally invented to remove excess powder and fallout from the face and eye area, a fan brush can also be used to apply a little dusting of highlighter just above your cheekbones or, for those who want just a hint of flush on their cheeks, a very sheer layer of blush.

The perfect fan blush has bristles that feel both airy and light on your skin. Luckily, there really is no need to splurge on one. Both Eco Tools ($6.99) and E.L.F ($3.00) make cheap fan brushes that work very well.

flat contour brush

Flat Contour Brush

Ideal for contouring and sculpting, this brush features a flat top head that effortlessly creates shadows and highlights on your face to play up your favourite features. Look for synthetic bristles if you plan to use it with a cream product. For powders, natural bristles work best.

Real Techniques 301 Flat Contour Brush ($25.99), part of the Bold Metals collection, is both useful and beautiful. If you don’t mind spending more, MAC 163 Flat Top Contour Brush is another great option.

pointed blush brush

Pointed Blush Brush

This is a twist on the classic fluffy blush brush. It features a dense, large body and a point tip that allows for a flawless blush application. Every. Single. Time. The tip picks up less product than a normal, fluffy, blush brush, allowing you to apply even the most pigmented blushes without ever getting clown cheeks. Once you try it, you’ll never want to go back!

But which one to get? Not a lot of brands make this kind of brush yet. The best is from Hakuhodo. It’s called S103 Powder Blush Brush Pointed and retails at a whopping $97.00! A cheaper, but larger (it won’t work as well if you have a small face) option is Nars Yachiyo Brush #27 ($55.00).

stippling brush

Stippling Blush

A stippling brush has a two layer bristle design. A dark set of dense but short natural bristles, and a lighter set of long and sparse synthetic bristles. This allows it to pick up two layers of product, resulting in different looks depending on how much pressure you use.

Apply the blush with a heavy hand, and you’ll get a more intense look. Use a light hand and you’ll achieve a natural sheer finish. This makes this brush a great option for both cream and highly pigmented powder brushes. If you’re careful, you’ll never overdo them.

MAC makes several stippling brushes. The best one for cheek products is the 188 Small Duo Fibre Face Brush ($35.00). It applies blush like a dream, and can also be used for foundation, highlighter, and concealer. It’s very versatile. A cheaper, and more feminine (it’s pink!), option is Real Techniques Stippling Blush ($9.99).

How many cheek brushes do you use? Which ones are your favourites?

Cream VS Powder Blush: Which Is Better?

cream powder blushes

Are you Team Cream or Team Powder? Blush, that is.

I’m Team Powder, but more out of habit than anything else. Every time I use a cream blush, I can’t help but wonder why I don’t more often. I love the natural flush it gives my cheeks. But, come the next day, powder blushes drive me back to them.

Even so, I wouldn’t say that powder blushes are better than cream ones. It just depends on your skin type and what look you are trying to achieve. Powder blushes can absorb excess oil, making them an excellent choice for ladies with combination and oily skin. They also tend to give a more matte, polished finish to the skin.

L: NYC Blushable Creme Stick in Big Apple Blush; R: Sleek Makeup Blush in Suede

L: NYC Blushable Creme Stick Blush in Big Apple; R: Sleek Makeup Blush in Suede

Cream blushes, instead, are moisturising. More suitable for dry and mature skin, cream blushes provide a dewy flush, like you’ve just… well, blushed. They give skin a more youthful appearance and look more natural on.

Sheerer than powder blushes, cream ones are easier to build up. You have more control on how intense you want the colour to be, and you never have to worry about clown cheeks. That’s always a risk with highly pigmented powder blushes. That’s even more true if you have fair skin. I love being a pale princess, but that can make blush application challenging.

The trick, with very pigmented powder blushes, is to use a light hand and a stippling brush. This type of brush picks up less product, giving you more control over application. If you need to, you can always add more, but I find that’s rarely necessary.

With sheer or medium pigmented blushes, a big fluffy brush works best. It makes application quicker and just as precise. In both cases, though, you can take your time in blending out harsh edges and blotchy patches.

cream vs powder blush

That’s not always the case with cream blushes. Often, they set quickly, and once they do, they are pretty hard to remove. To avoid streaked and marbled cheeks (ugh!), you’re forced to hurriedly blend them in. You can do so with your fingers but, if you don’t want to stain them, a stippling brush does the job very well too.

My main gripe with cream blushes, though, is their short staying power. Most cream blushes last only 6 or 7 hours on my dry cheeks. That’s not bad, but with powders, I can just forget I have them on at all. Most of the colour is usually still there when I take my makeup off late at night.

But, for a really longlasting glow and pop of colour, use them together. Apply first a cream blush as a base, and then a powder blush in a similar colour on top of it. This way, you can just forget about touch ups. The colour won’t budge. I usually do this when the weather start getting warm, so I don’t have to worry about the heat melting my face.

Best Blushes

My favourite powder blushes? I love anything from Benefit and Nars. Nars has a wide selection of blushes in different finishes. Some are sheer, other highly pigmented, so anyone will be able to find something they love. Benefit blushes tend to be on the sheer side, which is great news for pale princesses.

Darker damsels would, instead, appreciate Sleek Makeup Blushes more. Best applied with a light hand, they are highly pigmented and pack a punch. I also have a thing for Tarte Amazonian Clay Blushes. The range includes both matte and shimmery shades, all of which have good colour payoff and an easy-to-blend texture. The only con is that they are almost impossible to find outside the US. Boo!

What about cream blushes? My favourites are from Illamasqua. They have good colour payoff and a creamy texture that makes application a breeze. If you’re on a budget, try NYX Rouge Cream Blushes. They are sheer, but buildable, and give cheeks a glowy and healthy flush.

What are your favourite blushes?

6 Makeup Looks For San Valentine’s Day

Ladies, are you ready for Valentine’s Day?

If you’re still trying to decide what to wear for a night out with that special someone or what quick look to do for a last minute date, check out the options below. I’m sure you’ll find something that will inspire you:

1. Smoky Eyes

Add a dark twist to a feminine pink look with a dash of dark brown, or even black, eyeshadow to create a smoky look that’s both sexy and cute.

2. All Pink

Love pink? San Valentine’s Day offers the perfect excuse to don it on eyes, lips, and cheeks.

3. Sexy Au Naturel

You don’t need a lot of makeup to look your best. A natural look and a touch of pink on the lips will make you look naturally sexy.

4. Electric Purple

Feel like wearing something bold but still feminine? Opt for a pop of electric purple on the lips, and tone down the rest of the face.

5. Old Hollywood Glam

Forget pink and opt for a neutral eye look and vampy lips. It’s a classic and glamorous look that works for any occasion, San Valentine’s Day included.

6. Red Hot

If you feel particularly daring and want to wear something different, why not give red eyeshadow a go? it’s not as difficult to pull off as you may think, and it certainly won’t make you go unnoticed!

What makeup look are you going to wear on San Valentine’s day?