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21 Aug 2012

The Eye Brush Series - 2: Socket brushes

The first part of this series discussed lay-down brushes and how to use them.  Today's post is about socket brushes.  Most would argue (and I would agree) that blending brushes are probably the next most "important" or "useful" eye makeup brush but I'm going to digress a little first and discuss the socket brush.

The reason for this digression is because a good friend of mine (who is a makeup fanatic, who has a great collection of both products and tools, and who has a far-more-than-better-than-average understanding of how to apply makeup) asked me not so long ago why she wasn't able to get product properly into the crease area.

The reason, simply, was because she was using too large a brush for this area (she was using a large blending brush).  That's not to say you can't use a smaller blending brush for the crease area as a socket brush (and you'll find some brushes perfect for "socketing" are called "small blending brushes").  Similarly, some socket brushes make great blending brushes.  But a socket brush is a thing unto itself, and like a lay-down brush, or like a blending brush, there are many different types...

Similar to how a lay-down brush (usually a flat brush) can be used to apply either a wash or a concentrated amount of product to a flat area (eg the eyelid), a socket brush can be used to apply either a concentrated or diffuse amount of product to the socket area.  If you think about it, this is a creased area (hence another name for socket, the "crease").  So you're going to need a rounded or pointed brush to get into that area - a flat brush or a fluffy brush won't really do it for you.

Some socket brushes I use.
Top down: Laura Mercier Ponytail brush, Cozzette S185, MAC 226 (LE), Cozzette S175, Louise Young LY38
As you can see, all of these brushes have something in common: they're all quite pointed, with the possible exception of the MAC 226 which is a LE brush, somewhere size-and-shape-wise between a blender brush and a pencil brush (more on pencil brushes later).

L - > R: Louise Young LY38, Cozzette S175, MAC 226 (LE), Cozzette S185, Laura Mercier Ponytail brush 

Why socket?

"Socketing" the eye can, at the minimum
  • Help contour and define the eye.
  • Can also be used to give the impression of a larger lid area (as with monolids or hooded lids).
  • Can be used to create a very defined socket, eg a cut crease.


Tips for DIY "socketing" the eye:
  • Younger eyes: look down, close your eye, pull your eye taut by gently pulling your eye from above your brow, in the same way as a makeup artist will do, you should see your socket are quite clearly underneath your socket bone.  Apply shadow to this area using your socket brush, over-and-back in a windshield-wiper motion.
  • More mature eyes or hooded eyes: load-up powder shadow only on the tip of the brush, and work this gently into the socket with your eyes open and looking straight ahead, in the same windshield-wiper motion, then blend-out by pressing harder on the brush (The LY38, Ponytail and Cozzette S175 brushes are particularly good for this as they're quite pointed).
  • A smaller eye area will require a smaller socket brush, so for tiny eyes, I'll use something like the Cozzette S185 or just the tip of the LY38 brush.

For "standard" eye makeup, as a minimum, I'll usually apply my base shadow with a lay-down brush, then socket the eye with a mid-tone matte or satin colour (my favourites are MAC Soba, Cork, Texture, Saddle, Swiss Chocolate), then continue with the rest of the eye makeup.

-> You can also use a pencil brush to "socket" the eye, especially if you want a more defined socket.  A cut crease is an example of a very defined socket.  For example the Lauren Luke pencil brush is great for this purpose.  Pencil brushes will be discussed in a later post.

-> You can also use a small blending brush to "socket" the eye, especially if you want a more diffuse socket.  For example a MAC 217 is a good brush for socketing.  Blending brushes will also be discussed in a later post.

So, why was my friend having difficulty "socketing"?  Because she was using a fluffy, dense, blending brush, which has a much less rounded/pointed tip, so she was getting product well above and below the socket area, then using the same brush to blend that colour out - resulting in an indistinct shape and a slightly muddied colour.  One switch-over to a smaller, pointier, socket brush later, and voilĂ , defined socket area!

Brushes, as I learned, are no mystery - they're simply about fitting the right shape to the task at hand.  Need to put product on a small area?  Then simply use a small brush, whether this is pointed or rounded (in the case of socketing) or flat (in the case of lay-down brushes).

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