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Lily Donaldson backstage at Lanvin spring 2011

Question: If you only invest in a few great makeup brushes, which are the most important ones to have in your bag?

Answer: The average woman doesn’t need—and would most likely never use—all the brushes found backstage in a professional makeup artist’s arsenal (fan brushes, we’re looking at you especially). Instead, edit down to three that multi-task to serve your eyeliner, foundation, blush and shadow needs. M.A.C. Senior Makeup Artist Gina Bettelli offers up her picks.

1) A small, angled brush. Use this for anything that requires precision: applying liquid or gel eyeliner, grooming and shaping brows with pomade or powder and drawing clean, perfect lipstick lines.

2) A flat, paddle-like brush. This is essential for building coverage with powders and creams; you’ll use it for eye shadow, foundation, concealer and highlighter.

3) A soft dome-shaped brush. This fluffy brush should be mid-sized to fit the eyes or face. Use it to blend, sweep and buff cream or powder blush and bronzer and to wash eye shadows across the eyelids

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M.A.C. 266 Small Angle Brush; 252 Large Shader Brush; and 188 Small Duo Fibre Face Brush, maccosmetics.com.