There are lots of different brushes, all for different needs. The most common types are powder brushes, foundation, concealer, blush brushes, eye shadow brushes, brow brushes, eyeliner, lipstick and contour brushes..
There are specialized types too, like a lash comb and a spoolie, which is for brushing brows and lashes to get rid of clumps. Japanese type brushes are also becoming popular; kabuki brushes are small, dense round brushes, ideal for mineral make up application; tha Yachigo brush is a rounded, light blush brush that give a sheer look, and it can be used with creme products, despite being made from a natural bristle.
Now, lets look at the type of hair your brush is made from.
In basic terms, there are natural and synthetic types. Synthetics are better for the application of cream products, such as gel eyeliners, mousse blushers, liquid foundation, liquid blusher and natural hair is good for eye shadow and powder as it can give a silkier finish.
Natural hair includes goat, pony and sable, the most popular being the latter, which comes from the Squirrel. Sable is affordable, easy to clean and soft; goat is also another popular hair but is rougher and tends to be used for face brushes rather than eye brushes. The king of natural hair brushes is the Kolinsky, made from a weasel. Shu Uemura make brushes from Kolinsky that can cost up to $200!
Do not rule out scanning art shops for soft brushes if you are on a budget. Look for natural hair brushes, that come with a handle that is easy for you to hold.
When you go to buy your brushes, hold them in your hand and make sure it is light/heavy enough for you. Are the bristles firm enough? Pull the head of the brush gently – it is normal for a brush to shed a little, but if lots of hairs come off, especially after a few tugs then give the brush a miss. A well made brush should not be shedding constantly.
You may also buy sponges for applying your base or sponge applicators for eye make up – good for blending and intense application of loose pigments.
Foundation and concealer can often be applied with fingers too, since warmth helps blend the makeup into the skin. However, it if often more hygienic to use a brush – especially if your base is in a pot!
Here are a few ideas on which brushes you may want to buy for a basic kit:
1. A foundation brush (synthetic or natural hair is fine) small enough to get into creases.
2. A concealer brush, synthetic hair for the face and under the eye.
3. A powder brush, natural hair, big and fluffy.
4. A blusher brush, smaller than the powder brush with slightly denser bristles.
5. A lip brush, synthetic, quite firm.
6. Eye brushes; a few medium sized sable brush for applying the colour, a thin angled brush to apply liner, a rounded loose brush for blending,
Finally, always clean your brushes! It can be as often as every day or as little as once a month but remember you want the colors to be pure and not be muddy. Your face brushes should be cleaned at least once a week due to bacteria which can cause spots. You can use Isopropyl Alcohol, Baby Shampoo or specialist brush washing products to lengthen the life of your brushes.
Brand to try for brushes; MAC, Bobbi Brown, Chanel, Shu Uemura. Good affordable brands; The Body Shop, Ruby & Millie, Everyday Minerals.