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Fingers, Sponge or Brush? Foolproof Foundation Application Tips

Fingers, Sponge or Brush? Foolproof Foundation Application Tips

If you are a lover of liquid foundation you have probably wondered; what is the best way to apply your foundation? Should you use your fingers, sponge or a brush? Which is best to get that flawless finish?

Look, I’m not here to tell you that you HAVE to use one over the other, but what I will tell you is that there are pros and cons to each one. I hope today I help you decide what the best choice is for your foundation application.

The Secret Is In The Prep

Before I dig into foundation application, it is crucial to take the time to properly prep your skin. If you haven’t already, check out my recent article 7 Steps to a Flawless Face, where I share EVERYTHING I’ve learned over my career to get that beautiful flawless finish.

Fingers

Applying foundation with your fingers

Let’s start with the most common tool for foundation application-your fingers. I see a lot of women for makeup sessions and the majority of them use their fingers to apply their foundation. Here are the pros and cons of using your fingers:

Pros

  • They’re always available 😉
  • You won’t waste as much product as using a sponge, (see below) so you’ll essentially be saving money.
  • Your hands will warm up the foundation helping it blend nicely.

Cons

  • Using your fingers can get pretty messy.
  • You don’t have as much control as with a sponge or brush, which can result in streaky or uneven application.
  • Your fingers and hands have to be freshly washed before application otherwise you will spread bacteria and cause breakouts.
  • Sometimes, oily complexions get even oilier with finger application.
  • It can be hard to control how much foundation you use so application can be heavy or cakey.

Application Tips

  • Apply foundation in a stippling motion, which means gently tapping it into your skin.
  • Avoid any wiping or rubbing motions because that will only push the foundation around and cause streaks.
  • Press foundation gently into the skin. The warmth of the fingertips helps to make the skin and foundation melt together and appear as one.
  • Finish with using a damp sponge to push the foundation into the skin or flat top brush to buff out any streaks.

Sponge

Applying foundation with a sponge

Sponges come in lots of different shapes and sizes. There are wedges, teardrops, acorns and, of course, various beauty blenders, just to name a few. Some people love ’em, some people hate ’em.

Pros

  • Foundation will go on sheer and lightweight.
  • You have more control with a sponge than your fingers.
  • You can dampen the sponge giving a fuller-coverage foundation a more natural effect, which is perfect for a dewy, natural glow.
  • They can get into hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.
  • You can achieve a soft “airbrushed” look.

Cons

  • Sponges absorb A LOT of product, so you’ll go through your foundation faster (they are “sponges” after all!)
  • If skin isn’t prepped properly (moisturized and primed) they can catch and lift dry skin.
  • They need to be replaced often, so they’re not very environmentally-friendly.
  • They are very difficult to clean and can harbor bacteria!
  • It is impossible to disinfect them, so if you are a makeup artist, you can’t reuse the same sponge on different clients.

Application Tips

  • Wet the sponge until it’s completely saturated and squeeze out any excess water.
  • Pour a small amount of liquid foundation onto the back of your hand, dip the rounded end of your sponge into the makeup, and begin applying to your face.
  • Do not rub or drag the sponge across your skin. 
  • Gently dab or blot the area until your foundation is completely blended.
  • Mist your sponge with Setting Spray and stipple over your foundation to help set your foundation.

Cleansing Tips

  • Cleanse with a mild soap and rinse with water after application.
  • Squeeze out excess water and roll in a clean dry towel to remove as much water as possible.
  • It is recommended you cleanse your sponge once a week with an anti-bacterial soap to maintain a sanitary surface.
  • Allow the sponge to air dry in a dry space where there is optimal air flow.

Foundation Brush

Applying Foundation with a Foundation Brush

Most professional makeup artists, including myself, use at least one (if not more) makeup brushes to apply foundation. With so many brushes to choose from there’s something for everyone.

Pros

  • When used properly, a brush is one of the fastest ways to apply foundation.
  • They blend foundation seamlessly giving skin an even, airbrushed finish.
  • They provide great coverage.
  • They are hygienic
  • You can layer easily, giving you more control over coverage.
  • They are good for getting into hard to reach nooks and crannies
  • They buff foundation into the skin for natural-looking results.

Cons

  • A great brush isn’t cheap, however if you take care of it properly it will last a long time.
  • They don’t travel as well as sponges or fingers–if you don’t store them properly the bristles can bend and break.
  • Poorly made cheap brushes can leave streaks and stray hairs on the skin.

Application Tips

  • Choose a brush with synthetic bristles for liquid or cream-based products.
  • Look for a rounded foundation brush with synthetic hairs-not flat.
  • Apply foundation in a stippling motion, which means gently tapping it into your skin.
  • Avoid any wiping or rubbing motions because that will only push the foundation around and cause streaks.
  • Always start by applying just a little bit of foundation, and then add more until you have just the right amount of coverage. The goal is to only apply foundation where you need it, so that your skin still looks like skin.
  • Concentrate the foundation in the center of your face where redness and blemishes tend to be more problematic. Apply just a dab of foundation on each side of your nose, and in the center of your forehead and chin, then blend outward. 

Cleansing Tips

  • Cleanse bristles with a mild soap and rinse with water after application.
  • Avoid saturating handle.
  • Gently squeeze out excess water.
  • Dry brush with bristles down so that water doesn’t loosen glue in the handle-which could cause bristles to shed.

Professional makeup artists may use a combination of two or all of these application methods depending on the formulation of foundation they’re using and the finish they want. There’s no right or wrong method, it’s what works best for you; try all three and decide for yourself which one is best 🙂




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