Everything You Wanted to Know About Eyeshadow Brushes
You don’t need twenty brushes to get flawless eyeshadow application, but a few good, multitasking brushes can really change the way your eyeshadow looks. I’m going to walk you through some of the different types of eyeshadow brushes there are available, but more importantly, I’m going to recommend you the essential brushes you should keep your eye out for.
Why fingers and sponge-tip applicators are less than the best… Fingers can be unsanitary, to be honest, but you have natural oils in your skin (including those fingers!), and every time you touch your eyeshadow with your finger, some of that oil can be left behind. This is often why tester eyeshadows at makeup counters are hardened or otherwise look disgusting. I won’t knock ya if you just use your fingers to blend out, do some touch-ups, and the like, but when it comes to applying from pan to skin–brushes are more hygienic and will keep your eyeshadows in better shape in the long-run! Both fingers and sponge-tip applicators tend to waste product, as well, because they absorb a lot of the product without depositing the majority of it. Sponge-tip applicators can have their place (often for very sheer, powdery, or glittery shades), but brushes–at least, in my experience–go the distance.
Application brushes are often flatter, denser, and firmer overall. These brushes go from pan to lid, but they don’t necessarily work for blending colors together, but they’re designed to transfer the color from the pan onto the lid without losing the product in-between. These include brushes like Laura Mercier All Over Colour Brush, MAC 239, NARS Eye Shader, and Sephora #12.
Brow brushes are typically thin with a defined and/or angled edge. Often, brow brushes are used to apply a brow product to the brow to give brows a fuller look aka filling in your brows. You can also have brow brushes that are more to groom the brow into place (often a spoolie brush or what looks like a mascara wand). These include brushes like Bare Escentuals Angled Brush, MAC 266, NARS Brow Shader, and Smashbox #12.
Blending brushes are often fluffier and slightly tapered or domed. These brushes are used mostly to blend colors already applied to the lid. They help to make colors blend seamlessly with each other and help fade harsh lines of demarcation. These include brushes like MAC 217, NARS Large Domed Eye, Sephora #10, and Stila #9.
Check out suggestions for crease, eyelining, and brow brushes… as well as some general brush buying advice!
Crease brushes are often longer, slightly fluffy, and come to a tapered tip. These brushes can be used for both defining the crease as well as for blending out the crease color once it’s been applied. The longer the brush is, the less control you will have over it. If you want a very defined crease, use a smaller, more pencil-tipped crease brush instead of a wider, fluffier one. These include Bare Escentuals Crease Defining, MAC 219/224, NARS Large Domed Eye/Small Domed Eye, and Sephora #10.
Eyelining brushes are small with either a thin, fine point or thin, angled edge. These brushes can be used to line the upper and/or lower lash line using cream, gel, liquid, or powder eyeliner. Larger angled edges can also be used to create a very defined crease as well. These include MAC 208, NARS Angled Eye Shader, and Sephora #23.
Lash brushes can be made out of bristles, metal, or plastic. Most lash brushes are “combs” to help keep those lashes from looking clumpy or spidery, and these are typically made out of metal or plastic (FYI, metal is seriously more effective than plastic). Some lash brushes are designed to apply mascara to the lashes, so those tend to be made out of more traditional brush bristles. These include brushes like Sephora #21.
If you can only afford one brush, I would suggest a lightly fluffed, denser, dome-shaped brush. This is, in my eyes, a very general purpose, multi-tasking brush that can both apply eyeshadow without sheering it out, but it has enough fluff to allow you to blend colors together. I can assure you it is quite possible to use only one brush to get good results, because I only used MAC’s 239 for over a year to do my eye makeup. Just that brush! If you only have one eyeshadow brush, the best way to maximize its effectiveness is to always apply from light to dark. If you have an extra five minutes, wipe your brush against a wet wipe (like Wet Ones), wait thirty seconds to a minute to dry, and then your brush will be a little bit cleaner for the next shade. Additionally, wash your brush after each look, so you don’t end up with a muddied brush the next time.
If you’re looking for three multi-tasking brushes, I would suggest your basic application brush, a blending brush, and a crease brush. This takes care of the basic application technique of eyeshadow on the lid, eyeshadow in the crease, and then blending everything together for that smooth, even look.
If you’re looking for a nice set of five eyeshadow brushes to get you through most bumps and bruises of eyeshadow application, I suggest your basic application brush, blending brush, crease brush, angled eyeliner brush, and either a secondary eyeshadow application brush or angled eyeliner brush (depending on what you use more often). If you’re a brow fiend, then I’d suggest an angled brow brush for filling in brows as your fifth brush instead. The beauty or purchasing your own “set” is you can choose the brushes you need and will use most often.