Allison Emery selects 6 must-own makeup brushes—and shares her two favourite brush brands, one expensive the other not.
As a makeup artist, I’ve accumulated a variety of brushes. Because I often do multiple makeup applications in a short period of time, having two or three of the same type of brush means I don’t have to cleanse and disinfect them between clients. The average woman, however, is not applying makeup to several different people, so she really doesn’t require a multitude of brushes.
So which brushes do you really need? PICTURED BELOW are the essential brushes to have in your collection—plus my picks for the best brands to buy.
6 Essential Makeup Brushes
1. Large Eyeshadow Brush: Perfect for applying colour to a larger surface area such as the mobile lid (from lash line to crease) or “washing” a colour over the entire eyelid (lash line to brow), it also makes a great blending brush.
2. Small Or Flat Eyeshadow Brush: This is the ideal tool for patting on darker shades or for layering high-pigmented colour on smaller surface areas like the outer corner of the eye or a fraction of the mobile lid.
5. Blush Brush: This brush should be soft but not too big and fluffy or you might put on too much blush by accident. I prefer the flat blush brush style so you can apply cheek colour with one side and use the other side to buff and blend the colour out so it doesn’t look harsh or obvious.
6. Bronzer Brush: The shorter-handled style with shorter, densely packed bristles covers a large surface area in one swoop for a perfect application every time, and because it is so soft, it subtly blends the colour as it is being applied. If you barely touch the bronzer with the brush (just give the powder a few taps and then push the bristles into the lid of the compact), you will achieve a more natural application.
3 Optional Makeup Brushes
1. Powder Brush: For oily or combination skin, powder might be necessary, but a light dusting of the T-zone is usually enough. A powder puff is a nice option because it can press a very small amount of powder onto the skin without looking too cakey. For drier or ageing skin, the powder can actually enhance fine lines and showcase dry, flaky skin.
3. Foundation And Concealer Brushes: These brushes can give that “airbrushed” finish to your liquid foundation and make a smaller amount of product go farther. The foundation brush is fabulous for applying full coverage without using a lot of product and is great for blending around the nose and jaw line. The concealer brush is great for applying and layering for more coverage of bigger imperfections such as scars, age spots or severe acne.
My Favourite Makeup Brush Brands
Best-quality Brushes: Smashbox brushes are not cheap but are worth every penny. There is a brush for just about everything using the most thoughtful and efficient ergonomics, and they are endorsed by PETA because every Smashbox product is made cruelty-free.
Smashbox brushes are available at Sephora and select Shoppers Drug Mart locations.
Best For Less: Ecotools makes affordable synthetic brushes made with taklon bristles and bamboo handles that are comparable to my most expensive brushes—and they are environmentally friendly because they use natural and recycled material and are cruelty-free.
Synthetic brushes can take a lot of abuse, plus eyeshadows, blushes and powders don’t stick in the bristles as much, making them easier to keep clean. The Ecotools six-piece brush set with cosmetic bag cost me just $19.99, a bronzer brush was $14.99 and a smudger brush $6.99—less than $50 for a set of brushes that would normally cost me over $200.
Ecotools are available at London Drugs locations.
Frugalbits Applicators Tip
Those little applicators that come with eyeshadow can be used for highlighting the inner corner of the eye or the small spot underneath the eyebrow arch. In a pinch, they can be used to smudge or apply a quick smoky look when you’re on the go. I also often use my hands to blend and soften applications and I prefer to apply primers, foundations and concealers on my own face with my hands.—Allison Emery
Photos, Top to Bottom: Smashbox, Hakuhodo, Burst, Laura Mercer via Bloomingdale’s, The body Shop, Hakuhodo, Ecotools, Smashbox, Bare Escentuals, Estee Lauder, Smashbox, Ecotools