This Polishing Makeup Brush Is a Supermodel 'Secret Weapon'

Watching Karen Elson do her makeup is a special kind of ASMR, one that takes the soothing lull of a normal beauty tutorial and adds the thrill of watching a regular person transform into an icon. Elson has over 20 years of experience modeling for brands like Chanel, Christian Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent, and fellow superstar Pat McGrath's even named a lipstick after her. So when she revealed her beauty routine last week, the internet was delighted — and confused. 

Because while Elson's routine for British Vogue follows the basic outline of a standard "get ready with me video" — skin prep, eyes, cheeks, etc. — she diverts from the norm by refraining from name dropping any brands in the video, and turning labels away from the camera. It's curious, especially because in the past Elson hasn't shied away from filling fans in on the details of her routine. 

Regardless, an eagle-eyed viewing of the video does reveal some details. Elson says that her "secret weapon" is a good blending brush, holding up a very unusually shaped scarlet, Kabuki-esque brush to the camera.

face brush

Shop now: $49, sephora.com or shiseido.com

"A good blending brush, that is everything. It's all about the little, subtle tricks," she explains. "Everything I do, each step of the way, I just kind of smudge it all together." Much like Elson, the brush is abnormally beautiful (and red), and thanks to its quirky appearance, a quick Google search found Elson's favorite: the Japanese-crafted Shiseido Hanatsubaki Hake Polishing Face Brush.   

We're not the only ones who've taken a hint from Elson, either. In the last 24 hours, Nordstrom has sold out of the brush, third-party Amazon sellers are down to a few brushes, and Shiseido's website notes that the Hanatsubaki is selling fast. What makes it different from all the other brushes on the market? Per the brand, the four-petal face brush is inspired by Shiseido's trademark camellia flower. It's "uniquely designed to contour the face and buff skin to a polished finish," and uses the petal sections to maintain optimal skin contact. 

The proof is in how seamlessly Elson's multi-step routine blends together on her skin, leaving behind a glowing finish that looks gorgeous on camera (read: Zoom). Her blush remains vibrant and life-giving, but there's no tell-tale splotching or texture — just luminous, even skin. 

Sephora shoppers call it the best brush they've ever used and note that it airbrushes their skin and prevents creasing all day. It keeps skin looking stunning and foundation doing its job, yet so natural as to be undetectable. Some call it a "game-changer;" others say it's the first brush that's actually wowed them. Per one shopper, the design is ingenious, the four sections able to pick up the ideal amount of product and buff it in like a master makeup artist.  

If you're sick of sponges soaking up precious products, the brush pays for itself. It's on the expensive side at $49, but dozens of reviews highlight how incredibly soft and smart the design is for "flawless coverage" and "airbrushed results," and say that they're never going back to other brushes. "I'm in love and recommending it to everyone I know," one shopper adds. They and Elson have that in common.  

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