scheherezhad: five various makeup brushes with different pigment powders on them (brushes)
[personal profile] scheherezhad posting in [community profile] beauty
When I found this comm a few weeks ago, I immediately noticed that the last couple of public posts were from beginners looking for help and that there weren't any basic resource posts. I thought I'd try to rectify that with a little beauty 101.


Before you begin with makeup, it pays to know what skin type you have. Your skin type determines how you need to care for your face, and what types of products tend to work the best for you. Proper skin care can help give you a better canvas to work with, which often means your makeup will wear better and you can use less of it.

There are five basic skin types: Normal, Dry, Oily, Combination, and Sensitive.

Normal skin doesn't feel oily or dry, feels comfortable after you wash your face, and only has occasional breakouts.

Dry skin feels dry, thin, and papery; feels tight after washing; and rarely breaks out. Also has flaky patches and fine pores.

Oily skin feels greasy, thick, and coarse; feels fine after washing but looks shiny by the middle of the day; and often has breakouts.

Combination skin usually features dry cheeks and an oily T-zone (the forehead, nose, and chin). The T-zone is shiny by midday and is more prone to breakouts. This is the most common skin type.

Sensitive skin is easily irritated and can experience itching, stinging, or burning reactions to products. Feels dry and itchy after washing, has flaky patches and some redness by the middle of the day, and has occasional breakouts.


Once you know what your skin type is, a quick search will bring up plenty of sites that give skin care tips for each skin type. Most routines recommend at least an appropriate cleanser and moisturizer, and you may want to add other products to address specific concerns such as acne or signs of aging. This is a trial and error process, since any given product can be great for one person and terrible for another with the same skin type, and your skin needs can change over time.

This is also a good place to remind everyone that you should take off your makeup every night. Don't sleep in it. If you can't wash your face thoroughly for some reason, plenty of companies make makeup remover wipes, which are easy to use and portable. Even baby wipes will work in a pinch, so there's no reason not to clean your face. Just make sure you get all your makeup off so it doesn't clog up your pores or smear all over your pillowcase.

Tip: Don't forget your neck, chest, and hands in your skincare routine. These are areas where age and sun damage can really show.



The next most important part of good makeup is the tools you use. You're probably familiar with the small brushes, sponge-tip applicators, and powder puffs that come with many drugstore cosmetics. While these will work and can be useful for an occasional touch-up away from home, they're not the best tools for the job. A good set of makeup brushes will make a world of difference in how products go on.

The variety of brushes available can be a little overwhelming, but there are some basics that most people will use frequently.

Powder brush - typically a large, fluffy brush with soft bristles. This is used for applying loose or pressed powder. Some people use a traditional long-handled brush while others prefer the kabuki style, which has a very short, wide handle.

Foundation brush - usually a flattish brush with a rounded head, and made from synthetic fibers. This is used to apply liquid or cream foundation and blend it out. A lot of people use disposable makeup sponges for this purpose, but sponges soak up a lot of foundation and can harbor bacteria if used multiple times.

Concealer brush - looks like a miniature foundation brush. This is used for patting concealer onto blemishes or applying foundation in places where the foundation brush is too large to work well.

Blush brush - sometimes looks like a smaller powder brush, or may have an angled head. Either kind works fine, but an angled brush is better if you plan to do contouring.

Note: Some people prefer "skunk" brushes for their powder, foundation, or blush. Also called a duo fiber or stippling brush, it has a flat head and a distinctive look: short, black bristles combined with longer, white bristles. It is a versatile brush type.


Lip brush - has a firm, thin tip. This is a must-have for applying lip color from palettes, or intense lipsticks from tubes. It provides more control and precision than applying straight from the tube. It's also useful for getting at the last bits of a favorite lipstick when it hits the bottom of the tube. If you plan to carry it in your purse, look for a brush with a cover to keep it from getting crushed or covered in gunk.

Eyeshadow brush - most commonly a paddle-shaped brush with soft, dense bristles. As you probably guessed, this is used for applying color to the eyelids.

Angle brush - a small, firm, angled brush. This is used to apply powders, creams or waxes to brows; or to apply cream or powder colors as eyeliner. Some people prefer a flat-tipped brush for liner.

Blending brush - come in a variety of shapes and sizes. This is used, as the name implies, for blending out harsh edges or blending colors into each other.

You may also want a crease brush to apply color into the crease of your eye, a pencil brush to apply color to the lower lash line or inner corner, or a brow brush/lash comb for taming unruly eyebrows and combing out clumped eyelashes. These are not necessary but can be useful, depending on your needs.

makeup brushes

Shown (left to right): powder brush, blush brush, foundation brush, concealer brush, brow brush, eyeshadow brush, angle brush, blending brush, and another angle brush. The bamboo handled brushes are all EcoTools, and the white handled brushes are Sonia Kashuk.

small brushes

Shown (top to bottom): mini angle brush, retractable pencil brush, retractable lip brush. The mini brush came with a L'Oreal HIP cream eyeliner, the pencil brush is Maybelline, and the lip brush is Sephora brand.


The price range for brushes is pretty wide, and I recommend saving up for the best you can comfortably afford. Lots of people like MAC brushes, but if those aren't in your budget, there are some good drugstore brands out there. (If you're in the U.S., Studio Tools, EcoTools, and Target's Sonia Kashuk line all make good brushes for reasonable prices.) Remember that your brushes are an investment, and with proper care, they'll last you a very long time.

To store your brushes at home, you can stand them in a glass with the brush heads up. For travel, a brush roll is typically recommended. You may prefer a sturdy box or bag.

To clean your brushes, you can use a special brush cleaning solution, but baby shampoo and water works just fine. With a cleaning solution, which often comes in a spray bottle, you just need to spray down the bristles, let it soak in for a second, and gently wipe the brush clean on a towel or paper towel. With water and shampoo, you'll want to wet down the bristles, put a small amount of shampoo and water in your hand, and gently swirl the brush through to work the shampoo in. Be sure to rinse well. After cleaning, reshape the brush heads and lay them flat to dry, preferably with the heads hanging over the edge of a shelf or countertop. Antibacterial wipes can be used for cleaning in a pinch if water is unavailable or would make too much mess.

Ideally, brushes used for powder products should be cleaned at least once a week, and brushes used for cream or liquid products should be cleaned every time you use them.

Note: Never store wet brushes upright. Water will run down the bristles into the ferrule, which not only makes it a haven for bacteria, but can also decrease the brush's lifespan by weakening the glue holding the bristles in.


Other useful accessories you might consider include eyelash curlers, tweezers for grooming your brows, and Q-tips (aka cotton swabs) to touch up small mistakes. Your fingers can be pretty useful, too, especially for primers or products like cream blush that blend better when slightly warmed by body heat. Just make sure your hands are clean before using them to apply product.


One last thing to take into consideration for the foundation of a great face is how your face is framed. This includes your haircut, the shape of your eyebrows, and your glasses frames if you wear them. Styling your hair differently, cleaning up your brows, or finding flattering frames can have a huge impact on your look.



I'm happy to take questions and will try to answer them to the best of my ability and knowledge.

I also hope to get a few more posts written up soon that touch on basic cosmetics for each area of the face, and on beauty and makeup resources.

Date: 2010-07-14 08:57 am (UTC)
jerakeen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jerakeen
I have a whole bunch of brushes I have no idea what to do with. /o\ I should totally look those up.

Date: 2010-07-16 08:19 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] martyna
Thank you!

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