Makeup Brush 101
There are so many shapes, sizes, and types of brushes out there that choosing the right one can be very confusing. When it comes to makeup brushes, though, price does make a difference: better brushes are more expensive. Also, I find that makeup artists’ lines often offer better-designed brushes and more shape options, so you’re certain to get the shape you need to get the job done correctly. Believe it or not, the shape of the brush head makes a huge difference in the effect it creates. Here are some key points to consider when choosing your makeup brushes.
- The bristle: There are many different types of bristles, from natural, animal hair bristles to synthetic, and each can make a difference in your application. I’ve listed them below, in descending order of quality.
- Squirrel: the most expensive and best bristle available. A natural bristle, it provides an even, smooth application and has the softest feel of all the bristle choices. It is used for powder product application, not cream. Because of the quality, a brush made of squirrel is expensive, but it’s really worth the investment.
- Pony: A bristle that is one step below squirrel in quality. Powder and blush brushes are often made from this hair, but it is also used in other brushes. A natural bristle, it’s best used for the application of powder products dry. Although the name might not suggest it, this bristle feels quite soft.
- Sable: A high-quality bristle, commonly used for eyeshadow brushes. You will find more brushes made from this bristle than probably any other. This is also a natural bristle (made from the hair of a weasel-like animal called Sable), so it provides an even, blended application. It is most commonly used for the application of powder products dry but can be used wet or damp for application of creams, such as cream eyeliner, cream eyeshadows, and applying eyeshadows damp. Although it can be used damp, never use a sable brush for applying foundation. The natural bristle will absorb all of the liquid from your foundation!
- Black Silk: The next level down in quality. This does not mean it isn’t a great bristle because some brushes provide better application when made of this hair. Also a natural bristle, it is actually a type of goat hair that has been treated to make it feel softer and smoother in its application. Best when used dry with powder products.
- Goat: The least expensive natural bristle. Commonly used for blush and bronzer brushes, it’s more cost-effective than squirrel, pony, or sable hairs. Sable hairs are too short to be used for longer-bristled brushes – blush, powder, and bronzer brushes, for example – so goat is often used instead. Like other natural-bristle brushes, it’s used for applying powder products only.
- Synthetic: A bristle that is used for all liquid products. It is the bristle you want when applying liquids and creams because it does not absorb moisture or liquid. It can be used to apply powder products, as well. This is the best bristle choice for foundation, concealer, and many eyeliner brushes, because of its compatibility with creams and liquids and its ability to be used damp. It is also very easy to clean, another reason it is perfect for foundation and concealer brushes.
- The handle: Be sure to choose a handle shape that feels comfortable in your hand. A comfortable handle makes a brush much easier to use. I prefer shorter handles – long handles never pack easily and can make the brush feel off-balance in your hand. The extra length, I find, gets in the way, but test the feel of a brush in your hand and choose the one that works best for you!
- The head shape: The contour and shape of the brush head have a big impact on how well it applies a product. The length, the tapering of the hairs, the density, the quality, and the stiffness are all characteristics that make a huge difference in application. Blush and bronzer brushes need to be dense and full for more color deposit and a softly blended application, while an eyebrow brush needs to be stiff, compact bristles, for precise placement of color. Blending brushes should be very soft, so they don’t irritate the skin when blending eyeshadow, while concealer brushes need to come to a bit of a point, for exact application. Eyeshadow brushes should be tapered, so they do not create hardlines; the ends of eyeliner brushes are usually flat and blunt, to create an exact line. So, shape does matter!
Hope this helps you out with your makeup brush hunt!!! xoxo -Ashley