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When it comes to applying foundation, brushes admittedly often take a backseat to other methods of application—namely fingers. But if you typically only reach for a brush when it comes time to put on blush or bronzer, you may want to consider using one for your base, too. Nothing against your fingertips, but a brush can make for a notably more even, smooth, and ultimately skin-like finish, no matter whether your foundation of choice is a liquid, cream, or powder. Since finding the perfect foundation formula (and shade) can be tricky enough, we did the hard work for you, searching for the best tools out there.
Read on for the best foundation brushes on the market.
Best Overall: Artis Elite Mirror Palm Brush
We know, this may not look like a traditionally-shaped brush, but trust us, just go with it. As you may gather from the name, it’s specially made to fit perfectly into the palm of your hand, with both a grip pad and finger indent for ultimate control. The proprietary synthetic fibers work equally well with liquids, creams, or powders, both applying the product and seamlessly blending it all in beautifully.
Best Budget: EcoTools Wonder Cover Complexion Brush
If you have a hard time shelling out big bucks on brushes, consider this pick. It’s an insanely good deal for the price, with over 100,000 bristles for smooth application and made of renewable and recyclable materials, too. FYI, the oval-shaped brush has shorter bristles, so it does pair better with liquid or cream formulas.
Best for Liquid Foundation: Fenty Beauty Full-Bodied Foundation Brush 110
There are more than 140,000 extra-fine, synthetic bristles in this brush, which boasts a unique rounded shape. It’s that shape that ensures the same type of even application as you’d get with a traditional flat-headed foundation brush, along with an airbrush-esque finish. For the best results, use it following Ri-Ri’s go-to method: press the brush into skin, roll, then repeat.
Best for Powder Foundation: Alima Pure Foundation Brush
For those who prefer mineral or powder foundation formulas, this brush is choice. The totally vegan bristles are dual-colored (the white tips make it easy to see exactly how much powder you’re picking up) and dust on the perfect amount of product for light to medium coverage. Bonus points for an extra comfortable grip, thanks to the tapered handle.
Best Drugstore: NYX Professional Makeup Can't Stop Won't Stop Foundation Brush
The bristles on this brush are soft yet dense, especially choice for more pigmented liquid bases. An angled top glides seamlessly along the contour of your face, smoothly applying and blending in every last bit of product.
Best Sponge: Real Techniques Miracle Face + Body Sponge
Okay, so yes, this (obviously) isn’t a brush, but sponges are a great pick for liquid or cream products, particularly if you’re looking to score lighter, more skin-like coverage. This particular won earns our vote for two major reasons. One, the price is unbeatable. Two, the oversized shape means it can pull double-duty, not only to use with foundation, but also for liquid bronzer, and even moisturizer and highlighter on your body, too. (Just be sure to wash it regularly, and replace it every few months.)
Best Small Shape: Artis Elite Oval 6 Brush
For those who like their foundation to also act as concealer, this brush is choice. The smaller shaped head makes it easier than ever to target even smaller, hard-to-reach spots where you’d dab on concealer, think under your eyes or around your nose. And, like the other Artis brush on the list, it works just as well with powders, creams, and liquids.
Best Multi-Tasker: Jenny Patinkin All Over Face Brush
This makeup artist-turned product creator wrote a book called Lazy Perfection: The Art of Looking Great Without Really Trying, so you know that her eponymous line of brushes is going to be all about ease and convenience. Case in point: You can easily use this one brush for all of your complexion products, from foundation to blush to bronzer to powder to highlighter. Made of high-quality synthetic fibers (that are even finer than natural hair), this brush also has two and half times more bristles than most other brushes, making it feel velvety and ensuring flawless application every single time.
Best for Brush Haters: Real Techniques Blend + Blur All Over Brush
Even if you’re dead set on actually applying foundation with your fingers, do yourself a favor and pick up this brush to use as a finishing touch. The domed head touts densely-packed bristles that make blending a breeze, ensuring there are never any tell-tale lines of foundation showing on your chin or jawbone.
Use it both post-foundation, and as the final step in your makeup routine, for a final sweep to seamlessly blend out blush and bronzer.
Best Dual-Ended: IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection Brush #7
This brand makes some of our favorite makeup brushes of all time, and this two-sided pick is no exception. The 100% synthetic bristles are some of the highest quality we’ve ever seen, with a silky soft feel and ability to constantly pick up exactly the right amount of product. Use the oversized, fluffier end to work foundation onto larger areas of your complexion (it makes for an airbrushed effect), then use the micro-end to precisely dab on product onto smaller spots.
Best Splurge: Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish Sublime Perfection Foundation Brush
Ready to invest in a high-quality foundation brush? Make it this one. The synthetic fibers have an ever-so-subtle wave to them, which makes for both the perfect product pick-up and payoff as you glide it across your skin. Sephora fans also rave about how said bristles don’t soak up too much product. Also nice: The handle is made of sustainably-sourced wood.
At the top of our list is the Artis Elite Mirror Palm Brush. It gets major points for fitting seamlessly into the palm of your hand and synthetic fibers that work well with liquid, powders, or creams. We’re also raving about the EcoTools Wonder Cover Complexion. This cruelty-free tool has over 100,000 bristles for a smooth application. But if you’re still not convinced that brushes are the way to go, the Real Techniques Miracle Face + Body Sponge is a prime choice for sheer coverage.
What to Look For When Choosing a Foundation Brush
The shape of your brush will have a major impact on your foundation application. Sponges can be a nice option for light, sheer coverage while tightly packed oval brushes are great options for applying powder foundation for a seamless blend. As a general rule of thumb, the denser the brush, the denser the coverage.
Liquid Vs. Powder
Liquid, powder, and cream foundations all call for different types of brushes. For full coverage liquid foundation, you’ll want to go for a flat brush that allows you to use a paint-like technique for streak-free precision. If powder foundation is more of your thing, use a fluffy yet dense brush with a lot of surface area like a Kabuki brush.
Synthetic vs. Natural
It might feel luxurious to have a fluffy makeup brush sourced from the finest animal hair or fur, but it’s not the most sustainable or cruelty-free option. Synthetic brushes have come a long way, and there are plenty of options to consider that are both earth and wallet-friendly. It’s also important to inquire whether or not a brand conducts animal testing. So if you want to be kind to animals while also being hypoallergenic (sounds like a win-win!), cruelty-free is the way to go.
How do you apply foundation with a brush?
First things first—always begin with a clean brush. After moisturizing and priming the skin evenly, dot your foundation directly onto the skin, and then use your brush to blend in each direction. When layering more products, use a patting motion to avoid creating streaks.
Is a brush or a sponge better for applying foundation?
“I prefer a brush over a sponge because, honestly, I like to save money. Brushes last longer and save you time because you can apply foundation faster with a brush than a sponge. Plus, brushes absorb fewer products than sponges do so your product goes further, says makeup artist Tamekia Greer of Tamgee Artistry Studios.
How do you clean foundation brushes?
Greer recommends that makeup brushes be cleaned once a week to prevent possible skin breakouts and buildup on your brushes. The cleaner they are, the better the application and the longer your brushes will last.