What is the Best Way to Apply Foundation?

Your Complete Guide to Makeup Brushes, Sponges, and Techniques

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If you are an avid Instagram user and YouTube watcher you know that there are about a thousand and one options how to apply your makeup base. From ingenuous and sometimes alien looking gadgets, to new innovations on classic methods like makeup brushes, to old favorites that are standing the test of time. It can be an overwhelmingly multiplex choice that additionally varies based on your skin’s texture and the foundation type you are using.

This article aspires to shed some light into the dark that is the myriad of makeup application and different tools. You will be introduced to 5 different methods – from standard makeup brushes, to sponges, to fingers – and guided through their respective advantages and disadvantages.

Makeup Brushes:

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Foundation Application with an Anjou Makeup Brush

Let’s start with an obvious classic: makeup brushes. Of course, already within this category there are diversified options from flat foundation makeup brushes, to flat top kabuki makeup brushes, to duo fiber makeup brushes (let us know in the comments below if you would like a separate foundation brush guide!). But first, let’s focus on the general pros and cons:

  • Depending on the size of the brush you can get a nice makeup application in no time
  • Works with powders, creams, and liquids and is therefore very versatile
  • Makeup brushes can achieve a high coverage
  • If you have larger pores, makeup brushes can help you fill them in with a stippling motion
  • Maintaining the makeup brushes can take effort, since they need regular cleaning
  • If you have very dry, flakey skin, makeup brushes can lead to micro exfoliation and irritate your skin
  • They are prone to bristle breakage or deformation if you don’t store them properly or want to travel with them

(By the way, if you happen to be in the market for a new makeup brushes, check out this 8-piece set with special foundation and powder brushes. Or this super multifunctional 16-piece synthetic brush set. Safe 20% on both brush sets – or just one – by entering the  Code 9G6NLADG  at the checkout. Valid from September 14th – 20th.)

Oval Makeup Brushes:

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Foundation Application with an Oval Makeup Brush

Recently spotted as an Instagram ad, the luxurious looking oval makeup brushes took the whole beauty community by storm. Within days the most popular and sought-after beauty gurus were smiling into their cameras with the toothbrush-lookalike, flawlessly applying their foundation. But is the fancy looking oval gadget really as good as many claim? Let’s analyze:

  • Thanks to its dense and numerous little bristles it blends out your foundation amazingly well and leaves you with a streak-free finish
  • Due to the way the brush is being held and the larger surface, compared to standard makeup brushes, the foundation can be applied in no time
  • They often feel softer than regular makeup brushes
  • High quality oval makeup brushes surely make for an airbrushed finish in minutes, but the really good ones come at a price (price can range from 40 – 60$)
  • Due to its many bristles it is prone to absorb a lot of foundation, resulting in potential product waste


Makeup Sponges:

FB-Post-Banner-1200-x-62811 What is the Best Way to Apply Foundation?
Foundation Application with a Makeup Sponge

Many – from seasoned celebrity makeup artists to greenhorn hobby gurus – swear by the pink, egg-shaped sponge that transforms your complexion into an airbrushed, natural looking canvas. But why is there such a resilient and ever-growing hype around sponges? And is it really more effective than the aforementioned makeup brushes? Let’s find out:

  • A makeup sponge can either be used wet or dry, which gives you more control over the coverage of the foundation
  • With a sponge, the product can be really pushed into your skin and therefore fill larger pores flawlessly
  • If you are a fan of layering your makeup, but absolutely want to avoid “cake-face”, using a wet sponge is the ideal solution
  • The application with a sponge is ideal for dry skin, since the sponge can be infused with an oil or makeup spray
  • Like some makeup brushes, the sponge can absorb a lot of foundation
  • Keeping the sponge clean and free of bacteria and mold can be a hassle
  • Because the sponge often has to be washed, its longevity is limited
  • Application can take a long time if you really want to work the foundation into your skin

Silicone Sponge:

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Foundation Application with a Silicone Sponge

The newest addition to the family of Instagram trends that perplexed the whole beauty world with its resemblance to a bra insert, are silicone sponges. Starting off as a perceived gimmick, the silisponge compelled many users and kept astonishing everyone with its positive reviews. Here are the pros and cons:

  • The silicone sponge is amazingly easy to keep clean and maintain, leading to a long product life
  • Silicone does not absorb any product and therefore offers a zero-waste makeup application – in contrast to some makeup brushes and sponges
  • High coverage can be achieved
  • For some users this gadget can be redundant because a similar result can be achieved with your fingers
  • Limited use because it only really works for foundation and concealer


FB-Post-Banner-1200-x-62811 What is the Best Way to Apply Foundation?
Foundation Application with Fingers

Let’s kick it old school for our last contestant in the foundation application Olympics – our good ol’ fingers! Many beauty enthusiasts – even accomplished professional artists who could afford the most expensive makeup brushes and sponges – swear by this convenient technique. Let’s dig into the advantages and disadvantages:

  • Nothing beats the practicality of our own hands and fingers: they are always right there and cost absolutely nothing!
  • They are more versatile than you may think! Use them not only for foundation, but also blush, eye shadow, and dabbing on lipstick
  • You literally get a feel of the product and its consistency and can therefore better control it
  • The warmth of your fingers warms up the product and helps the blending process
  • Makeup brushes can have a more pampering feel to it with its soft bristles
  • If you have oily skin, applying foundation with your hands can lead to an even oilier complexion
  • It can be a bit harder to buff your foundation into the skin, which can lead to streaks


Right, where does this leave us? Like the eternally unanswered question of what came first – the chicken or the egg – there is no definite right answer to our initially raised question: What is the Best Way to Apply Foundation? It all depends on your own fancy to play with ingenuous makeup brushes and tools, how much effort and time you are willing to put in your base application, and last but not least – the texture of your skin.

So, my dear readers, which method are you currently using? And are you planning to try out a new one?

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