There are certain types of brushes that I tend to rely heavily on a specific brush and have less options, and this post reflects that. I’m not sure if it’s merely because I love them so much and don’t love others nearly as much, but these were the ones I use often and stood out to me when I went to compile my favorites!
I would love to hear about the brushes you can’t live without for foundation, concealer, and powder — share your picks in the comments! 🙂
For Liquid/Cream Foundation
Maybe it’s old school, but I actually still apply my foundation with brushes over sponges (like the beautyblender). I alternate between various beautyblenders and brushes, though. I have found that angled, stippling-style brushes to be less foolproof compared to the ones below, and I have moved away from natural or natural-synthetic blends when it comes to heavier products like foundation. I prefer very densely-packed, synthetic brushes with rounded edges that work well for spreading, diffusing, blending, and light buffing on the face. Because they’re synthetic, I don’t have to baby them when it comes to washing, and I can use stronger cleansers to get all the foundation out in no time at all.
Long-time readers may notice that I did not mention Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, and while I love my original one, I loathe the second one I have (scratchy, very streaky application) and mildly dislike the third one I have (somewhat rough, subpar application). They absolutely changed the quality and style of their brush fibers and neither of the two I more recently purchased are worth recommending.
IT #302, Marc Jacobs The Face II, Marc Jacobs The Shaper
- IT Cosmetics #302 LBD Foundation Brush ($38.00) is a medium-sized, extremely densely-packed rounded brush with a flatter, domed edge that is excellent at methodically buffing foundation onto the skin. When I use this brush, I’ll dot my foundation all around my face as I won’t use the brush to spread the product as much as I will for blending and diffusing the dots together.
- Marc Jacobs The Face II BrushMarc Jacobs The Face II Brush ($48.00) is medium-sized, dome-shaped, densely-packed brush with a slightly tapered, almost angled edge that works extremely well for spreading foundation and moving it downward and outward on the face. It is great for someone who doesn’t want to buff their foundation on (like you would with the IT #302).
- Marc Jacobs The Shaper BrushMarc Jacobs The Shaper Brush ($38.00) is a small-to-medium-sized, flat-topped brush that is dense and firm (without being stiff) that works well for buffing and blending motions with liquid and cream foundation. It is actually marketed as a “Contour and Blush Brush,” which it will work for, but I don’t personally use it for those things.
- Hourglass Vanish Foundation BrushHourglass Vanish Foundation Brush ($46.00) is a dense, rounded, lightly angled brush designed to work with cream foundations like the brand’s Vanish stick. I forgot to photograph this one, as it wasn’t clean and I actually had it out-of-place, but it is so good at applying and buffing out cream/liquid foundations without streaking. The way the bristles are shaped, they’re almost seamless on the skin and I often will use it to buff out foundation along the edges of my lips while doing lip swatches to refresh the foundation around my mouth.
I favor sponges (like the beautyblender) for underneath the eye, but I do routinely use the following brushes, particularly when I’m too lazy to go dampen a sponge (which is often enough!).
Real Techniques Setting, Marc Jacobs The Conceal
- Real Techniques Setting Brush ($7.99) is a small, fluffy brush with a rounded edge and light density. I absolutely love this brush for blending and diffusing the edges of concealer. With heavier coverage or more matte concealers, I’ll use a separate brush to apply and spread the product out and go back with this one to diffuse the edges. With more luminous or sheerer coverage formulas, I’ll use this brush to spread and diffuse the product.
- Marc Jacobs The Conceal BrushMarc Jacobs The Conceal Brush ($30.00) is a small, slightly angled, domed-shape brush that’s densely packed but has just enough give to move fluidly for superb application, blending, and spreading of concealer underneath the eyes (well, on the face, too, but I primarily use it for under eye concealer).
I must be rather picky when it comes to powder brushes, as I have a slew of them, but I really only use these two on a regular basis! I tend to like denser or flatter powder brushes so I can press setting powder onto my skin rather than fluffier, larger powder brushes that dust it on as more of a veil.
Make Up For Ever #128, IT #307
- Make Up For Ever #128 Precision Face BrushMake Up For Ever #128 Precision Face Brush ($52.00) is a large, paddle-shaped powder brush that has been my go-to since it was released a couple of years ago. It has a little bit of floppiness (in a good way!) that makes it feel very lightweight on the skin but pat, sweep, and press powder evenly and smoothly across the planes of my face.
- IT Cosmetics #307 LBD Powder Brush ($48.00) is an incredibly smooth, velvety brush that is densely packed and moves seamlessly across the face. It doubles as a buffing brush, too, as it has a slightly flatter, larger edge. I like to press and tap my setting powders on my skin, rather than sweep them on, so the density of this one works well for my application style.