May 3rd, 2017
Make-up brushes – the workhorses of the make-up artist – haven’t changed a great deal for a century. Though they do the ever-important task of blending foundation, eye shadow and blush, it’s not often that you see a set innovative enough to truly excite you. The hair gets better, more cost effective, animal-friendly and the quality of manufacture varies greatly depending on your budget and use, but essentially, they’ve been pretty much the same design since women started painting their faces.
Before the mid 1830s, make-up brushes were tools used mostly by women with wealth, for in reality it was their maids who applied their make-up. The true origins however date back to times long before that to Ancient Egypt where crude make-up brushes were discovered in excavations. After 1835 the Germans worked out how to make affordable mirrors and women started to make themselves up, as they could actually see their own reflection.
The Japanese had perfected the art of brushmaking using animal hair since the days before Christ for use in calligraphy and still to this day, the most expensive and sought after make-up brushes are the brushes of Hakuhodo. But for some, the use of squirrel and goat hair means they simply can’t use them and therefore turn to a synthetic alternative.
However the design of a make-up brush has stayed the same since, well, forever – that is until recently. The new age of make-up brush has literally turned them on their heads or, rather, turned them sideways.
It all started with a brand called Artis who introduced a slew of ergonomically-shaped tools that went beyond your standard bristles. Its first collection had superfine fibres and cool applicator tips that looked like toothbrushes. They changed the perspective on make-up brushes.
Conventional brushes use a basic design principle of putting a wad of fur or hair on the tip of a wooden stick and binding the two components together. This configuration has been used for thousands of years, and is essentially an extension of the arm when used as a tool. The artist can reach out further with this configuration and can apply product and pigments to some other surface or person without having to use their own hand, and the hair or bristles allow for the powder or paint to blend. Because make-up application for the past few thousands of years has been one person applying product to another, the conventional brush structure worked.
The Artis Brushes use a more natural and ergonomic configuration for the brush, more like using your fingers to apply product to the face. The fibres are positioned like the pad of the finger tip and the handle is configured like the length of the finger – obvious really when you think about it. Their new line, Digit, is shaped like a finger that is bent during application to a surface. This totally ergonomic shape helps Digit brushes feel completely comfortable in the hand, while orienting the fibre bundle so it easily applies make-up to the face and body.
Here at the Warpaint office, we’re big fans of Iconic London with their uber-reflective illuminators and highlighters they really are Insta – tastic and they have embraced that route to market very well. They produce traditional brush sets, but it’s their Evo, and most recently the Evo Pro, that we love, as they have produced this new shape brush for the budget conscious. Whereas the first generation Evo has a long handle, the Evo Pro brushes are designed to sit snuggly in the palm of your hand. The Buffer blends primer and foundation and The Contour allows contour and highlights to appear flawless.
On the innovation tip, this brush I find fascinating. The blendSMART rotating make-up application system has interchangeable brush heads that spin at 190 RPMs and imitate the motion of flawless blending. The soft, premium, synthetic brushheads work with any formulation, liquid foundation, powder or cremes. They’re available here in the UK from Doll 10 on QVC.
I’m also a little bit in love with US staple E.L.F and, in particular, the Cosmetics Multi-Blender Massager. This curved brush has tiny massage heads cut into its super-soft, vegan, and cruelty-free bristles to flawlessly blend your foundation, powder, or bronzer. It also has a patent-pending, lucite-looking handle that fits the shape of your hand perfectly, giving you more control for a precise application. You can get the Massager its own, part of a 3 best-sellers kit or in a full spectrum collection.
And just because they’re a bit of a make-up success story and their brushes are just so pretty and still pro quality, Welsh sisters Sophie and Hannah Pycroft and their vibrant coloured Spectrum Collections brushes are responsible for producing the World’s most Instagram-able make-up brushes. Another clever brand who used Instagram to their advantage, Spectrum Collections are trend lead make-up brushes with professional performance. Vibrant unicorn-coloured tips are already used by the stars and make-up artists alike. Spectrum is also a PETA- registered and Vegan-trademarked cruelty-free brand. What’s not to love?