The 14 Best Foundation Brushes That Will Make Application a Breeze

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Best Foundation Brushes

Byrdie / Chloe Jeong

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 ideal foundation formula (and shade) can be tricky enough, we did the hard work for you and searched for the best tools out there.

Meet the Expert

Tamekia Greer is a makeup artist at Tamgee Artistry Studios.

Read on for the best foundation brushes on the market.

Best Overall: Artis Elite Mirror Palm Brush

Artis Elite Mirror Palm Brush

 Sephora

What We Like
  • Ergonomic design

  • Works great with all formulas

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

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 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, applying the product and seamlessly blending it all in.

Size:‎ 5.59 x 4.45 x 3.23 inches | Material: CosmeFibre (synthetic)

Best Budget: EcoTools Wonder Cover Complexion Brush

EcoTools Makeup Brush

Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Eco-friendly

What We Don’t Like
  • Not ideal for powders

If you have a hard time shelling out big bucks on brushes, consider this pick. It’s a super good deal for the price, with over 100,000 bristles for smooth application, and it's 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.

Size: 2.81 x 1.13 x 8.5 inches | Material: Synthetic

Best Drugstore: NYX Professional Makeup Can't Stop Won't Stop Foundation Brush

NYX Professional Makeup Can't Stop Won't Stop Foundation Brush

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Unique shape

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for powders

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.

Size: 6.94 x 0.89 x 0.89 inches | Material: Synthetic

Best for Liquid Foundation: Fenty Beauty Full-Bodied Foundation Brush 110

Fenty Beauty Full-Bodied Foundation Brush

 Sephora

What We Like
  • Densely packed and soft bristles

  • Creates an air-brushed finish

  • Unique shape

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

There are more than 140,000 extra-fine, synthetic bristles in this brush, which boasts a unique rounded shape. The shape 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 the skin, roll, then repeat.

Size: 0.87 x 7.4 x 1.65 inches | Material: Synthetic

Best for Liquid Foundation, Runner-Up: Anisa Beauty Pinnacle Foundation Brush

Anisa Beauty Pinnacle Foundation Brush

Anisa Beauty

What We Like
  • Unique shape

  • Great for medium-to-full coverage

  • Works great with all formulas

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

The synthetic fibers on this brush are not only densely-packed, but they’re also very flexible. Translation: They’re great at imparting medium-to-full coverage without ever leaving behind any tell-tale streaks. The patented triangular brush head makes it easy to get into hard-to-reach areas like around your nose, and the bristles are also domed to help seamlessly blend along the curves of your face. FYI: While it does work best with creams and liquids, it can be used for powders, too.

Material: Synthetic

Best for Powder Foundation: Alima Pure Foundation Brush

Alima Pure Powder Foundation Brush

 Courtesy of Credo Beauty

What We Like
  • Dual-colored bristles help you see the product

  • Ergonomic design

What We Don’t Like
  • Not ideal for liquids and creams

For those who prefer mineral or powder foundation formulas, this brush is choice. The 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 ideal amount of product for light to medium coverage. Bonus points for an extra comfortable grip, thanks to the tapered handle.

Size: 7.32 x 1.81 x 1.46 inches | Material: Taklon (synthetic)

Best Small Shape: Artis Elite Oval 6 Brush

artis elite smoke oval 6 brush

Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Ergonomic design

  • Works great with all formulas

  • Great for small spots

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

For those who like their foundation to also act as concealer, this brush is ideal. The smaller shaped head makes it easier than ever to target 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.

Size: 6.5 x 1 x 1.5 inches | Material: CosmeFibre (synthetic)

Best Multi-Tasker: Jenny Patinkin All Over Face Brush

Jenny Patinkin All Over Face Brush

 Courtesy of Credo Beauty

What We Like
  • Densely packed and soft bristles

  • Works great with all formulas

What We Don’t Like
  • Brush head could be a bit larger

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 seamless application every single time.

Size: 1.25 x 0.75 x 6.5 inches | Material: Synthetic

Best Dual-Ended: IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection Brush #7

It Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Brush #7

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Dual-ended

  • Doesn’t shed

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

This brand makes some of our favorite makeup brushes of all time, and this two-sided pick is no exception. The 100 percent synthetic bristles are some of the highest quality we’ve ever seen, with a silky-soft feel and the ability to constantly pick up exactly the right amount of product. Use the oversized, fluffier end to blend foundation onto larger areas of your complexion (it makes for an airbrushed effect), then use the micro-end to precisely dab product onto smaller spots.

Size: 7.09 x 1.18 x 7.09 inches | Material: Synthetic

Best Splurge: Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish Sublime Perfection Foundation Brush

Pat McGrath Skin Labs Skin Fetish Sublime Perfection Foundation Brush

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Fibers don’t absorb too much product

  • Sustainably-sourced wooden handle

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

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 ideal 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.

Material: Synthetic

Best Splurge, Runner-Up: Hourglass Vanish Foundation Brush

Hourglass Vanish Foundation Brush

Sephora

What We Like
  • Extremely soft bristles

  • Unique shape

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

The bristles on this brush are not only some of the softest we’ve ever felt, but they’re also unique because they’re crimped. Why does that matter? It helps to control the placement and application of the product as you run the brush along your face, making for a completely effortless result. While it was made to work with the brand’s cream foundation stick (another product we adore), we’ve found that it works equally well with a variety of different cream and liquid bases.

Material: Talkon (synthetic)

Best Sponge: Jenny Patinkin Pure Luxury Makeup Sponge Duo

Jenny Patinkin Pure Luxury Makeup Sponge Duo
What We Like
  • Recyclable

  • Great for skin-like coverage

  • Ergonomic design

What We Don’t Like
  • Not ideal for powders

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 one earns our vote for a few major reasons. For starters, it’s made of a pure, untreated, chemical-free foam. That means it’s not only better for your skin, but it can also be recycled once you’re done with it (although it can be used and washed repeatedly). The velvety texture also absorbs very little product and feels lovely on the skin, and we also like the ergonomic shape that’s easy to hold and use. Plus, you get two in this set.

Material: Untreated polyurethane foam

Best for Full Coverage: Real Techniques Foundation Blender

Real Techniques Foundation Blender

 Courtesy of Real Techniques

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Works great with all formulas

What We Don’t Like
  • Reviewers say it's hard to clean

FYI, short, dense, domed bristles—like what you’d see in a kabuki brush—are best if you want to pack on your foundation and score extra full coverage. This offers the same effect but with what we think is much easier to use and maneuver handle. It’s great for controlled application, as well as buffing and blending so that everything looks seamless. Not to mention that it works equally well with creams, powders, and liquids.

Size: 2.78 x 1.65 x 3.7 inches | Material: Synthetic

Best Angled: MODA Angle Foundation Brush

MODA Angle Foundation Brush

MODA

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Bright color

  • Unique shape

What We Don’t Like
  • Not ideal for powders

Slanted or angled brushes are ideal for blending your base into smaller spots that are harder to reach—think around your nose, near your hairline, or around your ears. This one—which also boasts a super wallet-friendly price tag—does exactly that. The handle is also super durable and water-resistant, and that hot pink hue makes it easy to find, even in a super crowded makeup bag.

Material: Synthetic

Final Verdict

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 having 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 Jenny Patinkin Pure Luxury Makeup Sponge Duo is a prime choice for sheer coverage and is made of a chemical-free foam that is better for both your skin and the environment.

What to Look for in a Foundation Brush

Shape

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 a 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 and still have a high-quality brush that won't irritate your skin, cruelty-free is the way to go.

FAQ
  • How do you apply foundation with a brush?

    After moisturizing and priming the skin evenly, dot your foundation directly onto the skin and then use a clean 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?

    “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 MUA Tamekia Greer.

  • How often do you clean foundation brushes?

    Greer recommends 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.

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She’s realized that applying foundation with a brush or a sponge is a total game-changer when it comes to scoring a super seamless finish and uses one anytime she’s wearing a base. She’s used (or is currently using) many of the tools featured on this list.

Related Stories