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Confused By A Fan Brush? Don't Be–Here's How to Use It


Makeup brushes are like toys for adults—the cooler, more unique looking ones are a little more complicated and harder to figure out how to use. Case in point: the fan brush. Don’t let this pretty tool collect dust on your vanity; it actually has a bunch of great (and easy) uses for many of your makeup products.

From dusting highlighter across your cheekbones and brow bones to cleaning up excess eyeshadow and eye makeup fallout, makeup artists and at-home beauty gurus alike rely on the fan brush for a variety of uses and tricks. Want to know how you can make the most out of your own fan brush? Check out five of our favorite tips and tricks to using a fan brush like a pro, below.

A model using a fan brush in applying highlighter on top of her cheekbone

How to Use a Fan Brush for Applying Highlighter

We’re going to start with our favorite use for a fan brush: applying highlighter. Before you start swiping, you’ll of course need a good powder highlighter. ILLAMASQUA Beyond Powder in OMG is long lasting and flattering on most skin tones, and super finely milled (so you'll look shimmery, not glittery). 

Choosing the right makeup brush is also key for this look. For a full-face highlight, you'll want to use a larger fan brush. We love the LUXIE BEAUTY 560 Medium Fan Brush—in addition to its pretty pearl-white handle, the bristles are super soft and luxe. For smaller areas where you'll want less product and a more precise application (like the bridge of your nose, Cupid’s bow, or the inner corners of your eyes), you can also try using a small fan brush, like the ROYAL & LANGNICKEL Majestic Mini Fan.

Now it’s time to apply. Take your fan brush and hold it flat and flush against your highlighter, pushing down gently to coat the sides and tip of the bristles. Unlike with other makeup brushes, you actually want to use the side of the brush head here, not just the tip of the bristles. Tap the brush handle with your pointer finger a few times to get rid of any excess powder before you apply the product on your face.

Then, sweep the brush upward along the tops of your cheekbones towards your temple, laying the shimmery pigment in a light swiping motion to create an almost airbrushed effect. Continue dusting the powder across your cheekbones until you reach your desired effect. Then, switch to your small fan brush (or stick with the same one you're using) and repeat the process on the tip and bridge of your nose, your Cupid's bow, and just above and below your brow bone. Remember, use the edge of the bristles for precise, even application.

How to Use a Fan Brush for Eyeshadow Fallout

Another one of the most popular uses for the trusty fan brush is removing any excess powder that drops down from your eyeshadow. We’ve all had those days, sometimes more often than not, when you’re applying your eye makeup super quickly–and maybe not super carefully. Luckily, a fan brush can clean up eyeshadow fallout in just a few seconds.

Take a smaller, fluffier fan brush, like the ROYAL & LANGNICKEL Majestic™ Fan S4, and brush underneath your eyes right after a messy eyeshadow application. One swipe will pick up any dropped shadow and clean up your under-eye area.

IPSY tip: for an extra-clean eye makeup look, apply your under-eye concealer after you apply your eyeshadow and after you've brushed away fallout with your fan brush. This will make sure your carefully-applied concealer isn't ruined by any loose powder particles.

A model having face mask on purses her lips

How to Use a Fan Brush to Apply a Face Mask

While some people use their fingers to apply a face mask (guilty as charged), using a fan brush makes for a smoother, more even application and makes you feel like you're receiving a professional facial at a fancy spa. ROYAL & LANGNICKEL Soft Grip Gold Synthetic Fan S2 is the perfect choice for this application–the synthetic bristles mean the brush won't be ruined after using a thick clay or gel mask, and it'll be easier to clean once you're finished. 

To apply a face mask using a fan brush, dip the makeup brush into your mask–like this LA CHLORIS URBAN BOTANICS Ultra Glow Moroccan Rose Mask–and sweep it over your face in painterly strokes. Begin in your T-zone (or the center of your face) and spread the product out towards your hairline as you go.

How to Use a Fan Brush to Apply Powder Products

Put your traditional powder brush to the side; a fan brush is great for applying bronzer, blush, powder foundation, setting powder, and any other powder products in your makeup routine. The trick is to use a fluffier, denser brush like the MILANI COSMETICS Kabuki Fan Brush. These thicker bristles will make it easier to fluff, pat, and swipe your product across your face without leaving any harsh lines. 

Here you’ll want to use the tip of the bristles and swirl them into your powder. Then, sweep the brush onto your face in swiping or circular motions, depending on which powder product you're applying. For foundation, gently buff the powder all over your face to create a streak-free and smooth look. When applying bronzer, buff the product into the spots the sun would naturally hit, like the bridge of your nose, hairline, and jawline. And for blush, dust in a circular motion on the apples of your cheeks for a subtle wash of color.

An image of a model using a fan brush in applying contour makeup

How to Use a Fan Brush for an Ultra-Sharp Contour

If you’re into a sharp, defined contour, your fan brush can help get you there. For this look, you’ll also want to stick with densely-packed bristles, like in the F.A.R.A.H BRUSHES Luxe Fan Brush. Swirl the tip of the bristles into your bronzer or contour powder, then move the edge of the fan back and forth under your cheekbones (suck your cheeks in to create a fish face to identify where your contour should be). This will create an ultra-precise, blended line under your cheekbones. You can also contour your nose, too: simply swipe the bristles down each side of your nose to create a just-defined-enough shadow.


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About the author
Dori Price
Ipster, baby mama, skincare addict
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Article Last Updated January 1, 2020 12:00 AM