2015 was a good year for makeup brushes for me. I tried lots of new brushes and they definitely helped me to up my game and apply my makeup better. Using the right tools is especially important for mature people with “less than perfect” skin. In my experience the best brushes for mature skin tend to be softer and offer more give so they don’t pull the skin.
I’ve tried a lot of brushes from a $110 hand-crafted grey-squirrel blush brush to a $3 mass-produced drugstore brush. I have brushes from Sigma, Bobbi Brown, MAC, IT Cosmetics, Tarte, Buxom, The Balm, Sephora, Real Techniques, Sonia Kashuk, & Beauty Junkees. For me, it’s not the price of the brush that matters as much as the shape, size and softness. I have to say I never use that $110 blush brush (it’s just not the right size and shape for me), but I use that $3 Elf brush every day!
When I pull out my favorites I notice that they’re mainly from 3-4 brands, those being IT Cosmetics, Real Techniques, and Beauty Junkees. Pricing for those brands fall into the low to mid range so whether you’re looking for a starter set, or one special use brush, you can find a recommendation here.
Here are my favorite brushes for each type of makeup application:
Liquid Foundation Brushes: For liquid foundation I like a super-soft domed kabuki brush like the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush. This type of rounded top brush buffs liquid foundation into the skin smoothly and evenly. A brush like this gives heavier coverage than using a blending sponge or a stippling brush.
Powder Foundation Brushes: My 2 favorites for powder foundation are both from IT Cosmetics. I find that different powder foundations need different brushes depending on the consistency of the powder so it can take some experimentation to find the right combination.
For my IT Cosmetics Celebration Foundation, I like the IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection #7 brush ($48). It’s a dual-ended synthetic fiber brush (all IT Cosmetics brushes are cruelty free) that has a ton of super soft bristles on a compact domed head. One end is for detail work like around my nose and eyes, and the other larger end is for buffing powder all over the face.
I use the IT Cosmetics Airbrush Mega Powder #127 brush ($30) for applying my Becca Perfect Skin Mineral Powder foundation. It’s an oversized flat-top brush with soft fluffy bristles that’s perfect for a soft powder like the Becca. It’s loosely packed longer bristles don’t pick up too much powder and doesn’t leave my face looking cakey!
My all-time favorite is the Crown IB-120 Kabuki Fan Brush ($11.55). My blush always went on in a circle on the apple of my cheek (not flattering on more mature women since many of our problems are concentrated in that area), but this brush solved that problem. I use it to start my blush high on my cheekbone by my ear and draw the brush down to the center of my eye, then I turn it 90 degrees and blend the blush into my bronzer for a seamless look.
Other blush brushes I like are the IT Cosmetics Airbrush Blurring Powder #126 brush ($26),
and the MAC Long Blending brush #137 ($42). I love the ‘peter cottontail’ shape of this brush and think it’s great for blush, setting powder or even ambient lighting powder. Unfortunately, it sheds a lot… I’m hoping it’ll stop and become a fave.
For bronzer I like a soft, fluffy, loose pouf shape like the Real Techniques Blush Brush ($8.99),
or the IT Cosmetics Airbrush Powder Wand #108 ($26). These brushes can be used to do a soft contour or an all over bronzing because they help blend powder bronzer beautifully.
Contouring Brushes: Contouring was a big deal in 2015 and it seems like the trend will continue into 2016 so I got a couple of specialty sculpting brushes to try with cream bronzer.
The one I like best is the IT Cosmetics Velvet Luxe Soft Focus Sculpting brush #315 ($34). Like the name suggests, it’s velvety and luxurious with a compact angled head for precise application of contour cream or powder while being soft enough to blend.
I also picked up the Real Techniques Sculpting brush ($9.99) to compare, and the two are remarkably similar for the huge price difference. The RT brush doesn’t feel as luxe as the IT brush, but it gets the job done.
I like a much smaller brush for applying highlighting cream or powder since I think mature women have to be careful to apply it sparingly and only in certain flattering areas. My go-to brush to use with any highlighter is the Real Techniques Setting brush ($7.99). It also makes a good brush for setting powder.
Setting Powder Brush:
For setting my makeup with translucent powder there’s only one brush for me and that’s the ELF Blush Brush ($3). It picks up the right amount of loose powder and I can apply it selectively to areas that I want to mattify or smooth so I don’t end up looking powdery or cakey.
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