First aid with makeup brushes

Why should you use a brush to apply your make-up? And if you use a brush, which brush? There are so many different types of brushes nowadays that I too regularly have to find out why brush x is better for applying foundation than brush y, for example. Time for some more clarity!

I can honestly say that before I started a career in cosmetics, finding the perfect makeup brushes was not my number one priority when using makeup. The brushes I used were those that came with the eyeshadow or blush in the box.

That changed when I started working at l'Oreal for Gemey Paris (later Maybelline) in 1995. (In the time when I had not yet discovered the difference between pure and non-pure cosmetics). There I learned that the brushes that come with make-up products are often of lousy quality. Fortunately, that is not always the case these days.

My manager at Gemey Paris in the Netherlands was a fan of good brushes and bought me a few. They were of such quality that I still have a part! At l Óreal's headquarters in Paris, one of my projects was to develop a brush set for Gemey Paris, including an instruction booklet. With feedback from make-up artist Tom Pecheux (an honor when you consider that he is now Creative Director at YSL).

Back to brush wisdom. Do you actually need brushes for applying make-up? And if so, what should you pay attention to to choose a good brush. And which brush do you use for what? Because there are too many makeup brushes to describe in a blog, in this blog the focus is on concealer, foundation, bronzer and powder brushes.

Are makeup brushes necessary?

Not necessarily for applying concealer and foundation. You can also apply it with your fingertips or a make-up 'sponge'. Compact powder to finish and fix your make-up can be applied with a dry sponge or a brush. A brush is a must for the beautiful application of a loose powder. A bronzer is best applied with a brush.

The advantage of applying concealer or foundation with your fingertips is that the make-up reaches facial temperature faster and therefore blends faster with your face. Which gives a natural effect. The disadvantage is that you can get a spotty result more easily and you quickly use too much product. In addition, you should wash your hands after applying, because you have make up on your fingers

Sponges or 'sponge' brushes come in different sizes and shapes. As loose sponges or on a handle . You can use them both wet and dry. And both for foundation and concealer. Because the sponges are flexible, you can easily reach parts that are more difficult to reach with a brush. A sponge is often included with compact foundations or powders. Handy for touching up your make-up on the go. The disadvantage of a sponge is that they are more difficult to clean completely than a brush and that they do not last as long. So less sustainable. In the video below from EcoTools a demonstration of applying make up with a sponge.

What is a good brush?

Make up brushes are available in many price ranges. According to make-up artists, it is better to spend less on make-up products than to cut back on your brushes. A good brush lasts a long time! Provided, of course, that you maintain it properly (clean it regularly, let it dry with the brush side down so that the glue from the brush attachment does not come off). An animal hair brush is generally more expensive than a synthetic hair brush.

Less expensive brushes aren't necessarily bad! For example, the EcoTools brushes are made with Japanese Taklon, just like more expensive vegan brushes. More expensive brushes often give a slightly nicer result, last longer and are handmade, such as those from Hynt Beauty . These are also produced in smaller quantities, which makes production more expensive.

Animal or synthetic hair?

Personally, I choose brushes made of synthetic Japanese Taklon hair. These days, these don't have to be inferior in quality to brushes made of animal hair. Are super soft, more hygienic and, in principle, last longer. Qualitatively lesser versions of vegan brushes are made of nylon or residual material. Make-up product often does not adhere well to these hairs. Which gives you a less beautiful end result.

Synthetic brushes are more hygienic than animal hair brushes. Real hair contains scales, which makes a liquid make-up product less easy to remove and therefore attracts bacteria more quickly. Taklon, which is used for vegan brushes, has antibacterial properties in itself, so that bacteria have less chance to grow on the brush hairs.

Animal hair usually comes from squirrels, goats, wild boars or ponies. Marten hair is also used. In any case, squirrel and marten hair is obtained in an animal-unfriendly way.

Animal hairs separate faster than synthetic hairs and become sharper and pointier over time. Synthetic hairs stay soft.

Do you have (acne) sensitive skin? Then always choose synthetic brushes. Using animal brushes can cause your sensitive skin to develop acne or allergies.

Which brush for what?

Do you also have that, that you can no longer see the wood for the trees when it comes to brushes? More and more different brushes are coming onto the market for every application. Especially for applying foundation, powders, bronzers, there are many types. Below is a list of the most important brushes.

concealer brushes

For concealer, you can use a flat brush or a small round brush. With a round brush you can blend (blur) nicely. A flat brush covers faster and often works a little more precisely. For applying concealer under your eyes, a slightly larger concealer brush is nice, such as the black (Hynt) brush in the photo above. For getting rid of small spots or pimples on your face, a small concealer brush is more convenient (such as the small one from the EcoTools duo concealer set in the photo). If necessary, view the tutorial videos of the duo concealer set and the round concealer brush .

Liquid or cream foundation brushes

The classic foundation brush is the most famous brush for foundation. A flat brush with firm bristles. With which you can apply foundation accurately. The disadvantage is that it takes a while before you have obtained a nice even make-up. And you have to be careful that your make-up doesn't get streaky.

The foundation brush with a flat top gives a nice coverage faster. Because the brush has many hairs, which are close together and a larger 'application surface'. This brush is less likely to streak. The disadvantage is that you will certainly have a tendency to use too much foundation in the beginning.

If you want a little less coverage, this is inconvenient. Then the Stippling brush is a better solution. You can recognize this by the black with white brush hairs. The bristles of this brush are less dense. You apply your foundation evenly, but less full than with the flat top brush. The result is an airy natural look. For more coverage, you can apply several layers. The stippling brush is versatile: you can also use it for blush and powder. The Air Blender brush is an even lighter version of the stippling brush.

Loose powder foundation brushes

A Kabuki brush is an absolute must for applying loose powder foundation. The difference with a 'regular' powder brush is the full, dense bristle insert. Which means that a lot of product comes on the brush and you reach a larger facial surface at once. This ensures a better, but natural and even, coverage. The disadvantage of using loose powder products is that they spill faster when applied than a compact powder. The Kabuki brush from Hynt has a solution for this. Due to the flattened top, it (almost) does not spill.

Bronzer brushes

A brush that is slanted is useful for applying bronzer. This makes it easier to use the brush for shaping or accentuation. The slanted attachment allows you to apply product more accurately. For example on, below or above your cheekbones. They stick out a bit. A Kabuki brush can be used for applying a loose powder bronzer . In this case, apply the bronzing powder more lightly than a powder foundation, because you need less coverage.

For a compact or creme bronzer, a flatter, slanted brush is useful. To apply streak-free bronzer.

These brushes can also be used to apply blush or illuminisor/highlighter.

Finishing powder brushes

You use a finishing powder to fix your make-up, to mattify it or to apply a subtle shine (radiance). A loose powder foundation already has a mattifying effect of its own, extra powdering is not necessary. Except if you want to apply bronzer or highlighter.

A powder brush preferably has a somewhat larger size, with bristles that are further apart than with a Kabuki brush. This way you can apply your powder lightly to your entire face and possibly neck and decollete in a few movements. The advantage of a brush that is slightly slanted is that it is suitable for applying loose powder as well as for accentuating with a rtadiance/illuminisor powder.

A fan brush is probably a brush that you don't immediately think of, but is very handy. This brush looks like a fan and is very flat. You can apply blush, highlighter or powder very lightly and subtly. But also remove excess powder or eye shadow without immediately destroying your entire make-up.

Are you still unable to see the wood for the trees? Ask us for advice or visit the concept store in Bussum to try out different brushes.

Sources:, lottelovesbeauty, beautyspot, hynt, inika, drhauschka, our make-up artists