Brushing Up with Jessa Blades

We asked Jessa Blades, natural beauty expert and makeup artist, for tips on how to find the best makeup brushes
Photography by Robin Jolin. Stylist: Abby Minot

Photography by Robin Jolin. Stylist: Abby Minot

Good tools are essential. It is important for any woman who wears makeup to invest in a few good brushes. Makeup brushes (if well cared-for) will last for years, maybe even a lifetime. And they will help you apply your makeup more easily and create a flawless look.

No one knows more about proper tools than a makeup artist, which is why we asked Jessa Blades (, natural beauty expert and makeup artist, for tips on what to look for and why.

What are the basics? Animal hair brushes are better for powders and the products that need the lightest touch. Synthetic brushes are great for cream products or foundations or anything waterproof, like eyeliner or an eye primer.

I think everyone should have two big fluffy brushes (for powder, bronzer or blush), one firm eye shadow brush, a fluffy eyeshadow blending brush, angle brush for eyebrows and a pointy liner brush. Go for the classics and leave any fan brushes or contour brushes for later, when you can get a professional to show you how to use them.

TIP: When buying a brush, see how it feels on your face. If it feels soft and lovely, it will feel great when you are applying product.

Why do bristles fall out? There are many reasons bristles fall out: cheap brushes, old brushes, dirty brushes. It is normal if some bristles fall out after you wash your brush for the first time, but if this continues, then there is probably something wrong with the brush.

TIP: When bristles stick to the face and you cannot pick them up, grab a tiny piece of tape and press it on the bristle, and it will lift it off your face without ruining the makeup.

Brushes help makeup look more natural, make products last and make layering of products more precise. Don’t feel like you have to buy them all at once. Start building your collection slowly, and don’t skimp—your face is your canvas and deserves the investment.

Care & Handling

Makeup brushes need to be washed and air-dried regularly because they can harbor bacteria. A dirty brush can lead to breakouts. Wash with warm water and a liquid soap like Dr. Bronner’s lavender soap. Rinse and gently squeeze. Leave brushes out on a towel to air dry, with bristles hanging over the counter. Between cleanings, use a tissue to wipe clean. If your bristles begin to stray after repeated use, simply trim them back.

Rona Berg

Rona Berg

Editor-In-Chief at Organic Spa Magazine
Longtime journalist, author and current editor-in-chief of Organic Spa Media, Rona Berg is the former Editorial Director of ELLE and Deputy Style Editor for the New York Times Magazine, and she has contributed to and been quoted in dozens of publications. She co-chairs the Personal Care Committee of the non-profit Green Spa Network, is a Charter Advisory Board Member of the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance, best-selling author of Beauty: The New Basics and Fast Beauty (Workman Publishing), and is a frequent speaker and guest on radio and television and at conferences around the globe.
Rona Berg

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