Brushes for Smaller Eyes
My makeup and beauty-related hobby has given me an opportunity to indulge in all manner of beautiful brushes. After much trial and error, I've finally landed on a series of brushes that really suit my eyes. Here's are my general brush preferences, which you might find useful for determining if you have similar preferences. In which case, if so, you can discover some interesting brushes to try out. Also I will tell you about what my eyes are like, which with their characteristics has lead me to some of my favorites that I will share here.
What I like:
Japanese, hand-crafted brushes, which tend to be on the pricey end of the spectrum
Due to the make, some of these brands can be harder to find (although if there is a will, there is a way).
Natural materials over synthetic. I find there is a particular hair type that suits most purposes
I have smaller eyes. Duh, since that's what this post is about.
I have slightly hooded lids in which the mobile lid folds over my lash line (i.e., when I wear eye liner and open my eyes and look straight on, you can't see the liner unless I wear a VERY thick line)
I have an epicanthic fold, which is a small flap of skin that connects the inner portion of my upper lid to the lower corner. (You can't clearly see the mucosa of my inner corner)
I have a very shallow crease, but which is getting more prominent as I age and lose fat in my eyelids
I have a pair of uneven creases on my upper lids (meaning, I am not a monolid).
Ok, let's get down to brass tacks. <-- what does this phrase even mean? Here are some brushes by function I find exceptionally useful. I'm giving some examples that I personally love, but you will often find many similar brushes from other brands.
Multi-purpose and Blending
There are couple of excellent blending brushes, two of very well-known ones I'm including here: MAC 217 and Tom Ford 13. Due to the too large (for me) circumference of the round ferrule, I find them slightly limited. I can't blend between shades. With my small lid space, a large blending brush will blend colors into an indiscriminant haze. I use these brushes (and their kin, like the Paula Dorf blending brush or the Hakuhodo J5523) for laying down an even wash of a single color, cream shadows application AND for blending the just the edges.
But, there's a good blending brush for us, that can blend edges and blend between shades. The Hakuhodo J5529 is a miniature version of the MAC 217/J5523. It's smaller head makes blending seamless transition between two shades doable.
The Teeniest Tightlining Brush
Like most people, as soon as I found out about the magic of tightlining, (never mind that with my hooded lids the effect is negligible) I purchased the Laura Mercier tightlining brush. I kept on finding that the black liner would miss the lash line and smear into the upper lid. It was the large (for me) size that didn't deal well with the small and curved line of my lash line. Fear no more, there's again a mini version for our beady-eyed kind. The teeny glory of the Hakuhodo G521-D1 is here! Also a good alternative is the Wayne Goss 08. May you never get incidental smear ever again. (Then there is applying tightliner drunk... well, then I can't help you)
And Speaking of Eyeliner Brushes ...
I didn't include any "normal" eyeliner brushes in this post, since they tend to come in small proportions and with fine tips anyway. There's still ways to up your eyeliner game even more. Like with these. And by game I mean you can:
Apply definition along your lower lash line with precision with eye shadow.
The Houkodou GS-4 can also be used to smudge of soften eyeliner. I have a Nars brush like this one but the brush head is very large and it is scratchy. The luxurious kolinsky hair of the Houkodou has a resilient springiness which can stand up to the job of smudging while remaining delicately soft.
The SUQQU UL brush is a UK exclusive that was recently available as part of the brush sets from Christmas. The UL brush, along with the S and the brow L will eventually become available individually in the UK, so hold on tight. With Selfridges no longer selling brushes, Harrod's and Fenwick's are your places to check.
Big Giant Brushes Can Be Friends, Too
You might be less keen on large eye brushes, but I have several I use daily. I've included a few really beautiful ones (that were clean at the time I took photos) to show.
The thing is, a big fluffy brush like the grey squirrel hair SUQQU L brush is awesome for 1) applying the base shade in the older SUQQU quads 2) applying a light wash of a shade and 3) applying skin-toned base shade. With it's giant head, it makes a light layer a breeze. Just don't use cream or liquid shadows with squirrel hair.
The Canadian Squirrel haired Houkodou GS-1 and the SURRATT Classique Grande is a bit more firmly packed. The nature of the Canadian Squirrel is that it picks up color more strongly and applies more strongly as well. If I want more than a faint inkling of a wash, I find these excellent for that purpose.
For me the Tom Ford 11 isn't as big as the others mentioned here, but the goat hair, with its soft, but firm resiliency is also very good at picking up and depositing colors more strongly. The paddle shape is also one of my favorite shapes for eye shadow brushes. Since the goat hair is less delicate than the squirrels, I can use for cream products.
Now pencil brushes are great tools. You certainly don't need small eyes to appreciate them, but one of my favorite shape in brushes. A difference in hairs, size of the head, and how loose or densely packed the hairs are can give a lot of differences in control and function of each brush. I've featured three (of which a few are a tad a pain to get a hold of, but I'll also name some more easily obtainable ones).
Some functional uses:
the smoky eye application. The compact and pointed heads of pencil brushes are tools of choice for a dark application of eye shadow which defines and "smokes" around the lash line. The firmer hair types would be good choice for this. Not shown, put the Tom Ford Smoky eye brush is great (and goaty).
A diffuse application of color along the lower lash line and blending out any harshness. Lisa Eldridge often uses the SUQQU S to this effect. The uber soft grey squirrel hair is ... uber soft.
Applying a crease shade with a very delicate effect. This is my own little application thing that I figured works well for my eyes. I have a very shallow crease so that using a traditional crease brush with make to broad a swathe of color. The Chikuhodo Z-10 has a very fine point and is also not dense. A light dip of a deeper crease shade can be applied very finely into the crease for me.
Targeted blending. Yes, by miniaturizing brush heads, I can get a little more anal retentive about control. (I feel like my therapist can have a field day with this last sentence) I can blend tiny areas, smudge liner in a more precise and controlled manner. The Takeda 10RSSCSQU is a diminutive master. This sucker has custom made: Canadian Squirrel hair in a teeny tiny pencil point with surprising density in the hair bundling. Hakuhodo G5515 and G5514 are good substitutes.
All Arounders (Not to Be Confused with the Quarter Pounder)
Sometimes, nobody has time for tooling around with a million brushes (or realistically, three or four) when one is kind of good enough. I have a few of these brush all around good brushes that can complete an eye look all my itself. Now, none of these are going to create anything detailed or magically, but for simple things, I find such brushes quite good.
For this all-around-good-enough brushes, they are always paddle shaped brushes (filberts). Some I like a little fluffier, like the Houkodou GS-2 with a springy, but soft hair like Canadian Squirrel. Some I like that can also do well with a cream product, like the kolinsky Houkodou GS-5 which is flatter in profile.
With the broad flat side, I can layer on my base shade
Using the tip, I can define around my lash line
With the thicker ferrule brush (like the GS-2) I can do some nominal blending AND also apply a crease shade.
With some dabbing with the ends, I can also deepen the outer or inner corners
There's many brushes like this from pretty much any line. I also really like the Surratt Classique in Medium.
Detail Your Eye (Detail Your Car)
Like a mentioned a few times above, small brushes can work very well for getting into little areas or tight corners (literally like my inner corners due to my epicanthic fold) and doing detail work.
Not pictured, but seriously honorable mention to the Shu Uemura 5R, a kolinsky hair brush with a small, round ferrule which creates a tube shaped brush. Outer v application getting you down? You can slap it on with this brush easily. Also props to the Chikuhodo Artist Red 6-1, another small paddle but really really small. Both brushes are show here.
I've been using the brushes pictured here almost every time I do my makeup. Both are relatively firm (Surratt is Canadian Squirrel, the Shu is sable). That makes them precise tools. The small head of the Surratt is something I use to apply depth color (usually the medium depth shade of a quad I'm using) in the inner part of my upper lid and also in the outer corner of my lid. I have relatively flat eyes, so a little contouring like so gives a little more shape and dimension. The 5F can be used for super fine lining, sketching out a wing, applying a color in the lower lash line and et cetera.
Long post. Many words. Many pictures. Hope you found this interesting or helpful. Either is good! Do you have any special recommendations and methods that you want to share for eye brushes?
Oh yes, and I've been gone a while. Thanks for coming back to check out my blog despite the lack of recent content and my unannounced hiatus. It means a lot that I have a place to brain dump! I'm super grateful that you are here to read it.