Sure, you could get by with just your fingers and a BeautyBlender – but there’s a reason professional make-up artists are never without a brush in their hands, and you’ll see why from the moment you try one yourself.
The right brush truly has the power to transform your make-up, taking you from blotched and in need of blending to Facetune-level flawless. Added bonus: with a good quality brush, you end up using less product than you would if applying with fingers.
We asked make-up brush maker Zoe Bikou, founder of ZOEVA Cosmetics, for the 101 on exactly what make-up brushes you actually need – and just how often you should be cleaning them. Given that she admits to having over 50 in her bathroom at home, she’s something of an expert.
The six brushes you need
A fabulous foundation brush
This one’s non-negotiable – use it for a flawless foundation finish, without a heavy-handed application. “I see so many women with foundation that isn’t blended in properly, but you can avoid this so easily with the right brush,” bemoans Zoe. “My favourite is our 104 buffer brush, you can use it to apply your foundation easily,” says Zoe.
“I think every woman should invest in eye shadow brushes in different sizes,” says Zoe. “For smokey eyes or to accentuate your crease, or if you’re creating a more bronzed effect with different colours, this is essential.” We love Bobbi Brown’s selection of eyeshadow brushes.
A multi-purpose fan brush
Make-up artists love these for sweeping away excess product from under the eye area, without disturbing your base. They’re also a boon for highlighting and strobing work. “The fan brush can be used for highlighter but also to apply blush and sweep off excess powder or fall out from under your eyes,” confirms Zoe. “Once you use one you won’t go back.” Try the Zoeva 129 Luxe Fan Brush, $24, or the Smashbox Fan Brush No. 22, $26.
The perfect powder brush
If you set your make-up with loose powder, you’ll know how crucial the right brush is. “Use a fluffy brush for a light result – using too much powder can look cakey,” cautions Zoe. “It sets in lines and makes you look older in my opinion, so you need to use a brush that is airy.” Try the bestselling Zoeva powder brush in 106 or Kat Von D’s fabulous Lock-It Precision Powder Brush, $47.
We know make-up brushes look beautiful stored in recycled Diptque glasses, but Zoe says this is a no-go. “I store them away so that they don’t get dusty, in acrylic drawers so I can see them easily,” she says. “If you don’t use them on a daily basis it is better to store them away or they attract dust.”
How to wash
Good quality brushes are worth the investment as they last years if well looked after. Zoe recommends washing every one to two weeks, depending on how often you use them. Just be careful not to get water inside the brush handle. “I put baby shampoo or soap in the palm of my hand and massage it in very slowly and then rinse out,” says Zoe. “With natural bristle brushes you can use a small portion of conditioner and lay them down to dry overnight - no heat or sunshine as this can ruin the quality.”