Design, Photography, & Fashion

Makeup Artist Bobbi Brown’s List of Essential Makeup Tools

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 26, 2019 • 3 min read

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Bobbi Brown Teaches Makeup and Beauty

You can’t build a house without the proper tools, and you can’t create a knock-out makeup look without them either. Iconic makeup artist Bobbi Brown says that using the right brushes and sponges will make your premium makeup live up to its reputation and will make your medium-to-budget makeup products look like a pricier brand.

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Bobbi Brown Teaches Makeup and BeautyBobbi Brown Teaches Makeup and Beauty

Bobbi Brown teaches you the tips, tricks, and techniques for applying simple, natural makeup that makes you feel beautiful in your own skin.

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Bobbi Brown’s Essential Tools for Your Makeup Kit

Bobbi Brown applying eyeshadow to model

Once you’ve learned the makeup basics and invested in some new beauty products, you’ll want to assemble a toolkit of makeup essentials to help make your makeup application flawless.

1. Makeup Sponges:

Bobbi’s sponge of choice is a disposable one, which makes perfect sense for a makeup artist who does a lot of different people’s makeup on a regular basis. Disposable sponges mean less time spent cleaning tools and less chance of harboring bacteria. They are not, however, super environmentally friendly. So, do yourself a favor and invest in one or two of those colorful makeup sponges that look like eggs. (They come in all price points and are designed to help you apply your makeup to tricky areas, like the under-eye area or around your nose.)

2. Makeup Brushes:

There are as many makeup brushes as there are makeup products. The brush landscape can be very overwhelming and can get very expensive, with price having a lot to do with the materials involved—animal-hair brushes will be more costly than synthetic-fiber brushes, but the former won’t necessarily more effective. Many cruelty-free and vegan beauty brands are making high-performance synthetic makeup brushes that are affordable. Good brushes feel soft and full and should not shed bristles on your face when using them. You only need brushes for the types of products you’ll be using the most—don’t worry about the hyper-specific ones at first. Bobbi’s four absolute makeup brush essentials are:

  • A concealer brush to cover dark circles and blemishes with precision
  • A shadow brush to apply eye shadow and shimmer to lids
  • An eyeliner brush for use with gel eyeliner (or pencil brush for use with pencil eyeliner)
  • A blush brush for swiping color onto cheeks

Depending on your makeup routine, you may want to include in your brush set: a kabuki brush for bronzer, a fan brush for highlighter, an angled brush for contouring cheekbones, an eyebrow brush, and a foundation brush. (A Beautyblender is great for liquid foundation, but other types of foundation may require a brush. Your skin type will dictate your choice of foundation.)

3. Eyelash Curler:

If your lashes don’t curl naturally, using one of these before applying mascara will help keep them lifted.

4. Tweezers:

To remove brow hairs, place false lash strips, or do any other hyper-targeted tasks.

5. Velour Powder Puff, Powder Brush, or Full-Coverage Face Brush:

To lock your foundation in place with an even dusting of face powder or setting powder. (Powder helps oily skin achieve a matte look, but skip this if you prefer setting spray, which can be great for dry skin.)

6. Spoolie Brushes:

For grooming your brows, separating lashes, and generally helping with anything related to tiny hairs.

7. Cotton Swabs:

Great for cleaning up tiny makeup mistakes with makeup remover or helping smudge and blend any harsh liner lines.

8. Eyeliner Sharpener:

If you regularly use pencil eyeliner.

How to Wash Makeup Brushes

If you’re going to invest in nice makeup brushes, taking care of them properly will allow them to last for years. This means routinely cleaning them. All you need is a gentle liquid soap (baby shampoo works well for this). Run some warm water and add a bit of soap to the palm of your hand. Swirl your brushes against your palm until the water rinses clear. Squeeze the excess water out of the brush heads and reshape them with your hands. Let them air-dry lying flat—not standing up.

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Want to Learn More About Makeup?

Whether you already know a blusher brush from a bronzer brush or are simply looking for tips on bringing glamor into your daily routine, navigating the beauty industry takes knowledge, skill, and practical experience. No one knows their way around a makeup bag better than Bobbi Brown, the makeup artist who built a career and a multi-million dollar brand with one simple philosophy: Be who you are. In Bobbi Brown’s MasterClass on Makeup and Beauty, learn how to do the perfect smoky eye, find the best makeup routine for the workplace, and hear Bobbi’s advice for aspiring makeup artists.

Get the MasterClass All-Access Pass for exclusive access to video lessons taught by masters, including Bobbi Brown, Anna Wintour, Marc Jacobs, Diane von Furstenberg, and more.

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