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Benefit Cosmetics LLC

There are two things that a woman should not skimp on: cotton sheets and quality makeup brushes. The market offers brushes made from the hairs of sable and blue squirrel and from nylon. If you can afford to, invest in several sable brushes. They have shape memory, no matter what you do to them. Be careful with sable brushes, because colour goes exactly where you put it. If you want a sheerer, broad wash of colour, the squirrel brush has a lighter touch.

Brushes are the softest, least harmful way to transfer cosmetics to the face. They are used to line the eyes, fill in the lip line, fluff on the eye shadow and blusher, smudge harsh lines, and for finishing with powder. Small brushes with shorter, stiffer bristles can be used to train the eyebrows, apply mascara, and remove excess.

Eyebrow brush
Use this brush to train your eyebrows by first brushing them upward and then smoothing them back toward the ear.

Powder brush
The largest brush in your collection fluffs finishing powder onto your face, softens foundation, or blends blusher.

Blusher brush
Fluffy blusher brushes cut on an angle fit comfortably over the cheekbone. Brushes in blush compacts are too small and pick up too much colour.

Fantail brushes
I've always loved this brush for easing on just the right amount of blusher, because it fits right over the cheekbone.

Eyeliner brush
Use this narrow, domed brush to line the eyes with eye shadow or to smudge the line laid down by eyeliner pencils. If you're looking for a sharper line, try the Trish McEvoy No. 11 brush. It's 3/8 inches wide and imparts a precise line very close to the base of the lashes. Or try Paula Dorf's tiny nylon brush -- its slight curve follows the lash line on the inner side of the lid.

Eye-shadow brushes
You will probably want two: a one-inch soft, fluffy brush to broadcast a sheer wash of colour over the whole lid; and a small, soft slanted brush to fit comfortably into the crease under the socket bone for applying contour colour.

The spoolie, which looks like a fresh mascara brush with a series of stiff, short bristles arranged horizontally along a central core, is used to remove excess mascara.

Lipstick brush
If you like to line your lips, a brush is an excellent way to fill in lip colour without disturbing the precise line of your lip pencil.

Excerpted from The Beauty Workbook: A Commonsense Approach to Skin Care, Makeup, Hair, and Nails by Cynthia Robins. Reprinted with permission from Chronicle Books, 2001. Distributor in Canada, Raincoast Books.

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