Tools of Attraction

“Makeup brushes bring makeup to life,” says Ross Burton of Lancome.  Indeed, without the right brush to apply your blush, it’s just a square of pretty pink powder sitting in a compact. Not only do makeup brushes provide a professional and more natural-looking finish on your face, but they’ll also save you time and money in the long run. Brushes pick up and distribute product without absorbing it – hence making your makeup last a lot longer than if you were using only your fingers all the time. Unfortunately, though, most brushes and tools don’t come with instruction manual. We’ve decoded the whos, whats, and whys of all the mysterious looking beauty tools, including a few household objects. We’ll bet you’ll never look at a spoon the same way again.

CONCEALER BRUSH

What it’s for: Applying any cream product, including concealer, eye primer, and eye cream. The thin tapered top is perfect for concealing dark circles in the corner of eyes, the entire eyelid, or the area around the nose.
Why it works: The tapered head fits into the contours of the face, in corner of eyes, and right under the lash line. The synthetic fibers won’t absorb any product, so it will save you time and money.
How to use it: Load the brush tip with concealer, dab onto area to be covered, and feather edges until blended.

FOUNDATION BRUSH

What it’s for: Applying foundation or moisturizer or masks.
Why it works: It won’t absorb oils or product and it’s much more hygienic to use than your fingers. The thin, oval flower tip accesses all the recessed and contoured area of the face.
How to use it: Start at the center of the face and blend down and out in the direction of the natural hairs, blending past the jaw line so there’s no line of demarcation.
Pro tip: Use it to mix moisturizer into your foundation to make the formula more sheer. Use it with a cream blush to really melt it into your skin. It’s also a perfect eraser if you’ve made too many mistakes or applied too much product.

COMPLEXION BRUSH

What it’s for: Setting your foundation with powder and toning down shine.
Why it works: Tapered head and chiseled cut allows for even distribution of pressed, loose, or translucent powder, blush, and bronzer. Hand-shaped hairs and domed top fit beautifully into contours of face and distributes color evenly.
How to use it: Dip brush into powder and gently tap brush onto a tissue to eliminate excess. Apply all over face or wherever needed with a gentle sweeping motion.

POWDER BRUSH

What it’s for: Applying loose or pressed powder after your foundation to extend the wear of your makeup.
Why it works: Goat hair gives you more control of where you’re placing product and it’s perfect for blending on neck and décolletage. The short handle makes it easy to use, even for novices.
How to use it: Focus on center of face – make sure it’s smooth and even, because that’s the surface that people see. Focus on forehead, nose, chin, and jaw line.

ROUNDED POWDER BRUSH

What it’s for: Applying pressed powder, loose powder, bronzer, and for contouring. Powdering all over – shoulders and décolletage.
Why it works: The expansive head allows for all-over application. It fits seamlessly into contours and blends with ease.
How to use it: Dip into powder and tap excess product off into a tissue or you can get buildup, which makes for blotchy complexion.

KABUKI BRUSH

What it’s for: Leaving an airbrushed finish when applying mineral makeup, loose powder, and bronzer.
Why it works: The nub end fits perfectly into the palm of your hand. Dense bristles allow for full coverage and more control.
How to use it: Dip brush into powder or mineral makeup and gently tap the brush onto a tissue or lid to eliminate excess. Apply all over the face or where needed with a gentle, circular buffing motion.

RETRACTABLE POWDER BRUSH

What it’s for: This one multipurpose and amazing for traveling.
Why it works: The lightweight metal encasing is adjustable, so you can lower for full coverage or bring it up for more concentration of pigment (ideal for eye shadow). Also use it with mineral makeup.

BRONZER BRUSH

What it’s for: Applying bronzer onto cheeks, forehead, chin and shoulders for a realistic golden glow.
Why it works: The rounded, tapered end fits perfectly into cheekbones. The soft goat hair blends beautifully.
How to use it: Dip brush into powder and tap off excess. Use a circular, buffing motion to glide brush over skin, going right into contours of cheeks. Apply between orbital bone and jawbone and blend down. It can also be used to apply translucent powder using same method for added coverage.

ANGLED BLUSH BRUSH

What it’s for: Precisely defining cheekbones with blush, bronzer, or contour color.
Why it works: The angled shape picks up on the contours of your face with strategically placed slanted natural hairs allowing you to apply color exactly where you want it. It fills in contours so your cheekbones will really poop.
How to use it: The slanted hairs pick up more product, so make sure to tap off excess before applying. Find your cheekbone and with short strokes, brush up at an angle toward your ears.

ROUNDED BLUSH BRUSH

What it’s for: Highlighting the orbital bone (area around the eye), applying blush or bronzer; chiseled bristles give even distribution.
Why it works: The longer bristles and rounded head allow for a more evenly dispersed application and create a natural-looking glow.
How to use it: On orbital bone, dust a pink or white highlighting powder on the C area around the eyes. On cheeks, smile and place the blush onto apples of cheeks to brighten up the entire face.
Pro tip: To find natural blush color, swipe shades of blush onto the palms of hands and see what complements the natural coloring there.

FLAT BLUSH BRUSH

What it’s for: Great for giving the entire face a sculpted look, and for a deeper hit of blush.
Why it works: Flat, tapered point gives you more concentration of color.
How to use it: Line up the point of the brush on the cheekbone, and seep along the bone. To sculpt the face, dip the brush into a light bisque shade and use the pointed edge to outline the hairline and the area below the jaw line. Use fingers to blend.

CONTOUR BLUSH BRUSH

What it’s for: Creating perfectly contoured cheeks.
Why it works: The secret is in the flat end of this brush, which allows you to apply plenty of color right where you want it, for professionally sculpted cheeks.
How to use it: Dip the brush into a contour color (usually a shade or two darker than your skin tone), then tap off excess product. Suck in cheeks and follow line directly underneath the cheekbone. Start near the hairline and bring the product in – don’t start from center of face, as you will deliver too much product at first.

BROW BRUSH

What it’s for: Applying brow wax, powder, gel, or pencil.
Why it works: The thickness allows for precision to create the shape brow you desire. Bristles are synthetic and wax-friendly.
How to use it: Start where hair is thickest for a natural look. Using short strokes mimic the hair on your brows, filling in only where you need color. If you don’t have a lot of hair, use wax. End at the angle of where the eye ends.

BROW AND LASH COMB

What it’s for: Eyebrow and eyelash grooming.
Why it works: The plastic side is used to clean up mascara and to rid lashes of clumping; the brush side to blend in brow color.
How to use it:
After mascara application, comb the plastic bristles through lashes from roots to ends. Dip brush side in brow color and brush through brows, or use it to blend in pencil.

ROUNDED SMUDGE BRUSH

What it’s for: Applying dark, intense color to eyelids, or lining the eye with a thick line of color. It’s also great for applying color to the creases.
Why it works: Domed tip fits perfectly into crease – hairs are dense so there is more color pickup. It can also be use underneath the eye as an eyeliner brush.
How to use it: Apply crease color with eye open initially until you get used to it, then you can do it with eyes closed. Mark the placement first with a dab of color and then blend.

ROUNDED CREASE BRUSH

What it’s for: Accentuating crease.
Why it works: The thin shape and tapered end are great for precision and fit perfectly in crease.
How to use it: Apply color with eye opened, using short strokes and making sure it blends. A must-have if you are just learning how to apply shadow.

SMUDGE BRUSH

What it’s for: Creating a sexy, sultry, smoky-eye look.
Why it works: The shorter bristles give you more precision and do exactly as promised – soften and smudge lines. Use small strokes instead of swiping. Small enough to use over eyelid. Stay close to lash line, apply evenly, and smudge it out.

ANGLED EYELINER BRUSH

What it’s for: Applying liquid, cream, and powder liner.
Why it works: The tapered point fits perfectly against the eyelid, allowing you to apply a super-thin line for a natural look.
How to use it: Dip it into the line, close the eyelid you’re working on and gently flick it up and out at the end for a dramatic cat-eye look.

ALL-OVER EYE SHADOW BRUSH

What it’s for: Applying base color all over the lid.
Why it works: The wide, expansive head fits into the entire lid in just a couple strokes. Bristles are condensed, which allows products to go right where you need it. Hairs are evenly distributed so you get an even distribution of color.
How to use it: Dip brush into powder, tap off excess product, and press it into the entire lid, from lash line to brows.

ANGLED SHADOW BRUSH

What it’s for: Adding color to contour, in the crease or right underneath the brow bone.
Why it works: The angle fits directly into the crease and perfectly under the orbital bone.
How to use it: To use in crease, turn it so the pointy part is in the crease and the brush will guide you to perfect product placement. To use under brows, dip into a shimmery pink or white shadow and turn blush so the pointy part is directly under the arch.

SMALL SYNTHETIC EYE SHADOW BRUSH

What it’s for: Applying cream eye shadow, eye primer, and eye cream.
Why it works: You won’t waste cream products – synthetic doesn’t absorb.
How to use it: Go into the crease with shadow and use the flat tip with eye shadow. Also use it to apply highlighter right into brow bone with short strokes.

SPONGE TIP SHADOW APPLICATOR

What it’s for: Blending.
Why it works: Latex foam tip, so it’s very durable.
How to use it: Apply eyeliner with it – or dip into shadow to apply a smoky eye. Blends pencil perfectly – great for those who don’t have a steady hand when applying liner.

BLENDING EYE BRUSH

What it’s for: Blending.
Why it works: Bristles are wider to grab color and blend it all together.
How to use it: After applying color, blend it out with this brush – this is the last brush you should use on lids. It will blend out any imperfections. Apply over shadow you’ve already applied. When you press, bristles spread out. The colors should blend into each other – there should never be harsh lines.

POINTED EYELINER BRUSH

What it’s for: Applying liquid liner.
Why it works: The fine point allows you to do a super-thin or thick line. Short handles make it easy to use. Bristles fit perfectly right into lash line. Pointed and tapered for the thinnest line possible, this brush is made with synthetic fibers for precise application. It’s perfect for lining upper and lower lash lines with cream bases liners, or your favorite eye shadow.
How to use it: Always start thin and you can build on the line – it’s much harder to take away. Only a little pressure is needed – the brush does all the work.

FLAT EYELINER BRUSH

What it’s for: Applying eyeliner – cream, liquid, or powder.
Why it works: The synthetic bristles hold any formulation while you can see the color you are applying.
How to use it: Dip into color, then go right into the lash line with the tip of the brush.

LIP BRUSH

What it’s for: A precise and professional-looking lipstick and lip gloss application.
Why it works: The tug-proof bristles are extra-precise, allowing you to layer lipstick and lip gloss to achieve your desired degree of fullness.
How to use it: Dip into lipstick or gloss and blend in color and contour lips with short strokes. Use your finger to smudge it in for a natural, just-bitten look.

AT HOME TOOLS:

Toothbrush
What it’s for:
Exfoliating lips, brushing eyebrow hairs into place, taming fly-aways.
How to use it: On lips, gently rub on lips that have a lip balm or an exfoliating lip product on them. To tame fly-aways, spritz it with hairspray and comb the frazzled strands.

Spoon
What it’s for:
De-puffing eyelids and to protect eye makeup from stray mascara.
How to use it: For eyelids: Put the spoon in the freezer for about thirty minutes. Place it, rounded side down, on top of closed lips for about ten minutes. To protect eye makeup: Place spoon, convex side down, over lid before applying mascara.

Beauty Tip:
Always tap excess powder off your brush before applying color.

FYI

Natural bristles (sable, pony, squirrel, and goat hairs) are softer and more porous so they hold on to pigment extremely well. VS Synthetic bristles are more suitable for applying cream and liquid products, as they prevent streaking.

Smaller brushes are best for detailed precision work (i.e., covering blemishes, blood vessels, and dark circles). The shorter hairs offer better control in the more contoured areas of the face.

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