The top makeup tools you need: “You should have foundation and concealer brushes, a powder brush to set your makeup, a blush brush to add a hint of colour on the cheeks and a couple of eyeshadow brushes,” says the makeup artist Derek Selby, the North American director for Cover FX cosmetics.
For powders, look for natural hairs like goat, pony and sable. Their suppleness will prevent you from applying too much makeup. Taklon, a top-of-the-line synthetic, is great, too, especially for liquids such as foundation. Replace your brushes when the ferrule (the metal piece) starts coming off the handle and they start losing hairs.
For foundation, choose a large synthetic brush and for concealer, a soft-bristled but firm brush, which will let you both stroke and pat on product. Powder is best applied with a large, soft brush, which will evenly distribute it. Choose a medium-size soft brush for blush. For eyeshadow, look for a round-headed brush to shape and shade eyes; a flat-headed and angled one is best suited for eye lining and shaping and shading brows.
In an ideal world, brushes should be cleaned after each use. In the real world, once a week or once a month will do. “The oilier your skin or the more breakouts you have, the more you should wash them,” says Selby. To clean your brushes, wet them, add a cleaner like shampoo or liquid dishwashing soap to the hairs, then lather and rinse until the water runs clear. (Hold the brush down by the ferrule while you wash it so that water doesn’t get into the ferrule.) Apply alcohol on a tissue and sweep the brush over it to disinfect.
“People generally use too much product,” says Selby. Tap off excess on a tissue before applying. Use long strokes to provide a sheer wash of product and pat on more if you want greater coverage. “