post + photos by amy nadine, graphic design by eunice chun

This is the last in our Which Brush Does What Series (if you missed them, revisit eye brushes here and face brushes here) and today’s walks you through the world of blush, highlighting and bronzing brushes. Here we go!

  1. Cheekbones (powder blush): Look for natural hair bristles and an angled tip to perfectly sculpt and shape cheekbones. To find where yours are, look in the mirror and suck in your cheeks, then work the brush directly on them using short
    strokes as you make your way across towards your ears. Try this one from the Sephora Collection.
  2. Apples (powder blush): Look for natural bristles and a plump body with a pointed tip for the best precision when applying blush to the apples of your cheeks. To find where yours are, look in the mirror and smile; your apples will literally pop out like little golf balls. Swirl the blush in circular motions directly on top of them. This NARS Yachiyo Brush #27 is a bit of investment but you’ll have it for years.
  3. Stippling (cream blush): Look for synthetic + natural bristles in two layers that are different colors, a dark set that is dense and short (natural) and a lighter set that is long and sparse (synthetic). This design picks up two layers when you gently dip it in your cream blush, allowing for different outcomes when swirling it from the apples across your cheekbones (light pressure = sheer finish, heavier pressure = satin finish). Then blend edges with your fingers. Try this lovely Chanel Blending Foundation Brush or this more affordable Japonesque Stippling Brush.
  4. Contouring (cream or powder bronzer): Look for synthetic bristles if you are using a cream bronzer (or a cream foundation three shades darker than your skin tone); look for natural bristles if you are using a bronzing powder. Using short strokes, trace the product directly under your cheekbone in the hollows of your cheeks, up to your temples, across your hairline and under your jawline. For a refresher course on contouring, click here to see our Contouring Tutorial in six steps. This Stila Contour Brush is a staple in my kit.
  5. Highlighting (loose or pressed highlighting powder): Look for natural or both natural + synthetic bristles in a fan shape that feel light and airy on your skin. This design is perfect for sweeping a shimmery highlighting powder directly above your cheekbones using light, downward strokes. It’s also great for those of you who aren’t blush people, but don’t mind a hint of a flush, use this brush to lightly sweep a nude blush on your cheekbones. Bonus: fan brushes were originally developed to “dust” away excess powder or shadow particles, so next time you create a smoky eye and there are little black shadow droppings that have fallen on your cheeks, use your fan brush like a duster to sweep them away. Try Tarte’s Fanatic Fanned Brush.
  6. Bronzing (loose or pressed powder bronzer): Look for natural bristles with a rounded head for the most even application. Unlike using bronzer for contouring, here we’re using it to look sunkissed, so this brush design is ideal to evenly distribute, diffuse and blend the powder as you swirl it all over your face and neck. This Tarte The Buffer Airbrush Finish Brush works amazingly for bronzing and also for blending (see next step).
  7. Blending (everything!): This Dior Backstage Kabuki Brush is a must-have splurge for serious make-up artists. It has short and dense natural bristles that is the ultimate blender to swirl all over following blush, bronzer or powder application. Bonus trick: if you use a foundation or bronzer that comes as a spray, instead of applying it directly to your face, spray it in the palm of your hand, dip the kabuki brush in it then swirl it all over your face and neck for an airbrushed look that is simply gorgeous. This Eco Tools Kabuki Brush is also great and more budget-friendly.

You certainly don’t need to own all seven of them. If I had to only pick three must-haves for myself, I would have #1, 4 + 7!