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Making Sense of Makeup Brushes

Makeup brushes can be confusing. With so many shapes and sizes it is hard to know what we should really be using and talked into purchasing. Fortunately, Dena Hall, makeup artist extraordinaire from K. Renee Salon, was willing to put all of our questions to rest by clarifying the fundamentals of brushes.


Dena Hall

“Choosing the right brush depends on what product you are using,” Dena explains. She recommends working with a reputable makeup artist who will only sell you what you really need, and takes the time to teach you how to use each brush properly.

The main brushes to have on hand are:


Concealer Brush – This will help your concealer to go on evenly and camouflage dark circles around your eyes. You can also use this for problem areas such as around your nose.

Powder brush – This is the perfect texture to pick up powder lightly. A kbuki brush blends most evenly. The softer the brush, the less powder will be picked up (for a lighter finish), more will adhere to a denser brush (for oil control).

Blush brush – You can use either a contouring brush, or one to apply blush higher on the cheekbone.

Bronzer brush – Find one that you like!


from left to right: powder brush, blush brush, makeup sponges, makeup q-tip

Eye brushes:

Lid brush – Flat and used for larger spaces including all over lid and blending. This brush can also be used for highlighting under the brow bone.

Crease brush – This is used to add more detail and apply shadow in the crease of your lid under the brow bone.

“Little” brush – This tiny brush is used to add detail inside the pocket of the eye. It is easier to use a small brush like this to apply the color exactly where you want it, and then it would be blended with the lid brush. This brush is also perfect for applying some extra color to the outer corner of the upper lash line, and under the lower lashes. The small size allows for ultimate control and placement of color.

Eyeliner brushes – Be sure to use the appropriate brush to apply powder, liquid or gel. Different types of eyeliner are favored by individuals depending on what has the greatest staying power on an individual basis, and the occasion you are preparing for. You may want something stronger for evening or all day wear, such as liquid or gel.

Eyebrow brush – For powder application. Eyebrow pencils may also be used.


from left to right: concealer brush, lid brush, crease brush, eyeliner brush, "little" brush


One lip brush is sufficient and can be used for most applications.


Make-up Sponges – Using these moist with help to blend your foundation or tinted moisturizer, and achieve more even coverage.

Make-up Q tips – These have a flatter tip, and swab without being fuzzy. They are excellent for any touchups after applying eye makeup. Use Q tips to remove powder residue from under the eyes BEFORE applying concealer.

Dena’s order of makeup application:

Wash face, dry well, apply serum and sunscreen or moisturizer

Apply foundation or tinted moisturizer using a moist sponge

Apply a small bit of concealer to the eye lid if recommended by your makeup artist

Apply eyshadow, liner and mascara

Clean undereye area using a flat Q tip

Apply eye cream

Apply concealer

Apply bronzer and/or blush depending on the time of year and current makeup routine

A touch of powder if you use

Lipstick and a touch of gloss in the center of the lip

Brush Cleaning:

Dena recommends cleaning your brushes with alcohol or a professional brush cleaner. This should be done at least once a month. Professional artists clean their brushes much more frequently. If you have acne, or any type of allergy, clean your bushes once a week.

This  Sephora Brand Daily Brush Cleaner” is an anti-bacterial daily brush cleaner designed to quickly remove light traces of makeup between applications. Just spray this purifying formula onto a tissue or directly onto brush bristles, then lightly swipe your powder, blush, eye, and lip brushes across tissue for a fabulous dose of freshness. No rinsing needed!”

via sephora.com

This Trish McEvoy Brush Bath is a “gentle brush shampoo designed to cleanse, purify and condition natural and synthetic hairs to prevent makeup buildup and prolong the life of your brushes.” Giving your brushes a “bath” can be done once a month as suggested by Dena.

photo via trishmcevoy.com

Brush Quality:

You want to use brushes that are made from real hair, and are not synthetic. Quality brushes ensure better blending of your makeup. This is the key! The brushes that you receive as free gifts from department stores are usually synthetic, but can be used as a great extra set for travel.



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