Most anyone who has ever bought a new shade of eye shadow or a beachy bronzer that looked beyond flawless in an ad campaign knows that simply slapping on that same makeup when we get home won't re-create the look. While it doesn't have to cost a lot to achieve what you want with makeup, it does take tools, and often the least glamorous work-horses in your makeup kit have the biggest impact.
A perfect canvas of ivory skin won't quite work if it makes a few coarse eyebrows stand out, and blacker-than-black mascara probably will look sooty rather than sultry if you don't check it up close before heading out. And not that this has ever happened to you, but why does blush look youthful and glowing in our bathroom mirrors and garish and clowny when we catch a glimpse of ourselves in a sunlit or store-lit mirror?
We'll take a look at five metal, hairy, clampy, discerning and squishy must-have items for putting our faces on, next.
Sponges and makeup work well together from the start of application to the finish. Wedge-shaped and oval sponges are favorites for applying liquid and cream foundations. Flat sides of wedges are ideal for patting foundation into the skin, while the pointed and thin edges fit well in small areas around the nose and eyes. Egg-shaped varieties are becoming more popular because they can roll across the surface of skin creating a flawless foundation.
Sponges help prepare the face for more makeup and they're great for finishing applications, as well. After all creams, powders and colors are on the skin, a final pressing in with a clean cosmetic sponge will soften the edges of any layers or overlap of shades and textures, and can blend everything into a more natural looking but flawless finish.
Eyebrows can make or break a look depending on how groomed they are and how neat or careless they look. Sometimes stray hairs sprout out from places where they're even more unwanted, like on the chin, between the brows, from inside the nose or on the upper lip. Tweezers are indispensable on a monthly, weekly or daily basis depending on how fast your hair grows and how thin or thick you grow and groom brows.
Even if wax or electrolysis are used for more permanent hair removal, errant hairs will spring up eternal and unexpectedly, so tweezers are must-have tools for the in-between pluckings. A second, helper tool for tweezers is an eyebrow brush -- and some people just repurpose a toothbrush. Used dry, wet, powdered with eye shadow, or dabbed in some hair gel, eyebrow brushes direct brows into the most flattering shape by following the direction of the brow bone.
Some manufacturers of tweezers charge more than others, but investing in a well-made pair saves a lot of time in the long run, as a fine-crafted pair will catch more little hairs and ultimately cause less pain. When tweezers get off-center or stop fitting together well, some companies even repair them for free.
Claude Monet was a famous painter who started going blind. He painted bigger and bigger canvases that look like a beautiful wash of perfect form and color from far away, but up close, these masterpieces can look like a mess of spots. Unfortunately, our makeup can look the same; what looks good applied in bad lighting or won't look very masterful up close.
Having a good mirror at home helps you focus in on details from your eyes to your lips, and if necessary, you can be move it from room to room to get the best natural lighting. Keep another small mirror in your purse, car or desk drawer to check your finished face in different lighting and to catch any heavy spots you might have missed at home, like those dreaded clown cheeks or the spidery eyelashes.
A good magnifying mirror can also help with tweezing brows and lining lips and eyes with precision.
Brushes may be the most popular tool for applying all kinds of makeup, from lip glosses and lipsticks, pressed eye shadows and liquid liners, powdered, cream or liquid blushes, and of course, foundations. Keeping a set of brushes on hand and cleaned and ready makes playing with different colors or types of looks easy or can make a set morning routine even more efficient.
High-end cosmetics makers retail brushes costing in the hundreds of dollars, and drugstore lines produce similar-shaped tools for a few dollars. Quality comes down to the type of brush hairs -- real/animal or synthetic -- and the way the bristles are held in place or adhered to the handle.
Often the best value in brushes, whether high-end or low, is in buying sets of brushes that include lip, eye shadow, eyebrow, setting powder, blush, and even bronzer and blending brushes. A great brush -- no matter the cost -- will create a noticeably different and improved makeup application, so trying out a few brands and types is worth the extra effort.
Many women will say without hesitation that the one item of makeup they won't live without is mascara. Black and brown mascara intensifies lashes and almost instantly wakes up eyes and the entire face. When in a pinch, so to speak, an eyelash curler can pinch lashes into a curled-up wave, making them more full and noticeable without the mascara. Adding mascara on top of curled lashes is even more eye-opening.
Eyelash curlers are available at most any drugstore for a few dollars to about $10, but a lot of women will splurge for a few brands that are stand-outs at producing curls without pinching the eyelids or crimping the lashes themselves. Ask around at cosmetic specialty stores or search online for the highest-rated brands for maximizing the flutter and fullness of your lashes. Just a gentle clamp for a few seconds can dramatically boost your look in the blink of an eye.
When was the last time you cleaned out your cosmetics? HowStuffWorks talked to an LA-based makeup artist for advice on how often we need to toss it.
More Great Links
- Allure Magazine. "Best of Beauty 2011: Tools." 2011. (June 18, 2012) http://www.allure.com/beauty-products/best-of-beauty/2011/best-of-beauty-tools#slide=1
- Amazon.com. "Amazon Top-Rated Makeup Brushes and Tools." 2012. (June 17, 2012) http://www.amazon.com/gp/top-rated/beauty/11059391
- Total Beauty. "13 Best Makeup Tools." 2012. (June 15, 2012) http://www.totalbeauty.com/content/gallery/best-makeup-tools