There are plenty of ways to apply your makeup, from brushes to sponges to your fingers. But once you nail the art of using the right brushes—and wielding them the right way—it’s amazing how much better your makeup can look. But with all of the types of brushes out there, it can be a little overwhelming figuring out which brushes you really need—and how to use them. Matthew Waitesmith, the co-founder of Artis, breaks it down for you, sharing everything you need to know about makeup brushes.

What was your inspiration for creating Artis? Makeup artists are always on the search for something better—it is the nature of any artist to (better control a tool) or get it to do something it didn’t do before. Therefore, I started asking why the industry didn’t pay attention to the tools artists used, but always focused so much on the colors and formulas brands created?  When I got an inside look at MAC, my perspective shifted, and I realized the clients needed better tools to re-create the looks they sought at the makeup counter. The Artis brush concept was influenced by my desire for makeup brushes to look beautiful instead of bland, and to be efficient instead of wasteful, and to be more effective at achieving their (intended) purpose. Why shouldn’t the tool be just as beautiful as the products you use? Our brushes are more akin to lifestyle “objets” and are designed to create a better beauty experience while our clients are striving to create a more beautiful version of themselves.

Artis Elite Mirror CollectionCourtesy of Artis

What makes Artis different from other makeup brushes? Having been a makeup artist for over 40 years, I already knew what most people consider a makeup brush. And I knew they weren’t really makeup brushes, but instead, borrowed art brushes that were never created with makeup application in mind. So, I decided to create tools that were true makeup brushes, which distributed makeup formulas to achieve enhanced finishes. To do this, I needed to create a distribution mechanism that worked best with modern formulas that included powder, liquid, creme and hybrid formulas. This system needed to be easy to use, vastly superior to the current options, reliable and beautiful. I created handle shapes that look like modern art sculptures, yet are ergonomic, and fiber bundles that are engineered to outperform conventional brushes. Finally, I oriented the handles and bundles to facilitate self-application. I felt it was time the makeup brush became a luxury lifestyle object that fits with all the other beautiful makeup color products available. I witnessed advances in formulations and colors, but was always disappointed by the design of the tools meant to apply these amazing products—and even if you have a brilliant product, it does not matter if you (use the wrong applicator) to apply it. The key Artis differences are luxury design, superior performance and enhanced ergonomics.

How are Artis brushes designed for self-application? Conventional makeup brushes are used by an artist to paint some other object, like a canvas or wall. So that brush orientation is essentially an extension of the arm. Most makeup wearers aren’t painting other objects; they are painting themselves, and that is more awkward to do with conventional brushes. I believe the more natural orientation for applying makeup is to see how someone applies it using their fingers and watching the motions of the fingers in action. That orientation and motion is what defines Artis brushes. Artis brushes emulate how you apply makeup to yourself using your fingers. Of course, I also wanted to improve the product distribution ability from what a finger can do, and the engineered Artis CosmeFibre material and configuration not only doesn’t hold on to the product in the same way animal hair absorbs formulas but also outperforms what can be done with just fingers.

What’s the most common mistake women make when it comes to makeup brushes? I’d say there are two: I think the most common mistake is to disrespect the makeup brush. Most people think all makeup brushes are the same, and they just buy the cheapest or use a free-with-purchase version. This diminishes the importance and potential of how a great makeup brush can distribute product across your skin. Once a makeup user sees the difference in distribution results, then they begin to appreciate what a makeup brush can do to help them achieve beautiful makeup results. I’ve heard from Artis clients who use our brushes once and are hooked for life because the quality of the brush delivers such an elevated result—they literally see the difference in the mirror. The next common mistake is to not take proper care of the makeup brush. Some people think you can just apply makeup product every day without having to be concerned with cleaning or sanitizing the brush. A clean brush will always give the best application results, and a sanitized brush will help protect your health. Invest in quality brushes and care for them so they can continue to deliver amazing results.

Artis Palm Mini BrushesCourtesy of Artis

Why is it worth investing in quality makeup brushes? Most makeup users spend a significant amount of money on makeup products to try to achieve more beautiful results. They forget that a very sophisticated makeup formula has to be applied and distributed in a way that delivers the intended result. Enter: the makeup brush. I have seen makeup artists take the same product and apply it using different tools, and each result is different because of the tool. The focus should be on how you do something, the method, rather than expecting the product to do it all by itself. Investing in a quality makeup brush is an investment in your routine. It will help enhance the results you get from using all your makeup products.

What type of bristles are best? Technically the origin and meaning of bristles is stiff hog hair. Over the centuries it has become a catch-all term to describe animal hair, but that is not really helpful in consideration of choosing a makeup brush. Some companies say they use “expensive” hair like sable or squirrel and claim those are the best bristles. But those considerations have more to do with the art world and painting with oil or acrylic paint than with makeup. When choosing a makeup brush, first you need to keep in mind whether you may have any sensitivities to animal hair, as does an estimated 10% of the population. And that is important because a conventional animal hair brush will be rubbing across the (delicate) skin around your eyes and mouth, and the rest of your face every day. So, if you have any such sensitivities, you should avoid animal hair brushes, no matter the “quality” of the hair. Likewise, don’t assume that animal-free options are all the same, as they are not. Different man-made fibers have different performance attributes, so you should look for brushes offered by companies that are experts in fiber technology and truly understand how to match a fiber’s performance potential with makeup formulas. At Artis we don’t use bristles in any of our brushes; we use engineered CosmeFibre and on average we use 3 to 15 times more individual CosmeFibre than conventional brushes use animal hairs, and CosmeFibre is made with a material that has memory to help each fiber retain its shape.  For example, our Oval 8 has well over 250,000 fibers to pick up product and distribute on the skin. That’s more hairs than are on the top of your head.

What’s the best way to clean makeup brushes? Conventional animal hair makeup brushes should be cleaned regularly using a similar method as to how you might clean you own hair. Animal hair shares the same pros and cons as human hair, so pick a cleaning regimen that will help dissolve excess makeup debris from the hairs, but leave the hair in a condition that does not promote splitting or breaking. Many brands that offer conventional animal hair makeup brushes also offer their own brush cleaning formula products. It is generally a good idea to consider using a product that was designed to clean the makeup brushes made by that company. I took a different approach with the Artis Brushes. The CosmeFibre used is engineered to withstand many challenges associated with makeup use. It is chemical-, UV- and friction-resistant and therefore does not require any “conditioning” treatment to keep it performing at its peak.  In addition to swipes using our Cleaning Pad (I recommend this after each use!), the Artis brushes can be cleaned with water and a drop of ordinary dishwashing liquid and then use a microfiber cloth or towel to wipe away and remove the loosened makeup debris, leaving the brush fibers clean. It is also important to consider sanitizing your brush as well, since a damp environment can encourage microbial growth. If you use a conventional animal hair brush, you may want to consider adding a final rinse of 70% isopropyl alcohol which will help sanitize the hairs. Artis offers a special Cleansing Foam formula that cleans and sanitizes without drowning the fiber bundle. Whichever method you choose, make sure you dissolve the makeup debris from the bundle, remove the debris with either water or cloth, and then sanitize it to maintain proper hygiene.

Artis cofounder Matthew WaitesmithCourtesy of Artis

How often should you clean them? Unfortunately, most people do not clean their makeup brushes and find it to be an onerous task, therefore I created a cleaning system that would make it easier and more efficient. Clearing and cleaning continuously as you work is the best method, and the Brush Cleaning Pad and cleaning system make this very easy. I generally recommend that the cleaning regimen for makeup brushes should be similar to other cleaning regimens in a person’s life. If you wash your hair every day, then consider doing the same with your makeup brushes. If you change your bed sheets every week, then consider using that schedule for your makeup brushes. This flexibility in schedule assumes you are not using makeup product that quickly accumulates in the brush bundle, like some transfer-resistant foundations. If too much product accumulates in the bundle, the brush’s ability to distribute product will severely decline. A clean brush will always deliver the best results. So, the decision on how often you should clean them is yours to make, but I recommend frequent cleaning.

What’s the best way to store brushes? Conventional animal hair brushes are prone to the same challenges the hair on your head is. If you sleep with your head in a weird position on your pillow, you can wake up with “bedhead” patterns and a wild hairdo. Similarly, conventional brushes are vulnerable to being reshaped by the way they are stored. If they get crowded into an awkward space, the hairs will take on a new shape that will inhibit performance. Conventional hair brushes need to be stored in a position that does not disrupt the desired shape of the hair bundle. There are several options available including brush rolls, tubes, and boxes to hold the brush between uses. Artis brushes are different in that they are made with CosmeFibre, which is engineered to include shape memory. This means the brush will keep it shape significantly better, even when challenged by the storage environment. When a brush has the ability to keep it shape better, it can be stored in more types of containers and cases. Keep the storage area or container dry and clean, and your brushes will keep in good condition.

Artis Elite Mirror Brush SetCourtesy of Artis

What are the signs that your makeup brushes need to be replaced? Some people make the mistake of thinking a brush is “down and out” and ready to be discarded when it may be just suffering from being dirty. Keeping your brushes clean will prolong their life and performance. But, there are inevitable influences that can cause a brush to suffer a premature death. For example, conventional animal hair brushes can be damaged just as easily as the hair on your head. They can get dry, and develop split ends, and the hair shafts can break off. Animal hair is made of protein and amino acids, which can erode from water, shampoo, UV, friction, etc. So depending on how it has been used and cared for, a makeup brush might have a short life or a long one. Animal-free brushes are usually more robust at dealing with environmental challenges and generally last longer than organic animal hair brushes.  I think the main indicator of when to retire a makeup brush is when it is no longer looking good or performing as it should.

What are the basic makeup brushes that every woman should own? Every makeup user has areas of their face they feel are attractive, and they tend to focus mostly on enhancing that area so your makeup tool collection might reflect this. For example, some people feel beautiful skin is the highest priority to looking beautiful, so for them a makeup brush that applies and distributes skin care and foundation and concealer is the most important. A brush used for that purpose has to perform in a way that makes the skin look perfected and not like a layer of makeup is sitting on top of the skin or is streaky. For these people a great size and shape brush for applying and distributing foundation is key, such as the Artis Oval 6, 7 and 8 brushes, which help distribute product evenly. Others may believe their eye area is what sets them apart in terms of beauty, and for them brushes that can apply makeup product with more precision is essential. Brushes to apply and distribute eye makeup generally are smaller and shaped to offer application in a precise area, such as the Oval 3 and Oval 4, Circle 1R, or Linear brushes. Look for a brush that quickly and efficiently distributes product across the entire area you want to enhance, without having to make lots of strokes of the brush, reload product frequently, or push hard against the skin to achieve results. A good brush for the eye area should be soft and gentle and extremely good at applying and distributing product quickly and efficiently. For those who like to feature their mouth and lips, having a brush that can distribute color product across the lip area while also being able to create a precise or a soft edge to the lip is important, which can be achieved with the Circle brushes. Sometimes the smaller brush that delivers great application to the eye area can be just as useful for the lip area. So, decide which facial feature you think is your best, and then make sure you have makeup brushes to match that area in size and shape. Then add in medium size and shape brushes for the rest of the face, and any specialty size and shape brush for the secondary focus areas. I would recommend choosing brushes that have a shape and size similar to your fingers (for smaller areas of the face) or face components (for example, brushes shaped like your cheek). It’s also key to look for a brush to distribute the product evenly and uniformly and efficiently. If you have to push hard on the brush to get performance or if most of the product you’re using ends up inside the brush bundle, (you are using) the wrong brush.



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