It’s kind of ridiculous. I sit at my vanity everyday, and it seems like there’s a forest of makeup brushes on it. (Sometimes I just stare at it when I need a few minutes of calm, or I’ll pick ones up at random and stroke it…like it’s a cat. Hey, touching fluffy things is calming, okay?!)
Truth is, though, I only really use a small selection of my brushes, unless I’m doing a more complicated look. The following are six that I will almost always use, no matter the look.
The original pink, teardrop Beautyblendy is, in my opinion, one of the best. (My other favourite is the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge, which is just as good.) I use this damp to apply my foundation, blend out on my concealer, powder over my whole face, and soften any harsh lines I may have after applying blush and highlighter.
The density of this sponge is what makes it the best. And while it does take a little time to apply my foundation with this, the natural finish it yields makes it worth it. Because you’re literally pressing the product onto your skin, instead of buffing it in with a brush, it’s easier for me to get a full and even coverage with this.
(Note: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with buffing foundation in with a brush. I just prefer the full coverage my current tool and technique of choice provides, because my skin is freaking out right now and there’s a lot of texture and discolouration.
2. Nars Yachiyo Kabuki Brush
I received this in a press package years ago, and it remains my favourite blush brush. If I’m travelling, this is always the one I pack. It’s unbelievably soft, it applies my blush at the perfect angle on my cheeks, and it’s wonderful for my super-pigmented blushes. If I’m testing out a new product and I’m not sure how intense it is, this is always the brush I reach for. It’s hard to go wrong with this one. (My second favourite, the #20 Blush Brush is also by Nars, but I use that for powder blushes that aren’t as pigmented.)
3. MAC 137 Long Blending Brush
Possibly one of the most unique brushes in my collection, I use this for highlight or contouring. I’m not huge into contouring, but there are days when I feel my face could use a little help looking less…poofy. (Ladies, you know the days I’m talking about.) The 137 picks up the perfect amount of my favourite contouring shade – Hoola by Benefit Cosmetics – and fits under my cheekbones so well. I can build up the intensity of the contour, and it creates the softest, most natural-looking shadow on my face. I also like to sweep Hoola along my hairline and under my jawline (HA! What jawline?) and chin with this. There is actually just one highlight product I use this brush with, and it’s Champagne Pop by Becca x Jaclyn Hill, which is a gorgeous highlight, but it is very intense, and I prefer the soft glow this brush helps create with that product.
4. Smashbox #10 Crease Brush
I don’t actually use this on my eyes so much, I use this almost exclusively to highlight with. I typically prefer a very precise highlight just on the tops of my cheekbones and maybe on my cupid’s bow. And most face or cheek brushes are too big for my small face, so I’ll often reach for an eyeshadow brush instead. However, if I’m actually bothering with eyeshadow and I need to buff out the edges, or I’m blending the colours, I use something like this – with no product on it, just clean and bare – to blend my shadows. This one is just a touch big for my eyes for anything other than blending anyways.
5. MAC 224 Tapered Blending Brush
Like the Smashbox #10, I use this mostly for highlighting. Unlike the Smashbox #10, because this one is ever so slightly smaller with bristles that are just a touch denser, I also use this as an eyeshadow brush every now and then. Usually when I’m after a soft wash of a sheerer colour all over my lids; this one is nice and easy for that.
6. Tweezerman Powder Brush
This was a complete impulse buy at JFK Airport when I was leaving New York last December. It was stupid early in the morning, I was bored, there was nothing to do, and when I saw this my brain went, “OOH! I didn’t know Tweezerman made brushes! Omg this one is so big and fluffy and cute!”
Tip: Don’t shop when you’re on less than three hours’ sleep.
To its credit, this is a wonderful brush. Since I usually powder my face with my Beautyblender, I use this more for buffing my blush and highlight. It’s incredibly soft and dense, making it feel almost like velvet on your skin, and does a wonderful job of sweeping away excess and keeping me from looking like a clown. Or like I applied my makeup whilst drunk. Yes, I’ve done that. Yes, there are photos. No, you’ll never see them.