Use these essential applicators to expertly apply makeup for a beautiful, streak-free face
You scored a fabulous new makeup palette with 17 colors to choose from, but for some reason, after spending most of your morning carefully applying the perfect shades, you look like Cyndi Lauper circa 1984. While technique is certainly important, having the right tools is really the first step to a gorgeous face.
Luckily you don’t need to drop an entire paycheck or stuff your bag with a dozen applicators for each step of your makeup routine. These six brushes will help you achieve the look you want so you can try different things—natural, glam, glitter, you name it—without worrying that you’ll resemble a clown.
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If you can’t seem to achieve a flawless finish and always end up with streaks and lines, point the finger at your fingers. Professional makeup artists use flame-shaped foundation brushes because they distribute product evenly. Pixi Beauty creator Petra Strand suggests opting for a nylon or synthetic brush since they’re cheaper than natural animal hair ones but work just as well.
For the perfect look, first place foundation on the top of your hand to warm it up for smoother application, suggestions makeup pro Dresden Buras. Then dip the brush in and "apply the foundation in long strokes, like painting a canvas," all over your face and neck for sheer application, says White Plains, NY, makeup artist J. Guerra. Once the first coat is on, go back and use a tapping motion with the fat end of the brush to apply more product in areas where you need extra coverage.
When used on the “high planes” (cheekbones, forehead bones, and nose) and around the perimeter of the face, this brush perfectly dispenses powders with a subtle effect. “It is thicker than most others, short and stout, making it great for depositing pigment onto the cheeks, forehead, nose, chin, and neck to leave a natural glow,” Buras says. Use in a sweeping motion for bronzer and a circular one when applying blush to apples of cheeks. You can also use a kabuki for contouring.
Don’t even think about using the short foam wand that came with your color palette—you want a stiff brush to apply the right amount of each shade. “This small, round brush with semi-firm bristles is a major time-saver for blending shadows with different textures for a seamless look,” says Los Angeles-based makeup pro Kristee Liu.
Dip the brush into product, tap off excess, and then use a sweeping action over your lids or, for a richer hue, use the brush to pat the shadow on.
You know how you can never seem to get your finger in and around your eye to totally make those dark circles disappear? This brush is the answer. “The long handle and tapered head help get concealer right under your lower lash line,” says makeup pro Heather Adessa. The precise point also works well to spot-target blemishes and around your nose.
Using a concealer brush instead of your digits may even help fight dreaded crow’s feet. “The delicate, thin skin around the eyes is so prone to signs of aging, and we tend to pull our skin when we dab or rub with our fingers,” Buras says.
Lining your lids can be tricky to say the least, especially if you like liquid eyeliner, and often it takes more than just a steady hand. However this flat, angled tip brush can make application a cinch. Put a small amount of liner on the brush and press into the lash line as close as possible, winging out the line if that’s your thing, says Le’Aura Luciano, makeup artist for Zoe Saldana. “This tool is also great for subtly filling in eyebrows, and creates a look much softer and natural than a pencil,” she adds.
When it comes to seamless application on your cheeks, size matters. Instead of using the tiny brush that came in your compact, buy a medium-size round one with soft bristles, and use circular motions to bring a natural flush to your face without any risk of looking like you have two stripes on your mug. “The softness of the bristles will grab less product and therefore deposit less so you have more control over the final color,” Liu says.