What separates the pros from the amateurs? Okay, so it's mainly talent, experience, a steady hand, etc. BUT, it's also the instruments they use. A builder is only as good as his tools, after all. Luckily, most of those tools are available to you and me. You'd be surprised how easy it is to pull off gorgeous hair and makeup work if you're armed with the right gear.
No more lusting after (insert your favorite celebrity)'s perfectly executed bright lip and wondering why you can’t ever get your lip color to stay put like hers. Here are the top 12 makeup tools that will help you do it, and work many other red carpet-worthy looks, too:
EYES + BROWS
The Cult Curler
There’s nothing else like the Shu Uemura eyelash curler - adored by makeup artists and celebrities everywhere, and even referenced by Gisele Bundchen's character in The Devil Wears Prada. With good reason: “It’s the perfect size and shape for all eye tapes,” says TV makeup artist Casey Cheek. “It’ll open up your eyes immediately after use and lashes stay curled all day long.”
The Holy (Eye Brush) Grail
When you’re creating a smoky eye, you need the MAC 224 Brush. It's "perfect for beginners learning how to blend eyeshadow and working it into your crease,” says makeup artist Clarissa Luna, who has worked with magazines like ELLE, Marie Claire and Rolling Stone. “The soft bristles grab just the right amount of color so you never over-apply your eye shadow. Use it after you’ve applied your shades to diffuse any lines.”
The Essential Eye Shadow Brush
If you struggle to create the right angle and shape when you apply eye shadow, this Laura Mercier Pony Tail Brush could be your answer. “It grabs a good amount of color but still has a light application, and the shape is perfect for creating angles on your eyelid,” says Dallas-based makeup artist Penny Sadler, who has painted the faces of Brooke Shields and Kelly Clarkson.
The Ultimate Lash and Brow Tool
“Every girl should have a combing and brush tool for their lashes and brows,” says makeup artist Rachel Wood, who's worked across music videos, print advertising, catwalk, editorial and short film. “Keep it on hand to brush up your brows and separate lashes that are clumped up with mascara.”
The Lip (and Brow!) Brush in Disguise
It may be pegged as a concealer brush, but the Kizmet Cosmetics brush in KS-085 is perfect for using on your lips, according to Luna. “It gives a really precise application and the synthetic, firm, small bristles allow you to reach the corners of the lips without overdrawing.” Luna also pegs this brush as dual action – it’s great for filling in brows with too.
The Cult Applicator
Every makeup artist on the planet will tell you that you need a Beauty Blender, one of the most used foundation applicators ever. “It gives a flawless finish and is so easy to use,” says Cheek. "It’ll cut your application time in half and is also great for applying crème blushes because it allows you to go as light or heavy and as you want, exactly where you want it.”
The Perfect Concealer Brush
The pros agree — concealer should be applied with a brush, not your fingertips. “When we apply with our fingers, we tend to wipe off more product than applied,” says makeup artist and beauty book author Michelle Phillips. “It’s a must have — it helps to create even coverage and blend properly to avoid creating a heavy look.”
One Brush For The Whole Face
Natasha Leibel, makeup artist to celebs like Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Mariah Carey and Sarah Jessica Parker, nominates one brush to serve all of your face needs: the Burberry Kabuki Brush. “Use it for all of your powders, bronzers and highlighters to create flawless coverage.” She says. “The bristles are soft as silk, yet dense enough to hold and move product so you get a natural effect.”
If you’re more partial to sponges, though, makeup artist Piare Encina (who has done work for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire) suggests picking up this cosmetic sponge wheel. “It keeps your sponges sorted and fresh, and it can be used for a variety of tricks,” she explains. These include: using wet or dry to apply crème or liquid foundations for an airbrushed finish, applying crème blush or bronzers for contouring, using on translucent powders to set your makeup, applying eyeliner by using the edge of the sponge and also fixing up your lip application by using the corners to tidy.
The Perfect-Waves-Every-Time Wand
We all want the answer to easy waves, and hair pro Bradley Irion (who has styled celebs like Liz Hurley, Freida Pinto and Leighton Meester) thinks he has it with the Iso 5 in 1 Black Titanium Interchangeable Barrel Curling wand. “It’s the curling iron to end all curling irons because it comes with four varying size curl rods for easy, lived-in waves.” His tip? Curl your hair using one size smaller than you’d usually use, then flip your hair upside down before blow drying on a low setting and pulling the ends of your hair straighter. Flip back up, spritz the mid lengths to ends with Oribe Apres Beach Spray, and enjoy relaxed, natural waves.
The DIY Salon Dryer Extension
This is what you need to emulate a salon-quality hair treatment at home, all wrapped up in a why-didn’t-I-think-of-that-first moment. The Dryer Bonnet by White Sands Hair Care attaches to your hair dyer so you can enjoy a hands-free blow dry that evenly distributes heat and doesn’t burn the scalp. Try turning it on for twenty minutes after you’ve applied a conditioning treatment or oil — the heat makes the conditioning ingredients penetrate further into the hair for a softer, silkier finish. Looks silly, but super effective.
The Best Flat Iron You’ll Ever Use
Hair straightening just got high tech when GHD released their Eclipse flatiron. “It’s amazing because it has six sensors between the two plates and regulates the temperature at 365 degrees Fahrenheit – the ideal heat setting for hair,” says NYC fashion week stylist Adam Maclay. Previous models and other flatirons only use one sensor on each plate, which meant more strokes at higher temperatures to get the desired smoothness. With the Eclipse you can style more hair in one stroke, without having to turn the heat up.
Image: bonninturina / Fotolia