Well I bit off a big one this Monday: this has unequivocally been the hardest edit I’ve embarked on. Brushes are my weakness, my ‘I can justify spending ludicrous sums as this’ll last years’ purchase. I collect them, displaying them in chintzy pots around my dressing table/general area around my mirror. I unabashedly admire them at cosmetics counters. I love the silken caress of a brush on my face as I put on my make-up. I never, EVER feel I have too many of them.
So editing this edit: hard. But doing so was vital – I understand from having quizzed those of you who aren’t brush obsessed that they seem to be a source of anguish. I’ve been told that some of you don’t like forking out for brushes as you can’t see them on your face (this is not true *stamping feet* – make-up never looks as polished and uniform without the use of a brush). I have also gathered that you don’t like washing them (though the benefits of a clean brush are undeniable and it truly is easy as pie – here’s my guide). More than all of these, those of you who’ve told me you’re brush-wary have said that it’s in part because you wouldn’t know where to start if tasked with choosing one.
Toss these flimsy excuses aside – the below is designed to simplify matters. Without further ado, here are the ten brushes from my collection I believe cover all bases and, though I will no doubt continue to collect/covet them, I reckon if it really came down to it, I could part with all but these…
BROWS & EYELINER // Liz Earle Brow & Eyeliner Brush, £12.50 here. This one comes pretty much everywhere with me thanks to the spoolie to brush through brows on one end and the extremely slim slanted brush on the other that works equally as well to fill in sparse brows as it does to line eyes with either a powder or gel eyeliner (plus, because it’s angled, it makes an outer-eye flick a doddle).
CONCEALER // MAC 195 Concealer Brush, £19 here. What sets this concealer brush apart from my others? That it has an arrow-shaped head so the tip can conceal the tiny head of blemishes but with a little more pressure, or by tilting the brush on its side, you’ve got yourself full-on-centimetre-wide coverage.
FOUNDATION / BRONZER /POWDER // Becca The One Perfecting Brush, £40 here. I have to say I had my reservations about this brush. Its shape is unusual and it’s extremely large. My doubts were washed away on using – it buffs foundation onto the skin for the thinnest, most imperceptible layer I’ve ever had on and can also multitask – clean it off and you have yourself a brush that can then go on to apply powder, bronzer and any contouring products with ease.
POWDER & MINERAL FOUNDATION // Eve Lom Powder Foundation Brush, £38 here. I have a few of these flat-headed brushes for either applying mineral foundation or patting a thin layer of powder onto my skin but this one is the cream of the crop – very soft, very densely-packed bristles, very pretty.
BLUSHER & BRONZER // INIKA Blush Brush, £20.50 here. A small, spherical brush that is cruelty-free, this one can distribute blusher evenly and also works rather well as a bronzing brush. FYI: applying powder blusher with a good brush is the only way to not look like a pantomime widow.
Left-to-Right: Smashbox, Jane Iredale, Louise Young, Mac 275 and MAC 217
EYESHADOW // Smashbox Tapered Shadow Brush #7, £19.50 here. This one lays down colour perfectly. As I tend to use it to put down a cream-coloured base for anything else I’m applying afterwards, I just pop it to one side and then use it to blend a darker shadow into the base or smooth off edges as I apply the rest of my eye make-up.
GEL EYELINER // Jane Iredale Detail Brush, £10.19 here. Less famous than the Bobbi Brown offering, but better thanks to its firmer yet much softer bristles. I’ve had mine for years and its not lost its shape, which is a rarity in lining brushes. Dip this in a gel liner or wet and use with a shadow then choose the thickness of line you’d like – this one can do hair thin or Winehouse eyeliner with aplomb.
POWDER EYELINER // Louise Young LY13, £11 here. The Liz Earle brush covers the thin powder line and the Jane Iredale brush the gel or liquid one, but if you like a diffused, softer shadow to line your eyes, this is the ticket. While small and dense enough to line without just throwing powder around the face, it’s also just that little bit larger than a traditional eyeliner brush – the result is a hazy, less contrived look to your liner. This is my go-to for a day-to-day eye.
CONTOUR & BLEND // MAC 275 Medium Angled Shading Brush, £21 here. This is made to contour, somehow snuggly nestling colour into the outer corner of eyes and then blending it along the socket line adeptly without drag or unevenness. Also, it can be used to apply colour to the lid overall before/instead of working on the socket.
DOES-IT-ALL // MAC 217 Blending Brush, £19 here. If you’re getting one eyeshadow brush, make it this one. It can: apply colour all over the lids, define the socket line, lay down an extremely diffused wash of eyeliner and also is the best blending brush I’ve used to ensure your make-up has no harsh lines. Lisa Eldridge also uses hers to apply and blend concealer under the eyes. Finally, if you want an extremely targeted application of powder, get this one on the job.