I'm definitely not an expert when it comes to make-up, but what I lack in official training, I compensate with my enthusiasm. I love playing with different products and discovering new techniques along the way. I've had the privilege of working with some wonderful make-up artists over the years and tried to absorb as much information as possible each time they worked their magic. I keep my toolkit relatively streamlined, but these are my five make-up brushes that have become essentials.
Concealer: After I've applied the rest of my make-up, I finish with concealer. I need it mainly around under my eyes and around my nose, but also for the occasional blemish. Instead of using my fingers, I use this brush and dab it lightly around each area and then finish by using my finger to blend it all in to look most natural.
Angled Eyeliner: When I'm doing a cat eye that I don't want to look too dramatic, I use an angled brush dipped into a gel eyeliner or an eyeshadow that I've dampened slightly. I prefer this to a gel eyeliner since you can make a really straight line with the angled brush and then go over it a few times at the end to smudge it slightly.
Eyeshadow: I never used to wear that much eyeshadow and I think it was because I didn't have the right brush. With good tools, make-up applies more evenly and the color is distributed where you want it. I dip this brush into my eyeshadow, swirl it around on the mirror (or any hard surface to make sure I don't have too much on the brush) and then apply it to my eyelid, using a bunch of small circular motions. I also keep another one of these brushes on hand that I use just for blending, after I've applied the shadow to my lids.
Lip: There's something about applying lipstick directly from the tube onto your lips that feels glamorous, but when I'm not in a rush, I prefer to use a lipstick brush. After lining my lips with a pencil, I get a little bit of the lipstick onto the brush and paint it on in several sheer coats.
Bronzer: I used to use a big fluffy brush to apply my bronzer, but now use this exclusively. With the angle, it's easier to get it in the exact spots where I want it (from the top of my ear down to the corner of my lips, along my forehead and down my nose) and since it's so precise, I don't have to use as much bronzer.