The Ultimate Guide To Foundation Brushes

So you've found your perfect foundation — the one that ticks all your boxes where coverage, texture, and finish are concerned. Good for you! The only thing you need to seal the deal? A foundation brush to take it from the liquid in the bottle to looking like actual skin on your face.

Like most things in beauty, there are dozens of options to choose from and finding a brush that works well with your base and desired coverage isn't always easy. To simplify the process, we asked makeup artist Nina Soriano to break it down for us. Check out her pro picks, ahead.

Flat Brush

Coverage: Buildable

Foundation Type: Creams, liquids, and sticks

Makeup artists love flat brushes for their precision and layering ability. "A flat brush is great for all types of foundation from cream to liquid to solid sticks," says Soriano. "It's also a great tool for building coverage." Rather than rubbing the brush onto the skin, flat foundation brushes should be used in patting or swiping motions to gently layer the product.

While many makeup artists like natural hair brushes, Soriano prefers synthetic hairs for their versatility. "I like synthetic hairs because products with a cream base or texture adhere better to synthetic hairs and also glide on the skin much easier than natural hair," she says.

Chanel Pinceau Fond De Teint Foundation Brush #6, $46, available at Nordstrom.
Buffing Brush

Coverage: Full

Foundation Type: Liquid

Densely-packed hairs and a round shape make buffing brushes great for fans of fuller coverage foundation. "It's best for liquid foundation because it helps apply foundation to the skin smoothly and evenly," says Soriano.

Unlike a standard, flat foundation brush that is used in patting motions, you'll achieve the best effect with a buffing brush if you swirl the brush in circular motions onto your skin. This will work the product into your skin and provide the most natural-looking finish.

Sigma F82 Round Kabuki Brush, $25, available at Sigma.
Flat-Top Brush

Coverage: Full

Foundation Type: Liquid, cream, or powder

"Flat-top brushes are very similar to buffing brushes," says Soriano. The hairs are densely-packed meaning they can be used to achieve a full coverage effect with liquid, cream, or even powder foundation. Due to its flat shape, it's also great for smoothing makeup over the skin — just make sure to use downward strokes so that you don't disturb any hairs or peach fuzz on your face, she advises.

CoverFx Liquid Foundation Brush, $38, available at Sephora.
Stippling Brush

Coverage: Sheer to medium

Foundation Type: Liquid

Stippling brushes typically feature two different hair lengths — a base of short hairs and longer, finer hairs at the top of the brush. Unlike buffing or flat-top brushes, stippling brushes feature hairs that aren't densely packed meaning they can be used to buff on liquid foundations resulting in a sheer, airbrushed finish.

Real Techniques Stippling Brush, $9.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
Powder Brush

Coverage: Sheer to medium

Foundation Type: Powder

"A powder brush is usually a wider, [dome-shaped] brush with longer hairs," says Soriano. "Due to their size and hairs I would stick to using this brush with powders." Simply dip the brush into your favorite formula and buff it onto your skin in circular motions.

BareMinerals Full Flawless Face Brush, $28, available at Sephora.
Sponge

Coverage: Buildable

Foundation Type: All

Makeup sponges are great for those who want versatility from their tools. "They can apply sheer or full coverage," says Soriano. "And they're particularly good at blending foundation evenly and work for all types of foundation." They can be used damp or dry, but we prefer wetting them for the best results.

BeautyBlender Swirl, $20, available at Sephora.
Silicone Blender

Coverage: Full

Foundation Type: Liquid or cream

Last year, silicone makeup sponges took the beauty community by storm thanks to their ability to apply a full face of liquid or cream makeup while absorbing zero product. Fans of full coverage may like this tool but fair warning — a little bit of product goes a long way. If you use too much, you may find yourself veering into cake face territory.

The Makeup Drop Silicone Makeup Applicator, $20, available at The Makeup Drop.
Oval Brush

Coverage: Full

Foundation Type: All

Spoon-like foundation brushes also had beauty editors and bloggers swooning when they first launched. Their soft heads and innovative shape make them easy to control when you're doing your own makeup. (Makeup artists might be more comfortable using a traditional brush when working on others.) And since the synthetic brush hairs are so densely packed, foundation (any type) smooths on in seconds with no streaks whatsoever.

Artis Brush Elite Smoke Oval 8 Brush, $65, available at Net-A-Porter.
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