How to Pick a Good Makeup Brush

Who knew applying makeup would turn into such an art? It reminds me of artists whose techniques depend on the brush, the medium, or the canvas. I guess our “medium” is the makeup and the canvas our face. In fact, much of the same shading and color knowledge used in art applies to creating special looks with makeup. Brushes provide opportunities for a soft, natural, or dramatic appearance…whatever your preference. Deciding which brush depends on a few important factors.

Natural Hair Types

Natural bristle brushes are wonderful for sculpting with dry products, which include powder, both compact and loose; blush, and eye shadow. Before going shopping for a natural brush know these brushes tend to soften with use and contain mostly virgin hair whose ends taper to stay soft on the skin. Whatever you do, stay away from poor quality natural hair brushes. They can become scratchy after a time and shed. And avoid the dyed brushes unless you just want to make your brush jar a color palette. Several types of hair are available in natural brushes.

Squirrel Hair

One type is squirrel hair. Prior to commissioning your hunter to bring back a squirrel from your yard, be aware the bristles actually do not come from these little darlings. However, they are the softest natural hair found in makeup brushes. They are more expensive, as quality products often are, but are a worthwhile investment because of their durability. When considering brushes for blending eye shadows, choose squirrel hair brushes.

Goat Hair

A second choice for natural bristles is goat hair. This brush is wonderful for powder… giving the smooth, finished, professional look. It also helps create a glow to your skin naturally as it deposits the powder evenly. Goat hair brushes are best for cheeks and contouring.

Sable Hair

But if you are looking for brushes that last a lifetime, choose sable hair. These may or may not be the most expensive of all, but are worth every penny. With wet or dry products, these brushes are therefore quite versatile. They are well-suited for shadowing. In fact, if my sable brush from college days had not sustained a permanent bend after a move, I would still be using it today! They are really easy to care for as well and have no hint of animal "fragrance".

Synthetic Brushes

If you just plainly do not wish to spend major funds on makeup brushes, synthetic ones made from nylon or a product called taklon are available. Synthetic brushes are good for cream or liquid items such as concealer or foundation. These brushes tend to soak up less liquid than do the natural ones and give a soft, natural, even appearance. However, they can become stiff and may not last as long as their natural counterparts. If you have sensitive skin, the usual preferences are good quality synthetic brushes. They are less expensive, for the most part, are soft against the skin, and any allergies are rare. But find ones that are dense enough to do a good job, and not too floppy.

Weigh the pros and cons of each brush type for your needs. After starting with these tips, you may agree that having a small assortment of excellent quality brushes of which you take excellent care, is the best choice for all your versatile looks. So, before throwing away that brand new blush because it did not give the look you anticipated, check to see if your brush is the culprit.

Kathryn Thompson is a fashion guru who enjoys letting her natural beauty shine forth.  She enjoys writing about anything related to fashion and beauty and recently wrote about her favorite makeup and cosmetic brushes.


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