“If you’ve used a brush with just powder, dip the hair into some warm water and then dip it into some brush cleaner. Follow this by sweeping the hair gently in the palm of your hand in circular motions. This will make the cleanser foam up and then once you rinse the foam away, the makeup will rinse away also. Finally run the brush between your thumb and forefinger to remove any excess water and leave to dry on its side. The following morning it will be dry and ready to use.
“If you’ve used any liquid-based products like foundation, concealer or lipstick, you need to ‘dry wash’ them first. So instead of wetting the brush first, dip the brush straight into the brush cleanser and work the cleanser through the brush fibers before rinsing. You may need to do this a few times before rinsing, as some long-wearing products can be tricky to remove.
“For some really stubborn residues, work a little washing-up liquid into the dry brush fibers before anything else, as this can help break down any oils or silicone before working into the brush cleanser. After, rinse thoroughly and leave to dry on its side as before.”
What are the most important brushes to have?
“The best foundation brush has to be the Mac 159S Brush. It is the perfect middle-of-the-road brush. It is short but with movement, dense with some sparsity, and flat with some roundness. It allows you to increase the coverage where you need it, and also buff foundation away to create sheerer coverage where you want your skin to come through. It really does work for everyone,” says Skinner.
If you’re applying a light concealer, Skinner says, “an eyeshadow blending brush is perfect, as it will blend out the edges and will look seamless”. If you’re going heavier with it under the eyes, “look to a super dense brush to give you superior coverage.” For this, we recommend the Dior Backstage Large Eyeshadow Blending Brush.
“Most people get their powder brush selection wrong,” says Skinner. “A big brush may seem like the obvious tool to use, but this won’t help you control the amount of powder or the placement of this power. It’ll look too much, too dry and you may end up looking dusty. A large eyeshadow blending brush allows you to powder the areas you want without losing your skin’s natural radiance. Use it to work powder from the inner corner of the eye and under, down the sides of the nose and the nose tip and along the jawline. You’ll be left with powder matte skin that still looks alive and glowing where you want it. I call this strategic powdering!” The cruelty-free The Body Shop Eyeshadow Blending Brush allows for easy and flawless powder application.
“Blusher is another brush type where people tend to go too big. Smaller is better in most cases, as this allows for more control of the finished look.” The tapered and fluffy head of the Mac 133S Brush works well for blush of any finish.
“With bronzer, people tend to just use their powder or blusher brush, which is ok, but what if you want your bronzer to shape as well as add warmth? My tip is to use a brush that is slightly more flat instead of round. This way you can use the edge to cut high into your cheekbone, and then use the width to blend out. This will also work along hairlines and jawbones,” advises Skinner. A brush that can shape and blend? Try the Nars ITA Brush.
“Highlighter can be confusing at the best of times. If your brush is too large you can look robotic; if it’s too small then you can look like a piece of strip lighting,” shares Skinner.
How do I know if my makeup brushes are good quality?
“The first thing you need to understand is that good quality doesn’t necessarily mean expensive,” says Skinner. “Also, what works for one person doesn’t particularly mean they will work for you.” However, what Skinner does suggest is that you should look for a balance between firmness and softness. If a brush is not firm enough you won’t have control over the application. If it’s too soft, the product won’t transfer onto the eye, but if it’s too rough it will feel uncomfortable. “What you’re looking for is the Goldilocks of brushes, something just right,” he says. “So it’s important to get you hands on them and try them out.”
What make-up brushes do professionals use?
Below, find Vogue’s edit of the best make-up brushes for every area of your face, and just what it is that sets them apart from the rest.
Spectrum Collections Buffing Foundation Brush
Whether you’re using liquid, powder or cream, the dense flat top bristles of this flat top buffer allows for easy foundation application. If you want a seamless natural finish, buff foundation into skin using light circular motions. If you want heavier coverage, pat and bounce onto skin.
SUQQU Eyeshadow Brush
Thinking of adding a wash of color to your eye? Invest in a larger brush from Suqqu brush. Using the very best Japanese craftsmanship, its soft fibers allow for expert blending.
Charlotte Tilbury Complexion Brush
Charlotte Tilbury’s Complexion Brush offers a large, flat-top head which makes it ideal for buffing foundation onto the skin, for the ultimate flawless finish.
Shiseido Maru Fude Multi Face Brush
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