In a fantasy world, where you have an unlimited spending budget on cosmetics and can satisfy all your cosmetic cravings, you still need a certain skill to make your aspirations of enhancing your aesthetics come true. True mastery in the art of makeup is in the application techniques, arguably even more than using the highest quality products from the best brands. It’s what’s stopping all your friends from becoming makeup artists too! But for all the damsels in distress, worry not, because I will be teaching you all how to use all your makeup brushes like wands and conjure some magic.
Now when it comes to brushes, the first thing that you have to note is that unlike watches, one size does not fit all. Yes, your paintbrush isn’t going to help you draw your eyebrows; shocking, I know! In fact, depending on what part of the face you are working on and the kind of look you are trying to achieve, you are going to be using brushes of various sizes and shapes with differing application techniques. Therefore, unless you want to do your best ‘Nicole Kidman at the 2014 Cannes awards’ impression the next time you grab a brush, it’s best you take things step by step by first understanding the different brushes that are available and what each is used for and then moving onto application techniques to get those perfect highlights and flawless contour.
If you’re still reading, first of all, congratulations, you’re attention span is more than a goldfish’s! The fact that you’re still here tells me you’re eager to know about your brushes. So let’s get this show on the road. For this article, we’ll be looking at many different facial features and how to apply makeup correctly to them by using the correct brush and technique.
There are three types of brushes for the eyes; one for your eyelid, one for the eyebrows and the other for the crease between your eyelid and eyebrows. Telling them apart isn’t particularly difficult if you pay attention so listen closely.
The eyebrow brush is slightly at an angle to make it easier to precisely apply on the brows because brows have a slight curvature. Using this brush is quite straightforward; with a slight grip of the brush, make small swipes on your eyebrows to maintain the natural look of your eyebrows. Be careful not to swivel too many times as the whole point is to keep your eyebrows looking natural unless rectangular eyebrows are your thing!
The crease brush is dome-shaped with dense bristles, making it stand out over all the other eye brushes so it should be fairly easy to identify. The brush needs to be held at the far end to reduce the control over the brush because this leaves a diffused and light application of makeup on the crease. It might take a while to get right but, it’s good practice if you’re into oil painting!
Last but not least, the lid brush is a simple, flat brush which needs more control than its counterparts so hold the brush close to the tip. You will be swiping the lid brush over a very small area, hence the need for more control, so best not be generous with your grip or you will risk over-drawing it. It’ll also considerably help your cause if your hands are still as a mannequin while using this brush, so I hope you played plenty of jinx as a child!
Doing eyes is usually not everyone’s forte, nor is it the most exciting. So to reward your patience, let’s get to the exciting bits, namely your face! I know, I know, it’s not particularly exciting now but after you go through this section, you’ll look like a million dollars soon enough!
Anyone with even the slightest of ideas regarding makeup knows that the foundation of a solid makeover is- well, foundation! In foundation brushes, there are bristles on the tip of the brush that are typically flat to allow for uniform application. Typically, foundation brushes are held close to the tip to make it easier to apply. Before application, it’s good to know the type of foundation you are working with. Liquid foundation is best used by first putting on some of the foundation on the rear of your hand. Afterward, slightly drop the bristles onto the back of your hand and then swirl it onto your face in a rounded motion, slowly moving onto the outer parts of the face after starting from the middle of each cheek. Foundation creams, on the other hand, spare you from using the other hand as you can just directly dive into the cream with the bristles of the brush. The application is the same as it is for the liquid version, spiraling outwards after starting from the middle of each cheek. Stir the brush like you stir your tea, it’s quite simple really!
Now, take a second to go through all of that again. Drink it in because it’s important. A firm foundation of foundation is vital to the framework of a good makeover (excuse my poor attempt at alliteration to prove a point!).
Moving onto the more nitty-gritty details, we shift our focus on to blush. Blush brushes are also at an angle like the eyebrow brushes because it’s very important to transfer the pigments precisely from the brush to the cheek. The way you apply blush will tend to vary depending on face-type. People will rounder faces going for a slimmer look can achieve it by slight sweeps along the distance of the cheekbones and then extending the shade up to the temple of the face.
On the other side of the spectrum, people with flatter, straighter faces can add a degree of perceived curvature on their face by sweeping the brush exactly below the apples of the cheeks to make the face appear rounder. Additionally, make sure to sweep only in light strokes, unless you like a red face now and then. In that case, might as well let your younger siblings color your face red instead of going through all this trouble with makeovers!
While a good application of blush can really enhance your look, many a makeup-maniac will vouch for me when I say that a good contour makes the biggest difference. And why wouldn’t they? An intelligent contouring of your facial features can really accentuate the details of your face and create a very well-defined look that is very pleasing to the eye. Imagine getting a nose-job without actually going through surgery; quite appealing isn’t it?!
There are two different types of contour brushes; one for the nose and another for the rest of the face. They will differ in thickness but both sets of brushes will have flat brushes in order to fit the natural lines of the face. The bristles of these brushes are quite firm in order to help make blends look more natural.
To apply a contour, you need to do some playing around with foundations of different tones. After the foundations are applied with a clear border at the cheekbones, when applying on the face, take the contour brush and rub it all over your face, blending the two foundations with different tones into a more natural shade. Using the proper contour brush will lead to the cheeks appearing flatter than what they are due to the illusion created at the border between the two foundation layers. Some experience with mixing dough will come in handy in this case!
The illusion using two shades of foundation is also used for contouring the nose, in order to make it appear shorter or thinner. First, apply a darker tone of foundation using straight swipes on the two sides of the nose, drawing lines on where you want the edges of the nose to appear. Afterward, apply the lighter tone on the bridge of the nose, making sure to draw it in a very thin straight line with the nose contour brush. This technique will make the nose appear thinner.
Shortening the appearance of the nose is a bit simpler. Take the nose contour brush and dab a little underneath the tip of the nose with a darker shade and then apply highlighter or lighter shade foundation on the bridge of the nose, as you would for thinning. With these two very effective techniques, alter your nose however you want and get one step closer to that million dollar look.
Given we’ve gone through most of the complicated bits already, you, my dear reader need something easy going I think! So let’s move onto something even a toddler should be able to handle; powder! Now I know, application is quite straightforward and all but let’s just make absolutely sure you get this one right yeah?
The brush of a powder has fluffy bristles to cover large areas of the face. For application, just lightly tap it on your face but make sure you do this after using your foundation, to set it in properly. Routine stuff, yes.
Finally, we move onto another, very crucial element; highlighting. The brush of the highlighter is shaped the same as that of the blush brush, albeit a bit smaller so if you ever get confused, remember that the smaller one is the highlight! It’s also worth noting that for the purpose of highlighting, brushes with densely packed bristles will allow for more control. Precision for this brush is important so the recommended grip style is close to the near end of the brush for maximum control.
As you might be able to guess by now, given the need for precision, application needs to be done selectively to highlight certain areas of the face. For the actual application, tap the highlighter brush over the area you want to highlight, moving in a C-shape from the temple towards the end of the cheekbone. Depending on whether you want the effect to be more intense, you may have to repeat the motion several times in order to get more pop in your highlight.
To highlight the nose, drop a little onto the tip of the nose and then, proceed to swipe the brush downwards starting from your forehead down to the center of the nose. If you’re feeling adventurous, even considering going all the way down to the bridge of the nose!
When going light on eye makeup, some people also like to apply some highlighter underneath their eyebrows. To apply it this way, do a slightly circular, repeated swiping motion from one end of the eye to the other. For best results, swipe a few times over the same area before proceeding to the next bit.
With that, I think we have gone through all possible ways to use makeup brushes; well, most of what you will need to get started at least! Yes, it’s a lot of things to remember and a lot of brushes to learn about but let’s be real, good things don’t come easy.
If you were expecting to take any brush and go abracadabra on your face, you’re basically set for disappointment, both in your looks and life in general. You don’t get to look really good and be successful in life just like that, unless if you’re the Kardashians really. And let’s be honest, you’re probably not a Kendall Jenner yourself are you?
In case you’re too down on yourself, I’ll end this on a positive note just to cheer you up; it’s perfectly fine if you’re not good at all this at the start. With patience and practice, you’ll get the hang of it eventually. Going through all of this is difficult but hey, reading probably isn’t your thing but you’re still here aren’t you?! It’s a start! Now go brush hunting and set flight on your quest to improbable stardom, young grasshopper!