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Do Makeup Brushes Make a Difference? See For Yourself.

For the first few years that I was wearing makeup, I never used brushes. I thought they were for professionals only, and since I was generally using just one shade of eye shadow, buying a brush set seemed unnecessary.

How times have changed! Now I find that without brushes, applying makeup is much more difficult, with dodgier results. I know it seems like makeup artists are always going on and on about how it makes a difference — and if you're not convinced, I have some proof for you. Over the weekend, I did an experiment, applying eye shadow with and without brushes. Photo evidence is available when you


With brushes: I used three shadows here, blending each together smoothly so there's no line of shadow demarcation. I also used a thin, stiff brush with wet shadow as eyeliner, which defines the eyes better. Yes, things are a little clumsy at the outer corner, but cut me some slack — I'm a doctor, not a makeup artist.

Without brushes: Disastrous results. Using only my fingers and Q-tips, I created a mishmash of powder that would have horrified even Jackson Pollock. The Q-tip was too wide to go along the lash line evenly, and the loose powder settling under my eye is a really classy touch.

So if this doesn't convince you of how helpful makeup brushes can be, I don't know what will. Even if you're working with a limited budget, this reader review proves that you can get a decent brush for less than the price of a latte. If you're totally lost and don't know where to start, my guide to makeup brushes should help you — or, of course, you can always ask questions in the comments!

Join The Conversation
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 8 years
I can't do eyeshadow without a brush or one of those pad on a stick things. But at priceline I found a nice set of makeup brushes (lip brushes, mascara brush, eyeshadow brushes, and so on) for nine bucks. It was one handle with nine interchangable heads. Total bargain. I dont go anywhere without it.
details2 details2 9 years
I have become suuuuper obsessed with makeup brushes. But since money is tight and I can't spend hundreds of dollars on mac brushes - cuz you know I want them all... I just went to Michael's this weekend. I picked up a bunch of Loew Cornell brushes - that dupe the mac brushes for cheap!!! yay!!! Of course they don't have a 187, 168, etc I splurged at MAC for those!!
zboundy zboundy 9 years
Maybe your just not good with make-up applying without a brush.
Rouge-Noir Rouge-Noir 9 years
I have a friend who is a very succesful and talented makeup-artist. He once told me that he actually prefers to work without brushes, just using his fingers, but he uses brushes because his clients would freak out if he didn't. Personally, I'm a bit of a mess without brushes. I do like sponge applicators for eyeshadows and blending, but apart from that it's brushes all the way. I apply concealer with my fingers though. All my brushes are from the Body Shop. They're really amazing and good value for your money too!
the-makeup-blogette the-makeup-blogette 9 years
Yup I only use brushes for my make up. I agree with danixk, my fav is 187, followed by the 217. :p
danixk danixk 9 years
danixk danixk 9 years
I COULD NOT live without my MAC 187 brush. It's the larger stippling brush, GREAT for, blush, powder, bronzer... I literally ONLY use brushes. I can't use my fingers. I have to say that the more expensive brushes definitely last longer. So it's worth the investment. You have to take care of them and keep them clean![with baby shampoo] I had a set[long ago] from CVS and the bristles fell out everytime I applied my foundation. I have the blending brush for eyes, but it doubles for my concealer as well. If you have liquid or even potted concealer, swirl it onto your brush and swirl it onto the red spot. It makes the spot go away...and instead of just a big light spot on your face, the concealer is buffs in, making it look softer.
lizlee89 lizlee89 9 years
I don't understand how anyone can apply eyeshadow without a brush, but I do everything using brushes - I especially love dipping my powder brush into my Physician's Formula container and dusting my face with powder, just like I always dreamed of doing when I was a little girl...
klovie klovie 9 years
I totally be useless if it weren't for my brushes. I blame the obsession on the MAC 266 (aka, the brush that changed my life).
Beauty Beauty 9 years
A doctor of Star Trek jokes. ;)
ChoChoMojo ChoChoMojo 9 years
Are you really a doctor? I didn't know that!
Knight-Who-Says-Ni Knight-Who-Says-Ni 9 years
Mmmmhmmmm, brushes are key. I do use my fingers for some, things, like blending blush or tapping on lip stain, but for almost all face-painting, brushes are the way to go.
MissMarisol MissMarisol 9 years
Totally makes a difference. I use a brush for everything.
lina23 lina23 9 years
Obssessed with brushes, when you get the hang of using them you see such a dramatic difference!
tulipsc tulipsc 9 years
brushes!! I am amazed by how you apply the eye make without the brushes few years ago! I am not an expert; however, I always have brushes since then...but glad that you notice the differences~~!
sfbutterfly24 sfbutterfly24 9 years
I never have gone without brushes I would be so lost.
nomerz nomerz 9 years
The best makeup jobs are all about application. I couldn't imagine doing my makeup everyday without my MAC brushes.
kgrinn kgrinn 9 years
no offense! but I'm surprised you used that first pic where it's clumsy in the corner in an attempt to prove your point. Seems like you did both eyes with your fingers. I've always used brushes, so I'm a little perplexed that there could be anything else to use! YSL powder brushes are amazing because they aren't flat. I can't use flat powder brushes and I don't understand how anyone can.
emalove emalove 9 years
I can't imagine applying eye makeup without my brushes!
Beauty Beauty 9 years
Advah, I aim to please. :) The huge mess in my eye = dipping my pinky in loose shadow, trying to press it in, and having a chunk fall down. If it had been solid shadow, I don't think it would have happened, but c'est la vie.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I can do it exactly the same whether or not I use brushes. With brushes it comes out really sheer and you need to do a lot more layering to get the same results. It's great for a day time look but I prefer my fingers or little makeup sponges and applicators.
AmberHoney AmberHoney 9 years
I agree bluesuze - I've been using brushes for many years. I was lucky enough to be a model in my much younger days and learned from them. I've also been a BE user for 10+ years and as you all know you can't apply BE without a brush. It makes a world of a difference.
nikecold nikecold 9 years
Exactly imcs, I'm sure makeup brushes make a huge difference but I just don't wear enough eyeshadow on a daily basis to go out and buy the different kinds, the ones I use are ones I just found lying around the house and used to belong to my mother. Also when in a pinch and I need to use my fingers and qtips the results aren't quite as blended and smooth but they're never that bad either. I also think its about having a steady hand and honestly for the life of me I cannot figure out how you managed to get that huge mess in the inner corner of your eye, no offense.
bluesuze bluesuze 9 years
I'd be lost without my beloved brushes. Those little spongy ones that come with some eyeshadows should be outlawed
WiCkeD_LaDy WiCkeD_LaDy 9 years
i know, brushes rule!! i always collect them from other places or from deferents stores, but cant wait to get a new and professional set, they do help a lot....
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