I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while now. Pretty much ever since I posted my brush cleaning guide. And here it finally is. My favorite brushes!
I went back and forth about exactly how to handle this and finally decided to include only my truly favorite brushes. The ones I reach for all the time and am actually bummed about if they’re unavailable (i.e., they need to be cleaned and I haven’t gotten around to it yet). As such, if I don’t have a favorite brush (or brush-like tool) in a particular category, I haven’t included it. So, here we go…
The foundation (pun, intended) of any look is the base, and for the vast majority of my foundation/BB/CC creams, my preferred application method by far is with the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge. I mostly use the flat edge of the sponge to 1/2 stipple, 1/2 massage the product in. This method leaves me with a natural, flawless coverage. Well, ok, almost flawless… let’s be fair, makeup can’t perform actual “miracles” 😉 Also, I’ve recently started experimenting with powder foundations, and I quite like how the rounded edge of this sponge applies them. Definitely preferable to wiping them on with a flat powder puff.
I do have some base products that I find look best when they get a bit more of a buff into the skin (e.g., my Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation). The Real Techniques Buffing Brush is my go-to for this. It’s nice and dense, but not too firm or stiff, and I prefer the slightly rounded shape to the blunt, flat-top types of buffing brushes.
For the rest of the brushes, we’ll start at the top of the face and work our way down
Had to be my Real Techniques Lash-brown Groomer. I am fairly obsessed with combing out my lashes after I apply mascara, as I HATE clumpy lashes. I find plastic lash combs to be a complete waste of space, the teeth are always too fat and widely-spaced. I ❤ the metal comb on this brush and very much appreciate being able to flip it around and give my unruly brows a bit of a brush through.
For packing color on the lid, my go to is the Sigma Beauty E55. It’s nice and dense, so it can pick up a lot of product and lay it down well. It’s a bit on the short side, so I do sometimes have to dip back and forth from shadow pan to eye to get color all over my lid, but I often find that shadow brushes that are too long aren’t sufficiently dense.
Eye shadow blending
This is the brush I reach for most often when I want a lighter wash of color, or to blend color out through the crease. I’m in the market for a fluffier blending brush and am considering something in the Sigma E30 line… please do let me know if you have any recommendations!
Cream Eye Shadow
I used to just use my finger to apply or blend cream eye shadows, but, that tends to turn into kind of a mess, both literally and aesthetically. I find the Real Techniques Deluxe Crease Brush to be a great shape, size, and density to pick up, apply, and blend all manner of cream eye shadow products.
This brush is definitely my latest obsession. As I’ve mentioned dark circles have been in permanent residence under my eyes since birth. Historically, I’ve preferred to apply my correctors with the tip of my ring finger, in a sort of patting motion. I still do this as a final step to help melt the product in, but I’ve really been enjoying using this brush to sweep product on. It’s very soft and light, so it doesn’t pull at that delicate area, and I find I need less product to achieve the same level of coverage. Bonus, it comes with it’s own case to protect the brush tip against dirt and damage! More on that later…
“Pin point” Concealing
The concealment products (and method) I use for any discoloration on my face are quite different from my under-eye concealing procedure. I like to use what Lisa Eldridge calls “pin point” concealing, and I find the Real Techniques Detailer Brush to be ideal. The pointy tip applies product exactly where I need it, and then I can use a combo of the flat edges and my finger to pat/blend the product in around the edges.
We know I love my sculpty blushes, and I find the Sigma F40 to be a perfect fit along the contour of my cheek bone, while being sufficiently fluffy to do a good job of blending. This brush also has a good sized point at the tip for when I (occasionally) go for blush application more on the apples of my cheeks.
I’m pretty much rubbish at applying cream blush. It ends up streaky or otherwise poorly blended. Luckily, I find the ELF Small Stipple Brush is pretty much my best friend when it comes to this job. The bristles are hearty enough to pick up product, but fluffy and flexible enough to give a well-diffused, even wash of color without me feeling like I’m repeatedly poking myself in the face.
I recently extolled the virtues of the ELF Beautifully Bare Blending Brush in my ELF minihaul so I won’t bore you again. Suffice it say, I believe this brush to be perfect for both application and blending of contour.
Since we’re speaking of brushes and brush-related topics, I thought I’d end by sharing my new brush storage method. I used to store my brushes in an open container, brush tip up, to keep the brush heads from getting smushed. Recently, however, I’ve become fairly grossed out by how quickly they accumulate dust and, hence, become unusable without a cleaning. I hate things that require me to clean more. So, I recently got myself a little 2-drawer brush case. I’m quite happy with this new dust-free storage mechanism, but the drawers are a bit smaller than I thought. So, I may need to buy more…
A few final words:
- All these products are synthetic, so they clean quite nicely.
- There are a few brush brands I’m still dying to try… Zoeva, Furless Cosmetics, Beauty Blender, to name a few… would be grateful to know your thoughts 🙂
- It’s worth noting that sometimes, there’s no better tool than a clean finger. To get the best color payoff, I think some products just apply best that way. Examples for which I find that to be the case include the Colour Pop eye and cheek products, and the Makeup Geek foiled shadows.
*These are only my opinions, formed through my personal experience as a consumer. I am not a medical doctor, an aesthetician, or a health/beauty professional. There is no guarantee what effect, positive or negative, these products may have on anyone else.
**All products were purchased by me from brands that, to the best of my knowledge, are cruelty-free.
7 replies to “Favorite cruelty-free brushes!”
I really like the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush for applying foundation. I also really like the e.l.f. Small Stipple Brush, and I even use it for powder blushes that are just too bold/pigmented for applying with a regular blush brush. Great post! 🙂
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I am a big fan of the Expert Face Brush, too! I just find I like that little bit of extra fluffiness the Buffing Brush has. And thanks for the tip re: the ELF Small Stipple and powder blushes; I have a few dark shades I’ve been afraid to use but now I’ll give that a try 🙂
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Great post !!! I love RT brushes so much too 🙂
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Thank you! I know, right 🙂
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