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Makeup Brushes & Blenders 101

Mar 29, 2017

In partnership with Mirum Shopper on behalf of EcoTools

I don’t know about you, but one of the things I struggled with for so long–as I’ve fine-tuned my makeup routine over the years–is, how many beauty tools do you really need?

There are all those brushes–powder, blush, bronzer, buffing brushes, highlighter, contour, about a million eye shadow brushes, liner brushes (*head spinning*)–and then there are the blenders! Different colors, sizes–are they really all that different from regular makeup sponges?

These can all make up (literally) one giant question mark in your makeup cabinet. Which is why today, I’m excited to be partnering with my favorite brands (seriously–I’ve used these brushes since I was in my early twenties!), EcoTools, to share some of my favorites, answer some frequently asked questions, and show you how I use them as part of my daily beauty routine.


So, let’s jump in, and start from the veerrryyy first step–applying my foundation. I’ve experimented every which way, and honestly, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to apply your base–you just need to figure out what works well for you! However, I really don’t like getting my fingers dirty, and since I have such sensitive skin–I don’t want extra bacteria from my fingers getting onto my face. Personally, I also feel like blending with your fingers just doesn’t give me the coverage I need.

That being said, I’ve found a beauty blender does a really nice job of providing coverage and an even application of my foundation. I like that EcoTools makes a two-pack with two different sizes–the smaller one works really well for under-eyes and the larger one works great for the rest of your face.

One of my biggest tips for using your beauty blenders effectively: get them damp prior to applying your makeup. Run them under water and squeeze out any excess. This not only prevents them from soaking up too much of your foundation, but it also gives you a really pretty dewy finish that I really love, and prevents your makeup from looking cakey. (Woof).

How to use: The flat surface quickly covers larger areas like cheeks and forehead. Use the corners to get into, well, the corners of your face–under eyes, around your nose, etc. Use the round surface to blend, and the tip to spot-apply concealer. Use the blender to dab makeup onto your face–never smear it or buff it.

To clean: Rinse with soap and water, or wet with a cleaner–every few uses. Make sure you leave them to dry on a paper towel or hand towel–don’t throw them back in your makeup bag until they’re completely dry!

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If you’re anything like me, you’ve wondered for a long time if you REALLY need all those different kinds of brushes, right? I mean–do they all really function differently?

The short answer: Yes, most of them actually do! However, you can also find some efficiences with certain brushes that can do double-duty, too!

Powder Brush:

Back in my early twenties when I was scraping by on ramen noodles, I made the mistake of using the same brush for powder, blush, and bronzer. (Because, POOR!)

Guess what happens when you do that? You end up with a face looking fit for the circus.

CAN you use the same brush for all three? Technically, yes. There are a lot of all-purpose brushes out there, but pinky blush, brown bronzer, and pale powder are all very different colors in my case and it’s prettttyy difficult to toggle back and forth with success.

Anyway, then I grew up and realized I was making things harder on myself. It would be much easier to spend another, like, $30 total, and buy separate brushes.

Long story short–I went out and bought an EcoTools powder brush at Ulta (to use, you know, for ONLY powder), and after that, I’ve loved the brand ever since! This is the version I now use! It is so unbelievably soft!

Contour & Highlighting Brushes

If you love the highlighting and contour look, you’ll love this brush set! I actually hadn’t used one of those fancy fan brushes until we did this project together. But what I DID do is make the mistake of using this one fancy new highlighter I’m obsessed with (hmmm mysterious…more on that next week) with my blush brush, and I looked like I got bit in the face by Kim K and was ready to go to the club in Vegas. WOAH man.

Lesson learned–you shouldn’t be using a dense brush to apply your highlighter, because it’ll come out wayyy too concentrated. This fan brush is perfect because it lightly dusts your cheekbones with the perfect amount.

For the contour brush, I give it a swirl in my bronzer, and form a number 3 on my face, sweeping the sides of my forehead, right underneath my cheekbones, and then right under my jaw-line to give a very natural looking contour.

Blush Brush

This is self explanatory. If you read my story above, you know why you need a blush brush. (Especially when it’s $8!)

Spoolie brush & Eyeliner/Eyebrow brush:

AH! The Spoolie. Another mystery I had not discovered until recently this year. I honestly didn’t start filling in my brows until later in life. (This is ridiculous, because I have basically no eyebrows for your average brunette?) I also didn’t know what a “Spoolie” brush was, and I definitely didn’t think I needed one seeing as I barely have any eyebrows.

Wronnnggggg! Brushing your brows makes them look so much better!

Now what I do is fill in my brows first, then comb them through, because the spoolie brush helps blend the color as well. If you’re new to filling in your brows or are daunted by the idea of using a pencil, I’d recommend starting with a powder and a slanted eyebrow brush first. The result is always really natural! Plus, I like to use the eyebrow brush to line my lower lids with the same dark powder for a really natural look that makes your eyes pop! You can buy both in this set for less than $5!

Eye shadow brushes: 

Okay, not gunna lie. This is where things start getting muddy. There are a LOT of different shapes for eyeshadow brushes, but I found your solution. This duo set basically gives you everything you need–it contains two double-sided brushes. The difference is essentially how long and how dense the brushes are. The more dense the brush, the more concentrated the color is going to be. So, you want to use the shortest, densest brush at the bottom and outside of your lids when you’re doing a smoky eye, and the longest, fluffiest brush to dust a lighter shadow closer to the insides of your lids. It also comes with a liner brush for lining the upper and lower lash lines. (Hint: You can use this to fill in brows, too!)

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Like I’ve said so many times before–one of my favorite parts of my job is when brands I love reach out to me to partner together! I started using this brand in my early twenties first and foremost because it’s insanely affordable. Second, the quality is seriously equal to the more expensive, high-end designer brushes. They’re beautiful, and I’m not going to lie–the fact that I now have a full collection that I can display makes me feel like a real adult?!

Oh, and they’re cruelty free and environmentally friendly too, made of recycled materials–even their packaging is tree-free! I hope you love them as much as I do!

Right now at Ulta, you can stock up with their Buy One Get One 50% off deal, which runs through April 8th!

Other items in this post: Striped dress by BB. Dakota, Peacock chair from Beehive Chicago (vintage), Gold Bamboo side table from Randolph Street Market (vintage), Flowers by Matthew Smutanek Designs

Do you have more questions on brushes or blenders? Leave ’em below!

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