Friday, May 9, 2008

Friday Talk: Makeup Mistakes--Brushes Part I

Today's makeup mistakes will be in two parts, because I cannot possibly cover all you need to know about brushes in one post. Yes, it's THAT much, and I'll attempt do dive into the depths of this hideously complex subject in a mere blog post.

First of all, let's talk about what brushes are NOT. They are NOT (did we get it, NOT) those foam applicator things that come with your eyeshadow. They are NOT those anemic 1" scratchy things that come with your blush. They are NOT the foam rounds that come with powder. Those are life support for your cosmetics. They are the 911 call and and an emergency tracheotomy. Perhaps I watch too much Gray's Anatomy, but I'm serious about this thing. Don't be a babbitt, break free from convention and invest in some brushes.

As for brands, seriously pretty much anything you buy will be a good choice (except that set, you know the one, the one that's $4 at CVS for a "set" or comes free as a GWP when you buy your mascara). I will suggest a few in particular, but know that I tend toward the department store end.

If you're a Target-obsessed gal, the Sonia Kashuk line is totally serviceable, as are the Essence of Beauty brushes at CVS. I've never tried the brushes at Ulta, but I've heard excellent things about them. Be warned that these shed some with the first several uses, but tend to stop after that.

Today we're going to talk about the essential brushes: foundation, powder, blush, and eye shadow. You can do just about everything you need to do with these four. Next week we'll talk about specialty brushes, and what you might want to add to your basic four to achieve your personal makeup style.

Foundation brush: Many people have never heard of a foundation brush. It's a synthetic bristle brush that you use to (of course) apply foundation. It gives you a significantly smoother application, and has the added benefit of requiring around half the foundation you'd use on a sponge. And please don't ask what happens if you use your fingers. You just shouldn't. Period.

Start in the center of your face and work outward. You're doing this because most people, if they have some redness, it's in the center. You need more coverage in the center and less toward your ears. Go OUT and DOWN. You need to brush down so as to not ruffle the tiny hairs on your face, down will give you a much smoother application. I like Lancome's foundation brush, because the bristles taper slightly at the end, allowing you to get in the nooks and crannies.

My caution with the foundation brush. Use less than you think you should. You can always add more later. After you've applied your base, you can grab a sponge and lightly blot away any excess.

Next we come to a powder brush. This one isn't too complicated, just choose something big and fluffy. A powder brush feels like your biggest luxury, it's poofy and girly. Firefox's built-in browser spell check tells me "girly" is not a word. I beg to differ, Firefox. I use Lancome's, but I really love Chanel's. Ask ElleBee if you'd like a review of that particular one, I know she owns it.

On to blush. This one can be a bit tough because there are shape options. My personal favorite for a blush brush is a flat top. That's because it allows you to do a little sculpting when you have not-so-prominent cheekbones as I have. It's great becuse it gives you a broad swath but also precision and good blendability due to the increased contact area. You can also do a brush that's like a mini-powder brush, and that's fine. Here I have both the Lancome and the Everyday Minerals. At first these flat-top brushes feel really tight, so you'll have to be somewhat careful not to look like you've been hit with paint balls on your cheeks. Remember, tap and swirl. Tap the brush lightly onto your cheek, then swirl it onto the surrounding area.

Finally for today, let's talk eye shadow. For your basic eye shadow brush, go with something that's a medium width, and not angled. Those brushes can be difficult to use and aren't super practical in my experience. I generally use the one in the Mary Kay brush set (not a bad overall choice and totally affordable, though I don't like an angled cheek brush). OK, let me say here and now that I'm all about natural hair brushes except for foundation and concealer (and one for cream shadows, but that's later). It's really hard for synthetic brushes to hold onto pressed cake powder shadows, though they do ok with loose shadows. While it's all a personal preference, I'll suggest any newbies try the natural hair brushes. They're shaved, so the animal was not harmed. I'm all about cruelty-free (was a vegetarian for 13 years) and want to feel good about the products I use.

Now that that's settled, please be sure to PAT on your eyeshadow instead of sweeping wildly from side to side. You'll get a much better color saturation and you won't get the dreaded raccoon eyes from the powder falling underneath. It takes some practice, but you'll get it soon enough. And when the powder DOES fall, just roll a Q-tip under your eyes to collect the excess.

Finally for today, be sure to clean your tools. You use your brushes every day, and they need to be cleaned weekly (ideally), but not less than once a month. You can wash them with a brush cleanser (diluted with water at a 1-to-1 ratio) or with whatever you use for your face. Try not to get the casings wet because we don't want the hairs to stay wet and rot and break off. Seriously. Just blot them onto a paper towel until no more color comes off, then lay flat to dry on a towel overnight.

OK, now that you've got your face on and are presentable, so go see Fussypants. She's about to have a baby and could use the company!


Joy said...

Excellent post! I don't know how anyone could put blush on with the tiny little thing that comes with it! I love my foundation brush- much easier than a sponge!

Sister Honey Bunch said...

I love my brushes!

Darla said...

HUGE brush fan. I love my kahbuki for minerals.

Valarie said...

I tend to have a panic attack if I can't find my brushes. I have not tried the foundation brush though, i think I need to get one. We have a new Ulta store so I think I need to go visit it.

EMama said...

I just got my first brushes a month ago! I'm a complete convert.

Tamra said...

Oooh, you got me. I'm a finger foundation girl. Ouch. I guess I need some brushes. At least I don't use a trowel to apply makeup - hehe.

Michelle@Life with Three said...

Great post! I bought a foundation brush (the sonia kashuk line from Target) about 6 months ago and I love it. Thanks for the tip on applying the eye shadow. I need to get a better eye shadow brush and practice so I don't get the undereye circles! :)