When you’re just starting out on your make up journey, it’s sometimes hard to know where to save and where to splurge – the base? the lipsticks? the brushes? How to fill your make up bag without wasting your hard earned cash (or pocket money)? These are really hard question to answer. There are so many products on the market already, and every month or so the beauty PR machine tries to convince us that our lives won’t be full until we buy whatever they have just pushed into the market.
In simple words, it’s easy to get lost in this jungle of brands and products.
So today I wanted to bring you a little guide on how to choose make up brushes that will make your morning make up routine so much easier, won’t break the bank and will last you a long time. Sounds impossible? Trust me, it isn’t.
When it comes to choosing the make up brushes, I recommend that you try to touch them before you buy. It’s actually much easier said than done, as most brushes are sold sealed, with no ‘testers’ in sight. However, if you are buying somewhere like MAC, they have all their brushes on display and you can give them a stroke. Do they feel soft or are they scratching your skin? Try to run them across the inside of your wrist, that’s where the skin is very, very thin, like that on your face (I don’t recommend actually running the testers across your face, god only knows who touched them). If it’s scratchy and just doesn’t feel nice, don’t buy it. You won’t enjoy using such brushes on your delicate eye lids.
But if you can’t touch them, which will be the case in most situations, what should you do?
Let’s start with the basics and set your budget. You don’t have to splurge on MAC or Suqqu (god, I’d love a Suqqu brush, I’ll buy one when I write my first bestseller), you can get amazing brushes for literally a few pounds. So decide how many brushes you will buy and how much you want to spend per brush and overall. Just keep in mind that face brushes will cost more than eye brushes (obviously, because they’re bigger). Around £12-15 for bigger face brushes and around £7-9 for smaller and eye brushes should be more than enough (though there are exceptions, for example, Real Techniques brushes are currently on offer in Boots and the big face ones can be bought for around £8).
Once you have your (hopefully reasonable) budget, there’s another decision to be made – synthetic or natural bristles. A few years ago, I’d probably have told you to go natural all the way, so in love I was with my MAC 217 (an absolute legend of a brush). But I recently looked at my brush belt (I actually own one) and realised the ones I use every day are mostly synthetic (except for that one 217, and some Zoeva eye brushes). What’s more, I haven’t bought a natural bristle brush in years. I’d say the synthetic brushes made these days keep their shapes really well, are super soft, not to mention cruelty free, so to me the choice is obvious.
Now you might want to decide if you want to buy brushes individually or in sets. Sets will come out cheaper per brush, but you need to really consider if you will find all the brushes in the set useful. You might end up only using two and realising it’d have been cheaper to just buy them individually. I have that with my Real Techniques face set – I only use 1 out of 4 regularly, but to me this one was totally worth it, because at the time this brush wasn’t sold individually.
One thing that you might not be considering is whether you want your brushes to have long or short handles. It’s a personal preference, also dependent on what you’re using the brushes for. If you do other people’s make up, you might find you prefer the longer handles. I personally like mine short, because otherwise I end up hitting the mirror with the handle, and I also hold them very close to the bristles anyway, so what’s the point of a kilometre long handle?
Do you want your bristles stiff (don’t mistake with scratchy, it just means quite inelastic, brushes should never ever be scratchy) or soft? I personally go for so soft I just like running them across my cheek, but I know some people prefer more of a bounce. Check out your friends’ brushes, it might give you an idea of what you prefer.
Now that you’ve decided all this, how do you actually make the choice? Well, that’s the hard part, especially as you usually can’t check them out in store. The only thing you’re really left with are online reviews and recommendations from friends. If you see that some blogger has brushes you’re considering, likes them, but hasn’t mentioned some of the things I touched upon here, message them, I’m sure they’ll be happy to help you. Or you can contact the manufacturer directly.
As for my recommendations, my absolute favourites are Zoeva (can be bought here), a German brand that makes absolutely beautiful, affordable, soft brushes, and some great make up palettes, too. I have quite a few of them, and they’re lovely. Just keep in mind some of their brushes have natural bristles, but they have a vegan line as well. The Luxe Smoky Shader has got to be my favourite brush for putting eye shadow all over the lid.
Another fantastic brand I use is Real Techniques, with brushes designed by Sam and Nic Chapman (also known as the Pixiwoo sisters), who are two brilliant British make up artists. They can easily be found in drugstores and sometimes in TK Maxx. Once again, lovely, soft, synthetic, affordable AND pretty (just look at the colourful handles). Have had them since high school, they haven’t even shed a hair. And the big blush brush is absolutely perfect for blushing up your cheeks.
I use those two brands whenever I do make up, and I don’t see myself replacing them with anything else unless they fall apart. Which they probably won’t in the foreseeable future. If you’re about to buy your first make up brushes, or are looking to fill in the gaps in your collection, I’d recommend going with either of those (or a mixture of the two), though if you can afford to splurge, then you can’t go wrong with MAC, either.