Oval makeup brushes are saturating the market. Seems they’re gonna stick around for quite some time yet. Question is, are oval makeup brushes better? How do they perform against regular brushes and sponges? Let’s find out.
Oval makeup brushes were invented by Matthew Waitesmith.
He realized that traditional beauty brushes were based on the design an artist would use when painting a canvas, and they are excellent for applying makeup to another person.
However, when applying makeup to yourself, the body dynamics of the hand and arm are completely different. So he designed a whole new form of makeup brushes that are shaped to be used when the artist is also the canvas.
A typical set of oval makeup brushes includes 10 brushes, sized and shaped for every part of your face.
The largest brushes are used for foundation and skincare, and the smallest brushes are designed for the eyes and lips.
Before we get into the meat of things, here’s a quick guide we put together about the proper way to use oval makeup brush sets.
Pros of Oval Makeup Brushes
People love oval makeup brushes for several reasons:
- They mimic the body mechanics of applying makeup to your face with your fingers, so they are comfortable and intuitive in the hand
- These brushes have very dense, soft bristles, with thousands of superfine fibers, so they pick up and apply makeup quickly and smoothly, while feeling soft on your skin
- They are more sanitary than applying makeup or skincare products with your fingers
- With synthetic fibers, they don’t harbor bacteria or absorb makeup
- The dense fibers of oval brushes have less fallout than traditional brushes, so your product only goes where you want it
- Oval makeup brushes are great for liquid makeup or skincare products, because they give more coverage, without absorbing as much product as a blender
Cons of Oval Makeup Brushes
- Sometimes the high density of an oval makeup brush is too much for light, sweeping powders
- They may not be the best choice for a more delicate application of highlights and contours.
How do Oval Makeup Brushes Compare to Regular Brushes and Blenders?
When stacked up against traditional brushes and blenders, there are good times to use each.
While everyone has their own preferences, here are some of the guidelines the pros use:
- For applying makeup to another person
- For light, sweeping, dusting of delicate powders
- When applying and blending heavy liquid products like concealers
- For blending intense contours
- When applying makeup to yourself
- For faster makeup routines when you don’t have a lot of time
- For high coverage makeup and skincare products
How to Maintain Oval Makeup Brushes
Like all makeup brushes, oval brushes need to be frequently cleaned in order to keep them sanitary and to help your makeup perform best. Old products lingering in the bristles just isn’t healthy.
To clean oval makeup brushes, you will need:
A gentle soap
You can use a dedicated soap, like the EcoTools Makeup Brush Cleansing Shampoo or a gentle baby shampoo or Castile soap
A brush cleaning mat
While many people skip the mat and just use their hands, a mat has a textured surface that cleans more effectively.
A brush mat like the ScivoKaval Glove Mat has lots of different textures, perfect for cleaning different sizes and shapes of makeup brushes.
A drying rack
Oval brushes need to dry with their bristles pointing downward, to prevent moisture from degrading the glue at the base of the bristles.
Drying the proper way is particularly important with this type of brushes because their bristles are so much denser than traditional brushes and hold on to moisture longer.
This also means that most drying racks, designed for traditional brushes, won’t work well with oval brushes, since they need to be dried horizontally, rather than vertically.
A rack like the DUCare brush rack is a great option to use for drying and storing brushes, since it will hold oval brushes sideways rather than upside down.
For an alternative hack for those without a drying rack, check out this video:
To wash oval makeup brushes, follow these steps
- Get the brush wet
- Apply soap to the bristles
- Scrub the bristles against the cleansing mat. Use a gentle motion, focusing in brushing the bristles against the mat, rather than pressing the brush down into the mat. Alternate circular motions with sweeping motions, to get the bristles clean on all sides.
- Rinse the brush and make sure the water runs clean
- Shake excess moisture out of the brush
- Reshape the brush with your fingers, pressing it back into the oval shape
- Hang the brush to dry, allowing good air circulation around the bristles
- Oval brushes take longer to dry than traditional brushes, because of their density, so give them plenty of time to dry completely
So, are they better?
Oval makeup brushes are more ergonomically designed for applying your own makeup. They have dense, soft bristles that pick up product and put it right where you want it (without soaking up product like a blender or sponge). For these reasons, oval brushes are better for most people and most types of makeup.
Of course, there is no single brush that suits every person’s preferences, as well as every single kind of makeup and skincare product. However, there’s a reason that celebrities and professional makeup artists love these innovative, comfortable brushes.
Pick up a set and find out for yourself!