Make-up masterclass: Five top tips for buying and maintaining brushes
Paddy McGurgan is one of NI's best-known beauty experts and here he picks out his favourite make-up brush sets so you can pop one on your Christmas wishlist
Behind every great make-up artist is an even greater set of make-up brushes. For me, they are the most important part of my kit and I must have over 500 brushes by now, but I still need, want and buy more!
When it comes to brushes, I really love to shop around and I have to admit that I am not loyal to one brand in particular, as I love experimenting with different types, styles and shapes. Here I show you my favourite sets, so you can pick them up as well or add them to your Christmas list.
First up is Lottie London's Tools on Tour (£7.99). The brushes are made miniature to allow them to easily fit into any beauty bag, but they still pack the same level of pigment pick-up and super soft, even application as their full-size equivalent. This set comes complete with mini brow brush, smudger brush, eyeshadow brush and powder brush - a perfect travelling toolkit.
Next is my very own 15-piece brush set which I am very proud of. The ultimate brush roll, this set contains two foundation brushes, one large powder brush, a small angled powder brush, a concealer duo fibre brush, a large fan brush, one flat eyeshadow brush, two eyeshadow blending brushes, one small bullet brush, an angled eyebrow brush, one lash fan, a lash spoolie, an eyebrow groomer and a lip brush - all presented in a beautifully branded Make Up Pro Store brush roll.
Reduced from £135 for the Black Friday sales, this brush roll is available instore (at my Make Up Pro Store) and online for just £79.99 until December 2. This is the lowest price this set has ever been and it really is one of the most useful brush kits on the market - if I do say so myself!
Northern Irish make-up heavyweight Ciara Daly has released a limited edition set called the Chaos Collection. With 20 pieces and a free leather make-up bag, Ciara's brushes are high in quality and easy to use. At just £99, the Chaos Collection would make a fabulous gift for any make-up lover this Christmas.
A must-have collection of target-specific tools, Sleek MakeUP's 7 Piece Brush Set (£12.99) contains a variety of brushes made from natural and synthetic fibres - there's brushes for foundation, powder, blush, eye shadow, eye contour, eyeliner/brows and lip colour. They're all neatly stored in a travel-friendly pouch with a make-up catcher to prevent both the pouch and your bag from getting messy. I must say that these brushes are extremely soft and blend make-up on to the skin effortlessly and beautifully.
Featuring 12 ultra-luxe pearl-gold brushes - each complete with high-shine 'stiletto' handles - this Iconic London Ultimate Face Set (£75) is guaranteed to bring drama to your beauty collection.
With every eye and face tool you could hope for - including contour and fan brushes - in a powder pink faux leather case, this contains everything you need to master any look. And it would make the perfect gift for any make-up-loving 'girly' girl.
Last but not least, we have Blank Canvas 12 Piece Rose Gold Black Dimension Series Set (£70), which contains everything you'll ever need for any make-up look, from buffer and tapered concealer brushes to short flat shader and double ended brow brushes. This set is made up of super soft, high quality synthetic pieces and is great for anyone who is just starting off.
Top tips on buying and maintaining brushes
1. Always use a brush soap to maintain and clean your brushes. My favourite has to be the Barbara Hoffman soap (£10, www.makeupprostore.co.uk).
2. Make sure you have at least one brush for each step of your make-up routine as this will help you to achieve a more professional and cleaner finish.
3. When buying brushes, always try out the tester. Watch for fall out, bristle strength and the softness of the brush - this will be a great indicator of how well they will last if you choose to purchase.
4. Check the reviews online of brushes you are thinking of purchasing as these have been written by first-hand consumers and will give you an unbiased overview of the product.
5. Invest in good quality synthetic brushes as they are much more able - compared to poor quality brushes - to lift product and place them on the skin without fall out. Poor quality synthetic will look obviously plastic and 'fake', whereas good quality synthetic brushes look very similar to natural hair. If you find yourself wondering if it's real or synthetic then this is a great sign.