Masterclass: How To Use A Kabuki Brush

Kabuki brushes are commonly used to apply base make-up, but they’re far more versatile than you might think. From highlighting skin to taming fly-aways, here two experts reveal the different ways to use one – as well as the best tools to add to your collection…
By Sapna Rao /

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Know What You’re Working With…

“Kabukis are typically short-handled brushes with densely packed bristles. They often resemble traditional shaving brushes – however, Japanese kabukis also come in flat forms. The brush head can either be rounded, domed or completely flat, which only adds to their versatility.” Kenneth Soh, Make-Up Artist

“It’s a personal choice, but kabukis work differently to regular, long-handled brushes. Think of them as the beautyblender of the brush world – using one will offer seamless application every time.” – SL Beauty Contributor & Make-Up Artist, Zoe Taylor 

Use Them To Build Even Coverage

“Kabuki brushes were originally designed to apply powder-based products – but these days, you can use them with other textures too – they work just as well with creams and liquids.” – Zoe

“If you’re after maximum coverage in minimum time, you can’t do better than a kabuki brush. Since the bristles are so tightly packed, flawless coverage is almost guaranteed. The brush head is bigger too, so it’ll cover a larger surface area, which makes it ideal for applying everything from foundation to body make-up. They’re also good for applying shimmer to the body – I love doing this for the red carpet – or to even out skin tone and cover up bruises and marks.”  Kenneth

Make The Most Of Their Versatility

“Kabuki brushes are brilliant for applying any kind of make-up that doesn’t require too much detail. You’ll find they blend body highlighter particularly well, and I love to use mine with Vita Liberata’s glow-giving products. Use them in sweeping motions if you’re applying powder, or buffing motions when applying creams and liquids – this will work any product deeper into the skin.” – Zoe

Don’t Be Afraid To Use Them For Contouring

“You can absolutely contour with a kabuki brush – just bear in mind it’s best to use a domed-shaped brush because they distribute the product exactly where you want it. Use it like you would a long-handled brush and watch how easily it blends and rebuilds the architecture of your face.” – Zoe

“Use flatter kabukis for contouring and highlighting, and rounder ones for polishing and finishing off your complexion. One thing to remember is the denser your brush, the more it may disturb any make-up that’s already on your skin. So, if you use a kabuki to layer a sheen or shimmer over your base, choose one with slightly longer, not-as-dense bristles. When using a kabuki to contour, take a ‘slicing’ approach, working from the ear towards the centre of the face, then down to the nose.” – Kenneth

Tame Unruly Hairs 

“Backstage at fashion shows, I often saw hairstylists use kabuki brushes and hairspray to tame fly-aways. It’s easy to do and works well to flatten and smooth everything into place. I own a limited-edition, densely packed kabuki brush from Shu Uemura that’s really good for this. I also use it to go over the face when it’s clean and dry to really polish the skin – I find it really invigorates the face, and promotes extra luminosity and radiance.” – Kenneth

Finally, Try Not To Chop & Change

“You can use a single kabuki brush to apply all your different products, but I don’t recommend it. Try not to chop and change too much by using different formulas on the same brush. Traditionally, kabukis are made with natural hairs, which means they’re more suited to powders. Cream can change the nature of the bristles, even after a thorough cleanse, so if you plan on using them with liquids, always invest in synthetic ones – they’re the best for that type of application.” – Zoe


Shop The Best Kabuki Brushes Here…

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