Brush Up

September 9th, 2013

September 9th, 2013

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You all need them, an absolute necessity in any MUA kit, but just how do you choose a good brush?  Warpaint gets the low down on what to look for and what to avoid.

Makeup brushes are the tools of the trade.  From high-end to budget, sable to squirrel hair, synthetic or natural… the choice is endless.  But how important are these differences, and what purpose does each unique feature serve?

Only The Best

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The old adage “you get what you pay for” is very much the case with brushes.  When you’re first starting out it’s tempting to cut corners and buy cheaper brands, but invariably they’ll degrade more quickly and will need replacing sooner rather than later.

British film and TV MUA Siân Richards began developing her collection of premium quality hand-made make-up brushes in 2008, after being disillusioned by the way global market production had downgraded one of the most important tools of her trade.  Sian’s mission was to reinstate great quality and value and so London Brush Company was born, with a sister site for pros only featuring 20% discounts

“A lot of brands coat their bristles in silicone to create the impression that the hair is better quality than it really is.  This is often the case with brushes imported from China, and they inevitably become brittle and spiky after a matter of months as the silicone wears off.  Brands also blend cheaper hair with decent hair to bulk out the brush.  This might keep the price down, but you’ll find that the bristles get matted up like dreadlocks in the centre of the brush,” Sian explains.

Japanese make-up artist and founder of the Shu Uemura international cosmetics line which bears his name has similar principles to Siân, and every hair on every brush is hand-stacked, never cut, keeping the soft natural point of the hair, meaning it’s far less likely to irritate sensitive skin.  Selecting the highest quality kolinsky, sable, goat, pony and badger hair, the brand’s brushes use hair from the animal’s tail that has been shed in the winter months, as this is the softest.  As the hairs have been shed from the tail, naturally, the animal is never harmed.

Louise Young is an MUA on a quality brush mission too.  Having developed her own make-up range, she is particularly proud of her signature brushes.  Louise’s range has already met favourably with leading make-up artists across the globe such as Oscar-winning Jenny Shircore, BAFTA winner Sarah Monzani, Val Garland, Pixiwoo’s Sam Chapman and Kenneth Soh.

“I designed each brush in my Louise Young Cosmetics range to be the perfect shape to make professional application techniques easily achievable,” Louise explains.  But she too agrees that quality is important.  “Investing in good brushes is so important and key to a professional application and finish.  You can achieve good make-up with great brushes and cheaper quality make-up, but not the other way round.”

The message is clear: spend as much as you can on your brushes and everything else will look after itself.  Everyone has a budget, large or small, to which they must stick and if you’re watching the pennies, while still wanting a good quality natural brush, opt for pony or goat bristles for a fraction of the price.  The Laura Mercier Face Brush £29 is a kabuki-style brush made from 100% goat hair, with severely rounded edges and a gently cut angled head allowing for fuller coverage on the planes of the face.  Space NK also have their own bronzer brush made from goat hair for just £20.

If the idea of using animal hair in your brushes leaves you cold, there are many cosmetic companies out there developing and blending new materials for brush use to mimic animal hair.  Styled “vegan hair”, this incredibly high quality synthetic hair does just this.

Sian’s London Brush Company has a high quality vegan line, nouVeau, made from Premium Vegan Mongoose and Vegan Blue Squirrel.  The handles are made from wood from sustainable forests and any glue used is purely vegetable based.  No animal products contribute to the manufacture of this collection.

Eco Tools is another vegan option, with incredibly soft bristles made of synthetic taklon.  Taklon is a higher grade synthetic and does a great job blending formulas like foundation, lip colour and concealer.  Louise Young uses both synthetic and natural hairs in her collection to cater for every customer.  “New technology has meant that synthetic brushes deliver great results,” she explains, adding, “some products are applied better with synthetic brushes such as foundation and cream product”.

Siân’s top tips for choosing a natural fibre brush are:

Sable – best for application and blending foundations, compact face powder, liquid and gel liners & concealers.

London Brush Co #10 Finest Foundation Brush £40 and Shu Uemura 5F Sable Eye Liner Brush £12.50

Pine Squirrel – ideal for eyeshadow and soft blending of blusher.  It holds eye shadow and blusher really well and doesn’t encourage fall out.  London Brush Co #15 Luxe Shadow Med £18.

Blue Squirrel – super fine hair that builds up colour very gradually.  Excellent for blusher, bronzer and anything that you need for adding soft colour slowly and subtly.

London Brush Co #19B Ultra Luxe Blush Sml £35.

Pro Brushes We Love:

Launching this month make-up maestro Wayne Goss has developed his own range of brushes, comprising a luxurious collection of eight Make-up Brushes that will satisfy the novice and professional alike.  Hand crafted in Japan from the finest cruelty free hair, each brush is hand made to perfection with meticulous detail.

All-rounders Kryolan offer brushes for every budget from Premium to Training and everything in between.

Screenface own label brushes are exceptionally good value for money

Crown Brush not only offer every type of brush in every fibre possible, they also manufacture under licence brushes for the big prestige brands too.  Competitively priced, their brush kits are ideal for MUAs on a budget.

Make Up For Ever deliver the most beautiful brushes.  High Quality ensures a long-lasting tool.

Make-up stalwarts Make-Up International have created a brush for every situation for MUAs in the field.

Precious About Make-up (PAM) along with retailing the leading pro brushes, they also have their very own quality, affordable offering.

Also check out: KIM, Purple Dot, Bdellium, Stilazzi, Glamcor and MUD.

Brush maintenance is important if you want your brushes to last and it’s essential as a jobbing MUA to ensure impeccable hygiene.  Brushes should be washed after every application to avoid cross contamination.  London Brush Company makes a chemical free solid shampoo made from Goat Milk, combined vegetable oils and a touch of tea tree for that anti-bacterial element.  Pure Goat Milk Solid Brush Shampoo £20.

A liquid option is MAC’s Brush Cleanser £10, which will clean, disinfect and condition the brush fibres so that your brushes will last longer.  It’s also specifically designed to extend the life of high quality brushes.

Crown Brush Cleaner, at £4.99 is an affordable option for all pockets.

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By Warpaint Magazine

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