Tools of the Trade

"Brushes for Every Makeup Bag"

Over the years I have collected hundreds of makeup brushes.  Call it an addiction if you will (ok, maybe it’s just an itty bitty one) but I call it an investment.  I’ve invested my time and certainly a few dollars trying to find the best makeup brushes and tools to create beautifully blended flawless looks.  

 Now, I know that with a million different brands, shapes, and materials out there it can get quite hairy!  The good news is that you do not need an arsenal of brushes...but you will need a few.  I’m always suggesting that my clients invest in a good set of brushes.  At first, most look at me a little wary as if I’m a salesman trying to sell them some old jalopy.  They quickly claim their brushes are “just fine” and they don’t want to spend the extra money.  So, on the sly I pull out my brushes from their case and run the super soft bristles across their cheek or hand...their eyes immediately light up! Sold!!

 My point in doing this is to prove that a quality brush is obviously softer so it’s going to be better for your skin (aka: no irritation).  Plus, they’re more durable so you’ll have less bristle loss (I despise those pesky things when they’re stuck to your face!). They’ll also help make your makeup last longer by having to use less product and if you take good care of your brushes, they will last you years and years!

 Brushes come in a variety of bristles.  They will either be natural which means they come from an animal (i.e. squirrel, sable) or synthetic (i.e. taklon, acrylic).  Natural brushes are great for powders such as blush and synthetics are best for creams and liquids such as foundation. They also come in a wide variety of handles from simple plastic to beautiful bamboo. 

 Here are my personal recommendations for every makeup bag:

 Foundation Brush:

These are a must!! Sponges soak up too much makeup, are wasteful, harbor germs, and they give you little control.  Your fingers, with their heat and moisture, will leave your makeup less than stellar. To apply, simply dip the brush into your foundation (I like to place a little on the back of my clean hand and work from there to keep those little germies out of my bottle) and buff into the skin from the center out.

My Favorites:

  • MAC #190 or #130 brush
  • a-design I love their Foundation and Pointed Foundation brushes

 Powder Brush:

To make sure that foundation stays put throughout the day and to keep your face from looking shiny, you’ll need to lay some powder and with that you’ll need a powder brush.  These brushes are soft and fluffy and a little on the larger side.  To apply dip your brush into the powder and lightly “dust” it over your face. 

My Favorites: (there are so many but these remain in my kit always)

  • MAC #150 brush
  • Make-up designory #720 brush
  • Sephora  #50 brush
  • a-design Powder brush

Blush/Bronzer Brush:

These are always great for giving the skin a healthy glow or those cheeks a pop of color.  They are smaller than the Powder Brush but still have super soft fluffy bristles....meaning they are not going to irritate the skin or disturb the makeup you just applied.  Apply bronzer where the sun naturally hits you and apply the blush along the cheekbone to the “apple”.  Use a light “swooshing” motion from hairline to cheek.

My Favorite:

  • a-design Cheek brush (just the right size ands super soft!)

 Eye shadow Brush:

These are used for all over color from lash line to brow bone.  Apply from the inner corner sweeping outward.

My Favorites:

  • MAC #213 brush
  • a-design All Over Shadow or Eye 1 brush


Blending Brush:

These are used for contouring and defining the eye by applying shadow to the crease. They’re also great for creating that beautiful smoky eye.  Apply softly back and forth (think of a windshield wiper) in the crease of your eye. Tip: Blend, Blend, and Blend some more. You want the individual colors to seamlessly flow into each other.

My Favorites:

  • MAC #224 or #217 brush
  • Sephora Rounded Crease #13 brush

Eyeliner/Brow Brush:

This is a great 2 in 1 brush. They’re for creating either soft or hard eyeliner and to softly fill in the brows.  Applying liner from a brush can take practice.  Instead of doing one swoop, apply in short strokes or “dashes” until the entire area is covered from the inner to outer corner.

 To fill in your brows take a shadow color that closely resembles your brow and softly fill in the gaps. Also, pencils can look way too harsh if you don’t have a light hand and try to stay away from black (even if your hair is) or you could end up looking like that crazy lady with the crazy brows.

My Favorites:

a-design Eye 5 brush

Clinique Eye Definer brush

Lip Brush:

A must have to define the lips while giving you more control. Lipsticks can be too big for small lips and leaves some of us with a mess. To apply dip your brush into your favorite color and define the outer edges of your lips. Continue until you fill in the entire lip.

My Favorite:

Makeup Designory #310 brush


Oh yes, you must clean your brushes!!  Take care of your brushes and they’ll take care of you by lasting years and years.  You can do this either two ways.

 Shampoo: At a sink run warm water.  Place a small amount of gentle shampoo in the palm of your hand and place your hand and brush under the water. Swirl the brush in your palm until the water runs clear.  Do NOT get the base of the brush wet. Using too hot water or getting the base wet will loosen the glue and you’ll begin to lose your bristles. Now, lay the clean brush on the edge of the sink to dry over night.  This should be done depending on how dirty they are (at least once a month).

 Cleanser: My favorite by far is Cinema Secrets. It doesn’t smell the prettiest but it gets my brushes clean and dry super duper fast. This is extremely important especially when I have many clients lined up. I pour a small amount in a mini plastic or glass cup, dip my brush (only the bristles) into the cleanser, gently rub it back and forth on a clean paper towel until it rubs clean, and lay it to dry...this takes only a moment.

To purchase the brushes or cleanser mentioned above please visit:


Going Vegan

Because I realize that some of you may be vegan and may feel uneasy over just the thought of using natural brushes, I wanted to give you a few options.  I have not personally used the following brushes nor am I against using vegan brushes. The following brands have only been recommended for me so please use your best judgment when choosing your brushes. 

v    Paris Presents' EcoTools

v    Garden Botanika.

v    Origins Natural Resources

v    Urban Decay Good Karma

v    Aveda

Hard Candy

Wedding Tip #18
When going for your trial "up do", make sure to tell your stylist your likes and dislikes. If you aren't fond of the "do" she gives you, tell her! After all, you're paying HER!
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