You’ve probably seen enough YouTube tutorials to know that creating a perfectly polished makeup look is simpler and more gratifying with specialized, high-quality brushes. (And nope, the teeny sponge and brush applicators that come with your compacts and palettes don’t count.) But did you know that how you handle them is just as crucial? It’s true!
Here, then, with a little help from celebrity makeup artist and Melt Cosmeticscofounder Lora Arellano, the lowdown on how to properly handle your precious tools—and the five biggest mistakes you should stop making with your makeup brushes.
1. You’re not getting rid of excess concealer onto the back of your hand.
You have dark circles and you want to hide ’em. Makes sense to dip your concealer brush into your concealer pot, right? Eh, not quite. “Because correcting products tend to be heavy, you should place concealer on the back of your hand to warm and soften the product before applying it onto your face,” says Arellano. “I also prefer using a fluffy brush with blended fibers, like Japonesque Fluff Concealer Brush. The fullness of the brush helps blend out the product, especially when using a heavier corrector, and the rounded tip helps get into small areas around the eyes.”
2. You’re using an eye crease brush that’s too big.
There are eyeshadow brushes and then there are eyeshadow crease brushes—and hate to break it, but they’re not interchangeable. “People tend to use brushes that are too big for the crease and the shadow ends up spreading out far too much,” says Arellano. “The ideal crease brush is smaller than a traditional shadow brush. It also has soft, fluffy bristles that help blend the shadow and a rounded tip to help guide the color along the crease. I recommend the Royal and Langnickel S.I.L.K. Crease Brush. You can do a great smoky eye with this brush.”
3. You’re not using an angled foundation brush, therefore leaving certain parts of your face un-made-up.
Always missing those little red spots under your nose? Your brush could be to blame. “When I first started doing makeup, I would always miss the bottom of the nose. It’s important to have a tapered foundation brush that reaches all the little spaces of your face, like around the edges of your nose and under your chin,” says Arellano. “I really like the Sigma Beauty F86 Tapered Kabuki Brush. It’s not flat like a traditional foundation brush. And I always recommend going back with a moist Beautyblender. This extra step will make your foundation look more like your skin.”
4. You’re using way too much pressure when applying your blush.
“You should use very light pressure when sweeping the brush across your cheeks,” says Arellano. “Really, the brush bristles should hardly bend on your skin. And be sure to shake the brush after you’ve dipped it into the blush powder to dust off any excess. Also, I like the Make Up For Ever Blush Brush 160. Its long bristles make it really easy to control, resulting in a fresh, flushed look.”
5. You’re using one or two makeup brushes for everything.
We all have our favorite brush we’d rather miss a flight for rather than leave home on vacation. But while bringing one or two go-tos along on vacay is fine, if proper technique and application is what you’re after, you’ll need to build your tool kit. Not sure where to start? These seven editor-approved brushes (a multipurpose brush, a contour brush, a stippling brush, a powder finish brush, a tapered brush, a linear brush, and a fan brush) are a sound investment. Otherwise, opt for a set like E.l.f.’s Beautifully Precise line, Morphe’s Elite II collection, or Artis’ Elite Mirror set.