Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Give Your Make-up the Brush!
My Grandfather, George, started out as a stage actor. To all appearances, George had everything going for him. He was tall and slender, had matinee idol good looks, a mellifluous voice, and he moved with grace and self assurance on stage. There was just one teeny, weeny problem. He could never remember his lines. Worse yet, instead of just waiting for the prompter in the wings to throw him the line, he would make one up to the annoyance of the Director and the exasperation of his fellow actors.
Eventually, however, George found his true calling in the theater. He became a very successful make-up artist.
There were five huge steamer trunks in our basement, most of which held my grandparents’ theatrical costumes and my mother’s evening gowns. But one trunk held everything George needed to turn an ordinary actress into a ravishing Desdemona or a handsome young actor into a wizened Richard III.
On hot summer days, my brother and I would sneak down to the basement, delighting in the cool flagstone floor on our bare feet, and open my Grandfather’s magical trunk. The musty odor of spirit gum and Stein’s grease paint would almost knock us over, but we loved it. This was how the theater smelled.
I was very young when George died, but my memories of him are still vivid. When my grandparents went out for a special evening, George always did Marie’s make-up. She wore only Max Factor off stage. I would watch as he chose a particular brush. Some of her brushes he had fashioned himself, trimming here, reshaping there. “You need the right tool for the right job,” he would say. “It’s all in the brush and the stroke.”
So, how do you select the right tool (i.e., brush) for the right job? Well, here are a few things you need to know before you buy a make-up brush.
There are basically three types of make-up brushes:
1) Natural bristle;
2) Synthetic bristle; and
3) A combination of natural and synthetic bristles.
Did I lose you yet? Hope not. Here’s where it all gets demystified.
1) Natural bristle brushes work best with powdered make-up (face powders and blushes and eye shadows);
2) Synthetic bristle brushes work best with creamy make-up (concealers, cream blushes, and cream eye shadows); and
3) Combination bristles work best with liquid make-up (foundation).
Have I lost you yet? Good. Here’s where it all gets useful. These are the make-up brushes you need for your face. (We’ll talk about lips and eyes next time.)
If you wear liquid or cream foundation, this synthetic brush with graduated bristles and an arched top from Sephora works beautifully. The arched top makes it easier to get into all those little nooks and crannies around your eyes, nose and mouth.
Because synthetic bristles do not absorb as much product as natural bristles, you will find that you waste less product than using sponges or fingers and it will go on evenly and without streaking.
And clean up is a breeze.
Smaller versions of this brush are perfect for applying your concealer.
Natural bristles are perfect for loose or compact face powder. I dip my brush in the powder, tap on the side and press the powder into my face. Then, I take the clean side and lightly brush it over my face to remove any excess. Voilà! A sheer, light finish.
Here’s something I bet you didn’t know. Moisture is added to loose powder to turn it into pressed compact powder. So, if you have dry skin, you might prefer using pressed powder rather than loose powder. It doesn’t have quite the staying power, but it may look less dry and more dewy on your skin and it’s much easier to carry around for touch ups.
This brush or a smaller version of it also works beautifully for powdered blush.
It also can be used to apply powdered blush.
The denseness of its graduated bristles allows it to pick up a fair amount of color and distribute it over a wide area.
Apply your bronzer with a light touch on areas that would naturally be touched by the sun – forehead, bridge of nose, chin – building color for effect.
A word of caution to those of us with fair skin: too much bronzer can look like dirty smudges on your face. Apply with great care, if at all. Although I love the look on others, I never wear it for that reason.
As my Grandfather George would say, “It’s all in the brush and the stroke.”
Next time – eyes and lips. Stay tuned.