Makeup Brush Confidential – Tapered Face Brushes

Welcome to part 3 of our Makeup Brush series, where I attempt to unravel the mystery and confusion surrounding the use of these wonderful tools. In case you’ve missed them, we’ve already studied the Anatomy of a Makeup Brush and Foundation Brushes. This week we’re covering tapered face brushes, and what they are good for.

Tapered Face Brushes 1
​A selection of tapered face brushes in varying sizes.

​Tapered face brushes are some of my favourite brushes to use. Tapered brushes allow for very precise makeup application that blends beautifully without running away from you. The secret to this lies in the tapered bristles.

What are tapered bristles?

Tapered bristles describes the way the bristles of a brush are cut. If you took a regular powder brush, where all the bristles are relatively the same length, and shaved the sides as illustrated in the picture below, you would have yourself a tapered brush.

Where to shave a brush
Please note – I’m not suggesting you actually do this. The diagram is just for the purposes of defining what a tapered brush is.

​The precision of a tapered blush comes from the point at the tip. Having this small a surface area allows you to pick up as little or as much product as you like and apply it precisely. The blending capability of a tapered brush comes from the shaved sides. When the brush is splayed, the bristles stay close, blending the makeup without spreading it too far.

​Where to use Tapered Brushes

When selecting a brush to use for a specific purpose, the size needs to be proportional to the surface area you want to cover. I’ve broken down below 3 sizes of tapered face brushes, and where I like to use them.

​Large Tapered Brush

MAC 138 2
​Brush pictured is the MAC 138.

This brush is 5cm (2 inches) from the ferrule to the tip of the longest bristle. The ferrule has a diameter of 2cm.

This brush is ideal for achieving wearable contouring, as opposed to the razor sharp contouring that looks amazing in photos, but doesn’t always translate well in the real world. The size and shape of this brush fits nicely into the hollow under my cheekbones.

Contour Brush

​Medium Tapered Brush

NARS Yachiyo
​The brush pictured is the NARS Yachiyo Brush

Hakuhodo Medium Pointed Yachiyo 2
The brush pictured is the Hakuhodo Medium Pointed Yachiyo

The NARS brush is 4cm from the ferrule to the tip of the longest bristle. The Ferrule is 1.5cm in diameter. The Hakuhodo brush is 3.5cm from the ferrule to the tip of the longest bristle. The ferrule is 1cm in diameter. I class both these brushes as medium tapered brushes.

These brushes are ideal for blush application, both for the apples of the cheeks, and also the backs of the cheeks. Because of the tapered bristles, blush is always blended out perfectly with no harsh lines or edges. Blush application with these brushes is controlled, helping you to avoid looking embarrassed or sunburned because of runaway product on your face.

Blush Brush

​Small Tapered Brush

Highlighter Brush
​Real Techniques Contour Brush

​This brush is 2.5cm long from the ferrule to the tip of the longest bristle. The ferrule is 1cm in diameter.

I like to use the very tip of this brush to apply highlighter to my cheekbones and the bridge of my nose. The almost pointed tip allows you to pick up a very small amount of powder highlighter, and blend it out on your face with a minimum of fallout. This is surprisingly important when applying highlighter, because when highlighter falls out, it makes you look like a disco ball in person, and can make you look sweaty or oily in photos.

What do you think of tapered face brushes? Do you use them in your day-to-day makeup routine? Perhaps you’ve never used one, but want to after reading this? Let me know in the comments below.

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