Which Foundation Brush Is Right For You?

Finding a foundation brush that works with your favourite product and your skin type is no mean feat. From the classic angled brush to the perfect buffing brush via the cult favourite Beautyblender (which is actually a sponge - keep up!), we bring you a fuss-free guide to foundation application. No streaks invited...

Kabuki brush

You can identify a kabuki brush by its short, chunky handle and dense bristles. You might have previously used one to apply loose setting powder, blush or bronzer, but if you prefer a mineral or powder foundation formula over liquid, it also allows for easy - and flaw-free - application. Choose a brush with natural rather than synthetic bristles, which allow for a more even distribution of pigment, and will last longer, too.

Best used with: Powder foundation

Must buy: Nars Botan Kabuki Brush, £56 and BareMinerals Full Coverage Kabuki Brush, £24

Angled foundation brush

Perennially popular, the slightly slanted tip of this particular brush type allows for a more precise base application. 'The slimline angled brush head allows you to navigate the features of the face, blending easily as you go,' explains MAC Senior Artist, Debbie Finnegan. 'Start your application in the centre of the face and blend outwards as most people need more coverage in the t-zone area and less towards the hairline.'

Must buy: MAC 193 Angled Foundation Brush, £27.50

Best used with: Liquid foundation with medium to full coverage

Foundation sponge

After the Beautyblender became a cult product thanks to blogger recommendations and word of mouth, more and more beauty brands have decided to jump on the bandwagon and bring out their own version of the softly angled foundation sponge. However, we're inclined to believe that the original is still the best. Unlike traditional sponges, the Beautyblender's smooth, egg-like shape means that product goes on streak-free. Try it and you won't look back...

Best used with: Liquid or stick foundation

Must buy: Beauty Blender Original, £16

Stippling brush

What’s a stippling brush, you ask? It’s all in the bristles: this particular type of brush will have fine, feathery fibres, usually in a lighter colour, towards the top, with thicker, typically darker fibres at the base, and is often blunt-ended. The lighter bristles help to distribute liquid foundation evenly for an airbrushed finish - simply dot product lightly onto the face and blend outwards, swirling in circular motions for a finish that's free of tide marks. Once you’ve invested, you can also use a stippling brush to apply cream blush and blend out contours.

Best used with: A liquid foundation promising light or medium coverage, tinted moisturiser or BB cream

Must buy: Real Techniques Stippling Brush, £10.99

Buffing brush

A close relation to the stippling brush, a buffing brush has denser, closely packed bristles - because of this, it is perhaps slightly easier to use for beginners. According to MAC's Debbie Finnegan, it 'can be used dry to apply powder products and also buffs out liquid and cream textures easily, creating a lightweight, airbrushed feel.' When applying foundation, she adds, 'only the white tips of the brush should be making contact with the skin as you use circular motions - if you find the lower black bristles are also touching the skin then you are using too much pressure on the brush! Think light-handed so your skin will look fresh and not over-loaded.'

Best used with: Cream or liquid foundation

Must buy: MAC 187 Duo Fibre Brush, £34.50

What's the best foundation brush to cover up acne and imperfection?

Apply a fuller coverage foundation to acne-prone skin using a tapered foundation brush - it's precise enough to target problem areas. You can then use a stippling or buffing brush for a smoother finish, distributing the foundation evenly to ensure that product doesn't gather around marks or scars.

What's the best foundation brush for dry skin?

Applying foundation to skin that's prone to dryness is all about the preparation. Make sure you've worked regular exfoliation into your skincare routine (one or twice a week will certainly suffice - any more than this and you risk exacerbating the problem further), whether that's with an AHA wash or powder exfoliant. Apply primer to cleansed skin before using a stippling or buffing brush to apply a base from our edit of the best foundations for dry skin. 'I love to add a drop of MAC Prep+Prime Essential Oil, £21, onto a buffing brush before applying my foundation to achieve a more dewy effect,' recommends Debbie.

How should you clean your foundation brushes?

When was the last time you attempted to clean your arsenal of make-up brushes? We're guessing it was much, much longer ago than it should have been. To prevent the build up of bacteria, brushes should get a deep clean every month, but it needn't be a chore. Consult our expert guide to brush cleaning for step-by-step advice.

Follow MAC's Debbie Finnegan on Instagram @debbie_f_makeup

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