My most used makeup brushes in 2020
If you ever wondered which fude brushes I use apply my makeup with, here it is. This post details my most used brushes and their corresponding products.
I try to make use of all my makeup brushes. Fude is expensive and I want to get bang for my buck so I take care to rotate through them to use each brush. It helps that I'm really lazy with my brush washing so I will cycle through the brushes I'm not completely fond of at least once. Since everything is clean (for once), I'm going to use the opportunity to show off my most used brushes of 2020.
Dozens of new brushes entered my collection this year. I normally like to use brushes for at least 3 to 6 months before writing my review. There are two reasons for this: the first is so I can ensure I can provide a detailed review and the second is so that I can see how much the brush blooms or changes shape over time. Due to this, I've only included brushes that I've used for more than 6 months, although most of the brushes in this post are years old.
My desk is a mess when I put on makeup. I'll pull out ten or more brushes just to create a basic look. I know it doesn't look like it but there is a method to my brush organisation. I separate my brushes based on hair type, size, function and brand. I will be installing more shelving during the holidays. Until then, the fox hair brushes will have to live in empty mug limbo.
Today's post is a detailed run down of my most used brushes for every step of my makeup application. I tried to choose one brush for each category but even the best laid plans go awry.
We begin with my foundation brush of choice: the Koyudo Fu-Pa 02 which was discontinued in the latter half of 2020. The Rae Morris #27 Mini Radiance is similar to the Koyudo versions but it's denser so I use it when I want more coverage from my foundation. The kicker is that the Rae Morris animal fibre brushes have also been discontinued. It's like the universe hates me.
Left to right: Rae Morris #27 Mini Radiance, Koyudo Fu-Pa 02 CB, Koyudo Fu-Pa 02
Below is a fair representation of a medium to medium-full coverage base using the Koyudo Fu-Pa 02. I dot foundation all over my face and then I stipple the product to spread it before swiping from the inner part of my face outwards.
This brush requires a fair bit of swiping to buff foundation into the skin and I have dry, sometimes textured skin depending on the time of the month. As you can see, I still have texture to the skin around my forehead and lower cheek but I'm willing to make that trade off because I get great longevity with my foundation using this method. Hakutotsuho is rougher than sokoho or saikoho goat hair but it's more resilient and can take the constant washing. I dry these brushes in a brush guard to compact the bristles. A denser brush = more coverage + less streakiness.
Concealer and Colour Correctors
I have some pretty obvious lines under my eyes so more often than not, I'll use my finger to pat out a sheer concealer. Recently, I've been forgoing concealer altogether and applying a peach colour corrector.
While I don't mind using my hands, I always get concealer under my fingernail (gross but true) because I'm not careful.
When I do use a brush to apply concealer, I use the also discontinued Rae Morris #6.5 which is made into the shape of a particularly fat finger that can be used to dab product in.
Contour, Shading and Bronzer
My go to brush for applying cream contour is the Koyudo BP014 which thankfully has not been discontinued although many others in the BP line have been. It's a short bristled hakutotsuho brush that is the perfect size for getting under cheekbones or in my case for creating the illusion of cheekbones. I think the Westman Atelier Contour Stick is easily the best cream contour on the market because the formula is so blendable and you get a truly natural shadow. Together with the Koyudo BP014, it's almost impossible to screw up my application.
If you're a returning reader to my blog, you'll probably notice that the only powder bronzer I wear is the Charlotte Tilbury Film Star Bronze and Glow. It is the perfect shade for my skin tone to wear as a brontour product. My favourite and most used brush with this product is the Rae Morris #2 Mini Kabuki brush which again, has been discontinued. In my opinion, it is the most wonderful brush. It strikes the perfect balance of stiffness and airiness to apply product in a targeted area and follow through to allow for the easiest blending experience. I could seriously write poetry about this brush and I almost did in my original Rae Morris Jishaku Brush Review.
I know I wasn't impressed by the vegan brush line which I saw on display but I'll admit that I'm a little tempted to buy some. I still really want to see a proper review of the synthetic brush line but seriously... fude is already quite a niche sub-culture and fude reviews whether on YouTube or through blogs such as my own are even rarer so I might never see a review of the new Rae Morris Jishaku line. Please let me know your thoughts if you've tried any of the new synthetic brushes.
Hyperbole aside, I can realistically use any other candlestick or flame-shaped brush to apply a bronzer/contour. I prefer something that is on the fluffier, airier side or something soft that doesn't splay too much, nor pick up too much powder. When both of my Rae Morris Mini Kabuki brushes are dirty, my options are the blue squirrel Wayne Goss 02, the grey squirrel Qin Zhi H Series 207 brush or the saikoho goat haired Sonia G Face Two which is far more floppy and airy than online pictures would suggest. I apply bronzer using in the shape of a '3' or 'E' from my temples to my cheek to my jawline.
Oh blush, how I love thee. I own a significant number of blush products in varying formulas. I have four acrylic drawers dedicated to housing blush, some of which I have depotted to save space. Most days I wear both with a cream blush on the very apples of my cheeks and a powder blush around the edges and lower part of my cheek.
For cream blushes, I like the Hakuhodo G5552 which is a duo-fibre angled brush. The synthetic fibres make it stiff enough to pick up poured cream products such as the Luma Beauty Just A Touch Lip and Cheek Tints which come in little pots as well as the softer Salt New York Creme Tint Pro blushes which I acquired in 2020. The Hakuhodo G5552 requires application with a stippling motion.
For liquid blushes, I like to use the Hakuhodo J210 because the small rounded head allows for easy blending and the saikoho goat fibres soak up just enough product for me because I'm naturally quite heavy-handed. I find liquid blushes such as the Benefit Benetint typically tend to be more pigmented than I bargain for so I over-apply then I need to quickly buff it out. It's a vicious cycle and you'd think I would have learnt for the next time but... nope.
I use a wide variety of brushes to apply powder blushes depending on the intensity of the pigment and how hard pressed a product is.
For the hard pressed blushes such as the Tarte Amazonian Clay blushes, I like the Rephr 24 which is great for picking up pigment, dabbing it onto the cheeks and buffing out the edges.
I first rated it in my Rephr Review: The Face Brushes and again recently as it was relaunched with the Rephr 2020 Holiday Collection. It is my most used brush from the entire brand. I like it because it's a jack of all trades kind of brush but it's my go-to for hard pressed powder or less pigmented blushes.
We've established that I'm heavy handed with blush and it's most problematic with a powdery and highly pigmented product. It doesn't always come across on camera but rest assured that if you saw me in person you'd notice. In my collection, the Tom Ford Cheek Colour blushes cause me the most trouble. I need to use a squirrel haired brush to avoid picking up too much product. My most used one is the Chikuhodo Z-4 which is floppy enough to swirl in circular motions in a small area.
Above is an example of how using two different brushes can yield vastly different results. I tapped twice into the Tom Ford Cheek Colour in the shade Wicked using the Chikuhodo Z-4 in the top swatch and very gently tapped twice into the pan using the Rephr 24 in the bottom swatch.
The final category of blush is of the baked or gelee category. These blushes give me the best of both worlds because they're a gel to powder type of formulation. Some such as the Tom Ford Sheer Cheek Duo can be used wet or dry. I prefer to use a goat brush with these formulations because they tend to be harder to pick up with a soft brush. The Koyomo Pearl Pink Blush Brush which is made from ototsuho shoulder hair has the softness of saikoho but enough spring to dab and blend in circular motions. It diffuses product out so well and so softly that it was my favourite brush for applying blush in 'no makeup' looks. The brush is excellent for all manners of powder products. The Koyomo Blush Brush is definitely one that more people need to talk about.
I don't always powder my face. On the rare occasion that I use a setting powder, I pick the fluffiest brush I own in the Rephr 11 and pat on some loose powder such as the Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder. Barring that, the Qin Zhi H Series 204 brush is great for patting powder onto the skin because it picks up minimal amounts of product as one would expect from a grey squirrel brush. It has great resistance for squirrel because it is tightly bundled at the ferrule which curves inwards. I never look cakey using this brush.
I came into possession of the Shou Shou Lang Green Dill LL01 brush early in 2020 and I've come to really depend on it. Made of saibikoho graded hair, it's supremely soft but it's also dense enough to allow circular buffing. I like to apply my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder using the LL01. My Shou Shou Lang Green Dill Series brush review can be read here.
I prefer undyed goat hair eyeshadow brushes over dyed goat or squirrel brushes. When I buy eyeshadow brushes, I try to make the most efficient choices because I don't like to create complicated looks. I also like to use cream products or eyeshadows that can be used wet so undyed goat hair is most suitable.
Eyeshadows aren't my forte. I don't have a lot of lid space, my eyelids are hooded and I have buggy protruding eyes. All the photos posted above show my natural rounded eye-shape.
For formal occasions, particularly evening events, I like to create a soft smoky eye. Below is an example where I extended my eyebrows out and created dark outer corners to widen and flatten my eyes. The effect is slimming on my face. Creating a soft dark outer corner also flattens my convex eyeballs enough to allow for a shimmer highlight to be placed in the centre of the lid.
My most used brushes of 2020 are my old tried and true staples from Hakuhodo. I've written an extensive beginner's guide to Hakuhodo eyeshadow brushes if you're in the market for some.
The Hakuhodo J5523 is the perfect for laying down product and then blending out the edges. It's also great for blending out my cream eyeshadow sticks which I prefer over powder eyeshadow. The Sonia G Worker Three was also used for one and done shadow applications. The Worker Three is comprised of shorter bristles and is denser so it creates a more intense pigmentation than the J5523 but on the flip side, it's also not as soft on the eyeball if you use the tips to blend. It's better as a flat laydown or packing brush.
The Hakuhodo J5529 and J146 small rounded crease brushes were in constant rotation as was the Tsubokawa Mouhitsu Koyomo Pearl Pink Shadow Brush. The Koyomo eyeshadow brush is another under-rated brush in my opinion. It's very soft but retains a nice flexibility in the tips to allow for quick blending of harsh edges while also being small enough to be used to deepen the outer edges of the eye.
So much for one brush per category. This post required some brutal honesty of myself. I've decided to go on a brush low-buy for 2021. The fact that I need to put up more shelving means that I'm nearing the point where I potentially might not cycle through all of my brushes in a fast enough fashion. I still have half a dozen brush reviews planned but after that I'll have to get creative with my fude content.
Thank you for reading, especially if you made it all the way through. It's truly humbling that you spend your free time picking through the often rambling thoughts of a fractionally crazed brush collector.
I'd love to know what your most used brushes of 2020 were. Shoot me a message or I'd love to have a chat on Instagram.