Makeup Brush Decoder
The right set of bristles will help you sweep and blend your way to perfection.But which to use? And for what, exactly? Consult our cheat sheet to get a better result every time.
It Cosmetics French Boutique blush brush ($35; ulta.com)
Best for: Applying blush or bronzer to warm up your complexion. "The fluffy, tapered bristles hug your cheekbones, creating a natural-looking flushin one swipe," notes New York City celebrity makeup artistDeborah Altizio. And the unique handle is easy to grip.
Watch the video: 4 Tips for Using Bronzer
Make Up For Ever Medium Paint Brush No. 412 ($43; sephora.com)
Best for: Putting on body bronzers andself-tanners without getting your hands dirty. The square brushmakes layering on glow lotions a breeze. Use it just like a paintbrush, withbroad back-and-forth strokes, advises New York City celebrity makeupartist Suzy Gerstein. Result? A flawless, streak-free finish.
Becca The One perfecting brush ($49; sephora.com)
Best for: Speedy makeup application (no needfor multiple brushes!). Thanks to its goat-hair bristles, this tool works with both liquid and powder formulas. Layer foundation and powder, sculpt with bronzers and highlight—in minutes.
Real Techniques Silicone liner brush. ($6; ulta.com)
Best for: Creating bold looks, like the cat eye, at any skill level. The silicone tip glides across your lash line without tugging at skin for a smooth, straight line—even over shadow.
Tarte Double Ended Camouflage tool ($36; sephora.com)
Best for: Achieving a dewy effect. "The pointed bristles let you blend foundation into the contours around your eyes and nose," Altizio says. For a lighter finish, use the removable sponge on the flip side.
Laura Mercier Angled eyeliner brush, ($20; sephora.com)
Best for: Drawing color right onto the upper lash line. The bent head gives more control, and the narrow point makes a very thin line. "It creates the look of fuller lashes without the telltale thick line," Gerstein notes.
MAC Cosmetics Masterclass brush in Oval. ($32; maccosmetics.com)
Best for: Blending cream and powder eye shadows with ease. Simply glide the brush over lids in a windshield-wiper motion for a wash of color.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Straight-Cut Brow Brush No. 20 ($18; sephora.com)
Best for: Perfectly defining brows. Outlining your natural brow prevents you from coloring outside the lines, Altizio says. Make a stencil with brow powder and the edge of the brush, then use a corner of the brush to fill in; comb through with the attached spoolie to soften.
Tweezerman Contour concealer brush ($16; ulta.com)
Best for: Banishing dark circles and puffiness in one swipe. The curved brush fits right under your eyes, allowing you to sweep on concealer without tugging at the delicate skin. Pros also like it for applying highlighter at the eyes' inner corners and on temples for an instant brightening effect.
Makeup Geek foundation-stippling brush ($18; makeupgeek.com)
Best for: Scoring full coverage with powder or loose mineral foundation—minus the cakiness. Tightly packed bristles, made for stippling or dabbing, prevent streaks. The flat top covers more ground for quick application.
Urban Beauty United Lippety Stick lip brush ($6; ulta.com)
Best for: Lining and filling in lips with bold colors. "The stiff, flat top gives a nice sharp line to the edge of lips, so lipstick won't feather," Altizio says. Use the brush to blend color toward the center of your lips for a softer look.
Stila Magnificent Metals Foil Finish eye-shadow applicator ($18; sephora.com)
Best for: Getting shimmery shadows to stay put. The silicone tip lets you build color to your desired intensity. Even better: no sparkly fallout on cheeks.
Sephora Collection Pro Visionary Highlighting Fan Brush No. 122 ($38; sephora.com)
Best for: Playing up cheekbones, brow bones and the bridge of your nose. "A fan brush is great for lightly dusting the high points of yourface with iridescent powders," Gerstein explains. The long, feathery bristles barely graze your skin, leaving behind a subtle radiance. Also use it to emphasize your collarbone.
A cleanse we can get behind
"Because makeupbrushes touch yourskin every day, theybecome a reservoirof bacteria," saysAdam Friedman,MD, a dermatologistin New York City."The buildup ofbacteria, oil andproduct can lead toclogged pores, skinirritation and, evenworse, infection."Plus, brusheswork better whenclean, depositingmore makeup withsmoother results. Wash yours at leastonce a month, usingthese steps.
Suds Up: Swirl your brushin baby shampoo togently de-gunk.
Rinse: Cup your handunder a stream ofwarm water, andswirl the brush inthe stream until thewater runs clean.(Wet only the bristles,as water can wearaway the gluearound the handle.)
Dry: Blot excess waterwith a paper towel,then reshapethe bristles. Lay flatwith the bristleshanging off the edgeof a table to speedup drying time; letsit overnight.