Why Those Tiny Applicators That Come With Makeup Aren’t Doing You Any Favors

Victoria Moorhouse
rgbdigital / Getty Images

rgbdigital / Getty Images

Sure, your eyeshadow palette might already come with two tiny dual-sided applicators, but they’re not always the right fit to get the job done or the product on your face. While the convenience factor works in their favor (they’re right there, after all), sometimes the size, shape, weight, and even the material they’re made of just doesn’t give you the look you desired—or even the same one you’d get if the same exact makeup products were applied on you at a makeup counter by a professional. Skill will clearly play into it, as the makeup artist’s touch is one that takes a very long time to recreate, but as we’ve heard from experts time and time again, tools are key.

So is a brush better? Often, the answer is going to be a yes.

When it comes to eyeshadow applicators, they’re not usually larger than a three inches long. Like writing with a pencil compared to a stout crayon, a longer stem on an applicator allows you to keep your hands farther away from your eyes so that you can actually see what you’re doing. It gives you a visual boost in blending.

The material they made of is usually of a sponge-y substance and product–especially shadow—seems to really attract to them. You might not think that’s an issue at first, but it’s always easier to build pigment on your skin with layers and blending than to apply too much and have to whisk some of it away. As long as you’re using the correct brush for your shadow, the bristles should be short, thin, and fine, allowing you to pick up and apply the shadow powder gently and in a concealed, controlled area. They’re often easier to clean than their spongy alternatives.

The weight also has somewhat of an issue. Applicators that are weighted lend themselves to more control, and therefore a cleaner, more concise look. To give you a mental comparison, imagine trying to apply a cat-eye wing with a feather. Seems like it would be messy, yeah?

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The same goes for the sponges that come with cream foundation compacts. Unless it’s a Beauty Blender or a spongy material with the tiniest porous holes, you could potentially see the imprint of the tool on the makeup which then sits on your skin looking cake-y. A flat, circular sponge triple the size of a quarter isn’t going to disperse a product as well on your face as a brush, either.

Obviously if you’re in a hurry, these can totally be of use. It might just take more attention. In fact, the tip of the thinner end of a eyeshadow applicator (like the one you see above) is a good resource for applying a smokey eyeliner to your top lash line.

All things aside, applying product with actual brushes or even your fingers will give you more control. Don’t let budget be a concern, either. There are many extremely affordable brush lines out there that work—just as well as the leading brush lines, at that.

MORE: The Best Makeup Brushes for Any Use

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