A Comprehensive Guide To Using The Art Brushes I Told You To Buy Instead Of Makeup Brushes

Seriously, this article is LOADED with tips and pics.
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Annie
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Seriously, this article is LOADED with tips and pics.

I had to re-up my makeup brushes this week because I've got big plans to do VIDEO TUTORIALS on xoVain. Before I dive into that, I wanted to talk and talk and talk about what brushes I use, in the freak occurence that maybe you'd like to know. I've gotten a few comments and emails asking for a more in-depth, no holds barred, Geraldo Rivera-type look into the hairy slit of the art supply store: the brush aisle.

So here's what I bought:

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The quarter-inch angle brushes are so very, very important to me. A gel-liner cat eye is my superhero disguise for, like, when I save the world from ugly visuals. I'm also disgusting and let these get caked with dried liner crust, which reminds me of ANNIE'S WORD/PHRASE OF THE DAY: Snail Trail. This is the term that we used when I briefly worked at American Apparel for when the chicks from the Asian sororities would try to return spandex hotpants that they clearly wore to some frat party the night before, and clearly without underwear.

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So, yeah, get multiple quarter-inch angle brushes! I mean, if you're into gel-ed cat eyes; I didn't mention that the perfectness of the line decreases the more wear and tear your brush gets, especially if you're not good about cleaning them right after use.

In general, the more brushes the better--especially if you're into experimenting with different colors and types of makeup, which is why you buy them on the cheap at art stores, maybe even, I dunno... save a coupon or two? Hold on to that student I.D. card? Student discounts rule--I'll never stop learning!

IMPORTANT TIP: Keep one angle brush clean, only use it with makeup remover to clean up any edges or mess-ups.

Next, we have what I could use as a "precision liner" brush. I could see myself using this for painting on a really brightly colored liquid liner. You want a small brush that's tapered thin so you can easily control where the product goes.

If I'm doing a turquoise-lined cat eye, I want to make sure that I really keep the color off of my lashes. I'm really, really not into imperfect makeup that's supposed to look perfect, you know? Smoky eyes, greasy eyes, matted stained lips, tousled eyebrows: all are totally acceptable to seam like they happened through the selfie camera on white-dusted iPhone in the bathroom stall of some disgusting bar. Though, some makeup looks need to be perfect to be appreciated.

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So if you're into drawing on some lower lashes, like "'sup-I'm-probably-also-wearing-a-flower-crown," or tricky stuff like multiple, multi-colored striped eyeliner--basically anything super artistic that requires little clean lines--get a few of these.

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The little round flat brush is great if you do a whole eyelid of cream or gel liners, or wet powder shadows into a more opaque ink-type consistency. It gives a slightly bigger brush to paint a larger area of the eye, but is flat and stiff enough so that you can be pretty precise with the application. Also, this is a good shape for a lip brush, so maybe get a couple. I use one like this to dab illuminating powder on the tip of my cupid's bow. Like, when I'm trying to look cute.

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The short, flat, straight guy (lol wut?) is good for getting dark powder liners and dark gels right into the lash line--so the opposite of what I was talking about doing with the precision liner brush. Get an even shorter or stiffer version of this for drawing in eyebrows.

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The fluffier round brush is a good classic eyeshadow brush. Use with neutral colors or light, shimmery shadows, or darker shadows if you want a more dusted-on look--not something heavy. A larger one of these would be good for blending or for using with illuminating powder in small areas like the brow bone, the inner corners ("caves") of the eyes, and down the nose.

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The little pointed round brush (not pictured originally, I bought it a while ago) has recently become my favorite spot concealer brush. It works really well with the Kevyn Aucoin concealer pot when you're trying to color small areas of activities. A shape like this would be great for blending and smudging dark powder eyeliner, too.

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I only grabbed one larger brush because I use my fingers or a damp sponge for applying foundations, contour stuff, and blushes. (I mostly wear lipsticks as blush.) But this one is good for dusting a little translucent powder around your t-zone and under the eyes. I've used it for powder blushes, but I prefer a round-shaped brush liiiike...

**this**

**this**

What I always tell people who say that they're completely clueless with makeup and that it freaks them out, and blah blah blah: You've got to be willing to experiment. Don't take anyone's advice as the end-all-be-all beauty tip, even mine. (I mean, try mine out before you knock it... dur.)

This is huge when it comes with what brushes, or sponges, or fingers or whatever you want to apply your makeup with. Maybe it doesn't make sense when you try to explain aloud that you use the edge of a sponge to line your under-eyes, or an old, dried out mascara wand to comb your eyebrows. But if for some reason it works for you, use it. Being good at having a pristine, matching brush collection in a neat little folder doesn't mean that you're good at applying makeup.

Go ahead and tell me how gross it is that I make liquid liner in DIY change plates. I can't even hear you because everybody's complimenting how great my makeup looks! OMG SO LOUD.

I'm a paintbrush champion!

I'm a paintbrush champion!

I'm really messy with my makeup area, but it's because I'm experimenting and having fun with it a little bit. I mean, I used to melt stick concealer with the heat coming from my lighted makeup mirror. If you're relying on somebody at a makeup counter to teach you a good "look," you're doing it wrong. Do people still do that? I remember my friends' all having Clinique or Perscriptives or Elizabeth Arden little makeup kits that they'd apply with whatever brushes came in the compacts.

Even then I was like, "Baaaaassiiiiccc," because I'd been messing with full-faced looks made up of misfit makeup since I was, like, eight. There were no rules at the Kreighbaum house, nuh-un. I was one bad kid, taking whatever awesome free full-sized samples were given to my mom from Neiman's (does anybody else remember when department stores used to give away hella free samples?--it's gotten sooo bunk over the years because of the economy or whatever, like the seat swag at fashion week) or whatever I could get my sorority girl nannies to toss my way from their makeup stashes, and patting, dabbing, brushing, and sponging it all over my chubby little mug. I had to get super creative. I've wanted to be some sort of smash-up of Ginger Spice, Kate Moss, Sandy Olsen, Penelope Cruz, and Erin Brockowich (The fiction version. What?? It was Julia Freaking Roberts.) since second grade.

So it's OK if you think you have the knowledge and dexterity of a second grader when it comes to makeup. Granted, I was quickly recognized as one of the few "gifted students" in kindergarten. (I think it was my ability to bubble-letter at five, much to the chagrin of the other chickadees in my class. I wasn't there to make friends.)

Anyway, don't be scared of the brush aisle, start touching the ends to see if they're soft enough, and then paint the brush over the back of your hand to see how the bristles bend, and test its stiffness. Also, try warming cream products up by placing them on the back of your hand before loading them up on a brush, and wiping excess product off of a liner brush before using it on your eyes. Blow excess powder off of fluffier brushes, and apply small, sheer pats of cream blush with your fingertips to make sure you're not going over the top. Sheer is best, you can always add more on top.

Did I miss anything? What weird makeup application quirks do you do? GOTTA DO YOU, DUDES.