Patting, blending, stippling, buffing, oh how the list goes on.

How you use your makeup brushes, what actual technique you use with your brush, matters just as much as what makeup brush you use and with what type of makeup products.

When learning to do your makeup one of the skill sets you’re going to need to wrap your head around are the different brush strokes.

Here’s a quick run down of the top makeup brush strokes to practice and master:


  • Patting (aka pressing aka laying down)

A firm hand, ie a fair bit of pressure, is used to press product onto the skin, typically done when applying eyeshadow onto the lid in a full coverage style where you want to really see the shadow, you will pat down multiple times in a small area to get high opaque coverage out of your product. Typically the brush you use will be firmer (example this Eyeshader Brush)


  • Blending

The brush stroke you’re likely the most familiar with when it comes to makeup, this is the Queen makeup brush stroke because it is so essential to beautifully applied makeup. The overarching idea of blending is that you are doing just that, blending something together.

Blending product into the skin such as foundation/concealer/blush, or blending the edge of your eyeshadow into your skin so it feathers away to nothingness, or blending two different eyeshadows or lip colours together so one shade magically becomes the other with no obvious transition between the two.

On the eye area when we speak of blending I use 3 different techniques: windshield wiper, little circles, and zig zag:

  • Windshield Wiper: this is used to blend eyeshadows through the crease of the eye so you have a seamless transition from shadow to skin, eliminating harsh rough edges.  This is a smooth back and forth, back and forth motion (like a windshield wiper on a car) where you do NOT pick the brush up at all, it maintains constant contact with your skin, no flicking the brush! This will be a larger and fluffier brush style (such as this Blender Brush).


  • Little Circles: this is used around the outer edge of your eyeshadows to help shape the outer corners and smoothly wrap it around to the bottom of the eye, these are tight, controlled, smooth little circles and give you good control over blending in a small area. This will be the same larger and fluffier brush style you used for the Windshield Wiper brush stroke).


  • Zig Zag: this is used in two different ways. One is to carefully blend the transition point between two eyeshadow shades together (typically using the larger fluffier Blender Brush). Or alternatively to smudge out eyeliner using a tight, controlled back and forth motion. To smudge/blend you’ll want to use a firmer, more precise brush (such as this Eye Smudger Brush).


  • Buffing

A buffing brush stroke means making larger circles or a larger back and forth motion and using quite a bit of pressure to really blend your product out and push it into the skin. This is typically done on the cheek area to blend in cream blush or illuminating products. You may also do this over your entire face to seamlessly blend in your foundation. Typically you’re going to want a brush that is larger, soft (nothing worse than a prickly brush being pushed into your skin, ouch!) yet dense so you’ve got good ‘pushing’ power (example for powders this Buffer Brush and for creams this Foundation Brush).


  • Stippling

Stippling means to quickly tap product onto the skin using short, quick, almost sharp movements. This is used when you want to build up higher coverage through multiple layers of foundation without removing the previous layers of product you’ve layed down which blending will often do. Stippling your foundation is best achieved with a good foundation brush (example Foundation Brush).

  • Lining

Lining is just that, creating a line. The trick with lining is that the end goal is a smooth, consistent line that’s not choppy or rough looking. The two places you’ll line are around the eyes and around the lips. Lip lining is typically done with a lip pencil and usually some kind of lip brush if you want a really crisp edge. And eye lining, if you’re after a nice crisp smooth line (versus an intentionally smudged out smoky effect), is best achieved with a small, super thin, ultra precise angled eye liner brush (such as this Angled Eye Liner). You’ll want to get a good close grip on the brush and hold yourself very steady. Smooth eyeliner is best achieved using a series of small lines that connect versus trying to achieve one big long continues line (too hard to control!).

  • Dusting

A very light amount of powder is applied, just a trace amount that you can barely see, such as an ultra bright powder blush that you want just the faintest wash of colour from, or perhaps an ultra fine dusting of translucent powder to tone down too much shine on your face. This is best achieved with a larger, fluffier brush (such as this Buffer Brush).