Tools of the Trade: Best Face & Eye Brushes

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Tools of the trade can often make or break a project, and makeup is no different. You don’t need to splash a lot of cash to get the good stuff, but a few key investments can really help you level up your skillset. If I tried to go through all of the 50+ brushes I own, we’d be here for the next week, so instead I thought I’d just share the key members of my brush family – the workhorses, the luxury buys that were totally worth it, and the guys I reach for just about every day.

As a side note, I have listed (to the best of my ability) whether the brushes are vegan, cruelty-free, natural hair, etc. If you prefer to only shop vegan/cruelty-free, this list from Logical Harmony is a great resource for cruelty-free brands.

Face Brushes

RealTechniques Duo-Fiber Face Brush (Amazon) – I had no idea how to use this when I first picked up the RT Duo-Fiber Collection (the colors were recently changed to align with the rest of the brand’s products), but it has become my absolute favorite brush for working with super pigmented blushes like NARS and Tarte. It’s so soft and pleasant on the skin, and picks up just the right amount of product for the easiest blending. I had such a hard time working with blush before and now it’s quickly become one of my favorite products. RealTechniques brushes are always cruelty-free.

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RealTechniques Setting Brush (Amazon) – The multi-tasker! This brush gets used so often that I actually have two of them; setting powder, highlight, contour, all over lid shade, you name it – this brush can do it. Right now its top two uses for me are picking up just the tiniest amount of HD powder to set my under eye concealer and giving me a perfectly blended out natural-looking contour. RealTechniques brushes are always cruelty-free.

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IT Cosmetics #103 Airbrush Blurring Concealer Brush (Ulta, $16.00) – For anyone that just cannot get the hang of the micro.mini beautyblender, this is hands down the best concealer brush I’ve tried. Specifically, under-eye concealer. It helps blend out product beautifully without disturbing the rest of my makeup or sheering out my foundation too much. With my current foundation, I’ve actually had better luck applying my concealer first and this brush really does give me an airbrush finish that is undetectable under or over my foundation. This brush is made with synthetic fibers.

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My Collection: Travel Essentials

Okay okay, I’m not going to lie to you – I’m using the term essential veeery loosely here. Some items are a “must,” but many are just a “want” because I like to be prepared for anything – especially when traveling back to my hometown for special events like weddings and birthdays. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m back in Philly this week for a small stomping grounds reunion and a major wedding in NY, so here’s everything I brought with me for a few nights out with my closest friends, two separate looks for the wedding ceremony (daytime) and reception (evening), plus The Boyfriend’s birthday the very next day. I guess you can call this the “special occasions” version of my travel essentials.

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The Semi-Annual Destash

I live in Oregon now, but my family and closest friends are all in Pennsylvania, where I grew up. We (The Boyfriend and I) usually go back a few times a year for various reasons and a seemingly endless stream of weddings.

We’re heading back for a few days later this month and it’s the perfect opportunity for me to continue curating my collection. There’s a great post about how to develop your own “C^3” or “Carefully Curated Collection” HERE, from a fellow Redditor over at /r/makeuprehab.

So what exactly am I doing here? I’m not too concerned with the size of my collection just for the sake of its size, but I have plenty of items I dislike or don’t use and most beauty products have a limited shelf life. Anything past its prime – throw it out. You can find a brief guide to makeup “expiration dates” HERE.

For everything else, “destash”. Destashing is for those perfectly fine products that you just don’t like or don’t use, samples that just aren’t for you, and all the “dupes” you’ve collected of your favorite products since the last destash. My little sister usually gets first dibs for these (sanitized) products and I try to give away the rest to family and friends (after sanitizing everything, I really can’t stress this enough). You can also try to sell your unwanted goods (after properly sanitizing of course) on various makeup forums and sites, the most popular probably being /r/makeupexchange.

So, moving on. This is my first real trip back east since August and I’ve accumulated a ton of stuff to hand off to my family and friends. After a few months of mostly unsatisfying deliveries, I’ve recently unsubscribed from both ipsy and Birchbox – monthly subscription boxes that deliver makeup and skincare samples to your door – and now have a bunch of items that were not at all chosen for my needs (despite the quiz each site offers to help tailor your box to your preferences). I’ve also purchased some items that later turned out to irritate my skin or otherwise just didn’t work. So, here’s everything that’s flying back for the destash:

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