Tools of the trade

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A small arsenal of well-designed tools can prove very useful in the make-up box.

Slant tweezerIn keeping with my Desirable Dozen makeup products, I thought I’d review a dozen beauty tools that I, as a grown-up girl, find useful.

Not every woman needs an arsenal of beauty products, but – just as in the kitchen or sewing room – having a few decent tools makes a job SO much easier and can often be a better use of funds than buying new products.

An important part of your arsenal is brushes, which can be either synthetic or natural hair. With natural hair, the colour ‘sinks’ into the hair itself, while with synthetic, it tends to sit on top. Which you prefer is largely a matter of choice – I like synthetic eye brushes but natural lip brushes, for instance.

What I don’t like, any longer, is foam-tip applicators. I find brushes allow you to blend your makeup far better, which becomes increasingly crucial as you get older and have more facial hair and fine lines to work around. 

Take good care of your tools and they will go on for a long time – I’ve been using the same lip brush for nearly 30 years.  Wash your brushes weekly with shampoo or liquid soap (trying not to get too much water into the metal bit that holds the bristles). Dry on a towel, then leave hanging over the edge of a shelf or radiator, so nothing distorts the bristles.

Here are my top dozen tools:

1 Tweezerman Slant eyebrow tweezers (above). Don’t wase money on other makes – Tweezerman makes tweezers that grab and pull cleanly at the tiniest hairs. If you do one thing, shape your eyebrows – even without makeup, this will give a frame to your face.

eyelash curlers2 Eyelash curlers (right). Nothing makes you look more awake and alert. Mine are just from Boots, but they look a lot like these posh Shu Uemura ones. Run them under a warm tap for 20 seconds or so before use and you’ll get a better curl.  

Eyelash/eyebrow duo3 Eyebrow brush. It should look like a little toothbrush. I use the one on the end of an old Ultima eye pencil. For the best results, brush your eyebrows straight up, then go along the top and gently comb any stray hairs back into place. This Yves Rocher one does double duty with…

4 Eyelash comb. Great for separating lashes and stopping your mascara from looking clumpy. Again, mine is just an old one from a dead mascara. 

5 Mediwipes. For wiping over your makeup brushes after every use.  You should also wash your brushes once a week to avoid contamination. 

Eyeshadow brush6 Eyeshadow brush. This should be quite big and fluffy, but flat. It’s for blending, something that must become your mantra as you get older. All the brushes shown here are from Yves Rocher, which makes good brushes for a reasonable price.

blusher brush7 Blusher brush (right). Again, this should be wide but flat and angled at the tip, for stroking on colour. The angled tip spreads out in just the right way on your cheekbone. 

powder brush8 Powder brush. This should be huge and fluffy, with a rounded end. Dip it into the powder, knock the excess off and use just the smallest amount to set your foundation, dabbing your skin as if you were stippling paint. Then use the brush to lightly stroke your facial hairs in the right direction. 

Eyeliner brush9 Eyeliner brush (right). You use this sideways – it should be very thin, flat and cut at an angle at the end, with quite stiff bristles. Applying your liner ‘sideways’ like this makes life a lot easier, as you will know if you’ve ever tried to apply liquid liner in a straight line. 

lip brush10 Lip brush. Shoves your lip colour right into the creases of your lips and gives your makeup real staying power. It should be narrow, with a sharply pointed end. Best in natural hair. After washing your brush each week, wet the brush in your mouth and pull it out through your pursed lips and leave it to dry – your saliva sets the end into a perfect poin (a technique still used on squirrelhair paint brushes).

11 Latex sponge. Soft as a baby’s breath, this can be used wet or dry for applying foundation. Alternatively, use a foundation brush, which looks like an eyeshadow brush, only bigger.

12 Cotton buds. Have these ready to hand and dipped in oil-free eye make up remover for correcting any spills or slips as you go. 

13 Pencil sharpener with two slots – one for normal-size pencils and one for big pencils. 

14 Concealer brush, if you don’t use Touche Eclate, which has its own brush built-in. This allows you to position your concealer accurately – especially important for dark circles under your eyes. It lookks like an eyeshadow brush, only smaller.



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