Sunday, 2 September 2012

Basic tools: Affordable and effective

In order to achieve the best looks, tools are mandatory. Fortunately there's an abundance of brushes out there, in various prices, so that everyone can buy the tools of choice at the desired price.

But do we need every brush that's available on the market? The answer in no, and I will explain why.

Buying a more affordable brush, does it mean that we have to compromise on quality and effectiveness? The answer is no again!

So, let's get started!

Face. We have foundation brushes, powder brushes, bronzer brushes, blush brushes, highlight brushes etc etc. I have in my collection such brushes because I thought they were indispensable. I don't say that I don't like each and everyone, just that if I knew more back then I would skip a few of them.

And to take it to extremes, if I had to choose one brush (shocking!) to do a whole face makeup (foundation, powder, bronzer, blush, highlight) it would be without a second thought the Elf Powder brush at 4,50€ !

The reason is that it's large enough, dense enough, soft enough, doesn't shed like crazy and it's multitasking.

As for application, the best way to achieve a flawless result without wasting excess product on the brush is to work the foundation on my skin with my fingers first and then use the brush to buff it in. Perfect!

Another result of this application is that the bristles stay relatively clean and product free, so it only takes a couple of swipes on a paper towel in order to proceed with powder, bronzer, blush. If you are concerned with product transfer between different type of products, a couple of swipes in between on a paper towel is all that is needed. As for highlight, I use the edge of the brush and it positions highlight just where I want it to.

After I 'm done with face makeup I'll always spot clean it on a paper towel. The brush cleanser that I find works best with this type of Elf bristles is absolute alcohol (70% or higher) and the bristles get clean very easily and quickly. This way, apart from the obvious hygienic results, the brush is in perfect condition for next time because a dirty brush is not only unsanitary but will compromise the result of makeup application.

A more pricy alternative than the Elf one but still quite affordable is the Sigma F80 at $16. I don't have this one but I do have the F82 and the F84 from the same line and they are my most favorite face brushes.

As for concealer, a fine pointed one is perfect for precise application on spots etc. Look no further than the Elf Angled Eyeliner brush at 4,50€. It doesn't have to be angled, it's just the one I have, any type of fine pointed brush will do.

For applying concealer under eyes, I pat in on the under eye area with my finger and then buff it in with the Mac 217 brush. Sigma also makes a similar one, the E25 Blending brush at $9.

Eyes. Here as well, the diversity of the available brushes is insane, but you definitely don't need many of them in order to achieve the desired eye look.

I 've come to the conclusion that the best way to choose a brush is the size of the area above the eyes (small or big) and the preferred way of eyeshadow application (packed or diffused).

  • For small eyelids I would suggest the Sigma E45 Small Tapered brush at $9. I have a similar one from Mac, the 226 and can be used:
    • sideways to pack color on the lid,
    • just the tip to do a smokey outer v or apply eyeshadow on the lash line and
    • it is also perfect for the crease and
    • applying highlight on the inner corner
  • For more eyelid space I think the Sigma E25 is a good option.
For eyeliner, if you use gel eyeliners you can use the Elf Angled Eyeliner brush I mentioned above (yes, it can work for spot concealing and eyeliner at the same time as long as you thoroughly spot clean between different products).
Another option is the Sigma E75 Angled Brow at $11, it's thin enough to be used as an eyeliner brush although the line will not be as fine as with a designated eyeliner brush. Of course it can also be used for eyebrows.
Mac 208 which is a similar brush is my favorite not only for eyebrows but for eyeliner as well because it offers more control than an eyeliner brush with a fine tip.
So, the most affordable and efficient way I've found in order to do a whole face makeup is with these brushes:
  • Elf Powder brush for foundation/powder/bronzer/blush/highlight
  • Elf Angled Eyeliner brush for spot concealing
  • Sigma E25 Blending brush for under eye concealer
And for the eyes:
  • Sigma E25 Blending brush or Sigma E45 Small Tapered brush for smaller eyelids
  • Sigma E75 Angled Brow brush for eyeliner and eyebrows
Here's my interpretation of the above list, obviously I have included the Mac ones I own instead of the alternatives I've suggested. If I knew then what I know now my wallet would be fuller, lol!


If you have very pigmented blushes/bronzers and you have difficulty in using them, a duo fibre brush will help a lot because with it you can achieve a lightweight application. You can also use it with foundation when you're going for a more lightweight and transparent result.

I have the Mac 187 but also Sigma makes one, the F50 Duo Fibre at $18

Elf makes one as well, the Stipple brush at 4,50€.

If you want to do a detailed eyeshadow work, a pencil brush will be very handy, like the Sigma E30 Pencil brush at $9. Elf has also a couple of small brushes, like the Small Precision brush or the Small Smudge brush.
If you prefer to apply eyeshadow in a wash of color instead of packing it on, a large fluffy brush is ideal and it can also be used for blending. Sigma makes the E40 Tapered Blending brush at $11 and the one I use is the Inglot 6SS.
Finally, an extra that to me is a staple tool is a lash curler. I had the Elf one but it pinched my eyelids and the most affordable and effective that I've found and use for a few months now is the Mister Mascara lash curler from
What's your most effective and affordable makeup tool?

I'm not affiliated or sponsored by any of the mentioned brands, I just added the links so that it would be easier for you to see the brushes!



  1. I have the Elf Powder brush and love it to bits! I was also curious to see if this bended eyeliner brush was any worth, so I'm glad it works to spot concealing. Lovely post, hun!

    1. Thanks love! The eyeliner brush works great for eyeliner as well, if you want to do a fine line, but most of the time I don't have the time (patience, skill, whatever, lol!) to do it properly!


Thank you!

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