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A Guide to Makeup Brushes for Eyes, Brows & Lips

This post is a guide to the makeup brushes used on the eyes, lips and brows. It includes brushes for blending eyeshadow, applying mascara, doing eyeliner and perfecting brows. We look at the size and shape of the bristles typically found in each type of brush, plus some tips for using them.

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. There are also soft rubber-tipped brushes which are excellent for smudging. Bristles that are compact with pointy ends give a more precise blend. You can also blend with the tips of regular eyeshadow brushes.

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

Eyebrow Brushes

Purpose: Precision application of eyebrow makeup to define, shape and fill in the brows. This type of brush is also handy for creating eyeliner precisely or applying eyeshadow right into the lash line.

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

Tips: If you don’t have brow makeup, you can use matte eyeshadow in browns or neutrals. You can also use Kohl eyeliner – for example, put some on the back of your hand and use the brush to apply to the brow. Use short and precise strokes in the direction of the brow to mimic the brow hairs.

Eyebrow & Lash Comb

guide to makeup brushes

Purpose: The brush side is to smooth and shape eyebrows. The comb side is to brush through eyelashes to separate them.

Shape: It is a small brush with a double-sided head. One side has a brush head with short and firm bristles (synthetic). The other side has a small fine-tooth comb – perfect for getting into eyelashes.

Tips: Use the comb after powder eyeshadow or face powder to remove any residue from the lashes.

Eyeliner Brushes

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

Shape: A small brush with bristles that can be round and pointed or square and blunt. There are also eyeliner brushes that have a bent ferrule.

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

Eyeshadow Brushes

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

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

Tips: Use an eye primer on your eyelid 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. It is handy for creating a precise lipstick shape. There’s nothing wrong with applying directly from the lipstick tube for personal use, but a professional makeup artist should use a lip brush.

Shape: Lip brushes come with or without a protective lid, or they can be retractable. A brush lid is handy as it protects the bristles and allows for a bit of lipstick to be kept ready to use without it getting dirty or making a mess in your makeup bag. Bristles in lip brushes are usually synthetic. They also 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 eyelashes and groom eyebrows. Mascara wands are not essential for personal use, as the wand that comes with mascara are perfectly efficient enough. However, professionals must work hygienically, which means a 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 with short handles. Some people may find the shorter handles easier to control (plus, you can clean them to use again if needed).

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

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