A lot goes into your beauty product routine. First, you have to figure out what’s needed to achieve the right look. Then you have to shop for the perfect products based on our skin type and budget. And once you’ve got your arsenal of cosmetics, you need the right tools to to ensure flawless application and lasting results.
It may seem superfluous, but the right beauty tools can transform your look. (After all, Van Gogh didn’t paint “Starry Night” with his fingers.) Your face and hair are your canvas, and the tools are just as important as the products you’re using. If you’ve been using your hands to apply makeup, you’ll be amazed at how much more control you have with a makeup brush. And you’ll see that investing in the right blow dryer and round brush is worth it if you want a fabulous blowout.
Don’t feel daunted by the sheer variety of makeup tools out there. There’s one for each step of your routine. If you only purchase what you need (like these thirteen must-haves), you’ll have a streamlined collection. And once you start using them and see the magical results for yourself, you might even be emboldened enough to buy that mysterious Kabuki brush.
1. Lip Brush
When it comes to applying lipsticks, glosses, and liners, a good brush is key. Although you can easily apply these products as packaged, the color can smudge and fall outside of the lip line. With a brush, your have better control over the coloring, resulting in a smoother, more precise look. Not to mention you use less product with a lip brush, thus extending the life of your favorite lip color. Who doesn’t want that?
2. Foundation Brush
No matter how nimble your fingers may be, they won’t create the same coverage as a sponge. The curves of the hot-pink BeautyBlender sponge allows better access to the tricky areas, like around your nose and eyes. Bonus: the BeautyBlender is beloved for its staying power (it holds up much better than the average sponge).
3. Concealer Brush
Here’s another instance where your fingers fail you. In an interview with Vogue, makeup artist Daniel Martin explained that a concealer brush allows for a more even distribution that hides the blemish better. But that’s not the only benefit to choosing brush over finger. Although a common technique, using a finger to apply concealer actually makes the blemish worse by depositing more bacteria on the area. Ew! Save yourself the skin troubles and invest in a concealer brush. Just make sure to keep your brush clean – otherwise, it’s the bacterial equivalent of a grubby finger.
4. Blush Brush
Choosing the right blush brush depends on the look you’re trying to create, as one size does not fit all. If you want a bold swipe beneath your cheekbones, pick a medium-sized brush with a domed shape. But if you prefer a pop of color on each cheek, go for a brush that’s small and dense. You can invest in a brush that suits your particular style, or buy a few for every facial occasion.
5. Eyeshadow Brush
Eyeshadow loyalists know not to depend on the flimsy little foam applicators that come with your product. They’re tiny, they fall apart quickly, and they’re not customized for the specific look you might be going for. They’re also not going to allow you to vary your look. Different eyeshadow brushes allow for different styles, so start with a basic brush, and then decide if you want smoky, dramatic, or smudged lids (each one necessitates a different brush!).
If you’ve got stray hairs or an undefined arch, you’ll need a good pair of tweezers. And you can forget threading or waxing; brow experts still believe in tweezing as the best way to shape your eyebrows. The best tweezers will give you maximum control, so you can get those tiny hairs by the roots and avoid accidentally plucking your flesh.
7. Eyebrow Brush
8. Powder Brush
There is no reason not to finish off your look with a powder brush. And I don’t mean the teensy one that comes with your compact. In an interview with Allure, makeup artist Troy Surratt described the right powder brush to as having natural bristles, as they “have a cuticle—just like human hair—that really grabs pigment and holds on until you place it exactly where you want on the face.”
9. Brush Cleaner
Now you have the essential brushes needed to make your makeup shine – it’s time to learn how to take care of them. “For concealer and foundation brushes, [wash] at least once a week to prevent a buildup of product,” makeup artist Bobbi Brown told Allure. “Brushes that are used around the eyes should be cleaned at least twice a month, while all others can be washed once a month.” Brown recommends using soap and water or – if your brush is made of natural bristles –
brush cleanser. To get the cleanest tools, invest in a brush-cleaning glove that has the texture and strength you need to really give your brushes a thorough cleansing.
10. Nail File
While filing your nails every day is definitely overkill (and can lead to cracking and splitting), a file is necessary to shape your nails and smooth down rough edges as needed. Sally Hansen nail ambassador Tracylee tells Allure that “glass files, also known as crystal files, regardless of how they are used, seal the keratin layers together at the edge of the nail, preventing peeling and chipping.” Not to mention glass files can be cleaned, which ensures a hygienic manicure.
11. Nail Buffer
The key to smooth, shiny nails without a manicure lies in buffing, as it gives your nails some time to breathe in between coats of polish. To avoid having too many tools invest in a two-sided buffer that smooths with one side and polishes with the other.
12. Blow Dryer
Studies show that a salon blow-out is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Okay, maybe not studies, but we all know it. Investing in a good blow-dryer is one way to try for the results you get in a salon. You’ll want one with ceramic heating (as opposed to one that boils your hair dry – yikes! – and not surprisingly, results in breakage) and it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with common blowdrying mistakes.
13. Round Brush
If you want to efficiently blow dry your hair and create voluminous waves (who doesn’t?), it’s time to make friends with a round brush. A round brush with vents will dry your hair more quickly, and a ceramic core uses the heat from the dryer to polish your hair’s cuticle.
Images: Laura D’Alessandro, Britney M, Matt Trostle, kizzzbeth, sunshinecity/Flickr; maccosmetics, stilacosmetics, clinique, maybelline, tweezerman, covergirl, benefitcosmetics, thedrybar, oliviagardenint/Instagram