Foundation brushes 101: What do the different brushes do?

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Unless you’re a makeup artist or makeup enthusiast who comes into frequent contact with makeup brushes, chances are, you’re confused about the myriad of offerings on the market. So let’s start with the basics – the foundation brush and what it does.

A foundation brush, as the name implies, is supposed to help you put on your foundation. Sure, there are people who swear by sponges or puffs such as the BeautyBlender, and there are those who just prefer to use their fingers to apply their base makeup – so it’s more a preference than a must-have. But what a foundation brush should do is to “work with the movement of your hand and your own strength, to allow the foundation to glide better around your facial contours,” says professional makeup artist Larry Yeo. 

This means if you prefer to “paint” on your foundation, you will find that a flat-top brush won’t work as well for you as a paintbrush-type brush. So you’ll need to try a few types before deciding on what shape works best for the type of finish you want.

Then there’s the question synthetic bristles versus those made with real hair. “Real hair is good for powder-based products, while synthetic bristles work better for liquid or cream-based foundation,” explains Larry.

Here are six to try:

1. 13rushes x Larry Yeo Universal Do-it-all Face, $39.90

Foundation brushes 101: What do the different brushes do?

Makeup artist Larry Yeo spent two years to come up with this brush design. The bristles are packed as dense as possible to give movement to allow for even distribution of makeup. The slanted dome shape makes it intuitive to use, and the bristles are specially designed so it works as well for liquid and cream as powders. Plus, the brush can be used to apply face cream and sunscreen too – a true do-it-all.

2. Chanel Les Pinceaux de Chanel Retractable Foundation Brush, $80

Foundation brushes 101: What do the different brushes do?

Ideal for liquid, gel or cream foundation, this retractable brush with synthetic bristles is shaped to hug your face contours for more precise application. Use it to pick up foundation that has been dispensed on the back of the hand, then use the brush to buff the foundation from the centre of the face outwards. Build the layers for higher coverage.

3. M.A.C Cosmetics 170 Synthetic Rounded Slant Brush, $70

Foundation brushes 101: What do the different brushes do?

The rounded, domed and slanted shape of the brush makes it ideal for buffing out and blending thicker creams and liquids. The bristles are synthetic and super densely packed.

4. Cover FX Liquid Foundation Brush, $59

Foundation brushes 101: What do the different brushes do?

This flat-top brush is great for liquid foundation. The fibres used for the synthetic bristles mimic natural hair while absorbing less product. It’s also good for tinted moisturisers, and BB and CC creams.

5. Marc Jacobs Beauty The Seamless Liquid Foundation Brush, $68

Foundation brushes 101: What do the different brushes do?

This densely packed synthetic foundation brush is designed to hug the face contours. The flat sides and tapered edge make it easy to reach every part of your face, such as the sides of the nose and under the eyes.

6. Three Powder Foundation Brush, $83

Foundation brushes 101: What do the different brushes do?

This multi-use foundation brush is versatile. The widest part can be used to blend foundation onto your cheeks and forehead while the narrow parts can be used for more precise application on the sides of your nose. The bristles are synthetic, but they are made with a “cuticles” (like real hair) so it works for all types of foundation.

ALSO READ: WANT FLAWLESS COVERAGE? THEN YOU NEED TO KNOW THESE DIFFERENT TYPES OF LIQUID FOUNDATIONS

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