Flip through the pages of your favourite fashion magazine and you’re bound to find glossy page after glossy page of makeup looks you’re pretty sure you could rock … hard. Frosty aqua hues at Chanel? Easy. Flalwess, nearly poreless skin at Ruffian? Easy. Pouty red lips? Please, we could do that in our sleep. Or so we think. Getting those looks to appear just like they do on the models isn’t always easy (sadly we’re not blessed with Karlie Kloss’s skin or bone structure). Short of hiring a professional makeup artist to show up at your door every morning at 6am, you’re going to have to learn a few tricks of the trade and soon enough, you’ll be a pro yourself.

What we’ve learned is that the key to perfecting your makeup look is all in the tools you use. Get the right ones and you’re well on your way. We checked in with Toronto-based makeup artist
Amanda Elysia to find out which
5 makeup brushes you should stock your makeup bag with, plus find out just how to use them.

Makeup brushes: The foundation brush

The first brush to add to your makeup arsenal is a foundation brush, Elysia says, which is used to apply
liquid or cream foundation. “To apply foundation, first spritz the brush with a bit of moisture spray or water,” she says. “Dampening the brush will make the foundation easier to spread because it lessens the amount of moisture that the brush absorbs.” Elysia recommends dipping the brush into your foundation and dotting it around one area of your face to start. “Begin spreading the product using a criss cross motion,” she says. “Making little X’s will help the foundation not look streaky.”

Makeup brushes: The powder brush

The next brush Elysia recommends is a powder brush used for applying face powder. “You have a few options for brushes depending on your skin type,” she says. “For dry skin, you may choose to apply less powder – in this case, use a larger fluffy brush to apply a light layer of powder all over your face. For oilier skin or to apply powder foundation, choose a slightly smaller, denser brush to pack on more product. Choose a brush that suits the size of your face.”

What other makeup brushes are musts? Find out on the next page …
Makeup brushes: The angled blush brush

Next up: An angled
blush brush. “This can be used to apply blush to the cheek or to contour the face with bronzer/contouring powder,” says Elysia. “This brush is fluffy enough to blend powder products easily but small enough to be precise in your application.” To get the best results, Elysia says to dip the brush into your blush or bronzer and tap off the excess. “Place the brush lightly on your face where you want the highest concentration of pigment to be and begin lightly brushing back and forth,” she says. “Slowly begin adding more pressure to blend. And remember that if you
applied a liquid foundation, to first apply face powder all over to prevent your blush from sticking in spots and looking blotchy!”

Makeup brushes: The eye shadow shader brush

This brush, used to apply eye shadow, should suit your eyelid size. “Also, one that has natural bristles works best because it holds onto eye shadow better than synthetic brushes, making it easier to pack on more without as much fallout,” says Elysia. TIP: Use a patting motion to apply eye shadow to concentrate the colour and reduce fallout.

Makeup brushes: The fluffy eye shadow crease brush

If a perfect smoky eye has been eluding you, it might be because you’re missing this key tool for crating the look. “This brush is essential in getting that blended
smoky eye look,” says Elysia. “After using the flat shader brush to apply your eye shadow, take a clean fluffy crease brush and brush back and forth wherever there are any harsh lines. This will easily soften your eye look by blending colours together.”

Find out what makes a good makeup brush and what to look for in brushes on the next page …
What to look for when shopping for makeup brushes

Before you hit the makeup counter and whip out your credit card to buy your brushes, know what you’re on the lookout for. Alas, not all makeup brushes are created equal. There are a few key things to keep in mind. According to Elysia, natural brushes are best for eye shadow, especially when you want to pack on a desired colour and avoid fallout. “Soft synthetic brushes are perfect for all other products where fallout is less of an issue, like foundation, powder, blush and lip products,” she says. “They feel luxurious on the skin, are cruelty-free and will last many years.”

Another thing to consider is the density of the brush you’re using. “Poor quality brushes are often lacking in bristles,” says Elysia. Even if the brush looks lush in the package, you may remove it only to find that its bristles are sparse. The best way to know for sure is to handle the brush yourself. “Flimsy brushes cannot hold much product and do not hold up to the necessary pressure needed to apply and blend,” says Elysia. “Find a store where they have brush testers that you can play with. Pick up the brush and brush it back and forth on the back of your hand. Can you apply a fair amount of pressure before the bristles bend? Or does it feel flimsy?” You also want to make sure that the brush doesn’t shed bristles easily. “It is not uncommon for bristles to shed the first time you clean the brush, but it should not be an ongoing issue. Synthetic brushes and handmade natural brushes are less likely to shed.”

Ultimately, your brush should feel soft and luxurious on your skin, not stiff and scratchy. A lot of your decision will be based on personal preference but Elysia says to remember that the most expensive brushes are not necessarily the best. Test them for yourself first. “The only way you’ll know is if you touch before you buy!”

Read more:
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