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]

The Best Makeup To Cover Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition that darkens the skin and results in uneven skin tone and can be very difficult to cover. I am personally affected by this condition, and it makes life difficult. The condition is caused by many factors; disease, sun exposure, medications, and hormonal changes are just a few of the stimulants that can spark an outbreak. Finding the best makeup to cover hyperpigmentation well can be expensive, especially if there is a large area to cover, such as the legs. In addition to finding a product that covers well, a product that doesn’t transfer onto clothing great.  Few things are as embarrassing as thinking you are super cute at an event, only to go to the bathroom and find that your brown foundation has feathered onto your sheer turquoise ruffled blouse and not one of your “friends” bothered to tell you. Transferring makeup also limits clothing options and can ruin clothing because it doesn’t always come off in the wash or at the dry cleaners.

Make Up For Ever Concealer

The Make Up For Ever line is sold exclusively through Sephora. The Full Cover Concealer is designed to cover tattoos, scars, burns, and other skin maladies flawlessly and is available in 12 shades. It is full coverage, oil-free, and the light texture has a matte finish that stays put. There is an entire cosmetic line that works in conjunction with the concealer, including the Precision Highlighter & Concealer Brush which has high quality 100 percent fiber bristles. This multi-purpose makeup tool is a godsend for precise concealer application.

Dermablend Cover Creme and Intense Powder Camo

Dermablend has been around for over 30 years and is well respected by makeup artists and the medical community, and as a lupus survivor with massive discoloration, it was the first product I found that disguised my hyperpigmentation and allowed me to wear what I wanted without being self-conscience about it coming off on my clothing.

Originally, the foundation was very hard to work with because it had a clayish consistency and the colors were limited, but it worked, did not transfer, and is waterproof. But after the reformulation, the Dermablend Cover Creme texture is creamy and much easier to work with, plus there are more shades to choose from. One of the newest additions to the Dermablend line is the Intense Power Camo, a highly pigmented concealer that covers and camouflages irregularities. Also, you can determine the finish and coverage levels with various application methods and they provide before and after photos and application tips.

MAC Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15 and Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation

MAC cosmetics are fantastic for covering skin imperfections because there are so many shades and formulas that cater to different coverage needs that finding the right one for you is never an issue. The Studio Fix collection hides discoloration without making you look like you have piles of makeup on, plus all MAC cosmetics have a lot of pigments so a little goes a long way. Their sales representatives are also makeup artists, and they know a great deal about tones and undertones, something most people know very little about and they are happy to educate you. I use a combination; Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15 and the Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation and together they cover my hyperpigmentation beautifully without looking obvious. While it can transfer to clothing and is not waterproof, the Studio Fix powder provides some staying power and again, MAC has the most comprehensive color collection, guaranteeing a perfect color match.

Black Opal Total Coverage Foundation

One that I am dying to try next is Black Opal Total Coverage Foundation. The 2-in-1 formula is part foundation, part concealer and provides a smooth coverage that camouflages and evens out skin tone in one step. It also has skin-protecting minerals that protect against environmental stress inducers.