Cinderella had a magic wand when she needed an instant, night-ready makeover—for the rest of us, a makeup brush can be just as transformative and even more versatile when it comes to our
beauty routine. Plus, we bet that Cinderella never got to choose between a soft oval tip or fluffy chiseled head for dusting a rosy blush on her appled cheeks. (Hint: the rounder and softer your makeup brush, the better it is for the face). We chatted with Jenn Streicher, celebrity makeup artist (she’s Emily Blunt’s beauty red carpet go-to) for her essential beauty application tools and her tips on how to make your makeup brushes last beyond the stroke of midnight.
Makeup brush tip #1: Think long-term.
Just like one of mom’s never-fail beauty tips, we’re siding with the classic quality over quantity adage here: “Good-quality brushes are a great investment. If you take care of them properly, they could last you a lifetime,” says Streicher. “I have brushes in my kit that I have had over 15 years! I’d say it’s better to invest in a few expensive brushes than lots of inexpensive disposable brushes.” To be covered for every type of makeup application, try Alima Pure artist essential makeup brushes made with Taklon bristles for sensitive skin (approx. $52 at
Makeup brush tip #2: Have a varied set of makeup brushes.
Stock up your beauty bag: For every type of makeup application, there’s a brush for that. “I like to have a separate brush for separate uses,” says Streicher. “This depends on your personal makeup routine,” she explains. “But if I had to choose, I couldn’t live without my bronzing brush, blush brush and two eye shadow brushes—one allover lid and a pencil brush.”
For more expert beauty tips on selecting the best makeup brushes, read on…
Makeup brush tip #3: Take good care of your brushes (and they’ll take care of you!).
Imagine unwrapping your new Estée Lauder Pure Color Illuminating Powder Gelée, only to apply it with that tattered makeup brush from the tenth grade. “Clean brushes are very important,” says Streicher. She recommends cleaning makeup brushes after every use and washing them about once a week. “Washing your brushes not only removes bacteria and oils, it makes them softer.” To keep brushes at their fresh, full-bodied best, Streicher washes hers with a gentle hair shampoo. “I will only dispose of a brush if the bristles start falling out!”
Makeup brush tip #4: Choose a brush by the look you want to create.
Angling for one of this season’s hottest eye trends—the cat eye—this season? “A general rule of thumb is that the shorter, stiffer the brush, the more of a harsh line it will create,” says Streicher. To create a soft and pretty eye look just before a date, choose a romantic shade and sweep a large, round, puffy powder brush over the eyelid.
Makeup brush tip #5: Don’t split hairs over brush type.
Can’t decide between cruelty-free brushes and the luxe set made with goat hair bristles? “Synthetic-fibre brushes have their place and are also important to have in your kit.” Streicher advises. “I use these brushes for foundation, concealer, cream shadows, and cream eyeliners.” But she doesn’t rule out the animal-derived equivalent. “I think it’s great to have a variety and I would never choose one over the other—they work great together!”
Makeup brush tip #6: Build up an eclectic variety.
A sample bag of Streicher’s fave picks? “I invested in a few Bobbi Brown brushes when I was 18 and still have them—and I’m 38!” she says. She also suggests trying out the palette of brushes by M.A.C. Cosmetics, made with natural and synthetic fibres. “I have brushes from Chanel, Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, and Laura Mercier. But I also have brushes that I have purchased at makeup shows,” she adds. “I always love to shop for brushes when I am abroad. Collecting brushes can become a wonderful hobby.” Both luxe and functional, consider them your practical, portable beauty tool kit.
Bold eyeliner: Your summer makeup must
The secret behind gorgeous (faux) eyelashes
Your guide to shine-free skin
The key brushes you need for any hair style
For the latest in fashion, beauty and culture, sign up to receive ELLE's daily newsletter.