2013: the year for achieving your dreams!
I just made this up, like just now! I think it is an absolutely awesome mantra to repeat and remember for this year. The sky's the limit! If you can think it, you can produce it. THINK BIG.
Ok, now onto business: Makeup Brushes. One of the key factors in applying your makeup like a pro. The tools are what separate the novice from the intermediate makeup user. The other key factors include, skill and knowledge. I think it all works interdependently - once you have the tools, practice and the skills and knowledge will follow.
For an individual who is venturing out and exploring more with makeup, not necessarily a beginner or one who is new to makeup all together, but maybe one who rests on her ole' reliable products: this post is definitely for you. An excellent beginner friendly set of makeup brushes that are of professional quality and a brush set that is notches above your drugstore set of brushes is the Make Me Crazy Essential Kit that retails for $120.
The focus of this post is to showcase each tool in the process I use for makeup application: eyeshadow, eyeliner, concealer, foundation and face. I am also speaking about these brushes as if these are the only brushes you own - or how to use all the brushes in your daily looks / routines.
Eyeshadow: There are five brushes in this set best suited for a pro-like eyeshadow application. They are: E30 - Pencil; E40 - Tapered Blending; E55 - Eye Shading; E60 - Large Shader and the E70 - Medium Angled Shading. Again, how to approach your eyeshadow application really depends on the desired look; basically the order in which you apply your color. Generally speaking, I usually use a top, bottom, middle approach where I place the highlight color first, then the lid colors then the crease colors. Because each brush is very different in shape, use the brushes based on the size of your eye space and how many colors you plan on using on your lid or crease.
Beginning with the highlight I use the E60. Although it is "large" it is also a flat brush and just the edge can be used to apply highlight, then using the flat part to blend the color downward. The E55 is small enough to apply color to the lid. If you want two colors on the lid, use both sides of this brush. Again, use the edge of the brush for a more precise placement of color. The E40 is "decent." It is a little too large and fluffy for my liking. I use this to apply my transition color all over my eye. Because of its density, I think it's too large for applying transition color right below the brow bone. A transition color is your skin tone shade used to bridge two other colors together - usually the highlight and crease. The E70 however, can function more as a blending brush used to place your crease color in the crease and to blend out colors as well. I especially like this brush to contour my nose. The E30 is for more precise application of crease color, under the water line to set liner or for inner corner highlight.
Eyeliner: The E05 - Eye Line and the E65 - Small Angle brushes are the tools for eyeliner. Which one you use of course depends on the look. For me, it is easier to create a winged liner look with the angled brush, but the eye line brush can serve the same purpose. Out of all my brushes of varying brands, the E65 is my absolute favorite. It works very well with gel liners, has the right density and stiffness. The E05 is great for turning your shadow into a liner. By dampening your brush with preferably a setting spray, i.e. M.A.C. Fix+ or Elf Mist and Set, you can create eye liners in any color!
Concealer: F70 - Concealer brush is the only tool in this set designated for concealing small and hard to reach places like around the nose. However, for highlighting under the eye or just plan old concealing under the eye, this brush is too tiny for me. I use this brush with concealer to clean up my eyebrows. This brush is also awesome for applying cream shadows or glitter pigments with a damp brush. To conceal or highlight I typically use the foundation F60 brush.
Foundation: The two best tools to apply liquid foundation are the: F50 - Duo Fibre and the F60 - Foundation. A Duo Fibre (Fiber) brush is one made with both natural and synthetic hairs. Generally, synthetic brushes are better for liquid and cream based products and natural hair brushes are best for powder products. Overall, your desired outcome determines the use of your brush.
The pros and cons of each: when using either brush, because of the synthetic fibers you may get some streaking with your liquid products. To prevent the lines and streaks use a stippling motion with the F50 duo fiber then use circular motions to work the prooduct into the skin. Use a patting motion after you have applied the foundation with the F60 brush. By nature of the construct of a foundation brush you are literally painting the product onto your skin. The patting motion will smooth the foundation out and will remove the streaks. When using the tools properly you really can get an airbrushed finish with the foundation application.
Face: F30 - Large Powder is an extremly large brush, so it is perfect for setting foundation with a powder. Its tapered flare, when turned on its side, is great for powdering down the bridge of your nose and inbetween the eyebrows. The density is comparable to most large powder brushes; it is a very full brush and I love how it fans out in a 'V" shape with it more tapered at the ferrule (pronounced like fair-ul) of the brush. F40 - Large Angled Contour is the perfect blush and contour brush. The size is perfect to fit into the hollow of the cheek for the perfect placement of color.
Quality, Longevity and Maintenance
I actually went back to check my email to see that I started using this brush set in September of 2012. Lucky Magazine at the time had a discount code and I got my brushes, including S&H for under $100. If you click on the Sigma ad to the left of this post, you can also get a great discount!
Quality: 5 stars! I love the quality of these brushes. They do stand up very well next to a MAC or Bobbi Brown without the high end price. Some of the Sigma brushes are even cheaper than Sonia Kashuk brand sold only at Target.
Longevity: Here are some pictures of my brushes, recently washed - January 12, 2013. Regular cleaning and maintenance of your brushes will ensure their longevity.
Maintenance: Please see a previous post on How to Clean Makeup Brushes. Here's an update. In between deep cleanings, I dip my brushes into 91% rubbing alcohol. That's the highest I have found in drug stores (if you know where to buy 99% locally or via website please let me know!) I deep clean as needed, maybe about once a month. Another great product from Sigma is the Shape N Dry. I use this EVERY TIME I shampoo. It cuts drying time down and helps maintain the shape of the bristles. After I shampoo, I dip them into the rubbing alcohol to disinfect. Make sure brushes either dry upside down, or lying flat with the brush hanging over the edge of the surface to eliminate the posibility of mold.