Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

The tools no make-up artist can live without and how to use them…

Retractable lip brush

A lip brush allows you to accurately control the amount of colour applied to lips while also letting you blend and shape colour without getting your fingers smudgy. It can also double as a concealer brush for camouflaging blemishes and small areas of discolouration. A retractable version can be toted in a handbag without being damaged or leaving annoying slicks of lip colour all over your bag’s lining. We like the Paula Dorf Retractable Lip Brush, $25.

Eyeliner brush

Essential for the application of cake eyeliner or when tracing wet powder or cream shadow across the lashline in place of pencil,  a fine-tipped eyeliner brush allows you to control colour and draw a precise line. Try the Glitter Eyeliner Brush, $13.

Angle brush

Use a brush with flat bristles trimmed on an angle for detailed work around the eye.  Perfect for creating a precise shape, like the half-moon for a smoky eye or bending eye pencil, the angled brush may also be used to draw shadow onto eyebrows. Check out the Cargo Taklon Angle Brush, $30.

Eyeshadow brushes

These are available in small, medium or large brush sizes for sweeping eye make-up across your lids and blending colours. Select a size that fits with the size of your eyelid and feels comfortable to use and look for close-fitting bristles as they ‘grab’ and ‘hold’ colour better. Our pick: Glitter has a selection of pro quality eyeshadow brushes in varying sizes, $22-$30.

Eyelash brush / Eyebrow comb

With one side to separate lashes and another to tame eyebrows, this handy tool is an absolute must. The hard comb is great for working out clumps of mascara and shaping lashes, while the softer bristles help soften and sculpt brows when applying make-up or waxing. We like E.L.F’s Brow Comb and Brush, $3.95.

Lash curler

You can go conventional, you can go new-breed, but you’ve got to go for a curler if you want lush, vampy lashes. A clamp curler is to be used before mascara and should feature a silicone pad on which to rest your lashes. A battery operated heated curler works just like a mascara wand and can be used after mascara for a lasting, dramatic curl. Our favourites: Pout’s conventional Super Curler, $62 and ModelCo Lash Wand Heated Eyelash Curler, $29.95.

Foundation brush

With a tapered head to allow precision blending of cream and liquid foundations, this brush helps avoid tell-tale colour seams for a more natural, ‘invisible’ make-up look. Synthetic hairs are best suited to this type of brush as they are
non-porous and do not absorb colour, meaning you don’t lose product as you might with a sponge. Non-animal hair foundation brushes are also more hygienic as they do not collect as much bacteria. We use the Di Kennedy Signature Pink Foundation Brush, $36.

Large face/ Powder brush

A large headed brush with soft, bushy bristles is ideal for dusting loose or pressed powder across your face and may also be used to sweep bronzer or blush across your cheeks, forehead, nose and décolletage. Bargain choice: E.L.F. Total Face Brush, $3.95.

Fan brush

A delicate spray of fine fibres makes this brush the make-up artist’s tool of choice for shading and blending. Wielded with a light touch, it helps create a seamless blend and may also be used to dust away eyeshadow or powder
overspill. Try the Glitter Fan brush, $17.


There are rounded and squared-off tweezers, but the two most commonly used are the slanted and pointed tip types. A great general tool for epilating hair from the face and bikini line, the slant-tip tweezer makes gripping hair around curved areas easy. The point-tip version allows you to reach stubborn or ingrown hair more easily. A word of caution though, you should always be careful to clean your pointed tip tweezers carefully before attempting to extract a buried hair – the last thing you want is to transfer infection-causing bacteria. We choose to use Rubis Slanted Stainless Steel Tweezer, $59.95, or Tweezerman Pointed Tweezer, $59.50.

Blackhead extractor

Just a slender barrel with a loop at one end and a flat circle at the other, these tools look weird (and slightly medieval) but for those with blemish-prone skin, a blackhead removal device can be very handy indeed. After sterilisation, use the loop to roll out exposed whiteheads or place the flat end over a blackhead, pressing down to extract it. Try: Tweezerman No-Slip Skin Care Tool, $28.95.

– Tracey WithersWritten: November 2006

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