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A Guide to Makeup Brushes for Eyes, Brows & Lips

A look at the typical makeup brushes used for the eyes, lips and brows, including the size and shape of the bristles and some tips for using.

Purpose: To create a soft diffused edge to eyeshadow or anything else that you want to blend. Use this brush after eyeshadow application to blend, smudge and soften to create your desired eye makeup look.

Shape: Bristles can be soft and rounded to compact and cone shaped. The more compact and pointy the ends, the more precisely you can blend. You can also blend with the tips of regular eyeshadow brushes.

Tips: Only go in the direction and over the area that you want the product to go – use a small precise movement.

Eyebrow Brushes

Purpose: Precision application of eyebrow makeup to define, shape and fill in the brows. This type of brush is also good to create a precise eyeliner, or to get eyeshadow right into the lash line.

Shape: A small brush with stiff, dense bristles that are cut with a blunt edge at an angle.

Tips: If you don’t have brow makeup, you can use browns/neutrals in matte eyeshadow or kohl liner (put some on back of hand and use brush to apply to brow). Use short strokes of the brush to mimic the brow hairs rather than do a solid colour (unless this is the look you want!).

Eyeliner Brushes

Purpose: To apply a precise and even gel, liquid or powder eyeliner; To get eyeshadow right into the lash line; For smudging out kohl eyeliner for a smoky effect.

Shape: A small brush with bristles that vary from round and pointed, to square and blunt. There are also eyeliner brushes that have a bent ferrule.

Tips: Gently press the colour right into the lash line inbetween the lashes to create a more solid line without gaps. To use eyeshadow as a solid liner, dampen the brush for a more intense colour.

Eyeshadow Brushes

Purpose: To apply a wash of colour to the eyelids; To blend eyeshadow colours; To create depth in the eyelid crease; To add definition to the outer eyelid. Can use with any eyeshadow product (pressed powder, loose powder, glitters, cream and liquid).

Shape: A small flat makeup brush that comes in a variety of bristle lengths. The longer bristles are good for applying a wash of colour and fatter bristles are good for blending.

Tips: Use an eye primer on your eye lid to help lock in the colour and prevent creasing, keeping your eye makeup looking good for longer.

Lip Brushes

Purpose: To shape, define and fill in the lips with lipstick or gloss. There’s nothing wrong with applying direct from the lipstick tube for personal use, but if you’re a professional and/or like a precise shape, then use a lip brush.

Shape: Lip brushes come with or without a protective lid, or they can be retractable. This protects the hair and allows for a bit of lipstick to be kept ready to use without it getting mucky, or making a mess in your makeup bag. Bristles are usually synthetic and need to be dense and firm with a tapered shape, which helps create a precise edge.

Tips: Outline your lips first to create the shape and then fill in. To help lipstick last, apply one light coat, blot with a tissue and reapply as desired. To prevent lip lines bleeding, use a lip pencil first round the lip line – match it to the lipstick colour.

Mascara Wands

Purpose: To apply mascara, separate eye lashes and groom eyebrows. Mascara wands are not essential for personal, as the wands that come with a mascara are perfectly good enough. Professionals must work hygienically which means a fresh, clean wand per dip in the mascara tube.

Shape: A spiral of synthetic fibres (just like the mascara wands in mascara tubes) on a long handle. Disposable mascara wands come in a variety of shapes and some may find the shorter handles easier to control (and you can clean them to use again).

Tips: To groom or brush out foundation from the eyebrows, brush the clean mascara wand over the brows in the direction that the hair grows.

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