You know those little applicators included for free with every eye shadow compact? You know how you never see professional makeup artists using them? Weird, right?
Not really. It's kind of like paving a sidewalk with a cake knife -- not exactly the best tool for the job.
Any beauty expert will tell you, the tools you use to apply your makeup are every bit as important as the makeup itself. Unfortunately, the myriad brushes, combs and wands you see next to the liners and shadows are not quite as self-explanatory as one might hope. It's enough to make a woman go bare-faced.
You don't even need two dozen brushes. But you do need a few.
For the times when bare won't do -- a black-tie affair, or just an average Tuesday, depending on your outlook -- here's what you do with the giant, round brush; the small, stiff brush; the soft, flat brush; the tiny little comb and the sponge with the rounded rim.
If you wear eye primers, that sponge, for one, can be your very best friend.
Your under-eye concealer probably came with an applicator sponge. That one will work, but it's not ideal. First, many of those sponges contain Latex, which can be rough on sensitive skin. Also, they'll fall apart after a couple of washes, which are crucial (more on that in a minute).
There are lots of fancy sponges available, but the single sponge you really need for smoothing and blending your liquid or cream under-eye concealer and shadow primer is a small, Latex-free sponge. You'll know the right one by its rounded edges, which make it easy to get around the contours of your face without streaking.
Washing any makeup sponge is a must. A weekly flush with gentle soap and water will be enough to keep your sponge in top form and bacteria-free.
If you follow your eye primers with anything powdered, and most women do, you'll want a few good brushes. The key is using the right brush for the right powder.
You'll find dozens of brushes out there, in all shapes, sizes and textures. If you're big into eye makeup, you may very well want to use them all. Most of us, though, will only use a few:
This one is small, with stiffer bristles, to allow for precision in smoothing and blending concealer over under-eye discolorations (and other blemishes). Use this one in firm, gentle strokes.
Eye Shadow Brush
The applicator included with your eye shadow isn't so great at applying eye shadow. It can leave streaks, and it's hard to clean. (It's not bad at smudging eye liner, though, so you don't throw it out.)
Go for the small (perhaps 1/2-inch), slightly rounded brush with medium-firm bristles, and try not to press too hard or you'll get shadow everywhere. Wash this after each use.
Unruly eyebrows can ruin the look of an otherwise perfectly made-up face. An eyebrow brush is small and hard; its bristles will smooth any stray hairs into place.
As for whether your bristles should be natural or synthetic, for most of us non-pros it doesn't matter all that much. The big consideration is allergies: If you have very sensitive skin, you may want to play it safe and go synthetic.
Brushes are definitely the bulk of your toolkit, but to round it out, you'll probably need two more pieces of equipment.
Curlers, Combs and Wands
Finishing up your face means one thing: Eyelashes. Even for women who don't wear much makeup, mascara is usually one of the can't-do-withouts.
It follows, then, that mascara tools are essential.
Some women do go for special wands, looking for either disposable ones so they're always using a clean tool on their eyes, or fancy ones that specialize on volume or length. For most of us, though, the wand that comes with the mascara is just fine.
What the rest of us need are an eyelash curler and eyelash comb.
The curler looks scary, but as long as you use it before applying mascara, it won't hurt you. (If you apply mascara first, the curler could end up pulling out lashes.) You just clamp it onto your lashes, close, and hold for a few seconds. Then apply the mascara.
The comb is the final touch, and it's a big one. Mascara clumps are embarrassing. Eyelash combs are tiny little guys, and they often come paired with an eyebrow brush. You just pull it gently through your lashes to both separate and remove clumps. It's the flourish that finishes the look.
By the time you finish your face that first time with quality tools, you'll most likely be a convert: Good tools are a good investment. Knowing what you need and which tool works best will change the way you look at makeup.
For more information on makeup, style and beauty, look over the links on the next page.
More Great Links
- Basic Tools in Your Makeup Box. Ultimate Cosmetics.http://www.ultimate-cosmetics.com/makeup-box.htm
- Makeup Tools Tips. Better Homes and Gardens.http://www.bhg.com/health-family/health-and-family-slide-shows/makeup-tips/
- Must-Have Makeup Brushes. Daily Glow.http://www.dailyglow.com/articles/97/make-up/must-have-makeup-tools.html