Brushes, Fingers, or Sponges: Which Is Better For Foundation Application?

As I look at the sad state of my Beauty Blender sponges, I’m wondering whether I should go back to using a foundation brush or fork over another $20 plus for a new Beauty Blender. I bought two Beauty Blenders in September 2014 on Amazon for $24, choosing black (because I love black), and I didn’t like that foundation discolors the other colors, making them look dirty even when they aren’t. I thought that was a good thing until I started hearing reports of mold and bugs.  With a black sponge, it is difficult, if not impossible, to tell if the sponge is gathering mold or becoming a haven for bugs. I always make sure I store my sponges where they can air out completely and see no entry points for pests, but I can’t help being a little freaked out.  

Which makeup tool is best for for makeup application?
Image via Pinterest

I stopped using foundation brushes because the foundation was looking streaky even after cleaning. I have two that I rotated and tried to clean regularly, but I stopped getting the results I wanted. Instead of buying new ones, I bought the Beauty Blender sponges, and the rest is history. At the time, I didn’t consider that I may have switched foundation formulas and that may have affected the application or that the brush I was using wasn’t clean enough.  Now I find myself at the same crossroad, wondering whether I should continue using a makeup sponge or go back to a foundation brush.

It’s tough being a girl…

Foundation application is already a time-consuming process for me. I have varying degrees of hyperpigmentation so it can be a time-consuming process to get an even canvas, and sometimes I still miss the mark. What I have found is that while I love the way the foundation applies and blends with the Beauty Blender sponge, it is more for light or medium coverage and I need the full coverage capabilities of the foundation brush, which doesn’t, in my opinion, blend as well as the sponge. My mistake was switching from the Mac Studio Fix cream foundation which has better full coverage, to the Studio Fix liquid formula which has more of a light to medium coverage and doesn’t work as well with the brush as the cream formula does.

Which makeup tool is best for foundation application: Foundation brush, fingers or makeup sponge?
Image via Pinterest

Perhaps it’s not about one being better than the other, but knowing how and when to use them. Understanding the differences in each beauty tool is the key to knowing which is best for you. Makeup sponges, specifically the Beauty Blender, give you a better blended and more natural effect than a foundation brush would, especially if you have dry or flaky skin. Sponges will work better because they won’t to allow the product to sit on your face because it presses the foundation into the skin. Refinery29 has a fantastic article on Beauty Blender makeup application techniques for the face, eyes, cheeks, and lips.

Regarding foundation brush application, I found the following tips very helpful. If your foundation brush is streaky, it is most likely dirty and a good cleaning with a makeup brush cleaner (I use the Beauty Blender solid for my sponges and brushes) should take care of that annoying problem.

Foundation Brush Application Tips:

– Use a flat, synthetic foundation brush.

– Use a pea-size amount of product.

– Squeeze product onto the back of your hand to apply.

– Disperse to areas of your face before you blend.

– Use upward and back to apply.


I can revert to using my fingers, a method I find makeup gurus like Bobbi Brown and Wayne Goss using frequently instead of brushes and sponges. I used to use my fingers exclusively, but stopped because being my self-proclaimed ADD self, I would wonder off to get tea or switch the television channel and unwittingly get makeup all over the place. I recently incorporated it back into my regimen for trouble spots. I found the following tips on Brit + Co.

Which Makeup tool is best for foundation application?
Image via Cosmopolitan
Finger Method Foundation Application Tips:

– Use a dime-size amount of product.

– Squeeze product onto the back of your hand to apply.

– Disperse to areas of your face before you blend.

– Use a gentle touch — your ring and middle finger work best for this.

Brushes, Fingers, or Sponges: Which Is Better For Foundation Application?
Image via Pinterest

Then there is the matter of which tool is more wasteful, another reason I switched to using a sponge. I saw so much foundation being washed away when cleaning the brushes it made me feel like the brushes were absorbing too much product, but I have to wonder the same thing when using the Beauty Blender. Supposedly, the Beauty Blender sponge doesn’t absorb product like standard makeup sponges made of latex and synthetic makeup brushes are also designed not to absorb product. That wasn’t my experience so I’m out as far as  which is less wasteful.

In my case, I probably need all three methods, so I am off to Amazon to look for new Beauty Blender sponges and foundation brushes. I already have the fingers.

[Image via StylEnigma/Polyvore]