With so many options available, it can be difficult to know what brushes you actually need. But don’t worry, I am going to guide you through the process of building a basic brush set and help you choose what brushes are best for you.
BrushesMakeup brushes will be the most important tools you use, and getting the right ones together in your brush roll requires consideration, investigation, and evaluation. This à la carte approach to acquiring brushes helps you really understand how and why one brush might be a better option for you than another.
In choosing your brushes overall, it is important to take into account the material they are made from and the benefits of those materials. The brush hair, how it is manufactured, and the name on the handle all factor into the price, so you will need to be realistic about how you spend your money. An expensive tool can sometimes be jarring at first glance, but you should realize that your brush set is often a lifetime investment. With proper care, you can use the same tools.
Natural vs. SyntheticTraditionally, natural hair brushes were thought to be better for dry products like powder blush and eye shadow. The many varieties of hair (including badger, pony, goat, sable and squirrel, to name a few) all have their own specific attributes. For example, sable is a versatile hair that works well with wet or dry product, while badger is perfect for picking up and allowing control of pigment.
Synthetic brushes were thought best for cream or liquid products such as concealer or foundation because they absorbed less product than natural hair, but things have changed. Advances in manufacturing and technology over the past decade have made synthetic brushes a viable alternative to natural brushes for almost all application needs. Many artists choose synthetic brushes over animal hair because of the cruelty-free aspects. Many popular brands such as Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics take a firm stand on being a vegan line, while full-range collections such as Crown Brush have entire range of synthetics in every shape and form.
Brush makers are also addressing the concerns of the green movement. Bdellium Tools Green Bamboo series is ideal for the artist with a conscience. Bamboo is an excellent green resource and alternative to traditional woods because it’s repaid regrowth makes it one of the most sustainable resources on the planet.
In terms of performance, don’t worry so much about whether your brush hair is natural or synthetic—just as long as it can accomplish the artistry you desire. No matter the brush, bristles should not be rough or stiff and should have some flexibility to allow you to work with the contours of the face and eyes. A firmer, denser brush will deposit more color than a softer, fuller brush, so when choosing your brushes, remember you will need a combination of many textures.
Brush Shape and SizeWhen it comes to brushes, size definitely matters—meaning, you will need small, large and everything in between for your work. When making a choice, think about the size and shape of facial area where you are using your brush. For example, you would not use the same size brush to apply foundation over the entire face as you would to apply concealer under the eye.
Also think of your brushes in terms of their versatility. I do not tend to label a brush as I find they each can have many uses. For example, instead of labeling brushes specifically for foundation, concealer or lips, just consider them as three firm oval brushes in a large, medium and small size. This allows you to imagine using each brush in the manner you choose. Most brands will label a brush for one particular purpose, i.e. foundation, powder, concealer, etc...but I find that if you ignore the label and look at the possibility of the brush itself, you can really use each tool to achieve any effect you need in your application.
Let’s go through some of the basic must-haves when building your brush and tool kit in their traditional labeling. Listed below are a few of my must-have suggestions.