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Your beauty toolbox

The right brushes for both hair and makeup can help make you absolutely dazzling! The right brushes for both hair and makeup can help make you absolutely dazzling!

By Shelley Levitt

What woman doesn't love trying out each season's new makeup colors and formulas. And who can resist the latest shampoos, conditioners, pomades and gels that just might be the missing link to help you achieve the perfectly tousled locks of Blake Lively or the off-the-beach waves of Kate Hudson. Go ahead and indulge, but don't overlook an essential element of your beauty artillery: brushes. The right brushes for both hair and makeup can help make you absolutely dazzling! 

Makeup

"If you don't have the right application tools," says Tasha Reiko Brown, Hollywood makeup artist and The Style Glossy blogger, "even the most expensive products won't go on properly." Look for brushes that feel comfortable in your hand, that aren't shedding and that have soft bristles. Brown chooses synthetic bristles for concealer, lip and foundation brushes, but she opts for natural bristles -- such as sable, mink or goat -- for blush or powder brushes. "Stiffer bristles can scratch your skin," she says. If you prefer not to use animal products, look for brushes made from high-grade synthetic fibers, such as the PETA-approved taklon bristles.

Here's what you need:

  • Face Foundation brush, large powder brush, blush/bronzer brush (you can use one brush for both bronzer and blush, just wipe off brush between applying each product), concealer brush
  • Eyes Fluff brush for applying shadow to lid, flat liner brush for applying color along the lash line
  • Optional Tapered shadow brush for applying shadow in crease or blending eyeliner and shadow to create a smoky eye, spooly brush or disposable mascara wand for grooming brows and combing through eyelashes to remove clump between applying coats of mascara, angled eyebrow brush for applying powder to brows, and lip brush

Makeup artists are fastidious about keeping their tools pristine. "Perfect application comes from clean tools," says beauty pro Robert Jones, author of Looking Younger: Makeovers That Make You Look as Young as You Feel. "Blush or powder brushes should be cleaned at least once a month, and eye brushes once a week." Brown's favorite brush cleaner? Your regular shampoo. "Just put a little shampoo on wet hands, run it through the brush hairs and lay the brush flat on a towel to dry." Pros agree that with proper care, a set of brushes will last a decade or more.

Hair

Most women will need two combs, our experts say:

  • Wide-toothed comb should be kept in the shower for distributing conditioner evenly throughout hair and for gentle detangling.
  • Fine-toothed comb is necessary for backcombing or teasing. "At 4 in the afternoon when your hair is starting to flatten out, backcombing is an easy way to create volume," says Kenneth Darrell, a Nashville hairdresser and educator. "Working from the crown, take panels of hair about 1/2 inch in thickness and gently tease. Then, smooth out just the surface of the hair. You won't need any spray or styling product, because your hair will be sufficiently dirtied up from the day's wear to hold the volume."

A few different brush options are available, depending on your hair type and usage:

  • Round brush If you blow-dry your hair, this brush is essential. Look for one with a combination of synthetic and natural boar's hair bristles: The nylon bristles will give you a good grip on your hair while the natural ones impart shine.
  • Paddle brush "Use a paddle brush at the end of the day to impart smoothness and shine to hair that may look a little flat and gnarly," says Darrel.

Natural boar toothbrush This is optional."Keep one in your purse," suggests Michael Shaun Corby, a hair pro who oftenworks backstage at fashion shows. "If you add just a touch of pomade orhairspray to the bristles, you can tame all those flyaways on the surface ofyour hair without disrupting the style. If you have superfine or thin hair, usethe toothbrush right at your scalp in a circular motion to pick up all thosefine hairs that a hairbrush doesn't get to. Every bit of volume helps!"

Shelley Levitt is the managing editor of The Style Glossy. She is a former west coast editor of Self and senior writer at People.

*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
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