Achieving a flawless face isn't just about the makeup, but how it's applied. The right tools can help you achieve your makeup goals more precisely and easily. "Every makeup brush, like other makeup tools, has its own function," says makeup artist Laura Mercier. "But you don't need them all. Choose the tools that make sense for you."
To help, Laura has suggested some of the most essential—and easy-to-use—makeup tools. Take a look. They just might have a place in your makeup bag!
This fluffy eye shadow brush isn't just smart for applying your eye color accurately, but preserving it. "If you put fingers in your eye shadow, then you add moisture to it from your fingers, and that causes your shadow to become packed and cakey," advises Laura. "A brush is also best because a [cotton swab or spongey applicator] doesn’t allow you to manage the eye powder with as much precision." Laura suggests brushing eye shadow onto your eyelid and brow bone, using a matte shadow all over the lid and then a light shadow with a little shimmer on the brow bone to highlight it.
The skin around the eyes is delicate and can get a little crinkly and saggy as we age, making it more difficult to apply eye makeup smoothly and evenly. A small, narrow brush makes applying makeup around the tiny corners and creases of your eyes simpler. Laura says small, tight brushes can also help create eyes that really pop because they allow you to accent the eyes' contours more exactly. They also make applying eye color to the lash line a snap.
Laura also says most women just need one good small brush. Which one to choose? A couple of small brushes that Laura suggests are a broad, tapered crease brush or a small ponytail brush. A crease brush helps control eye color along the crease of your eyelid. A ponytail brush is great when you want to lightly layer and blend color along the crease of the eye. If eyeliner is more your style, then consider a pointed eyeliner brush that allows you to control the thickness of the liner by how much pressure you apply with the brush.
As with powder eye shadow, never put your fingers in your powder blush to prevent it from caking. A blush brush is the way to go for perfect rosy cheeks. It's designed to define the natural curves of the cheek area.
Starting at the center of your cheekbone, sometimes called the "apple" of the cheek, gradually move your blush brush in a round circle. And voilà! Your blush will look natural, and you'll look warm, youthful and happy.
Applying foundation with your fingers is a big no-no, cautions Laura. If you do, then you'll inevitably slather on more than you need, and it'll appear uneven.
Sponges are best to apply foundation. Using a sponge, you can dab foundation on with control, and sponges are relatively gentle on your skin. Laura says to dab foundation "here and there" to even out redness or other discoloration.
Use a cotton puff (not a cotton ball) to apply powder to set your marvelous made-up face. "I'm against using a large brush to apply powder because the powder gets splashed on unevenly," says Laura. "With a brush, the powder is concentrated where you first place the brush, then poofs away. With a cotton puff, you can press the powder on your face evenly while also pushing the pigment of your makeup into your skin. Press it gently; don't smear it."
It's a rare woman who doesn't need tweezers, and not just to tailor eyebrows. Laura says women tend to get a little moustache or a little more facial fuzz as they age, and tweezers are a tried-and-true way to pluck out unwanted hair on the face.
An eyelash curler is an essential tool for women who have straight eyelashes. It curves eyelashes upward to show off your beautiful eyes. "Just remember," Laura cautions, "to use the curler before you apply mascara. Your eyelashes are more brittle once mascara is applied to them, so curling them after applying mascara may cause them to break."