Having the right set of brushes can mean the difference between years of great makeup applications—and years of mediocre ones. Makeup artist Troy Surrat, who has worked with Jennifer Lopez and Freida Pinto, tells us how to choose the right ones:
· Buy the best you can: “I really believe high quality brushes are worth the price,” says Surrat. A $60 blush brush, for instance, can last for decades (really!) if you care for it properly. Natural bristles work best; they’re fluffier and have a natural cuticle, like human hair, “that grabs pigment and holds it until you place it exactly where you want on the face.” Blue squirrel is the finest (and most expensive), but pony hair, goat, and kolinsky sable are also good. Don’t skip synthetic brushes altogether though—they’re best for applying creams and liquids.
· Keep them clean: Once a month, mix warm water with a little soap and swish the head of the brush around in it. For natural bristles, Surrat recommends shampoo (Aveda Shampure works well) and for synthetics, simple dish soap will work. Once they’re clean, rinse them well and blot with paper towels, then lay them flat until they dry completely. Don’t stand them up in a cup to dry—gravity will go to work on the wet hairs and pull them out of shape.
· Get the right set: The four most useful brushes are a large powder brush; a slightly smaller, fluffy brush for blush and bronzer; an eye-shadow brush that’s about the size of a fingertip, and a smaller shadow brush for smudging and blending. “Look for a slightly domed shape,” says Surrat. “It rolls best across the skin and deposits less pigment [all at once] so you can be precise.”
· Build a base: Don’t bother with a brush for foundation, says Surrat. “Foundation brushes tend to blob too much coverage right where they first touch your face,” he says. “I prefer using a damp Beautyblender sponge to stipple on makeup, because it allows for very sheer coverage.”