The most common accusation I hear levelled at make-up brushes is that they’re confusing as a result of the huge variety of heads/brush fibres/sizes on offer. The second most common gripe is that they’re expensive. I fully empathise with the accusers – and understand their reluctance to buy new brushes; both things are often true and steering clear entirely is therefore preferable to dropping shed loads of cash on a brush that doesn’t, it transpires, serve your make-up purposes and is destined to live out its days lying in a repurposed Diptyque votive gathering dust.
The problem with eschewing brushes entirely is that make-up never looks as polished when not using them*, with eye make-up especially suffering as the delicate undulations of the eye require many a bristle to deposit and then soften colour sufficiently. My advice should you find brushes a minefield is to persevere – I truly believe there is now a brush and price point out there for all.
More specifically, I’d encourage experimentation to overcome the first problem – many eyeshadow brushes make for exceedingly good concealer blenders and vice versa. Playing with them will reveal their strengths. Fortunately, plenty of brands are now starting to turn their attention to answering the second problem with Zoeva, Real Techniques and Spectrum all making cruelty-free, high quality brushes at fair prices.
The latest range by Real Techniques, MultiTech, might also be a good option as it aims to do away with confusion by ascribing no purpose to the brushes but rather just name them by size. To simplify matters further, they all have the same conical cut and can therefore apply product with precision if you go lightly using just the tip, or blend products if buffed more firmly.
I’ve been trialling the lot since first being introduced to the range by Sam and Nic at the launch, and have found the smaller brushes to be the most useful. Here’s a rough guide to how I’ve been using the ones I rate //
XXXS / All the way on the left in the above picture / Applies and softens eyeliner well, works well to dot concealer right onto the heads of spots or patches of redness, can be used with a brow powder for a very soft haze of colour.
XS / In the centre of the above picture / Puts eyeshadow in the crease of an eye well, blends all eyeshadow like a dream, applies concealer to bigger areas of redness well and also can be used to create a very soft liner with a shadow.
S / Second to right in the above picture / This one can be used to blend anything from eyeshadow to blush – and is also deft at applying powder to smaller areas.
* That is, unless you’re one of the rare fair few who can get away with a smidgen of cream make-up here and there to make features pop and can therefore rely on finger blending.