Ever wonder what makeup brushes to use with what products? I get asked this question a lot, so I wanted to give a detailed answer. I also get asked if makeup brushes are vital to applying makeup or if fingers and/or sponges will work just as well. First of all, you need the right tools to achieve the “look.” The natural oils on your fingertips can break down the product, which can cause creasing. As for sponges, they absorb and waste a lot of the product. Therefore, makeup brushes are always the best option (in my opinion).
Each makeup brush serves a specific purpose though. Certain brushes are for certain makeup products. For example, synthetic brushes are designed to be used with creams or liquids. Natural bristle brushes should only be used with powders. A common myth is that “natural” means “better.” However, just because a brush has natural bristles doesn’t make it better or a higher quality than a synthetic brush.
Using a natural bristle brush with creams or liquids will most likely ruin the brush. On the other hand, you can use synthetic brushes with powder products, you just might not get the best application. Also, there are now some hybrid brushes that combine both synthetic and natural bristles. These hybrid brushes can be used for both creams/liquids and powder products. Below are photos of some of my favorite brushes with a description and what I use them for. Scroll down to the very bottom to see how to care for your brushes.
MAC Brush #194 (synthetic bristle, used for applying creams/liquids such as concealer)
MAC Brush #217 (natural bristle, used for applying crease eye shadow or blending eye shadow)
Laura Mercier Ponytail Brush (natural bristle, also used for applying crease eye shadow or blending eye shadow, softer than MAC Brush #217)
Laura Mercier Eye Colour Brush (natural bristle, used for applying powder eye shadow)
Laura Mercier Creme Eye Colour Brush (synthetic bristle, used for applying eye shadow base or cream eye colors, looks identical to Laura Mercier Eye Colour Brush but texture is different)
Laura Mercier Corner Eye Colour Brush (natural bristle, used for applying powder eye shadow to small areas, such as applying dark eye shadow to the outer corner of the eye or light eyeshadow to the inner corner of the eye)
Laura Mercier Creme Eye Detail Brush (synthetic bristle, used for applying creme eye shadow to more defined areas, also great for smudging/blending creme/pencil eye liner)
MAC Brush #187 or Laura Mercier Finishing Brush (hybrid brush with both synthetic & natural bristles, used for powders such as shimmery cheek color and/or liquids/creams such as foundation)
Caring for your brushes is just as important as using the right brush. You should keep your brushes clean. There are brush cleansers you can get from beauty supply stores. You use these by spraying them on a tissue/towel and then wiping the brush on them. This is good to do between uses for a fast way to remove product and germs. However, for a deep cleaning, you should wash your brushes every so often (ideally about once a week but no less than once per month).
My favorite product for cleaning brushes is Laura Mercier Brush Cleanser. It’s great because you can spray it onto a tissue/towel and wipe the brushes on it for a click cleaning, or you can spray it on wet brushes and it’ll lather up for a deep cleaning. You can also use your face wash to wash your brushes. I wet my brushes, then I squeeze some of my face wash into the palm of my hand and swirl the wet brush around in the face wash. Squeeze the remaining product out of the brush, rinse and then squeeze the remaining water out of the brush. Now here’s the important part: You must lay your brushes FLAT to dry! Never leave the brushes standing up while they’re wet, or the water can seep in and loosen the bristles. Take care of your brushes, and they’ll take care of you.