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The Case for Throwing Away Your Makeup Brushes

Makeup artists are going rogue and giving makeup the finger. See why you might want to follow suit
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If you look around my bathroom, you'll see makeup brushes spilling out of every container. Some may say I have a tiny obsession with them. But everywhere I turn, makeup artists are using their hands as painter's palettes -- dabbing, pressing and molding faces into perfection with their digits. As it turns out, your fingers aren't just good to use in a pinch -- some products apply better with your fingers than with brushes. I enlisted Gita Bass, celebrity makeup artist and member of the Simple Advisory Board (she also happens to use her fingers to apply the majority of her makeup), to tell me all about this "finger painting" movement.

If you're looking for a Kim K. level of makeup, your fingers probably aren't your best bet. But if you want the looks we saw all over the runways this season, ditch your brushes and go for something a little sexy, a little undone -- and a lot of fun to play with.

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Get a Natural Finish
Fingers vs. Brushes: Brushes will give you more precision with liquid or cream foundation, but using your fingers allows the product to blend into your skin better (see: those brush strokes that belong on a painter's canvas, not your face). Face powders and bronzers are an "absolute no" with your fingertips, says Bass. "The moisture on your fingers reacts with powder and will make it cake, which is never a good look, especially on a large surface, such as your face, when you want a super smooth finish," she explains. "Brushes allow you to shake off extra product and to get a sheer, even finish which is impossible to achieve with fingers alone."

Trick of the trade: Blend liquid foundations (we love Merle Norman Perfecting Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 25) and bronzers by lightly tapping in circular motions towards your hairline with your three middle fingers.

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Get Cheeky With It
Fingers vs. Brushes: "Cream blush works best with fingers, because you can get a sheer wash of color and layer more easily than with a brush," says Bass. Cream blush is also a great option for people with dry skin because it sinks into your cheeks and creates a natural flush. Stick with your favorite brush if you use powder blush.

Trick of the trade: Warm up the cream blush on the back of your hand to help it blend seamlessly into your skin before patting it over the apples of your cheeks.

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Hide Your Flaws
Fingers vs. Brushes: For dark under eye circles, you may want to give up the brush -- unless you're a pro, those flat little concealer brushes are hard to blend with and can leave streaks. Used improperly, they can also tug on the sensitive skin underneath your eye, which can cause wrinkles. Using your fingers allows you to feel how hard you're pressing. Bass recommends using your ring finger, because it has the lightest touch, so you're less prone to tugging the skin. For blemishes, a brush will help you get a precise application, but blending is ultimately easier if you warm up the product first with your fingertips.

Trick of the trade: Use your pinkie finger to apply concealer over a zit (since it's the smallest finger, you'll get the most precise application), and blend it out with your index finger.

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Lit From Within
Fingers vs. Brushes: Fan brushes are great for dusting a little powder highlighter onto your cheekbones, but they're really tricky to use with a creamy formula. Using your fingers to apply a creamy highlighter, it's easier to blend and get a more natural, less contrived glow.

Trick of the trade: Use your pinky finger to dab and blend on liquid highlighter, says Bass. Your pinky has a light touch, which will keep you from applying too much product and veering into disco-glow territory.

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