How do you apply your foundation?

I like using synthetic brushes, as they’re sturdier and can take stronger cleansers when necessary to really deep clean a brush. I tend to prefer flat or gently curved, medium-size brushes that do well for spreading and slight buffing. I usually pump out product onto a fingertip and then pat on my forehead, each cheek, and chin, and then I work out the product using a brush. Most of the time, I use something like Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Flawless Filter to add some luminosity and sheer out coverage a bit, and I pat it on each area like foundation at the same time — then I blend it all together.

— Christine


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Marie Avatar

First, I apply primer with my fingers. Then I use my fingers to dot liquid foundation in a few areas and use a sponge to pat and blend.

If it’s a sheer foundation like a tinted moisturizer, I might just use my fingers.

With stick or creams, it depends— usually sponges but I will use fingers if I’m just touching up.

Something I see on makeup tutorials is using a pump or dropper to drip lots of liquid product directly on to the face. That makes me CRINGE. Does anyone really do that in real life???

Regarding brushes, I like using synthetic kabuki flat-head brushes, but they never get clean all the way. I’ll let them soak and rinse and rinse and rinse, and there is always a tiny bit of foundation pigment stuck in the bristles. Drives me bonkers. The fear of rubbing my face with a dirty brush gets to me. (I guess with sponges, I feel like I can use them until they get too stained and I can start with a fresh sponge. I don’t know— maybe I’m not being rational.)

xamyx Avatar

You can try a cup of warm water, a tablespoon each of vinegar & dish soap, swirl it in the mixture, and rinse. I use this method to really deep clean every few months, or for really stubborn formulas and/or very dense brushes more often, though, and it works very well.

Reka Avatar

The traditional way to clean art brushes (which is generally considered way too harsh for makeup brushes) is to smoosh/rub their heads in bar soap (a textured one like Lava is best), smooshing and rinsing under running water until the soap foams clear. Because you’re working with paint and paint drying in the brush will literally kill it (make it completely unusable), it’s worth sacrificing the years this takes off your brush life.

Since foundation residue makes your brushes unusable for you (too gross), it’s worth it!

zeezee Avatar

i find it helpful to swirl my brushes on a dry tissue or makeup remover wipe to remove as much residue as possible before i wash them with the beautyblender solid and the accompanying silicon pad. it’s the same logic and concept as removing all the gravy and debris from plates before sticking them into the dishwasher to ensure the cleanest wash.

Badgerpaws Avatar

I need full coverage but I have textured skin and really sensitive rosacea prone skin so if I can’t use a beauty blender with a foundation, that foundation is not worth it. Any, and I mean any brush will irritate my skin and make it flake

Erica Avatar

I wear a light moisturizer with SPF. Let it soak in and do my eyeshadow. I don’t find primer necessary or that it works so why bother? Then I pump a small amount of foundation on the back of my hand. I dot it around my face. I use a Sonia Kashuk foundation brush to blend my foundation. I prefer a brush lately to a blender. Just much more seamless!

Mariella Avatar

My absolute go-to/holy grail is the Shiseido foundation brush (the old one; I think they’ve come out with a newer, synthetic one which I don’t like at all). I have 2 of them (so I’ve got one to use when the other is drying). The result I get with this brush is perfection and I love the short, stubby handle because I’m short-sighted so I can get up really close to my mirror to apply. I also like the RT Expert Face Brush and the original Beauty Blender (though it’s not worth its inflated price and there are copy-cat versions that are just as good).

Rachel Avatar

I usually prefer a sheer or light foundation and mix it with primer most days. I’ll mix the primer and foundation together (Chanel VA or Velvet) and dot on my face and then start blending with my fingers. I’ll finish off by sweeping with a stippled or kabuki style brush. Beauty Blender’s don’t work for me.

xamyx Avatar

It really comes down to what product I use, but I typically use dot a bit of foundation on the forehead, nose, chin, and cheeks with fingers, blend with a brush, then stipple all over with a sponge. My go-to brushes are RT Expert Face Brush or e.l.f. Ultimate Blending Brush (which works well with stick, creams, and powders as well as fluid), and the RT sponge.

Apparently, my favorite facial oil, which included SPF 30, has been DCd, so I’m on the hunt for something else. Fortunately, it’s been quite rainy lately, so I have to use an umbrella, so I’ve just been using a different oil. I’ve also just discovered Revlon Rose Glow Hydrating + Illuminating Primer, which I apply with fingers.

Michele Avatar

I do it differently depending on the foundation.

For tinted moisturizers I use my hands and massage it in.

For full coverage liquid foundations like Becca ultimate coverage I use my Kat von D foundation brush and brush downwards.

For medium coverage foundations that are less thick I like to use a sponge espidally if it’s matte.

For stick foundations like hourglass I use a buffing brush.

Deanna Avatar

I use full coverage foundations and apply with my fingers. I’ve tried switching to brushes or sponges many times, but I always find it either takes way too long or looks a bit patchy, then I wind up evening it out with my fingers. I think it’s just because I’ve used this method so long — since I was a teen and I’m now early 40s. I can get my foundation perfect with my fingers, but struggle with applicators (though if I had to use an applicator my preferred would probably be those flat, oval silicone applicators which I find easier to use.)

CeeBee Avatar

I use a flat top buffing brush and I usually mix in a bit of liquid luminizer with my liquid/cream foundation, so I blend and warm it up and spread it out on my palm, then collect a little bit of foundation on the brush and buff it all over my face, starting with my forehead and the outer edges and jawline before going back with more and doing the centre of my face, blending outward. Then I get a bit more product and stipple it in where I need more coverage.

If I’m using a stick foundation, I just draw on my battle stripes and then blend it with the same sort of brush, maybe with a smidge of something like Kevyn Aucoin’s Candlelight liquid shimmer on the brush bristles to make it make it look more natural and skin like.

Nancy T Avatar

Roughly a year ago, I began using Real Techniques beauty blender type sponge, and I haven’t looked back yet! I do have several foundation brushes, but the only one that was fairly easy to use was the Sephora Rouge Foundation Brush. It has a short enough handle on it in order for me to get as close as possible to my mirror. Bats see better than I do! ? (actually bats see better than most humans, true facts!)

Carmen Avatar

I have rosacea so I put my topical medication for that on and eat breakfast while that sets in. Then I put on moisturizer (yay; dry skin) and wait 10 minutes before I start my foundation routine. I usually squirt a little foundation on the top of my (clean) hand and apply it with a makeup sponge. I’m currently using Urban Decay’s Naked Skin foundation and I prefer the RealTechniques makeup sponges.

I used to use a foundation brush, but I’ve discovered that I like the way my makeup looks when I use a makeup sponge. It looks more natural on me. It’s funny because I actually use less foundation and get a better coverage than when I used a brush, but it’s probably because of the way I applied it with a brush. I use about two pumps of foundation for my whole face with the sponge and get a good, full coverage.

Deborah S. Avatar

It depends a little on the foundation that I have chosen. In a perfect world, I would use my fingers for every foundation but some just don’t feel good when applied with my fingers. So, sometimes I use a BB and sometimes an Artis #7 brush. I find I get the best coverage with the Artis brush and actually use much less product than when I use the BB.

Rachel R. Avatar

As far as tools, it depends on the product. Usually, I use a damp beauty blender. For runnier liquids and powder foundations, I like the Tarte Maracuja Miracle Foundcealer Brush.

First, I apply primer using my fingers. Then I dot the liquid or cream foundation on my forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin. Then I blend together with the Beauty Blender. I set with powder.

With powder foundations, I usually use a water-based primer. I buff it into my skin in downward circles. I repeat if I need a little more coverage. I usually follow with a finishing powder, but not always.

DianaG Avatar

I use my fingers to apply my SPF and primer.

If I’m wearing my full coverage foundation, I use my Artis brush. Got it 50% off last year and it’s been a godsend. Applies so smooth and fast. For my tinted moisturizer I just use my fingers.

Logan Avatar

I always blend with a brush! There’s two that I go back and forth on… One is the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush and the other is a Sonia Kashuk one that’s flat and dense (it was part of a set I got for $6 on clearance lol). To get it on my face, I just get product onto the back of my hand and dot it on as I go.

Applying with my fingers makes my foundation somehow look both thick and low coverage. It’s not a cute look.

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