When it comes to applying cream eyeshadow, synthetic brushes are my go-to as creams as natural hair brushes can soak up liquid and creams too much and produce either sheer or streaky results (and creams tend to necessitate washing often, and synthetics can take the extra washing easily). I find a flat, synthetic brush is necessary for all-over lid application; a fluffy, dome-shaped brush key for diffusing crease color and applying creams to the brow bone; and a dome-shaped, denser brush for depositing pigmented color into the crease.
I would love to hear about the brushes you can’t live without for applying cream eyeshadow — share your picks in the comments!
Applying Cream Eyeshadow to the Lid
When I’m using a cream eyeshadow on my lid, I consider whether I’m laying down a sheer wash of color (or that I’m applying it as a base for powder eyeshadow) or using it as a standalone lid shade. Typically, for the latter, I’ll reach for a flat, synthetic brush, which will pickup product well, apply and pack the color on without diffusing the edges or reducing the intensity much. For a sheer wash of color, a fluffier, dense, synthetic brush will work best for picking up a moderate amount of product but giving an airier application that makes for a good one-and-done all-over wash of color.
MAC 242, IT 212, IT 322
MAC 242S Shader Brush ($25.00) is a flat, synthetic brush; works best for applying color all over the lid (a uni-tasker in my arsenal but one I keep multiples of on hand as it’s so good at what it does).
IT Cosmetics Essential Concealer Brush (212) ($22.00) is a small-to-medium sized, fluffy dome-shaped brush that has moderate density and a tapered, diffusing edge that works well for applying sheer washes of color all over the lid, diffusing and blending out crease color, as well as for laying down and blending out color applied to the brow bone.
IT Cosmetics All-Over Shadow Brush (322) ($26.00) is a medium-to-large sized, synthetic brush with a flat, dense shape that is good for applying color all-over to a larger area; it has a softer, more tapered edge compared to the MAC 242, so it can apply cream eyeshadows with more coverage but can also diffuse and sheer out cream eyeshadows.
Applying & Blending Cream Eyeshadow in the Crease
I’ve found that working with cream eyeshadows in the crease can be a little trickier, so I tend to apply as a two-step process with one brush to apply the color more precisely into the crease area with fuller coverage and then using a different, fluffier brush to diffuse and pull the color outward as necessary to get a subtle gradient. For working with color above the crease and on the brow bone, I use the same, fluffier, dome-shaped brush that I use for blending in those areas.
Urban Decay Moondust, Urban Decay The Finger, Makeup Geek Pointed Crease, Urban Decay Eyeshadow Contour, Urban Decay Tapered Blending
Urban Decay Moondust Brush (E210) ($24.00) is a small, dense synthetic brush with a fluffy, tapered edge that grabs eyeshadow well and can really pack it on while also having good movement and the ability to blend out edges without sheering out the eyeshadow too much.
Urban Decay The Finger Brush (F110) ($26.00 is a large, dome-shaped synthetic brush that works beautifully for diffusing crease color (also fab underneath the eyes for concealer) when a really diffused, sheer edge is desired (it’s larger, so it won’t work as well for any precision work).
Makeup Geek Pointed Crease Brush ($8.50) is a small, lightly fluffed, tapered crease brush with synthetic bristles that I love using for applying dense, more opaque color into the crease. The tapered edge also can help to blend out edges, but I prefer something a little fluffier for that purpose and tend to use this solely for depositing initial color into my crease.
Urban Decay Eyeshadow Contour Brush (E211) ($22.00) is a medium-sized, domed-shape crease brush that fits well into the socket to lay down and blend out cream eyeshadow. It’s particularly good for transition-type shades into the crease as well as the inner corner.
Urban Decay Tapered Blending Brush (E209) ($24.00) is a small-to-medium-sized, tapered blending brush with synthetic bristles. It has a more pointed edge that has a flattened tip, so that it can apply color more precisely into the deeper crease but will not leave behind a harsh streak of color.
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