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Makeup Brushes 101

May 10, 2021


Erin Schrader

Welcome to Beauty School, class is officially in session. 😉 Today’s topic of discussion? Makeup Brushes for Beginners. We get it. All the different shapes and sizes can be confusing, so we’re covering all the basics from sponges to spoolies. If you’ve been wondering what each brush is used for or are considering upgrading your current collection, you’ve come to the right place! Makeup Brush 101 coming in 3, 2, 1…

Makeup Brushes: Face + Foundation

Angled Foundation Brush // Powder Brush // Blush Brush // Angled Contour Brush // Contour Brush // Highlight Fan Brush // Concealer Brush // 20-Piece Set

  • Foundation Brushes: Let’s start at the bottom [err… base, that is]. If you’re a liquid foundation wearer, chances are, you’ve got something that resembles one of these guys in your makeup bag. And if you typically reach for a beauty sponge, we’ll chat more about those below! Between a flat brush or angled brush, you’ve got options when it comes to applying liquid foundations or CC/BB Creams. A brush with dense bristles and a narrow brush head work best for applying liquid products and achieving a flawless finish. If you skip the liquid and go straight for the powder [or apply powder on top of your liquid foundation– hi, me!] you’ll want to look for something thick and fluffy, with a wider brush head like a Powder Brush.
  • Highlight + Contour + Blush Brushes: I’ve just barely dipped my toes into the world of highlighting and contouring. While I’m no makeup guru, I can tell you the proper tools make all the difference! Word of advice? Practice, practice, practice– truly, there are millions of videos for beginners on YouTube– and blend, blend, blend! An Angled Contour Brush is perfect for hitting the angles of your cheek/jawline, while a lightweight, feathery Fan Brush creates a glowing highlight.
  • Concealer Brushes: Concealer brushes are designed for all those hard to reach areas. Whether you’re concealing dark under-eye spots or a breakout, these little guys are small enough [and gentle enough] to go where no other makeup brushes can.

Shop Face + Foundation Brushes:

Beauty Sponges

Multi-Use Sponge // Foundation Sponge // Concealer Sponge // Mini Concealer Sponge Set

Okay, okay, these aren’t technically makeup brushes. But if you’ve used a makeup sponge, then you know just how good these things are. When it comes to applying foundation, a sponge creates a flawless, airbrushed texture by blotting and pressing the foundation into your skin instead of brushing up any texture from dry skin or breakouts. A smaller sponge is designed to conceal trickier to reach areas like under your eyes. These guys come in all shapes and sizes for wherever you need ’em. Just dampen with warm water before each use and remember to wash them weekly to avoid bacteria buildup! ps. We’ll talk brush and tool cleaning later on.

Shop Makeup Sponges:

Makeup Brushes: Eyes + Lips

Brow + Lash Brush // Precision Eyeshadow Brush // Eyeshadow Brush // Angled Eyeshadow Brush // Crease Brush // Eyeliner Brush // Lip Brush // 20-Piece Set

  • Eyeshadow Brushes: Now that we’ve got your base layer covered, let’s move on to eyes and lips. While there are a TON of different eyeshadow brushes, these are the basics: flat brush, crease brush, and liner/pencil brushes. A flat eyeshadow brush is a must-have for creating even application on the lid or a smooth base layer. A crease brush is exactly what is sounds like- you’ll want this one in your collection to blend the along the crease of your lid! A smokey eye’s best friend.
  • Eyeliner + Brow Brushes: If you’ve been following along closely, you know I’ve been laying off the eyeliner in recent months. But when I do bust it out, I typically reach for an eyeliner pencil. If you’re one of the talented few who can apply liner with a brush, this little guy is a whiz! It also works great for blending out your liner and shadow into the perfect Kylie Jenner wing. And if you’re a fan of the big, fluffy brow look, a brow brush [also known as a spoolie!] is your right hand man for grooming and shaping.
  • Lip Brush: A thin lip brush comes in handy for lining and filling in your lips– much more accurately than applying straight from the tube. These brushes are also useful for layering lip color!

Shop Eye + Lip Brushes:

Brush + Tool Maintenance

Brush Shampoo // Brush Cleansing Cloths // Daily Brush Cleaning Spray // Cleansing Pad // Cleansing Balm + Pad Set // Zote Soap // Brush + Tool Cleaner // Brush Cleaning Machine // Blender Cleanser

While cosmetic products house bacteria, brushes and tools transport it all. So it’s most likely time to replace some of your old brushes and tools– or at the very least, clean those things! Did you know some dermatologists recommend washing your brushes every 7-10 days? Yikes. Here are a few rules of thumb to follow when it comes to brushes and tools:

  • Makeup Brush Maintenance: So you’re not cleaning your brushes weekly? Don’t panic. Neither am I. You can get away with several months at a time, but if you’re looking for a sign to FINALLY wash ’em– this is it. You should consider replacing your makeup brushes after about 3 months. Product buildup = bacteria buildup. If you’re cleaning those babies regularly, you may be able to extend their shelf life. Check for shedding, odors, and discoloration.
  • Beauty Blenders + Sponges: You should be cleaning your Beauty Blender or makeup sponge after every use. It doesn’t need to be a deep clean, but run it under warm water and squeeze it gently to remove the majority of the product. Soak it with a cleaner weekly-biweekly along with your other brushes and replace it with a brand spankin’ new one every 2-3 months.

Shop Brush + Tool Cleaners:

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