Essential Makeup Brush: The Fan

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Makeup Artist James Vincent shares 3 things we should be doing with a fan brush

Who can get a roomful of jaded Los Angeles area beauty bloggers to brave the traffic – and even RAIN – to descend upon downtown Los Angeles on a Friday night? James Vincent.

James Vincent portrait James, the Director of Education and Artistry for The Makeup Show, held a pre-event talk with press and bloggers, where he held the room in the palm of his hands. This incredibly talented artist is also a natural in public-speaking. (He’s also pretty funny – follow him on Twitter!)

As a makeup artist, James has done it all – working in film, theatre, and television, as well as producing editorial and runway looks. He’s worked his makeup magic on the likes of Liv Tyler, Reese Witherspoon, Jane Fonda, Lady Gaga, Courtney Love and even President Barack Obama. So we are thrilled to share his wisdom about an essential makeup brush here on we heart this!

James Vincent portraitJames at work (not with a fan brush, but we bet it’s coming!)

When we attended the 2014 Makeup Show in Los Angeles, one sentence James said at the pre-event stuck with us more than anything: “Fan brushes are so under-used.” We agreed (seeing as neither of us owned one before the show.) We decided to ask James just what made him love them, and why it is an essential makeup brush for every one.

Here’s James himself to explain it all!

One of the most underrated brush shapes in the business is the fan brush. From large to small, fan brushes are essentials in every one of my makeup applications and here is how I use them.

The Small Fan Brush:
Crown Brush Makeup Show Brush collectionSmall Fan Brush – less than an inch wide (photo: The Makeup Show)

I love this brush so much I collaborated with Crown Brush to create the James Vincent The Makeup Show brush that includes my signature. This brush is the exact shape and size for applying mascara perfectly and creating the most amazingly long, thick and lush lashes.

Apply mascara to the tip of the brush and bring it right in to the root of the lash sweeping it up to the tip on the top and bottom. This adds color and volume and coats every lash without a fear of clumping. This brush is also ideal for getting a great application on bottom lashes and makes even the most lack lustre lashes look long and luxurious.

Note: Sadly, this brush is not for sale online. We can only hope you might be able to get it at the next Makeup Show. But the the Crown Brush Lash Fan looks similar. ($1.98, what a deal!)

The Medium Fan Brush:
MAKE UP FOR EVER 120 Medium Fan BrushMedium Fan Brush – about two inches wide

For sweeping away shadow fall out or adding sheer amounts of color this mid size fan brush is fab. Usually this is the brush artist keep in their kit and never use, but I love the medium fan for the most beautiful brush and bronzer applications. The softer a brush is the less color it deposits and this shape ensures a slow build of blush and bronzer that makes the skin look radiant. This look is achieved by allowing an application that looks as if the color is coming through the skin instead of sitting on top.

For the best blush look sweep a bright or soft pink onto the apple of the cheek. Next add a peach, orange or coral color at the highest point of the cheekbone. Add bronzer only where sun hits the face (forehead, cheekbone, center of the nose and chin) for the most natural looking glow ever. Finish with a sheer hit of highlight color and you will have the perfect luminosity for any occasion.

Note: Our example brush is the MAKE UP FOR EVER 120 Medium Powder Fan Brush ($31).

The Large Fan Brush:
kevyn aucoin large fan brushLarge Fan Brush – about three and a half inches wide

This brush shape and size make it the master brush for sculpting. I use this brush to carve out structure that looks subtle and natural. The trick it to hit a taupe blush or shadow up under the cheekbones and into the temples for the most magnificent shading you have ever seen.

When choosing the color keep to cool brown taupes…think of it like the shade of a tree…and this will add dimension to any and every skin tone.

Note: Our example brush is the Kevyn Aucoin Large Fan Brush ($60).

Thanks so much to James Vincent for teaching us the basics of the fan brush! we heartsters – Are you all ready to run out a pick up the essential makeup brush in every size?



  1. Icequeen81 says:

    how can I appy loose blush with a fan brush? I have one but I have the feeling it pick too much product.

  2. I think I’ve own fan brushes, from multi-brush kits, but never really used one! I don’t know if I have the patience required for he small brush with mascara, but I think I might have to pull out my medium size brush and play with it a bit. And I’m definitely going to follow James Vincent on Twitter; just a quick glance and I already love his feed!

  3. Well, there’s a wealth of valuable information we all can use!
    I think it may be easier to use these than we think! Very cool interview again!

  4. I needed this info! I have a medium fan brush that I use for highlights on the cheekbones, but I never thought about getting a small one for mascara. And contouring kind of scares me, but it makes total sense that a large fan brush would be a great tool…

  5. I must admit that I have always been intimated by the fan brush. I am so excited to have some tips that I can now use. I can’t believe that I have shied away from this little gem of a brush!!

  6. I don’t have one and am nervous to use one hahaha. I’m going to have to give it a try now that I have these tips :)

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