I don't consider myself a fashion or beauty expert, but I do know a thing or two. :) Since I've spent my life in tutus and ballet slippers, by the time I was about 12, I started doing my own makeup for ballet performances and competitions. I think my mom was happy I wanted to do my own makeup because she also had to help my sister. I didn't start wearing makeup outside of ballet and Halloween, though, until I was about 16. Since then I've learned a lot, and recently, I've started really investing more time and money into it.
I find that makeup brushes are key to a flawless application and also a flawless look. I own many makeup brushes from several companies. MAC brushes are my favorite. They're rather expensive, but if you treat them right, they'll last a long time. Several of the brushes I own, I bought ten years ago, and they're like new. I've also heard that Chanel brushes (I don't own any myself) are amazing and will last a lifetime.
Recently, with modeling and weddings, I've had my makeup done quite a few times. I always ask lots of questions about products, techniques and application. I figure, this is their job, so they obviously know tricks I do not. One makeup artist told me her Chanel brushes are 10+ years old and just wonderful. Another told me about E.L.F. brushes, which are very inexpensive (I mean very), and great! I came across the line at Target, and bought several of the "Studio" brushes, and you know what? They're awesome! I've washed them once, and they held up really well.
The Powder Brush is my favorite. I use it to apply my liquid MAC foundation and also my MAC Studiofix if I want heavier coverage. Studiofix is great because if you use a large powder brush with softer bristles, it goes on lighter. In the Summer I need very little, so I use a powder brush from MAC.
Back to the E.L.F. brush. When you use it with liquid foundation, you need to blend well, and you'll get a beautiful, dewy, look. I also have the Complexion Brush and the Contour Brush. I have two similar brushes to contour from MAC. They pick up more product, which is probably ideal, but often, I want less product, so this brush is good. The bristles are a little softer.
I wash the brushes two or three times a month with mild shampoo, and let them dry on the bathroom counter. After each use, I spray them with a solution of 1/4 91% alcohol and 3/4 water. I bought a tiny spray bottle at Target. Then I wipe the brush on a paper towel. There are several brush cleaning products on the market and also various recipes to make your own. I figured it was less expensive to make my own, and water and alcohol seems to be the simplest at home recipe. I looked at the ingredients of some of the products available, and the main ingredients are water and alcohol- Go Figure!
I would definitely recommend E.L.F. brushes, because at the price, if you only get one year out of them, who cares? However, if you'd like to make a more substantial investment, head over to MAC. Ask the sales associate to suggest a couple staples and then build from there. Also, keep in mind with the Holidays approaching, you could always ask for some brushes as gifts. MAC does wonderful sets around the Holidays, which have all the staple brushes at a great discount. The only difference is that they brush handles are sometimes shorter or of a different material. The bristles and construction are the same. Why not treat yourself this year?