The best foundation and brush pairs for smooth, streak-free coverage


Just because a brush is labelled as a ‘foundation brush’ doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to give you the best result for your base makeup.  

Depending on the foundation formula you’re working with, smooth coverage could be more easily achieved with a sponge, a stippling brush, or even your fingers. 

It can take some trial and error to discover the best pairing, but to give you a headstart, here are some brush and foundation combinations makeup artist’s swear by…

Medium to full coverage foundation + tapered foundation brush

Hayley Dutton, Head Makeup Artist for Rimmel London AU, says she always uses brushes when applying foundation. “I find sponges soak up a lot of product and are best used at the end of an application instead, to press the foundation into the skin for a blended finish.” Therefore, when applying a medium to full coverage foundation, Hayley opts for a ‘large tapered foundation brush’, “as I can buff the product in and then angle it to press into the skin.”

bh recommends:Rimmel London Lasting Finish Breathable Foundation with Real Techniques Expert Face Brush.

Full coverage liquid foundation + beautyblender

YSL’s Director of Artistry, Ross Andrewartha, says his sister is the biggest fan of YSL’s All Hours Foundation, but was finding that a brush just wouldn’t work with the formula. “A lot of full coverage foundations these days are self-setting formulas,” explains Ross. And if they tend to set quickly, attempting to blend with a brush can result in streaks. However, after being recommended to use it with a damp beautyblender, Ross’s sister has found it to be ‘the best thing ever’.  A match made in heaven. 

bh recommends: Yves Saint Laurent Encre De Peau All Hours Foundation with beautyblender Original ($30, OR  (for a more affordable alternative) DB Cosmetics Microfibre Beauty Sponge.

Mineral powder foundation + flat-topped kabuki brush

Mineral powder foundations are amazing for lightweight, skin-friendly coverage. But they also present a whole other texture to work with. Hayley says she would choose a ‘flat topped kabuki style brush’ for this type of formula, to “ensure the consistensy was a little heavier for easier application.” This explains why a lot of mineral powders come with an accompanying brush of this style.

bh recommends: Mary Kay ® Mineral Powder Foundation  or jane iredale Amazing Base® Loose Mineral Powder with jane iredale Brush Collection ‘Chisel Powder Brush’.

Tinted moisturiser/BB cream + flat-topped kabuki brush 

A lot of people use their fingers when applying tinted moisturiser or BB cream for ease, but if you really want a smooth finish, a brush can be life-changing.  Especially if the cream in question is a runny one. “I would use a flat topped kabuki style brush to apply and press in the product”, says Hayley. “Because the formula is quite light, other brushes can blend the product away, so something a little denser can assist in applying and pressing in one go.”

bh recommends: IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream with Zoeva 104 Buffer ($36,

Stick foundation + stippling brush OR fingers

If you’re someone who likes the convenience of a foundation stick, you’ll already know they tend to be a bit heavier in texture. It’s for this reason Hayley recommends a stippling brush. “This type of brush allows for a fine airbrushed finish”, she says “Given stick foundations can be quite thick, it allows an easier way to build up the coverage without getting too much on the skin, and therefore avoiding the difficulty of blending.” Stick foundations can also respond well to being applied with fingers, as the warmth will help it melt into the skin better for a natural finish. You could also try warming it up on the back of your hand, and then going in with the stippling brush. 

bh recommends: Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick with  Chi Chi Large Stippling Brush.

Image credit: @patidubroff

Which foundation and brush combo do you use? Do you know any other tips or tricks for smooth coverage?

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