Tools of the Trade
We rave on endlessly about the makeup and skincare products we love, but rarely do us beauty bloggers take the time to appreciate and acknowledge those tools that help us achieve our makeup looks or even those everyday basics that we use in our skincare routines. I can definitely understand why though, for the most part, they aren't particularly interesting to read about and I have to admit, I've even put off writing this post because I wasn't very excited to write about them! Nevertheless, I'm here today as a voice for the unsung heroes that go unnoticed, but absolutely make a world of difference to our beauty regimens.
So makeup brushes aren't necessarily forgotten about in the beauty community, but I for one don't exactly jump for joy when reading a whole blog post or watching a video dedicated to them. Having said that, they play an absolutely vital role in one's quality of makeup application and though they can get quite expensive, to me, they're so worth the investment. You could own the most beautiful, most expensive makeup in the world, but what is the point if you aren't applying it with the right tools that match up to their value? Take good care of them and they should last you a lifetime, anyway. When I first really got into makeup, I saved up quite a bit of money to purchase myself some MAC brushes and four years on since investing in them, the quality is still there and they remain my most reached for brushes. Pictured is the infamous MAC 217 Blending Brush (you can tell how long I've had it as the numbers are partially rubbed off!) and making up the majority of my brush collection, there's such an amazing variety within the brand. I also have a NARS brush (the Yachiyo Kabuki), a few Hakuhodo ones and if all those brands are way out of your price range, you can't go wrong with Real Techniques either. I've heard amazing things about Zoeva too and I'm dying to get my hands on that stunning Rose Golden Luxury Set. Ahh, so dreamy!
I've been using an eyelash curler since I first started even wearing mascara. I remember being about 14 years old when I first curled my lashes and now I can't even imagine applying mascara without curling them beforehand. It makes such a huge difference. I've been using the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler for a good few years now and like makeup brushes, I believe in investing in a good quality pair. I've found cheaper alternatives to rip the eyelashes out and even pinch the delicate skin around the eyes, but the Shu Uemura ones are so gentle, yet still provide the most amazing curl that lasts all day.
I've never had my eyebrows professionally done before and I don't ever intend on changing that. It's just another added expense and reason to leave the house, and honestly, I can't be bothered with all that. I've used cheap no-name brand tweezers in the past (namely in high school where I'm sure I wasn't the only one who plucked their eyebrows too thin!), but nothing is as sharp and pulls out those annoying little stray hairs quite like the Tweezerman tweezers. You can really grab the hairs and pull them right from the root without them snapping and even those tiny baby hairs that are just starting to grow back are easy to get a hold of too. I have the Mini Slant Tweezer, which are cheaper, but more importantly, in a cute lavender colour unavailable in the regular size. If you're vain like me too, there are many more colours and patterns Tweezerman tweezers come in.
There's nothing worse than trying to line your lashes or lips with a blunt pencil and freshly sharpened pencils are just oddly satisfying too. Buying a high end brand pencil sharpener is probably completely unnecessary, but like I've mentioned before, I am a ridiculous person and have both MAC and NARS Pencil Sharpeners. I've owned the MAC Small Pencil Sharpener for years, but needed the NARS, also, for the bigger hole to sharpen the single Velvet Matte Lip Pencil I own (who knows, I may buy more in the future!). What I like about the MAC and NARS sharpeners is that they're specifically catered for makeup pencils. They are covered so they catch the shavings (though if you're a neat freak like me, you'll probably empty it out straight away too) and even come with a little pick, so you can clean off any pencil residue left on the sharpener.
Fringe grips, or as I like to call them, hair velcro, are a godsend! Popular and widely available in Asian pharmacies and drugstores, I first saw these on a random Hong Kong haul blog post when I was researching beauty shopping for my overseas trip to the country last year. As much as I love having a fringe, for the most part, I can't stand having hair all in my face, so as soon as I'm home and the day is done, up my fringe goes by simply sliding it in the fringe grip. In case you're wondering, yes, you do look completely ridiculous when wearing them; my family made fun of me when I first bought them and my friends have asked, "What's in your hair?", but I really do not care! Having said that, I did buy them in black over any of the other colours they come in to better disguise it. They're great for getting the hair out of your face while you're doing your makeup (I cannot stand watching videos of girls doing their makeup with their hair down - it bothers me so much!) and they're much gentler than head bands and bobby bins, which can really pull the hair and leave kinks. A simple, yet genius little tool, fringe grips are super cheap and you can buy them online here.
Not the most thrilling tool here, but one I simply cannot go without mentioning. I have to admit, most of the time, I'm far too lazy to redo my winged eyeliner if it's completely off and uneven (a few coats of mascara and you can barely tell, anyway!), but on those disastrous days, cotton buds and Bioderma come to the rescue. If you don't own a smudge brush either and are going for a more grunge look, using cotton buds to blend out both your upper and lower lash lines are an amazing, cheap alternative.
Much like cotton buds, cotton pads are a boring household staple I usually spend my Priceline vouchers on, but nevertheless, they're something I absolutely cannot be without. I soak these in Bioderma to remove my eye makeup, sweep toner across my face and also use them to remove my toe nail polish (I've got the Sephora Instant Nail Polish Remover for my fingers). They're boring and definitely no fun to spend your money on, but I keep my cotton buds and pads on top of my dressing table in empty Diptyque candle jars and it's definitely given them a new lease on life!
I've been using muslin cloths for makeup removal ever since I discovered Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser and the wonder for your skin that is the double cleanse. I buy a packet of the Liz Earle Pure Muslin Cloths whenever I'm making a restock order online and sometimes they even throw in some complimentary ones too. These feel really gentle on the skin, not at all scratchy, as well as acting as a mild exfoliant. I don't use them to remove my eye makeup as they get far too grotty quicker that way, so I run the muslin cloth under hot running water before going in to remove just my face makeup. Once washed over my face a couple of times, every trace of makeup is removed and my skin is looking fresh and clean.
A facial roller may seem somewhat of an extravagant and unnecessary beauty tool, but seeing as though I don't own a Clarisonic and aren't really interested in electrical facial gadgets all together, I didn't mind spending a little more money on this Rose Quartz Roller (Double) by Ying Yu Rollers. There are definitely cheaper facial rollers out there on the market, but I love what rose quartz represents in terms of emotional healing and in physical form, this roller massages the face to de-puff and de-crease the skin, while also boosting its luminosity by stimulating blood flow. Made of pure rose quartz, this beautiful individually handcrafted tool acts as a workout for the face and upon application, feels cooling, and really soothes and freshens up the skin. I use this in conjunction with my facial oil of choice (the NUDE ProGenius Treatment Oil) and together, they make the perfect pair for the ultimate luxe pamper.
What's in your beauty toolkit?