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 How do I use the makeup brushes in my kit?

Answer: Makeup brushes can be overwhelming—both in price and selection. There are truly so many different brushes for each part of your face, and it can be confusing figuring out which is best for what area. If you apply a normal amount of makeup, you can skate by with a quality travel kit (which includes the basic face and eye brushes). However, if you find yourself dabbling into heavy eye looks or contouring, it’s best to invest in a full set.

A full set of quality brushes can set you back between $100-$200, which is definitely worthwhile when you take into consideration the brush-longevity and ease of makeup application. A good brush can feign flawless skin and allow for perfect makeup application—making the splurge justifiable. However, when making such an important beauty investment, it’s crucial to know your way around what you’ve purchased.

We’ll be referencing these Sephora brushes from left to right. This kit, dubbed the Prestige Luxe Brush Set, retails for $125 (but is valued at over $300) and includes 10 professional-quality brushes—more than enough for any makeup aficionado. Let’s start from the top…or, in this case, the left!

Powder brush
This brush is quite universal, and you’ll likely get the most use out of it. The big, fluffy bristles make powder application super quick and super easy—it’s foolproof. Examples of what you can apply with this brush: translucent and colored setting powders, sheer layers of pressed foundations, and even bronzer. If you’re wondering, there are specific brushes made for bronzers. Since this kit doesn’t include a bronzing brush, the powder brush can more than double for it.

Angled blush brush
This brush doubles as a gentle contour and blush brush. The angled bristles allow for easy application atop cheekbones, as well as beneath them when contouring. The best way to use this brush is to hold the slant of the bristles along the line of your cheekbone, then sweep the product back toward your ear. You’ll find that holding the brush this way follows the angle of your cheekbone more easily, which allows for a more natural blush/contouring effect.

Buffing brush
This brush is also known as a kabuki brush, and is usually very soft and densely-packed. Buffers are used to apply both mineral and liquid foundation, and lend a very airbrushed finish to the skin. These brushes are best for building up to full-coverage when using both mineral and liquid foundations.

Stippling brush
This is another brush that does exactly what its name says (if you’re ever stuck, most brushes have their use right in their name). Normally used with liquid foundations, it’s best to gently tap the white-ended bristles of this brush into the product, and then stipple (or dot) it all over your face. Once most of the foundation is on your skin, blend out with big sweeping motions until everything is smooth and creamy. This brush will lend a light to medium foundation coverage. If you’re not a fan of the result, or prefer a fuller coverage, you can also use this brush to blend out blush and bronzer.

Concealer brush
Concealer brushes are usually small and flat, meant for smearing or dotting concealer on blemishes or beneath the eyes. In addition to applying concealer, they can also be used to apply primer to lids or in hard to reach areas of the face. This brush is most commonly used to apply product, while blending is left to fingertips. You can still use it to blend out, though it may not give you the smoothest results.

Shadow, blending, crease, and smokey eye brushes
All of these are made to use exclusively on the eyes. Shadow brushes are dense and semi-fluffy, which means they’re best when applying shadow all over the lids. Blending brushes are elongated and fluffy, usually used to blend out product applied by crease brushes, which are fluffy and narrow. Smoky eye brushes are usually dense and angled, or small and precise. In this kit, the smoky eye brush is pencil-like at the tip, meaning it’s intended for precise shadow application in the crease. Due to the shape, it can also be used to run shadow along the lower lash line.

Angled liner brush
Angled liner brushes are always flat and slanted at the tips, and are usually very flexible. This flexibility allows for ease of application when applying gel or powder liner. When using this brush, it’s best to hold it parallel to your eye (rather than directly to the top of the lid). Holding it parallel allows for smoother results, and allows you to keep your eye open for most of the application.

That completes the big brush breakdown! Every kit varies, but just remember to look at the name for clues as to how to use the brush. Many brushes can do much more than what their name reveals. A lot of them can double up, so always be sure to research your fluffy-investment!