5 Alternate Applications for the Makeup Brushes You Never Use

Because you're a rebel who doesn't like to throw anything out.

Something that happens when you start collecting (read: hoarding) makeup and beauty tools is that you’ll end up with a big ol’ pile of duds somewhere. Sure, you could pass them along to other beauty-loving friends, but that never quite happens because you Scrooge McDuck your very own overflowing stockpile of makeup. And before you know it, that pile is collecting dust and is completely forgotten about until you pack up and move.

I managed to find a little pile of sad, forgotten makeup brushes in a box full of candles, of all places, stashed away when I moved a few months ago. So what’s a gal to do? Figure out a way to actually use them, even if it isn’t the use they were actually made for.

Use a paddle foundation brush for applying face masks!

I want an honest poll in the comments: Who actually uses a paddle foundation brush? I’ve seriously never gotten the hang of using it to apply foundation. I have a few of these guys that have popped into my collection over the years from purchasing mixed packs of brushes, and the paddle brushes have literally never been used.

Fun fact: the very first makeup brush that little 14-year-old Allison ever bought was this foundation brush from The Body Shop. So it’s basically just sat there for the last nine (!!!) years until I started using it for applying face masks. No mess, easy clean up, and, above all else, no nasty green mud stuck under your fingernails.

Use a pencil brush for spot-concealing!

My preferred concealing method is pinpoint concealing. It makes me feel better about my skin when I only cover up tiny little points instead of spackling my entire jawline, or, in this case, forehead.

I picked up the Makeup Geek pencil brush to use on the eyes, but it's a bit too stiff and spiky to be comfortable to use on my tender little baby eyes. I just dab a little Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage onto the brush and blend over whatever spots need covering. This pencil brush is the Goldilocks size for pinpoint-concealing and blending all in one.

Use a stippling brush for perfectly diffused blush!

If we are doing exactly what the professionals tell us to do, a stippling brush is best used for applying thin foundations and stippling as opposed to buffing or sliding the foundation around your face. This is supposed to give you better coverage where you stipple and an airbrush-like finish.

I’ve never gotten along with this application style (sue me—I’m a foundation buffer through and through) so I use it to apply blush. Here, I’m using this to apply Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Natural Beauty, which is REALLY easy to overdo because that pigmentation is on fire. The sparse, longer bristles of this brush pick up less powder, making it easy to not go clowny.

Use a concealer brush for smudging eyeliner!

The whole reason that I bought that Makeup Geek brush was to blend out eyeshadow looks, but it was just too dense. Instead, I use this big and very soft concealer brush from Bare Escentuals.

It's so super-soft and the bristles are long, so it’s very easy to blend makeup into nothing. The flat style also makes it easy to get up close to the lash line and not end up blending makeup down my whole face.

Use an eyeliner brush for cleaning up lipstick!

I love a good bold lip, and I usually apply straight from the bullet. This always means that I need to clean up my lip line to have a crisp edge. For doing my eyeliner, I prefer bent eyeliner brushes as opposed to the angled liner brush, or this non-bent style. So to actually get some use out of this brush, I use it to sharpen the edges of lipstick.

The edge is so tiny and crisp that it helps to smooth out the lipstick line to perfection. I’ll sometimes use this with a concealer to clean up the edges of a lipstick as well.

  • Do you "collect" beauty products or tools?
  • What is your best alternate use for a beauty product?
  • Really though, do you use a paddle foundation brush for applying foundation?