Makeup Brushes: What? Also why? Also featuring: where, and how much? (Part 1 – Face)

This could end up being a seriously long post so I don’t want to go on too much in an intro. Lots of people have been asking me to make this post so I hope I can answer some questions for you guys.

Before we get started, I will say that although I’m a brush lover, there’s a lot I don’t know. I’m learning all the time, just like anyone else. I will do my best to pass on the info I have learned in the last little while.

So, here’s my brush collection.



I will break those up for you in a sec. But first let’s have a chat about price points. I have a pretty good range of prices here. I think it’s totally possible to get good brushes on a budget. To an extent. ELF, for example, does good cheap brushes. Are they great? No. But they’re cheap! And that’s really important for those of us who might not have a heap of spare cash to spend on brushes, or might be a little unsure as to how serious they want to get about their makeup collection.

A really good budget range of brushes is Real Techniques. It’s the creation of the Chapman sisters from Pixiwoo, one of my ultimate guru youtube makeup channels. You can get this range at Priceline, but I recommend buying from iHerb for price reasons. These will be discussed at length throughout this post, and all links will link to iHerb but if you can’t wait, definitely give Priceline a go.

Okay, onto the brushes.

Foundation Brushes

I’m a fan of putting foundation on with a brush, let’s just get that little factoid out there. It’s hygienic (as long as your brushes are) and it gives a better finish to your makeup. That’s just my opinion. If using your hands does it for you – go crazynuts. Do not let me stop you. I just prefer brushes.

It used to be that back in the day you’d use a paddle-shaped brush, a flat brush, to paint on foundation. Let it be known that these days are over.

It’s bad. It is for stage makeup. Nowadays, the best way to get a beautiful, flawless but natural finish is to use a densely packed, round top brush. Let’s talk about the two that I use the most, both by Real Techniques:

FullSizeRender (6)

Top: Expert Face Brush, bottom: Buffing Brush

The Expert Face Brush (iHerb, $12) is a domed, round top brush. The synthetic bristles are short and very densely packed. This means that it creates a more flawless, smooth finish on the face than something with more loose bristles, like…

The Buffing Brush (iHerb, $23 in Core Collection pack) which is probably my most used brush. At least it’s definitely my most used face brush. It’s bloody magical. It still gives a lovely coverage but it also does a great job of keeping things natural and sheer, because the bristles are longer and a little less densely packed. I think this brush is so versatile and just wonderful. The major drawback? It’s only available in the stupid Core Collection pack which I think contains mostly total garbage apart from this brush. It’s not good value. You could just about toss the other brushes. So annoying! But if you can get the pack cheap, this brush will not let you down.

So to use both these brushes, I squidge (technical term) a pump of foundation / BB cream etc onto the back of my hand then I dip the tip of the brush lightly into the product. I then start applying the product to my face, using small, even circles. A buffing motion, if you will. You can sheer out the product to your liking, then just repeat with more product. I have turned quite a few of my friends onto these particular brushes. They are magical.

Powder Brushes

Look, we’ve talked about this so I won’t go on but I’m oily. My t-zone, and also other zones, are pretty bloody oily most of the time so I really need to powder. If you don’t, by all means skip this step.

I used to always use a kabuki for this, which is a shortish-bristle dense brush but the problem I was running into was that the brush was moving around the foundation / concealing work I had done because it’s kinda stiff. You want more fluffy brushes for applying powder, IMO. You can even use those terrible powder puffs if you want, there’s a way to do it, but I don’t recommend them generally.

These are the face brushes I have, that I use for powders / bronzers:

FullSizeRender (5)

You will notice that two of these brushes are duo-fibre. That means that they have some short, thicker, black bristles and then longer, wispy, soft white bristles. What isn’t widely known is that the black bristles are only there to hold the white bristles vertically. Don’t mash these brushes into your face then complain when you get black bristles everywhere – that’s not their job! They’re just stability! The benefit of duofibre brushes is that they both pick up and deposit less product, and apply it more evenly on the face. Remember in the last section we talked about bristle density, and how it differentiates the coverage? Same thing here. The more dense the bristles, the more product it will apply to the face.

In saying that, I find the MAC 187 (bottom, from MAC online $85) a little bit meh. I mostly use it for applying primer, to be honest, rather than powder. I know a lot of people absolutely swear by this brush so I think it’s probably more that I don’t “get it”, than any actual failing of the brush.

The middle brush, the Real Techniques Duo-fibre Face Brush (iHerb, part of Nic’s Pics Pack* for $38), is a WONDERFUL powder brush. It’s so soft and gentle. It has enough bristles to get a good amount of product but not so much that it dumps a tonne of product on your face that you then have to frantically blend out. It’s great stuff.

*One thing I want to mention at this point is that, yes, that pack is pricey compared to the other one. But it’s EXCELLENT value. I use ALL those brushes, all the time. I use 3 out of 5 of those brushes almost every day of the damn week. It’s fabulous. A+ would literally buy again.

The one on top is the holy grail for me. I bought this as a treat to myself in the Boxing Day free shipping Beautylish sale. It’s the famous Wayne Goss Holiday Brush (Beautylish, US$85). First of all, I LOVE the shape of this brush. It’s fluffy but tapered so that you can use just the tip of it for highlighting if you just want a small shape. By the way, I keep the taper and shape of these brushes and others by using the Brush Guards – you can get them from Crush Cosmetics. They are a mesh cover that goes over the bristles so they dry naturally and freely but keep their shape. Wonderful inventions! Anyway, this brush is soft as a kitten’s paw. The bristles are natural goat hair but cruelty free – the goats are brushed and the hairs that come out naturally are used for the brushes. The density of this brush means that it picks up more product than the duofibre but it is so soft that it still deposits the product evenly and blends it out wonderfully. Is it a “must have”? Nope. But it’s bloody lovely.

EDIT: On that subject, what do I really think *IS* a must-have? My amazing fraunt (friend/aunt) and a good mate, Jess, made comments on my instagram that made me think of what the average makeup wearing woman actually NEEDS. Again, if what you have right now is working for you then you should keep doing that. I think that a brush similar to the buffing brush or the EFB is a definite must have, in this context. I also think a fluffy, soft, loose-fibred powder brush is a must-have for applying powder. The traditional kabukis are too stiff and move the foundation around (plus any careful concealing), and unless you are very careful, precise and slow, powder puffs and sponges will have a similar problem.

I’m going to leave it here for tonight guys because I realised when I started typing this that trying to do all my brushes at once was just a hilarious impossible joke. Sorry if you wanted to hear about all of them right now, but I promise not to dilly-dally. I will have the rest up by the time I go to Brisbane on Wednesday night. Thursday is my visa medical! This is exciting. We got our case complete last week so now it’s all systems go, and lots of hoping for a March interview.

Thanks for reading. All feedback welcomed, as usual!

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