I can’t remember who said this, but I once heard that good makeup brushes can make mediocre products apply beautifully, while bad brushes can make even the best products look not so great. I’ve found this to be true in many cases–of course, not all. There are some products that just don’t do it, no matter what. But, there’s no denying that the tools you use make a huge difference, and that applies to most things. Give a world class chef a dull knife, and their chopping skills only go so far. Give a makeup artist a flimsy, scratchy brush, and it’s the same.
For this reason, I’m a huge fan of investing in good makeup brushes. It’s a bit of an obsession, really. I just love opening up a new brush and using it to apply my makeup for the first time. Unlike product, brushes can last a lifetime if cared for properly. That is why I feel pretty good about spending a little more on the brushes I buy. That being said, I want to be clear that expensive does not automatically equal high quality. I have many affordable brushes in my collection that I use daily and love just as much as my more expensive ones. Real Techniques is one example of an affordable brand that I adore. However, if you enjoy treating yourself to a luxury product every once in a while, I think brushes are an excellent choice.
So, investing in good brushes can take you a long way. One of the brush brands I’ve been using for the past year and a half now is Scott Barnes. While I have three brushes from his collection, I wanted to focus on two of them for this post, which are both for the face. The third is an eye brush, and I’ve owned it for much less time, so I want to get to know it a bit more before I do a review.
If you have any interest in contouring, this first brush is an absolute necessity. I’ve always enjoyed the look of strong, chiseled cheekbones, but the process of contouring is a precarious affair at best. There have been so many times that I’ve placed my contour powder too high or too low, throwing off the balance of my features. And, there have also been many instances of overblending on my part, creating a muddy complexion. This brush has completely flipped my experience around. It has–I kid you not–made contouring one of the easiest steps in my routine.
This brush fits perfectly in the hollows of the cheeks, making the placement of contour powder or cream a no-brainer. The bristles are incredibly soft, allowing for a gentle, but thorough blend of the product so that it looks natural but not muddy. I like to initially place the brush near my temple, so that the majority of the powder is applied closest to the edge of my face. Then, I gently sweep the fan brush back and forth over the hollow of my cheek, easing up the pressure on the brush so that my contour has a soft, shadow-like finish.
In addition to the hollows of my cheeks, I like using this brush to “toast” the edges of my forhead with contour powder–as Scott Barnes says–and to define my jawline. That’s a technique I’ve seen Scott Barnes use. He’ll sweep contour powder back and forth under the jawline so that it isn’t visible on the face but, rather, imparts a natural-looking shadow and creates definition, accentuating the neckline.
Although less of an everyday staple than the Flawless Face brush, this one is also a necessity in my collection. I use it specifically for draping my blush to create a sculpted, 1980’s power cheek. The tapered shape of its bristles is what makes it so effective for this purpose. Initially, I lightly “stamp” the powder up my cheeks and around my temples using the tapered edges of the brush. Then, I gently blend it out. The softness of this brush makes blending a breeze, ensuring that an otherwise dramatic cheek doesn’t get too out of hand.
Even though I use this brush for a very specific purpose, it’s actually quite versatile. It can be used to apply blush in a more traditional manner (i.e., the apples of the cheeks); for contouring; for setting the undereye area; and, as the name suggests, for highlighting the cheekbones. Initially, I thought this brush looked way too big for applying highlighter, but curiosity got the best of me. Suprisingly, it applies highlighing powder beautifully, in what I can only describe as a natural-but-dramatic manner. It imparts a larger wash of highlighter to the cheeks than most highlighting brushes, but at the same time the powder is sheered out by the softness of the bristles. I’ve found that I also enjoy using it to apply blush toppers because I can apply shimmery powders over the apples of my cheeks without it looking choppy or overdone.
All in all, I think these are lovely brushes, and I’d recommend them to anyone looking to add to their brush collection. While the Flawless Face brush would serve as a reliable go-to contour brush, the Highlighter Pro is multi-purpose but also great for precise blush looks.