Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Guide to Brushes: Eye Brushes, Part 6: Detail Brushes

This post features a variety of eyeshadow brushes for use on small areas of the eye.  It includes pencil brushes and various smudge brushes.

Pencil Brushes
The most common and used of detail brushes, I believe.  The first on the left, which is an Essence of Beauty Fine Crease Brush, notwithstanding, a lot of pencil brushes are goat, like the MAC 219, Hakuhodo G5514BkSl, and Hakuhodo G5515BkSl here.  This picture makes them all look so big, but the Hakuhodo G5515 is about an eighth of an inch long.  These brushes are great for blending out eyeliner, applying shadow to the upper or lower lash lines, precise crease shadow placement, detail in the outer corner (like the dreaded "outer v") and highlighting the inner corner or the brow bone--basically anywhere you want focused or intense placement of eyeshadow.  Goat is a good fibre for this sort of brush, because it provides a good amount of stiffness and softness and holds up to cream eyeliners, but the white hairs get stained so badly (as evidenced by the faint pinkness of my 219.  The Hakuhodos are so pristine because they came straight out of the package before this picture.  The smaller one is now a lovely shade of blue.  The stains do respond usually to oil cleansing, but since oil cleans best when used dry, if you're halfway through cleaning when you realize that pigment is not coming out with cleanser, then you have to wait for it to dry.  At that point, the "Eh, it's clean, and I gotta do ma face" instinct kicks in and next thing you know, you're justifying a pink brush on the internet.  Uh, yeah.  These brushes do their job well, and as detail brushes go they're the most common and most used. 
Pointed Smudge Brushes
A variation on the pencil brush, pointed smudge brushes are most commonly found as "Smoky Eyeliner Brushes", like the one on the right from Sephora, which is synthetic.  The one on the left, also by Sephora is a discontinued point smudge brush.  Both these brushes, though they have different shapes, serve the same purpose, which is to apply or smudge eyeliner and apply eyeshadow to a small area.  I think they're more precise than pencil brushes, especially the point smudge, though it's scratchy.  The smoky version of the brush is great if you're looking for a synthetic detail brush, and it is quite good for smoking out liner.  It's less useful for applying powder, unless you want a subtle effect. 
Mini Smudge Brushes
These brushes are like tiny flat shader brushes.  Often they're proportionately shorter as compared to width of a shader brush, but neither of these examples really are, which are a Real Techniques synthetic Accent brush, and a Paula Dorf Smudge brush.  These are amazing for applying shadow around the eye, and I love them for smudging the edge of liner.  They provide more control than the previous two styles of detail brush and can be used to smudge or finesse the edges of liner.  Interestingly enough, they often make for excellent gel liner or tightline brushes.  While they do offer more control than a pencil brush, that makes them a little harder to use.
Domed Smudge Brush
Similar to a pencil brush, but with a dome instead of a point, this Make Up For Ever smudge brush, is useful for most of the same effects, such as smudging and highlighting, only it will provide a softer less focused or intense effect.  I think this is especially useful for a smoky eye, where you want a smooth gradation of shading. 
Pointed Detail Brush
This one (a Hakuhodo 5529, blue squirrel hair) is like a long thin pencil brush.  It's less useful for smudging liner ( especially this one's soft squirrel hair), but more useful for crease work.  It provides a soft, diffused line, but with exacting detail.  Perfect when you want delicacy and precision at the same time.
Round Detail Brushes
Similar, but sturdier, to the pointed detail brush, and obviously featuring a round end rather than a pointed end, these brushes (Kevyn Aucoin Small Eyeshadow Soft Round Tip, and Royal and Langnickel Smudger) are super precise crease brushes and are great for smudging around the eye and applying eyeshadow under the eye, in the outer corner, or along the top lash line. 
Pros and Cons
Pros:  These brushes do what none of the other featured brushes can do.  They are like an eyeliner brush crossed with a blending brush.  Tiny, but capable of blending small areas.  If you have small eyes, you may prefer to use one of these brushes for your crease instead of a classic crease brush.  These brushes' versatility means that you will probably want one in your brush collection. 
Cons:  They're tiny.  That's pretty much it.  If you don't want a small brush, or if you like to keep your brushes to a minimum (something which I obviously have no idea about), then you don't need one.  They're tiny brushes; that's the point, but that means they can't do the things a bigger brush does. 
The brushes featured in this post are: Essence of Beauty Fine Crease Brush, MAC 219 Hakuhodo G5514BkSl, Hakuhodo G5515BkSl, Sephora Point Smudge 16 (discontinued), Sephora Smokey Eye Brush 24 (from the discontinued platinum line, but the shape and number are still in the current Pro Line), Real Techniques Accent Brush (form the Starter Set), Paula Dorf Smudge brush, Make Up For Ever Smudge Brush 14S, Hakuhodo G5529BkSl, Kevyn Aucoin Small Eyeshadow Brush Soft Round Tip, Royal and Langnickel Smudger Brush.  All brushes were purchased and I received no compensation for featuring them.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Guide to Brushes: Eye Brushes Part 5: Liner Brushes

The next part of my massive brush series is liner brushes.

Fine Liner Brushes
The classic fine liner shape is perfect for liquid liners, here is a Kryolan synthetic fine liner brush  (that is super bent--sorry, I keep forgetting to fix that) and a discontinued NARS.  I like to use them even when the liner in question has a felt or sponge tip.  They draw a super fine line and are great for basic liner application as well as wings.  I also like using them for gel and cake liner or dampened eyeshadow.  If you want to do a really thick wing, I think you'll find it frustrating to use a brush this fine, and they're not known being beginner friendly, but still an important and useful brush.
Pointed Liner Brush
A thicker and often stiffer brush than the finer liner brush, the pointed liner brush, this one is by Laura Mercier, tapers from the ferrule, where it is round, to a thin point.  It's a great brush for thick liner and it's size makes it more user friendly than finer brushes.  It won't maneuver around the lashline as well as the finer brushes, though, but if you do "big" liner a lot, you'll probably like it better.
Gel Liner Brushes
The gel liner brush (Sephora's, a definer brush from Laura Mercier, and the Ultra Fine liner from Bobbi Brown) combines the best of both the previous brushes, it's wide at the pinched ferrule then tapers to a point, often making a triangle shape along the way.  These are often sold as or packaged with gel liners, and they really are great for them.  The unique shape offers both flexibility and stability, so they are my number one choice for beginners at gel liners.  These are also perfect for using eyeshadow to line the eye, either wet or dry.  Outside of the eye area, these brushes make for great spot concealing brushes.
Another style of gel liner brush ends in a rounded square shape; these are a soft Stila 4 and a stiffer Make Up For Ever 2s.  They are also good for gel liner, especially the MUFE one, and I love them for powder eyelining.  They are also great for blending pencils after they have been applied to the lash line.
Flat Liner Brushes
The flat liner brush is virtually a necessity if you tightline, which, in case you don't know, is to line by putting liner into the base of your lashes from underneath (it's not to be confused with lining the inner rim or waterline of your upper lashes).  A cake liner and one of these babies and you are good as gold.  They are also good for pushing liner into the lashes from above, especially a cream or gel texture or powder shadow.  Either way they give an "un-made up" look with fuller lashes.  These brushes are a Stila 13 (a little wide for my rounder eyes), a Laura Mercier, Paula Dorf, and an Ulta.
Angled Liner Brushes
Angled liner brushes are another category that multi-tasks (yes, that tiny brush on the far left is angled, it's by Sublime/Brandon, next to that is a Japonesque, MAC 266, Benefit Hard Liner, and Real Techniques Brow Brush).  These are as useful for brows, if not moreso, as they are for eyelining.  As brow brushes, they apply brow powder, powder eyeshadow, or cream and gel brow products to fill in and define the brows.  The Benefit hard angle is my usual brow brush for use with powder eye shadows and the MUFE waterproof brow corrector.  As eye liner brushes, they are commonly suggested for use with gel liner (I know MAC sales associates have often pushed it), and I have seen some great things done with them, but they do not work for me to apply my own gel liner and often apply too thick of a line for my tastes.  I do like them better when used on someone else, and they are terrific for creating a wing at the outer corners (which is why I think they are often suggested).  They are also good for applying eyeshadow as liner or for blending pencil.  I think, as a brow brush they are essential, but as a liner brush, I only suggest them if you struggle with your wings. 

Pros and Cons
Pros:  One of these liner brushes should be in your brush collection.  The fine liner offers the most control and creates a multitude of looks.  The pointed liner brush works for dramatic looks.  Gel liner brushes are (obviously) made for gel liner; they're great for beginners and offer both precision and ease of use.  Flat liner brushes fill in the lashline, making lashes look thicker without a definite line.  Angled liner brushes are superb for eyebrows and great for getting a good flick on eyeliner.  Even if you only use pencil liners, you'll probably want one of these brushes for blending or applying eyeshadow to lock it in.
Cons:  What fine liner brushes offer in flexibility they lack in ease of use.  The classic "liquid liner is so haarrd!!" cliche is probably due to this brush.  (I should probably clarify that I love this sort of brush and have used the two shown here practically to death).  The pointed liner brush can be unwieldy in it's size and stiffness.  Gel liner brushes are great, but I know some of them can splay and not offer a fine enough line.  Flat liner brushes are essentially unitaskers, and they have the problem that they must be held perpendicular to the lash line, and if you're nearsighted (as I am), you'll likely hit the brush handle into the mirror.  Angled liner brushes work for some people, but they don't work for me. 

The burshes featured in this post are: Kryolan Professional Size 0 Round Details Brush (No. 4300), NARS Liquid Liner Brush (dc'd; I don't know how the current version compares), Laura Mercier Pointed Eyeliner (from a double sided brush), Sephora Gel Liner Brush #26, Laura Mercier Wet/Dry Definer Brush, Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Liner Brush, Stila Precision Eye Liner Brush #4, Make Up For Ever Eyeliner Brush 2S, Stila Flat Liner Brush #13, Laura Mercier Flat Eyeliner (double sided brush), Paula Dorf Eye Definer (from a set), Ulta Flat Eyeliner Brush, Sublime Small Angled Shadow Brush, Japonesque 940 Angled Eyeliner (travel), MAC 266, Benefit Hard Angle Liner Brush (this looks different on their website, no idea if it's comparable), and a Real Techniques Brow Brush (from the starter set).  All brushes were purchased and I received no comepensation for featuring them.