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Five of the best foundation brushes for flawless-looking skin

By Megan Bedford

Flawless skin foundation 2024
They say a a good craftsman doesn't blame his tools, but if your makeup isn't turning out like a work of art, it might be time to do just that.

Upgrading your makeup brushes will pay off with a superior finish, gliding on smoothly and even using up less product.

There has been much debate about whether a sponge or a brush is a better option for applying liquid foundation, but it really depends what you are used to, and the finish you want to achieve.

A sponge can help deliver a full coverage look, particularly over dark circles or blemishes. However applying foundation with the right brush helps to get a smooth, even, airbrushed look and can be built-up slowly without looking cakey or overdone.  If you currently apply with your fingers, you’ll find a brush gives a much quicker, and more uniform result.

What to look for in a foundation brush:

There are great foundation brushes at every price point. Yes, high-end, luxury brushes may feel slightly softer and last longer, but more affordable versions are just as capable of delivering a great performance.

Things to look out for at any price point? Bristles shedding and sticking to your skin, bristles that are scratchy, bristles that are too sparse and fling colour all over your face, bristles that are too slippery and won’t pick up a decent amount of colour and bristles that leave big streaks on your face. 

Traditional tapered paintbrush-style foundation brushes are still popular but for an ultra-polished ‘high definition’ finish that lasts well choose one of the more modern dense, tightly-packed brushes and use it to buff on liquid foundation in small circular motions all over your face.

Bristle type: While most brands have moved away from using animal hair for ethical reasons, they are sometimes still used and can be very soft and fine and last for years. Synthetic bristles work well with liquid and cream foundations and are easier to clean.

Density: Look for a brush with densely-packed bristles for better coverage and smoother application. Those with looser, longer bristles are designed for loose and pan-powder products and sweeping application like blush.

Shape: Most artists prefer a slightly domed shape, but some great options have a tapered-tip or doe-foot shape that can be useful for applying foundation around the eyes and nose. A flat top one is good for buffing makeup on for a sheer finish.

Size: Consider the size of the brush head in relation to your face size and the coverage you desire.

Handle: A shorter handle is good for quick, full-face coverage, while a longer one helps with slower, precise application.

Cleaning them well is also essential to helping them last well and deliver a smooth result.

Five of the best foundation brushes:

Best Foundation brushes 2024

L-R: Bobbi Brown Full Coverage Face Brush; Real Techniques Expert Face Brush; it Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection Brush; Tarte The Buffer Foundation Brush

Bobbi Brown Full Coverage Face Brush

A premium luxury offering you will have in your kit for years, this brush is silky-soft and achieves good, even coverage with an incredibly smooth finish. The upside of the brush is also its downside: the density of the bristles that creates that lovely finish, also means it can be quite hard to clean well.

Real Techniques Expert Face Brush 

A great brand if you’re not want to spend too much, and this brush is often available in sets with other makeup brushes that form a well-rounded starter selection. We like the way this can be used to ‘push’ or ‘press’ foundation into skin around the nose and corner of the eyes for more coverage.

it Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection Brush

The dual-end means you can two brushes in one: Create full coverage over the face using the fluffy end with circular motions and more detailed application, particularly useful when covering blemished, with the smaller end.  It’s not a good choice if you like to store your brushes standing up in a cup or holder, however.

MAC Cosmetics 190 Foundation Brush

A classic ‘paintbrush’-style brush, this is the foundation brush many of us started out using. If you like to apply slowly and precisely, this is a good option.

Tarte The Buffer Foundation Brush

Want to apply a full face of foundation in five seconds flat? This is your winner. It gets the colour on seamlessly and fast and you don’t need any skill, just use circular motions and keep buffing until the edges are blended. It makes a little foundation go a long way for light coverage, too.


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