I’m here to deliver some comforting news: makeup brushes needn’t be as daunting as you think. Sure, they can be intimidatingly beautiful, unnervingly mysterious, and chic beyond compare, but so are you, right? Right. So put the claws away, and get to know your new posse.
Chanel seems the obvious choice when faced with a melange of potential brushes – for one, the brushes have their names written on them, so it’s hard to go wrong there. Secondly, I’m the first to admit I’ll do anything to be just that little bit more like Caroline de Maigret, Chanel prodigy and living embodiment of Je Ne Sais Quoi.
To narrow things down for you, I’ve enlisted the help of top make-up artist and Australia’s first Chanel make-up ambassador, Victoria Baron, who has compiled a go-to guide for your grooming endeavours. Take note — this woman knows her stuff.
In order of importance, what brushes must women have in their kit, and why?
1. Blush Brush No. 4 is my go-to brush when applying all powders and creams, including blush, bronzer, and setting powder.
2. Flat Eyeshadow Brush No. 15 is a stable eyeshadow brush, ideal for any kit. I would even recommend having two of them — one for lighter colours, and the other for darker colours.
3. The small, curved brush from the Les Beiges Healthy Glow powders is the perfect multitasking brush and fits in even the smallest of bags. I always save them, even when my powder has run out. I have a few in my bag for different colours and products.
4. Angled Brush No. 33 is a flat, skinny brush for brows and eyeliner, and even works to sharpen off the edges of your lip colour. It’s great for adding small details.
5. Foundation Brush No. 7. Not only does it make for a quick application, but the remaining product can be used for a touch-up or blend during the day.
6. Retractable Lip Brush, for creating the perfect bold lip. It’s great for use with glosses and liquids, too, as it keeps your products fresh and free from bacteria.
Can brushes be multi-purpose? Say, can we use a foundation brush as a blush brush?
I’ve always had a very fluid approach to using brushes. Try not to be too contained by rules. Sometimes I’ll use a small eyeshadow brush to cover a blemish, and often I choose a blush brush for powder. If you’re going to use brushes as multi-purpose tools, it’s really important that you clean them with a brush cleaner in between uses to avoid having a soup of products on your brushes. This often leads to a muddy make-up look.
If you could only use three brushes, which would you choose?
My top three would be: Blush Brush No. 4, which I use with fixing powder, creams, and even liquid foundation; Eyeshadow Brush No. 26, which is great for highlighting small areas (the inner corners of the eye, the cupid’s bow, and brow bones), as well as for smudging liner; and Eyeshadow Blending Brush No. 13, which is not only great for creating an all-over wash on my eyelids, but for highlighting my cheekbones and powdering my under-eye area, too.
Do you have any subtle, face-shaping brush techniques up your sleeve?
Contouring is all about lightening the features on your face you want to accent, and darkening the areas you want to push back into the face. The heavy contour trend isn’t for everyone.
For a more subtle approach, I use the Chanel Healthy Glow powder to contour the cheeks, applying a base first to bring back features that may have been ignored. The curved brush is made for the subtle contour. I start by blending the Healthy Glow powder around the hairline and edges of the face, and then trace an ‘E’ or ‘3’ shape, starting from the temples, to under the cheekbones, and then back under the jawline, before blending down the neck.
The thin part of the brush can be used to lightly contour down each side of the nose, and also to add a small amount of highlight to the bridge. To narrow the nose, make sure that the shine is only down the centre of the bridge. In this case, it’s always better to choose a small brush that isn’t too fluffy.
If your aim is to create the look of a slimmer nose, make sure you haven’t over-plucked your eyebrows. If they’ve been plucked too far apart, it gives the illusion of a wider nose. If done incorrectly, a heavy nose contour can actually draw attention to the area. So, if in doubt, focus on an area of your face you want to accentuate, by using a lip colour or mascara. Enlarging or drawing attention to one area of your face can often make other parts seem more subtle and less dominating.
Photography, Sarah Adamson. Words, Betsy Greaves.