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It's impossible to do great makeup without the right tools. Yes, almost every cosmetic product comes with its own applicator, but think of these as disposable. You want the real thing. I happen to have more brushes than Picasso (is that why they call people like me makeup "artists"?). You can start with what you'll use most, and build from there.
With proper care, brushes will last for years. Be good to them, and they'll be good to you. Wash them often -- once a week would be great. I wash my brushes with liquid soap at my kitchen sink, rub them gently in the direction of the bristles, and rinse under running water. I've found the more I wash them, the softer they become. Then I lay them flat on a dishcloth or paper towel to dry; this helps maintain their shape.
Good brushes feel luxurious on the skin. And they can be surprisingly affordable. When I started in this business, the cheap ones felt artificial and abrasive, so I'd go to art supply stores and get real sable paintbrushes. Just shop around. And always test each one to see how it feels. Quality at a good price does exist (can I have permission to plug my own brand here?).Size Matters
Select brushes for the area you're covering. What fits the width of the crease in the eye? What fits the lashline? What will sweep on the lids, circle the cheeks, or dust everything from forehead to chin and back again? Each part of the face takes a different brush.Handle It
What you get out of a brush depends on how you hold it -- no gripping! You should barely hold the brush, without any tension in your hand. When you have a light touch, brushes will glide in and out of your face's natural contours, finding just the right spot to deposit color.
Sonia Kashuk's book, Real Beauty, is available at bookstores nationwide.