Makeup brushes are a fickle breed. One day they're your best friend, and the next they're shedding all over the floor and losing their touch. I have faced this problem with both cut-rate drugstore brushes and costly designer brushes (ie. Chanel). All in all, I've had the best luck with a travel brush set by Trish McEvoy that has so far lasted me five years and is just as effective as the first day I bought it. But this set is limited to lip, shadow, and blush brushes, and I've been looking around for additional pieces to address every aspect of my skincare regime. I had a brush with good cosmetic karma when I came across aDesign Professional Brush Line.

In the realm of makeup, a superior set of brushes is akin to a chef's set of knives. Cosmetic brushes can make a world of difference in not only how easily your application goes but also how well your makeup looks and lasts. ADesign's 5-piece set of professional brushes is unique in that it consists of both basic makeup brushes (a pointed concealer brush and an under-eye concealer/cream brush) and custom skincare brushes (a pointed Kabuki brush for cleansing and applying face masks, a flat top brush for buffing, and a rounded-tip brush for applying moisturizer). All of the brushes are constructed from synthetic fibers.

Considering the frequency of passing on bacteria when using fingers or sponges, it makes perfect sense to use a brush tailored for a specific cosmetic purpose. Your favorite pot of night cream won't risk contamination with every scoop, and your monster blemish won't suffer further fertilization from your finger. Customized beauty tools like these also cut down on product waste, since each brush is distinctively crafted for a smoother, more accurate application of product.

You may be wondering- why hasn't anyone thought of this before? Well the idea actually isn't new. Dermatologist and spa technicians have long used brushes for sensitive and post-operative skin care and are increasingly recommending application brushes for their patients' daily regime. Using brushes rather than fingers to cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize helps distribute product evenly and lift dirt particles. ADesign's concealer brush is very pointed (instead of flat), enabling targeted coverage of a small area, and the under-eye brush is perfect for gently smoothing concealer, cream, or gel over fine lines around the eyes.

In spite of aDesign's customized system, the brushes in the 5-piece set are not limited to their stated use. Besides applying skincare products, the larger brushes work great for makeup as well. The dense, tapered foundation brush with its pointed head would be an excellent tool for maximum coverage of liquid foundation. I have found that the flat-top foundation brush, which is too soft to do any serious buffing (this is no Clarisonic brush or even Vic complexion cloth) is second to none for applying pressed mineral makeup.

No matter whether you use a cosmetic brush for makeup or skin care, keeping it clean is critical. The best way to purify your brush is to hold it in the sink with the hairs pointing downward and rinse with warm water. Then, squirt a dollop of liquid hand soap, mild shampoo, or pure castile soap on your fingers and gently massage and squeeze the hairs. You might be surprised at how long it takes for the water flowing from the brush to turn clear. Finish your brush's bath by shaping the bristles (to prevent splaying) and laying it on its side on a clean cloth or paper towel. Dry time will depend on size and brush density.

Proper brush care on a regular basis removes all sorts of nasties you may not realize are lurking on your bristles, from old makeup and unwanted oils to dead skin cells, dirt, and debris. At least once a week, you should remember to wash your brushes to avoid bacteria transmission and an attendant breakout. Because makeup build-up (especially foundation) leads to a scratchy feeling and uneven application, cleaning also helps the bristles stay soft and lush, prolonging the life of the brush and increasing your return on investment.

Speaking of good investments, aDesign's 5-piece brush set, introduced just last month, is one of the best beauty deals I've ever found. During its current promotion, you can get the entire set and the faux croc print carrying bag for only $30, which is half off the kit's regular retail price. If you actually do the math, the brushes would cost you $145 when purchased separately. Plus you get a $24 travel-friendly carrying case thrown in for free.