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Everything You’ve Wanted to Know About Makeup Brushes

Apr 19, 2018

We’re always excited to try the latest makeup trends and tricks.


There are plenty of tools available to help us perfect our look - sponges, blenders, and brushes.


Brushes, in particular, can be a little overwhelming.


There are so many options available with different sizes, shapes, and purposes.


It’s hard to keep track of them all and what they can do.


We know they’re useful, but how they can improve your look, exactly?


How do you use them?


Why are there so many options?


We’re here to clear up any confusion so you can become a pro with makeup brushes.


Let’s get started.

The History of Makeup Brushes

Brushes have been used for thousands of years - cavemen used them to paint their walls.


And, they really haven’t changed much.

Evidence has also been found that Ancient Egyptians used makeup brushes, dating back to sometime after 1500 BC.


A city in Japan, Kumano, is widely known for its manufacturing of brushes for over 180 years.


They really are a beauty staple.

Cleaning Your Brushes

Before we dive into the different types of brushes, we need to stress the importance of cleaning them.


According to a recent survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Anisa International, 39 percent of women clean their beauty tools less than once a month.


22 percent admitted to never cleaning them at all.


Makeup residue, oil, bacteria, and dead skin can collect on your brushes, leading to breakouts or even infection.


We all hate pimples, but the good news is some can be avoided - if you clean your brushes frequently and properly.

How to Clean Your Brushes:

1. Rinse the bristles under lukewarm water and keep them pointed at a downward angle.


2. Swirl bristles onto an antibacterial bar of soap, or one that is made for washing the face, until nicely lathered. Baby shampoo or soap specifically made for makeup brushes can also be used. Put a small amount into your hand, lathering in the same fashion until sudsy.


3. Rinse the soap out of the bristles with lukewarm water.


4. Gently squeeze out any excess water and reshape the brush head to its previous shape.


5. Let the brushes sit overnight on a dry towel. Repeat the process every couple of weeks.


Note: If you find that the bristles are thick and firm with makeup residue, try swirling them in a small amount of olive or almond oil, working the oils into the brush fibers. Rinse, and begin the cleaning process above.

Benefits of Using Makeup Brushes

Why should you use makeup brushes?


We’ll summarize here:


- Easy to control

- Limits messiness

- Buildable coverage

- Even application and blending


Natural vs. Synthetic Bristles

There are two types of bristles to choose from: natural and synthetic.


It comes down to personal preference and how they can help you achieve the results you want.


Natural bristles are made out of animal hair, often from squirrels or goats.


The bristles are super soft and have a cuticle, which helps with texture, picking up product, and blending.


They’re particularly good for lifting and absorbing powder formulas and blending them with your skin’s natural oils.


They’re also durable and move freely.


We recommend using a cruelty-free brand.


Synthetic bristles are human-made, usually from nylon, polyester, or other fibers.


They can come in various colors, depending on the brand’s aesthetic.


Unlike natural bristles, they don’t have a cuticle, so they won’t trap makeup.


This means less absorption, and therefore, using less product in the end.


Synthetic bristles gravitate towards one another, making them great for precise, smooth, and streak-free application.


If you see angled, sharply cut brushes, chances are they’re synthetic.

The Handle

This is where comfort and style come into play.


You’ll find the company’s logo here and any other info about the brush, like its name or size.


Brush handles are made from wood - coated with either varnish or paint - or plastic.


Some companies make handles from recycled or sustainable materials.


The handle should be easy and comfortable to use.


Quality Matters

The brushes you use are just as important as your #makeupskills.


Even if you’re not a professional makeup artist, if you use high-quality brushes and products, your application will be better.


It’ll be worth it - after all, your brushes can last for years.


Just be sure to replace them if they’re shedding, the handle is broken, or the bristles seem to be permanently misshapen.

Application and Placement

First of all, why can’t you just use your fingers?


Well, you can, but it’s all about the product you’re using and what you want it to look like in the end.


Your fingers deliver a more concentrated application, and they’re good for products that need to be warmed up before blending.


Also, using your fingers can sometimes get messy - we recommend having makeup wipes on hand.


For brushes, less (product) is more - whether it’s foundation, blush, or eyeshadow.


Don’t be too heavy-handed; this will help you avoid cakiness.


Instead of applying everything at once, start with a little bit of product, then build up.


This will ensure a more natural look.


Brushes are versatile and good for precision, blendability, and an airbrushed finish.


How you hold the brush matters, too.


It affects your control.


You should always use light pressure, and the bristles shouldn’t bend on your skin.


Generally speaking, use light circular or sweeping motions.


The closer your fingers are to the ferrule (the silver part beneath the bristles), the less motion you’ll have.


If you want to evenly apply color, put your fingers on the center of the handle.


Pro Tip: You can turn a fluffy brush into a flat, angled brush by flattening the bristles with your hand.


Brush Shape

Oval-shaped makeup brushes are trending and for good reason.


They look like hairbrushes - but for your face.


While they seem a little odd, they help you to easily apply and blend products like a pro.


The oval shape and curve of the handle fit the contours of the face well.


They are made with more fibers than regular brushes for smooth applying, and this also means that less product gets trapped between bristles.


They cover more surface area and provide an even distribution, so you’ll get an airbrushed finish that’s free of any harsh lines.

Types of Brushes for the Face

Below are the types of brushes to use for powder and liquid foundation, blush, highlighter, bronzer, and contouring.


Kabuki Brush - to apply mineral powder

Powder/Blush Brush - to apply powder foundation and blush

Flat Top Stippling Brush - to apply light powder or creamy products

Angled Contour Brush - for blending and contouring

Flat Top Kabuki Brush - to apply liquid foundation

Liquid Foundation Brush - to apply liquid foundation

Large Fan Brush - to apply blush, blending, highlights, and for brushing off excess powder

Concealer Brush - for concealing a concentrated area


Types of Brushes for the Eyes

Here are the different brushes that will help you perfect your eyeshadow and eyeliner for that sultry smoky eye.


Smudging Brush - to smudge specific area of a smoky eye

Medium Blender - for blending out eyeshadows

Crease Shader - for controlled application of shadow on eye creases

Large Cream Shadow Brush (or Large Domed Shader) - for applying cream eyeshadows

Small Cream Shadow Brush (or Precision Concealer) - for applying cream eyeshadows or eyeshadow primers in concentrated/small areas

Angled Precision Brush (or Angled Lining Brush) - for filling in brows or creating a precise line to the eyes with cream, gel or powder


Brushes for the Lips

There are options for your lips, too.


Lip Liner Brush w/ Cap - for applying lip liner to the outline of the lips

Rounded Liner Brush - for applying cream products to the eyes and lips, or can be used for cream eyeliner, or applying lipstick