We talk a lot about beauty products but sometimes it’s the tools that make all the difference between “artful” and “aarrggh.” Even as a self-described Makeup Minimalist, there are some tools I just do not want to be without.
How did I ever function without a lighted, magnifying mirror? Especially when one is near-sighted, it makes ALL the difference!
While some prefer application with fingers, I’ve found various options that provide a quicker and more even application. If you can splurge, the Kevyn Aucoin Foundation Brush is my gold standard. This baby evenly distributes foundation without waste, and the tapered tip of the brush gets into tight areas like under eyes and the corners of the nose. Because the bristles are so densely packed, liquid and cream foundations and BB/CC creams go on without streaking and don’t require a lot of blending. My only gripe is the long handle which can be awkward when you’re working close to a mirror.
IT Cosmetics has created a line of brushes for Ulta Cosmetics. Karen alerted me to the “Airbrush OMG!” foundation brush, which is a darn good and a moderately priced alternative to the Kevyn Aucoin brush. The shape is slightly flatter and not as tapered, but the application is just as smooth. The bristles are synthetic, so non-allergenic and extremely soft. Karen uses the Velvet LBD Brush as a second step to buff the CC Cream to a velvet and very natural looking finish. I like it to apply a finishing powder.
After reading so many glowing reviews of the BeautyBlender sponge, I had to give it a try. After a getting the hang of it, I get what the fuss is all about. It’s used damp, which prevents absorption of product, and provides a very sheer, very natural looking finish. (You don’t need the special cleanser; a gentle hand soap or baby wash works just as well. Wash weekly.)
Even if you don’t wear mascara (or any other eye makeup for that matter)…if you have straight lashes, before you do anything else, curl them. It will open up your eyes and make you look more awake. After shu uemura stopped selling their cult-status curlers in the U.S., I tried several different options. My favorite so far is this one from Kevyn Aucoin. Remember to warm up your curler with your blow dryer for a few seconds (warm NOT hot!); your lashes will curl more easily and hold the curl longer. Start at the base of the lashes, use gentle pressure and then move to tips, 2 or 3 curls. Opinions vary on how often to replace the pads/curler. I tend to replace the pad every 4-6 months and the curler annually. Remember to use your curler before mascara, less risk of damaging your lashes. And clean your curler regularly; I use a cotton pad dampened with a bit of Bioderma Sensibio H2O.
When it comes to eyeshadow, I’m a simpleton: one color from lashes to just above the crease. If you use powder shadow, the Trish McEvoy Angled Contour Brush gets the color exactly where you want it in one or two sweeps.
I’m never without spoolies. Keep a few on hand to remove mascara clumps, or dial back eyebrows from Mommie Dearest territory if you’ve gone a bit heavy-handed with the brow pencil.
If you use a powder blush or bronzer, an angled brush provides amazing control over application. For creme blushes, a “stippling” brush can produce a very subtle, natural looking application, especially if working with a very vivid color. Swirl into the product then apply in small circular motions to blend. Try it!
If you use a loose or compact finishing powder, you’ll get a more natural look with a large brush. This one from Sonia Kashuk is good, so is the LBD brush from It Brushes if you need a bit more targeted coverage.
Take It Off, Take It All Off
You know I’m going to flog the Clarisonic again. Even though I’ve dialed back to using every other day on the recommendation of my dermatologist, nothing gets your face as clean. (As one blogger said, it “rattles the crap right out of your pores.”) Be sure to get the softest brushes and use in a gentle circular motion (don’t apply pressure). I noticed a huge difference in my skin when I started using this device.
If you’re using waterproof eye makeup, you may need to start with a cotton pad soaked in an eye makeup remover. There are several out there that are effective; I’m currently using this one from Clarins (bottle lasts for months).
On The Road
I love it when I can find short-handled versions of my favorite brushes. (See “near-sighted” above.) Look for travel sets that include at least 2 brushes you normally use. (The best time though to shop for travel brush sets is before the holidays.)
Whew! What are your favorite Beauty Tools?
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