I have a real weakness for makeup brushes and own a ridiculous number, most of which I'm very attached to. I made myself narrow things down to five for this post, which turned into six as I slipped one in that's so small you'd hardly notice it. I could have included many more, but thought you'd be most interested in those that actually live in my makeup bag and are used daily. Others come and go, but all of these have been in continual use for at least six months, some for several years.
There was a time when I didn't use makeup brushes at all (lord knows what I looked like) and a long time when I only had three, all by ELF: a flat topped kabuki, blush brush and eye shadow brush. They cost about £1.50 each, opened up a whole new world to me and cut my morning makeup routine by at least half. (I still own that blush brush btw... it's ace.)
I once won a huge set of brushes that sat in a box for months because there were no labels on them and I literally didn't know where to begin. Moral of the story: it doesn't matter what the label on a brush says it's for - use it however works for you.
Aaaannnd back to my Top Six...
1. PIN POINT CONCEALING: Real Techniques Fine Liner - this teensy brush may not look like much but its super skinny, firm-ish tip is ace for helping achieve a flawless base. I'm prone to lots of tiny imperfections rather than a few big ones (not sure which is more annoying) and using this makes a huge difference to how well my skin looks. NB I only do this when I really want to look my best (that'd be every day but who has the time?).
To use: Pop a little concealer on back of hand, dip the tip of brush into it and tap onto blemish until covered. Dab with finger tip to remove any excess & pat until blended, or finish with a small fluffy brush. Set with powder to hold in place.
2. FOUNDATION: Bobbi Brown Full Coverage Face & Touch Up - this double ended brush was a limited edition and I'm over the moon that both ends are now available as individual brushes. If you only buy one makeup brush and love a polished base, treat yourself to Full Coverage Face.
Full Coverage Face is your answer to the perfected complexion of dreams. It buffs liquid foundation (or BB, tinted moisturiser etc) into the skin more smoothly and seamlessly than any other brush I've tried, is perfectly curved to fit the face's contours, just the right density and velvety soft.
To use: Buff foundation in small circular movements until all product is blended into the skin.
Full Coverage Touch Up essentially does the exact same thing with concealer... allowing you to reach the inner corners of eyes, up to the lower lash line and around the curves of your nose, both to apply and buff in concealer with an invisible finish.
To use: Pat concealer into skin where needed with a tapping movement, then use tiny circular movements to buff the product in.
3. FOUNDATION (£ option): Real Techniques Buffing Brush - a kinda budget option as it works out cheaper than the Bobbi Brown one, but you do have to buy an entire set of Real Techniques brushes (Core Collection) to get your hands on it. I've owned this brush since it launched a few years ago and used it almost daily. I bought another last year to rotate with and still alternate these with Bobbi Brown Full Coverage. It essentially does a similar (almost as good) job and comes a very close second. My sister bought one last week and finally gets it!
4. BLUSH: Studio 10 Cheek brush - I'm very fussy when it comes to blush brushes... I find that most are too big (apply colour over too large an area) or too dense (apply too much product). I was so happy to find this one with a smallish brush and loose bristles that pick up just the right amount of colour, are angled to fit cheekbones and 'splay out' just enough to blend. The other end is a bit bigger, rounder and a little looser again, perfect for small amounts of powder or softening the edges of blusher for a really natural finish.
To use: tap product with tips of bristles and swirl blush onto cheekbones/apples/however you like it!
5. POWDER: EcoTools Bamboo Powder Brush - I've raved about this one multiple times as I've used it for years and like it for a lot of the same reasons I love the Studio 10 blush brush. It's not too big and is super soft and fluffy/floppy so it doesn't pick up too much too much powder. I hate heavy powder, so am always looking for the most natural finish I can get - and this delivers. Works equally well on loose powder (fave) or pressed ones like my Hourglass Ambient Lighting palette. This is the cheapest brush of the lot at just £9.99 and washes up beautifully.
To use: dip into loose or swirl in pressed powder, press product onto skin then swirl to spread evenly and remove any excess.
6. BRONZER: Real Techniques Duo Fibre Face Brush - Dense at the core with long wispy tips that prevent over application of bronzer and blend beautifully. This works well for both powder and bronzer. It comes in a set of 3 (in new colours) that includes a great blush brush, so essentially you have powder, bronzer and blush covered for £19.99. Bargain.
To use: dip tips into product and stroke across skin, swirling outwards to blend any harsh edges.
Well that turned out to be a bit of a mammoth post but I felt it was important to explain why I like each brush and how I use it, as I know that a lot of people find makeup brushes overwhelming, especially those just starting a collection.
If you fancy getting into the real nitty gritty of makeup brushes, I can recommend the Ultimate Guide to Makeup Brushes and Tools by Anna Hunter of Get the Gloss (one of my fave beauty reads), who believes the right tools 'can help you to achieve the kind of airbrushed finish that graces the covers of glossy magazines'.
PS I've finally got mobile comments fixed *YAY* and would love to hear from you... please tell me about your personal favourites (and why you love them).
Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples. See my full disclaimer here.