Q. As I’m getting older (I’m nearly 40) I find that applying make-up with my fingers just doesn’t give me the more polished finish that I’m looking for. I’ve always been really lazy about make-up brushes but having had a department store makeover recently and realised that the make-up my consultant applied lasted WAY longer than when I do it myself, I think it’s time to make an investment in some brushes. And with my 40th coming up, I thought I could ask my girlfriends to buy individual brushes that will give me a kit. But which brushes are best?
A. We’re not going to answer this question.  Well, we are – but we’re going to point you in the direction of a fantastic video from make-up pro Lisa Eldridge, which now features on the HOW-TO VIDEOS section of our website.  We have hand-picked just a selection of these from literally millions of dreadful videos out there (it was a really, really tough job and boy, did someone have to do it!), and Lisa Eldridge is a complete star.  She talks you through the brushes that she feels are essential for daily make-up application – and we have no hesitation in including her video because we echo her choices of brands, shapes and styles.  Only she does it so eloquently, we simply leave it to her…  Click here to find that particular video, and click here for our ‘page’ on YouTube, where you’ll find a dozen or so great videos – with more being added, as we feel they’re worth sharing.


Q. First of all, thank you for your very helpful website. Now the question: in your make-up for golden girls section you say: ‘There is an especially good French brand of magnifier called Beauty Look which has suction pads so that you can attach it to your usual mirror.’  I’ve tried Googling ‘Beauty Look mirror’, but have had no luck. 

A. We think that the Beauty Look mirror has probably disappeared from the beauty radar (we can’t find it either), but we are converts to the small version: Revlon Magnifying Mirror also has suction pads and can be hand-held or attached to another mirror for close-up work such as tweezing and eye make-up application.  A slightly larger option is the 15 cm Glam Suction Mirror, which offers 7 x magnification.  (Scroll down the page and you’ll see that there’s a ‘fog-free’ version available a bit more expensively, too.)

Revlon Magnifying Mirror, £7.99  - buy here

Glam Suction Mirror, £10  - buy here


Q.  I’m looking to invest in some quality make-up brushes, preferably ones that come in a roll-up carry case (but not a killer if they don’t!)

A.  Good make-up brushes are an investment.  Frankly, a big part of why make-up artists achieve more impressive, lasting results than most women is because they use the right tools for application (not just fingers!)  If you’re prepared to splash out, the Chanel brushes are unbelievably gorgeous, and there is a roll available (and you can always build your collection month-by-month; we especially love Le Petit Pinceau ‘touch-up’ brush, chunky and really comfy in the hand, for applying blush/powder). Shu Uemura brushes are legendary (find them at department stores.   The softest, most glorious brush Jo ever owned (and sadly, lost in a mislaid make-up bag) was the All Over Powder Brush from make-up guru Terry de Gunzburg’s By Terry range.  If you’d like to ‘play-before-you-buy’, check out the By Terry counter branches Space NK.  (Remember:  there’s no law that says you have to buy all your brushes from one make-up house – and DO try counters like M.A.C.’s for empty brush-rolls and pro-style kitbags).  We’re also huge fans of the new brushes in the Liz Earle Colour range, which are cruelty-free and amazing quality:  Lucite handles, very comfortable and easy-to-use, and just gorgeous.

Chanel brushes, from £16  - buy here

Shu Uemura brushes, from £16.50, are available on-line  - buy here

By Terry brush range, from £27 (All Over Powder Brush Dome 1 is £78) – buy here

• Liz Earle Colour Accessories, £12.50 – £20 – buy here


Q. How long should make-up brushes last? I have bought a few, now, and they all seem to fall apart after a few washes.

A. With careful washing, brushes should last years. So here’s the how-to, from make-up artist Mary Greenwell: ‘Wash them once a month, with a tiny squirt of liquid wool wash, in warm water.’ (We use Ecover.) ‘Just dip them and swish the hairs gently with your fingers – but only as far as the metal; never get the wood wet because the brushes can fall apart. Rinse, then leave them to dry with the bristles hanging over the edge of a table or shelf.’ That way, the bristles are ‘air-dried’ and retain their shape well. The alternative is to lie them to dry on a towel, on a flat surface – but it takes longer. We prefer synthetic brushes for liquid textures like cream blusher and foundation, and animal hair brushes for most other tasks. We also believe in investing in good tools – and taking care of them. You get what you pay for. (And it pays to take care of your investment!)