Does the Type of Foundation Applicator You Use Really Make a Difference?

I tried four of the most popular methods to find out.
Publish date:
November 10, 2015
makeup brushes, beautyblender, tools, foundation, It Cosmetics, Sigma Beauty

There are so many available options for how you can apply your foundation that I often wonder if it actually makes a difference. Seeing as I’m a bit of a makeup brush junkie, I realized that I had four different means of applying foundation in my collection alone.

For each of these tools, I used one pump of foundation (Urban Decay Naked Skin Foundation in Shade 7) even though I would adjust the amount depending on the brush normally. I wanted you to have an accurate picture of how these compared to each other.

Here’s how they stacked up to each other.

Flat Paddle Foundation Brush

Calling this a popular method of applying foundation could be a stretch, but most "beginner" brush kits include this type of brush. As the title would indicate, this is a flat brush and has very densely packed bristles, making it essentially a tiny paint brush. I almost never use this for foundation but do use it for masks or applying moisturizer or primer when I'm feeling fancy.

This brush provides full-coverage application and requires some patience when it comes to blending as the finish can be quite streaky if you don’t spend a fair amount of time blending.

Foundation Sponge

There is no shortage of sponge applicators on the market, so shape may vary, but my favorite is the Beauty Blender. To apply, you dampen the sponge until it expands, squeeze the excess water out, and then dab the sponge to blend.

I feel like the coverage with this type of applicator is lighter and more "skin-like" because it doesn’t deposit as much product on the face as most brushes. The con is it usually requires more product to get a fuller coverage.

Flat Top Kabuki Brush

This is a form of buffing brush that has a lot of bristles very tightly packed together. You can get more rounded brushes as well, but they basically work the same.

Foundation is applied with this brush by swirling and buffing in a clockwise direction on the face, really working the foundation into the skin.

Foundation Stippling Brush

This brush is a two-in-one of sorts as it has two "layers" to it. The base of the brush head is densely packed bristles (much like the flat top kabuki brush) that lead into longer, more loosely packed bristles.

With this brush, the base bristles hold on to the product while the top bristles blend everything out. The idea is that you get less product on contact for a more natural finish.

Here’s what they look like side by side:

I don't think there is an overwhelming difference from one to the other, for the most part, but I can definitely see subtle variances. I typically use a kabuki brush for foundation because it's quick and easy, and I like the coverage; however, I do also really like how natural the finish is with the Beautyblender.

  • What is your preferred method of foundation application?
  • Do you guys skip applicators altogether and use your fingers?
  • Which was your favorite finish?