The only five make-up brushes you actually need

Five brushes, covering all budgets, and not a sponge applicator in sight

'Over the years since training as a makeup artist, I have amassed a shamefully large collection of brushes.'

'Over the years since training as a makeup artist, I have amassed a shamefully large collection of brushes.'

 

“Beauty tools” used to refer to your fingers and those terrible sponge applicators that come inside bad quality eyeshadow compacts and immediately go into the bin. Now, that term refers to everything from brushes and sponges to silicone applicators that would look more at home beefing up your bra cups than applying your foundation.

Over the years since training as a makeup artist, I have amassed a shamefully large collection of brushes and tools and tried just about every new beauty fad. Still, I find myself reaching for the same handful of reliables on a daily basis. The beauty industry turns on the tale that every new product release is a reinvention of the wheel, but they can keep their automated brushes and home airbrush machines and weird plastic sponges. There will always be something new. If you take joy in a vast collection of tools, then good for you, but all you really need is a basic capsule collection of five brushes; five to rule them all.

The No 141 PS…Pro Touch-Up Brush (€3 from Penneys) is a ridiculously affordable recent find that I won’t be without. It’s ideal for buffing concealer or powder under eyes. In a pinch, you can use it for powder shadow, highlighter or even foundation. I recently managed to do a whole face of makeup in the back of a cab with two of these and a brow brush. The driver proffered judgmental glances, but my makeup looked well by the time I got out, though there was one minor injury when I took the point of a brow brush to the cornea.

That brow brush (very excellent provided you don’t jam it into your eyeball on a speed bump) is the Bobbi Brown Brow Definer Dual End Brush (€35). I have kept the same one faithfully in my everyday makeup bag for about six years. The stiff hairs create clean, precise lines and the little spoolie on the other end, endowed with a spritz of hairspray, will set brows perfectly.

The MAC 217 Blending Brush (€26) is iconic for a reason – nothing blends eyeshadow like it.

For the heavy lifting of applying a cream or powder eyeshadow base, I like the Real Techniques Eye Shade Blend Set (€13.99). The two fluffy little brushes in the set are small enough to use even along the lash line, and double as nice concealing brushes for blemish cover. You can make do with one, but the set works out less expensive.

While brands like Mac and Bobbi Brown offer excellent brushes, if your budget doesn’t stretch, Zoeva is an affordable brush brand which is a recent addition to Arnotts. Their brushes are professional quality, looking and feeling significantly more luxuriant than the price tag. For a good multi-tasker, try the Zoeva 105 Luxe Highlight Brush (€16 from Arnotts). The pointed tip makes precision application of powders easy, while the surrounding, shorter bristles blend the product for soft edges. The shape makes it ideal for blush, contour and highlighter. Just don’t stick it in your eye.

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