By Sheri Vegas
When it comes to your makeup slay, you have to choose the right weapons. The right tools are going to give you the kind of blending and application that takes your makeup from amateur to pro territory. It seems like it should be a very simple thing, but it can be quite confusing choosing the right makeup brushes especially with all the brands, options, shapes and sizes out there these days!
But fear not, as an expert in the field and the owner of Makeup Weapons (a cruelty-free, luxury makeup brush brand) I’d like to share my PRO tips with you, so that you know exactly what to look for when shopping for your makeup brushes. Not only are makeup brush sets a useful go-to gift for the special girlfriends in your life, they are also the perfect treat if you’re needing to upgrade your tools this holiday season.
Here are 5 Key things you need to look for when selecting your brushes:
- High Quality (ideally synthetic with a Nylon and Talkon blend, and hand-made)
- Dense (does it feel like velvet?)
- Durable (the handle really matters)
- Variety (the right brush will serve a purpose)
- Cruelty-free and ethical (a good-quality brand will be a conscious supplier)
Let’s expand on some of the more technical points.
High Quality: Synthetic Fibres
Whilst some professional MUAs prefer to have a mixture of synthetic and natural brushes, one of the greatest benefits of synthetic hair is that unlike real hair brushes, they don’t require natural oils to stay healthy, so they will always have a greater life span. If you do choose a natural-fibre brush, always choose a cruelty-free brand and ensure you understand the brush maintenance involved (shampoo, conditioner, etc).
Choosing a brush that has been handmade and individually hand-tied means the fibres will be at equal length (versus something cheap and machine-made, which tends to be of unequal length and “spikey” – giving you an uneven blend).
As a rule of thumb, great synthetic brush fibres should look and feel like real hair – to the point that it is hard to tell the difference. You will find brushes with quality hairs will feel super soft, like running velvet over your skin. When looking for a particular type of brush such as an eye blending brush, test it out on your eye by moving it back and forth to see how it feels.
The density of the fibres on the brush is another thing you should consider – naturally, the quality of the brush will depend on how the fibres are packed. A high-quality brush will always be packed quite tight with synthetic fibres, whereas cheaper made brushes will have less, making them fairly ineffective when it comes to applying makeup.
Looking at how the hairs have been sealed into place is also of importance. Have the hairs been wrapped and then glued before it is ‘crimped’ into the ferule? (The ferule is the metal part of the brush that holds the head of the brush to the handle). If so, this is a good sign, as this process will stop the brushes from shredding fibres. Ideally you also want a double crimp, as a single crimp will result in the loss of fibres over time.
Durable (The Handle is Key!)
Brush handles are just as important as the brush fibres – the shape and size do matter, but the really important factor is what the handle is made from. Really good quality brushes will be made of bamboo to withstand water damage and won’t split like cheap wood handles. Whilst you are looking at the handle, take the time to look at the ferule. Whilst there are many different types, most of them are just painted aluminium – whereas what you really want is a copper one.
Variety: A word on Shape and Size
With so many shapes and sizes of brushes available these days, ensure you understand whyyou are buying a specific kind of brush. What is the purpose of the brush from a makeup application perspective? Also, consider your personal lifestyle, preferences and skin type.
For example, if you’re trying to buy a foundation brush, do you choose a flat one, or a fluffy one? What kind of skin do you have? What kind of makeup you do generally use? How long do you like to spend? All these things matter in selecting your brushes.
If you use a tinted moisturiser and prefer a very quick, natural-looking base for example, you can use your fingers first and then perfect the application with a fluffy brush, moving it in circles and blending outwards. Or, if you wear a more full-coverage foundation to cover acne for example, you may need a flat brush to really push and pat the product into the skin, and then layer it with powders etc. If you’re a beauty junkie or MUA, you may need various foundation brushes of different types to achieve a variety of looks.
The same goes for any area of your face – including the eyes. Again, consider the purpose and end result. The bigger and fluffier the eye brush, the more the product will disperse, distribute and blend, versus a smaller, more dense or more detailed brush which will provide a more focused application. With eyeliner for example where precision is key, you would select a small, fine, tapered brush, or even an angled brush.
Even though each woman is different, there are a few essentials that will ensure you always get a good overall application. You can even go for brushes that are designed for multi-tasking (such as our range featured below) to save space in your make-up bag.
As per the image below showcasing the “Essential Brush Set” from the Makeup Weapons range – you will usually require a selection of base brushes (for your liquid foundation, concealer, powder, contour and blush), as well as a few others (for eyeshadows, brows, eyeliner, etc). Many eye brushes can multi-task as lip brushes. You could even cut the below selection in half to a handful of makeup brushes depending on your needs, and you could still get a flawless application!
Cruelty-free and Ethical Choices
Whilst you can’t ‘test’ anything on animals with makeup brushes, there can be plenty of heart-breaking cruelty involved. Many natural-fibre makeup brushes are usually made from employing painful methods that are just as cruel as animal-testing. If you know a brand uses cheap materials from China for example, you can pretty much guarantee their methods are not going to be cruelty-free. Whether it’s horse, goat, badger or squirrel hair (or something else) – many companies will claim to use humane methods that don’t seem believable. Don’t fall for it!
If you care about being ethical and not contributing to animal suffering through your dollars, then buying high-quality synthetic, or vegan brushes is the safest way to go!
In terms of being eco-friendly, is the ferule part of the brush actually copper? This is the best option. Many ethical cosmetics companies these days use recycled materials such as aluminium and plastic, their packaging is made of alternatives to paper such as tree-free paper, bamboo fibres, and cotton, and their handles are made from renewable bamboo.
In conclusion, don’t underestimate the importance of good brushes, because a good makeup look is all about well-blended, intentional, and precise application. And most importantly, have fun selecting and using your brushes, and experimenting with different looks!
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