10 Top Beauty Tools

Published in: Beauty Tips, Makeup Tips/How To, Makeup Tools

Last week I asked you about your favorite beauty tools and mentioned a couple of mine. Here are 10 of our favorites among favorites — the beauty tools we can’t live without.



An Allure Best of Beauty winner nine years running, the Tweezerman just might be the finest general purpose tweezer in the world! Whether you’re an eyebrow artist or the girl next door, the Slant Tweezer’s ($20) perfectly aligned, hand-filed tips will grab every hair, every time. Available in classic stainless steel finish, Signature Red, Neon Pink, Blooming Lilac and Khaki Gold.

TIP: Tweeze in the direction your hairs grow to keep from breaking strands. Tweezing is also easier after a hot shower, or you can use a warm washcloth to open pores. To close pores when you’re finished (and reduce redness and irritation), rinse with cold water.

I like everything about the MAC 239 ($24.50). It’s soft and dense (just like Tabs!), and shades and blends eyeshadows like a dream. The head is tapered and rounded, with smooth, firm fibers that deposit lots of color. It’s one of the beauty tools I’m not sure I could (or would rather not) live without.

TIP: You can use it to apply powders AND creams, and when you’re done using it, if you don’t have time for a thorough brush cleaning with brush cleaner or a gentle shampoo, you can wipe the bristles down with a Wet Ones Wipe.

The Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler ($19) is practically iconic! — a legendary beauty tool, perfectly balanced and precise like a ninja’s sword. The shape of the curling surface, frame length, ergonomic handles and hinge help it to deliver the right amount of pressure to delicate eyelashes. Amazingly enough, it also suits just about every eye shape out there.

TIP: Curl before applying your mascara to reduce the risk of pulling out or breaking your lashes, and here’s a tip to get a natural lash curl.

An everyday brush for shading and/or blending color or cream products. With fine, densely packed fibers and an oval head, the MAC 217 ($22.50) will take your makeup game to the next level.

TIP: A super versatile brush you can even use as a crease brush or to apply/blend cream or liquid products (like concealer).

Heavy duty hardware like the Clarisonic ($195), a gentle, sonic micro-massager (ala the Sonicare Toothbrush), removes makeup better than anything I’ve ever used before. Gentle enough to use twice/day, it also helps reduce oily areas, dry skin patches, blemishes and the appearance of visible pores, fine lines and wrinkles.

TIP: If you’re gonna pick one up, shop at a store with a good return policy (like Sephora) because it may take a couple weeks to see results (and they’re HELLA expensive). You want the option of being able to take it back if you need to.

The lightweight CHI Ceramic Hairstyling Iron ($70) with 1″ heating plates gets hot in a flash! — so it’ll be ready when you are to create silky, shiny hair. With its versatile heat settings, you’ll be curling, flipping AND straightening in no time.

TIP: As with any hot hair straightener, overuse can lead to split ends. Straight up (ha!), this iron gets HAWT, so use a heat protector with it, and be extra careful where you set it down.

So your hair’s still wet? No problem. The T3 PRO flat iron ($119) with 1-5/8″ plates steam dries wet hair just as well as it straightens dry hair. Tourmaline-infused ceramic plates reduce heat damage, too, leaving hair soft, conditioned and healthy.

TIP: Since the plates are wider on the T3 PRO Wet-Or-Dry than the plates on the CHI Flat Iron, curling with it may be a bit tougher. Also, this model cranks up to 410 degrees (F), so be sure you use a heat protecting spray, especially if you already have dry hair.

I have the mighty Featherweight ($200), oxymoron of epic hair-drying proportions, and it’s plenty good enough for me, but if you crave more than 1,800 watts, there’s always the 2,000-watt Evolution ($300)!

Despite the high cost of these dryers, if you have long hair, I think they pay for themselves in time saved.

TIP: These bad boys crank out some SERIOUS heat, so I apply a heat protecting product to damp hair before drying. One more thing — these models draw so much juice that they can trip circuits in apartments and houses with old wiring. You might want to find out where your circuit breakers are before you turn them on (LOL! Learned this one the hard way).

The award-winning GHD IV Styler sho’ ain’t cheap ($240), but it will get the job done. With ceramic plates that heat to their maximum temperature in seconds, it locks in moisture, natural oils, and hair color for total hair protection. Along with straightening, use it to create curls, twists, flicks and waves.

TIP: A spray like Straight Sexy Hair Smooth & Protect will extend the life of your straightened style, especially in humid weather.

The ultimate beauty tool! What would I do without Q-tips? They’ve been making my life easier for years. I use them for tricky areas in place of makeup brushes a lot of the time. They’re also ideal for applying eyeshadow when you forget your brushes at home, for covering up dark circles with concealer and for quick mascara touchups on the go.

TIP: Doused with an eye makeup remover like Lancome’s Bi-Facil, you can also use one to clean up the edges of your makeup along your lower lash line. Just don’t poke your eye out!

I hope you found this roundup as useful as it was fun to do. Tabs helped with the artwork at the top, but now he won’t return my MAC 239. He says he needs it for his smokey eyes. :)

What’s new with you? Do you have plans tonight? I’m getting ready to eat a take-out burrito and have a glass of wine. Classy.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,

Karen

P.S. If you’re new here, thank you for visiting. Makeup and Beauty Blog is a makeup blog with daily product reviews, beauty tips, giveaways and the random shenanigans of a crazy cat lady/makeup enthusiast named Karen (that’s me!). :)

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  1. amy says:

    I love the MAC 239 and I plan to buy the 217 eventually. The Shu Uemura curler I have had for years and I love it. I would need to buy a replace pad eventually or a new curler if they don’t have the individual pads for sale. Looks like I would need to make a mini splurge and buy a Tweezerman because I lost my from LaCross.
    .-= amy’s last blog post… FOTD Golds, Greens, Purple and Hot Pink Lips using Nars Schiap Lipstick and Nars Easy Lover Lipgloss =-.

    • Jenna says:

      I think I’ve read you have to replace your eyelash curler every year or so because the springy action part wears out and it damages your lashes by pressing too hard on it.

      • Karen says:

        I’ve heard the same thing, too. I do wish Shu would make replacement pads though; I bet curlers get thrown out earlier than they need to!

        • Kelli says:

          Hey Karen!
          Have you ever tried the make-up brushes from Chantecaille?? They are pretty expensive but I find that they are amazing!!! The “basic eye brush” is my absolute favourite brush!! I even found it was nicer to use than the MAC 239!

  2. Lois says:

    Hi Karen! I was just wondering…if you had to choose between the MAC 239 and 217 for a multi-purpose almost-all-in-one brush, which would you pick? I want one of the two to start expanding my brush collection and I’m still on a student budget (:

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lois! Oh, that’s a very tough question. I’d probably go for the 217. You can use it for applying and blending both powder and cream eyeshadows, and in addition to also works as a crease and blending brush. The 239 is fab in so many ways, but it’s just slightly less flexible than the 217.

      Whatever you do, be sure to buy the brushes with the full-length handles. I’ve noticed that the SE brushes MAC sells in their brush kits don’t perform as well, and they’re scratchy.

  3. CC says:

    In case one of my appliances trips up my circuits, what should I do?? Thanks!

    • Aparnaa says:

      SUPER easy – all you have to do is find the “tripped” circuit and switch it fully off and fully back on. So go to your circuit box and look down the rows – there should be one that doesn’t look quite right or is fully flipped to off. (In my apartment, it doesn’t go fully to the off side when it’s tripped – it just isn’t all the way to the left on. At my parents’ house, a little warning field turns orange.) Flip it to off, then flip it back on. It should be okay then! Of course, make sure you shut off the offending tool before you go play in there.

      • CC says:

        Thanks Aparnaa!! I remember this happening nearly every weekend in the dorms, but we never had to deal with the tripped circuits ourselves!!

        • Karen says:

          Yay, thanks Apartnaa!

          I’d also like to add that I once lived in an ancient house that actually had old school fuses. My hair dryer once blew the a fuse out…you might want to have some replacement fuses on hand just in case.

  4. Lana says:

    I have always used cheap Conair hair straighteners… I wonder if the more expensive ones make a lot of difference?

    And I am about ready to go to bed! I babysat a dog today – a miniature Italian Greyhound, who was super hyper. She kept me and my cat Jade running all day. After studying for a bit, I think I am gonna hunker down with a book pretty quick and then hit the sack!

    • Komal says:

      They DEFINITELY make a difference. Get one from somewhere with a good return policy to try it out, in case you’re unsure. But I guarantee you will not be returning it! I have the CHI and its amazing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lana, I used cheapie dryers for years, and the T3 makes a huge difference. I have very thick hair that takes a long time to dry, and the T3 cuts drying down by half. It’s expensive, but it saves a lot of time.

      Funny that the Greyhound was hyper! Was she a puppy? I’ve heard that Greyhounds can be couch potatoes.

      Give Jade a tummy scratch for me!

  5. haha q-tips are awesomee! And that hairdryer looks really good, I usually just let my hair air dry because the blowdryer I have right now is falling apart/doesn’t really work.

  6. Aparnaa says:

    Maybe this is really dumb of me, but how does one curl with a flat iron? I’ve tried and tried and the best I can manage are flicks!

  7. inday says:

    that blowdryer looks soooo awesome! some day.. *sigh* but a big HOOOray!! for q-tips! those i really can’t live without and i can actually afford them! lol catching up on dvr’d shows tonight and now that i think about it a burrito would be great while catching up on “life unexpected” (great new show!) have a great night karen!

    • Karen says:

      I’m always looking for good things to watch, so I’ll check out that show! :)

      Oh — I just found a pretty cool show called Burn Notice Have you heard of it?

  8. Audrey says:

    Oh how fun! I have the first 4, and #10 of course. Wish I had the extra $$$ to invest in the other tools :)
    .-= Audrey’s last blog post… Want to see how a makeup artist works? =-.

  9. Tavia says:

    I just sold my old flat iron a few days ago…and I want to buy new one…so it’s great that I have 3 suggestions from you Karen :)
    .-= Tavia’s last blog post… Anna Sui Rose Whitening UV Base Makeup Collection for Spring/ Summer 2010 =-.

  10. diane says:

    Thanks so much for this review, I am actually looking for buying another hair straightener and I enjoyed reading this :)

    Have a fun Sunday

    kiss
    .-= diane’s last blog post… Fashion biscuits =-.

  11. Tiffany says:

    Ugh, I want a clairsonic and a t3 dryer so badly. my hubby about had a heart attack when I mentioned the price of the t3 dryer I wanted (and it was a cheaper one – only $120!). I also need the MAC 217. Maybe I should focus on that one since I can actually afford it!

    Last night I went out to dinner for my father-in-law’s b-day and used it as an excuse to get dolled up :)

    • Karen says:

      I was wondering where you were going with your hair all curled! How was the dinner?

      LOL, I didn’t bother to mention the price to El Hub. I had the dryer for a few months before he put two and two together… and then he was like, “HOLY SH*T YOU SPENT $200 ON A HAIRDRYER?” It really is one of those change-your-life products though, and it totally delivers.

      • Tiffany says:

        Dinner was great! I had a yummy steak and ate way too much!

        Sooo, my hubby was bugging me for more stuff on my Christmas wish list, and so I’m all tentative and like, well, there’s this hair dryer I want, and everyone says it’s amazing and it cuts down the time it takes to dry your hair…. and he still freaked out at the price, even though it included a brush and a styling product. le sigh. I guess I need to save up my pennies. Which do you think is more life-changing – the clairsonic or the t3?

  12. Devs says:

    I want a Clarasonic, but I am probably gonna have to wait and save up for a long time. I also want a 217 brush. I know it’s weird that I am obsessed with makeup and don’t have one, but I only recently got into it!

  13. Summer Staff says:

    Haha, yes, very classy Karen :-) I love my Shu, it’s great. I used to have a chunky white one and I thought that’s all lash curlers could do, but once I tried a Shu Umera in the store I was literally blown off my chair! The MAC 217 is an essential for me, I used it for almost everything (eyeshadow, concealer, foundation spot-apply..etc) It’s great. I also own the Clairisonic Mia, and I love it also. I find it very abrasive, though, when I first started using it.

  14. Glosslizard says:

    Great post Karen! Super-useful info and a range of splurge-worthy prices! I’m going to try and invest in some excellent brushes this year, I’m currently coveting a high-quality slanted blush brush!

    *General all-purpose tip: wait for Sephora’s FF sales (usually around October/November) to score 20% off a Clarisonic or T3!

  15. Catherine says:

    I feel so lazy LOL. I don’t use *any* hair styling tools except for a hairbrush. I TOTALLY agree with tweezers (I need to find a new pair!) and eyelash curler (I use a Koji soft curve as the Shu and others were too rounded for me) though! They make *such* a difference. And funnily enough I don’t actually use q-tips very often, but I would still be so lost without them LOL.

    I haven’t got much planned for tonight – the boy is out skiing with friends and I’m stuck at home with the cleaning/laundry as well as ~200 pages of encyclopedic-like law case reading and bioseparations homework. ;_;

    Oh, I loved the “50 ways to Put the Light Back In Your Heart” article you linked to yesterday too! I’m totally going to crank up the music and dance around while I clean today. I’m thinking Disney favorites? :D
    .-= Catherine’s last blog post… NOTD: China Glaze Strawberry Fields & Cherry Blossoms =-.

  16. ritadebora says:

    Ah ah ah, the cat reminds me of “Top Cat”:
    Top Cat!
    The most effectual Top Cat!
    Who’s intellectual close friends get to call him T.C.
    Providing it’s with dignity.
    Top Cat!
    The indisputable leader of the gang.
    He’s the boss, he’s a pip, he’s the championship.
    He’s the most tip top,
    Top Cat.
    Yes he’s a chief, he’s a king,
    But above everything,
    He’s the most tip top,
    Top Cat!

  17. Dao says:

    I have #2,4, and 10. MAC 239 and 217 are brushes I can’t live without. I barely use the other brushes once I acquired the 217. I’m not so much into hair so my hair dryer is about 8 years old (Remmington, really reliable brand!) and my curling iron is about 3 years old. If I had a wish, I would wish for a quieter hair dryer.
    .-= Dao’s last blog post… GILTY Pleasures Weekly Blog Tour: Vol 3, 2010 =-.

  18. DonnaN says:

    I have 1,2,3,5 and 10….half of your list!! I do want to get the 217 brush. I took a bunch of my OLD-SCHOOL Mac brushes with my to my local store, as some of them are close to 15-20+ years old. I had two of the current 239′s, a 224, 219 and 266…now I can add the 217 to my “must have” list……

  19. Patty says:

    Hi Karen,
    I have the T3 travel dryer where the handle twists around to make it a little more compact and I LOVE this thing! My hair is pretty thick and this dries it really fast. It is expensive, but worth every cent. The Tweezerman, (mine is lavender with white polka dots), Shu Uemura eyelash curler and Q-tips are musts for me, too. I don’t have any of the MAC brushes, but they’re definitely on my list. I have a Revlon contour shadow brush that I picked up at Wal-Mart for only 2 or 3 bucks a couple of years ago, was surprised how nice it is and it’s one of my favorites. Hugs to Tabs!

    • Karen says:

      OH, that brush sounds like a good one! I love my MAC brushes, but I definitely have a soft spot for drugstore brushes that perform well.

      Like you, I have very thick hair. The T3 really changes things, right?

  20. knownever says:

    I’m so glad I never got into straightening my hair. judging by this list it’s expensive as all get out!
    .-= knownever’s last blog post… (re)New(able) PF Goodies =-.

    • Karen says:

      If you get a great flat iron or dryer it can be worth it in the time you save…

      How do you usually wear your hair? Are you one of those lucky girls who can just wash and wear?

  21. NINA says:

    Tabs is a pretty hawt kitty! :D

  22. I own the Professional Clarisonic Skincare Brush and love it so much. Both me and my husband use it in the shower (Waterproof) with a light cream cleanser and it really does an amazing job. Has speed settings and when it comes time for the toner the cotton ball shows no residue whatsoever. I love it.
    .-= Dominique Sabine’s last blog post… Hottest Makeup Training Video Course =-.

  23. I cannot do without my Fusion eyeliner brush – it is the best! I hope it lasts forever…also, my Manicare pencil sharpener works wonders!
    .-= Cassandra Rae Ferguson’s last blog post… Cassandra Rae Ferguson – Professional Makeup Artist Sydney =-.

  24. Katie says:

    I think my favorite is the 217 brush, I use it everyday.
    .-= Katie’s last blog post… Spring Photos =-.

  25. katie09 says:

    omg, i love reading top beauty lists by anyone. yours looks incredibly similar to my beauty tastes.

    i have to add a few of my faves though

    1. bath and body works scrubbing gloves
    2. mac 187 brush (amazing, makes skin look airbrushed)
    3. karmin g3 straightener – my absolute favorite straightener of all time. it rocks my socks off every day.

  26. BJoh says:

    Karen, I’ve heard so many good things about the Clarisonic. I’ve struggled with acne for years and I’m wondering if this really would give me dramatic results? Also, is there anything similar that you could suggest (like a drug-store brand) for the poor, and I mean poor, make-up loving college student? Also, what foundation works best for oily skin and is reasonably priced? I’m using bare minerals right now. Thank you so much! Sorry to pick your brain!

  27. simplystephy says:

    I love my 217 brush, it’s amazing for my paint pots ;)
    simplystephy recently posted … Naturally Beautiful!

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