There’s an art to makeup application. First, you need the right products: a foundation that perfectly matches your skin tone, a deep bronzer to warm up your face, a rosy blush to give you a bashful glow, and so on. But once you’ve found your tried-and-true beauty products, it becomes a matter of skill and makeup tools — including the best foundation brushes.
The right products can only go so far, and the last thing you want is for your pricey foundation to get soaked up in a makeup sponge or applied streakily to your face. A good makeup brush, while often an investment, can make a huge impact on the final outcome of your makeup look. And they’re worth it because, with proper maintenance and cleaning, they can last you a long time.
So, what makes for a good foundation brush? According to Donni Davy, the head makeup artist at Euphoria and co-founder of Half Magic, “It totally depends on your method, but if you want to stamp-buff like I do, the buffing brush has to be super soft, dense, and preferably have a rounded or semi-round shape.”
We’ve gathered some of Davy’s recommendations, along with makeup artist Tobi Henney’s picks, and, of course, some Allure Best of Beauty Award winners. Whether you’re a beginner learning how to properly apply makeup via TikTok tutorials or you’ve been in the industry for some time, these 14 foundation brushes — and, quite frankly, some of the best makeup brushes we’ve come across, period — can help you achieve the filtered skin look you’re after.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall: Bdellium Tools Large Rounded Double Dome Blender 972, $20
- Best Rounded Brush: Chanel Touch Up Face Brush N°104, $50
- Best Value: EcoTools Wonder Cover Complexion Brush, $10
- Best Dual-Ended Brush: Patrick Ta Dual-Ended Complexion Brush, $45
- A Flawless Finish for All Formulas: Dior Backstage Face Brush No. 18, $50
- Fingertip-Mimicking Brush: Hourglass Ambient Soft Glow Foundation Brush, $47
- Most Unique: Half Magic Baby Paw Brush, $40
- Best Sponge: Beautyblender Original Beautyblender, $20
Best Overall: Bdellium Tools Large Rounded Double Dome Blender 972
When applying foundation, Davy prefers using a flat paddle-type brush on the main parts of the face. She considers this Bdellium Tools brush a staple in her makeup bag because it’s durable, well-made, and available in many cute colors. “I’ll use big strokes and treat this brush like a serving utensil to swipe the product on the face,” she says.
A Flawless Finish for All Formulas: Dior Backstage Face Brush No. 18
Henney loves this uniquely-shaped No. 18 Backstage Face Brush because the shorter handle allows for circular motions to blend foundation in easily. Pick your poison, err, type of foundation: loose powders, fluid, compact foundations, or spray foundation — this brush can handle it all.
Best Dual-Ended Brush: Patrick Ta Dual-Ended Complexion Brush
If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, might we suggest this carefully-crafted synthetic brush from makeup artist Patrick Ta? Two-faced in a good way, one end features a rounded dome brush for blending creams into the skin while the other end has a fluffy powder brush for flawless powder application.
Best Cream Foundation Brush: Tom Ford Foundation Brush 02
Henney raves about this “beautiful high-end foundation brush” by Tom Ford, as it feels super luxurious and applies foundation seamlessly. While it’s quite the splurge, this brush’s synthetic bristles are designed specifically for cream foundation application — blotchiness be damned.
Fingertip-Mimicking Brush: Hourglass Ambient Soft Glow Foundation Brush
In 2022, Allure awarded this ultra-chic tool the ultimate crown: best foundation brush. Its vegan fiber bristles mimic fingertips, so whether you’re working with liquid or cream foundation, you’re guaranteed a natural-looking finish every time. For best results, apply liquid foundation in dots and use this brush for a natural, soft-focus finish via stippling.
Best Buffing Foundation Brush: MAC 130S Short Duo Fibre Brush
Henney’s brush collection wouldn’t be complete without the MAC 130 Short Duo Fibre Brush, which she relies on for expertly buffing in liquid foundation. Its flat-topped shape also makes it excellent for blending around the nose and mouth. We can also see this brush as a great highlight applicator as well.
Best Value: EcoTools Wonder Cover Complexion Brush
If you desire something you can easily pick up at the drugstore, consider this Wonder Cover Complexion Brush from EcoTools. Priced at less than $10, this brush is designed for full-coverage foundation, meaning rosacea, hyperpigmentation, and blemishes will never get their time in the spotlight.
Best Rounded Brush: Chanel Touch Up Face Brush N°104
Also known as Les Pinceaux De Chanel (what would your French nickname be?), Chanel’s Touch Up Face Brush N°104 is ideal for everyday makeup application. According to Henney, it “pairs beautifully with both cream and powder foundations” — a multifaceted queen.
Euphoria-Approved: Half Magic Baby Paw Brush
What’s special about Half Magic’s Baby Paw Brush is that Davy designed it to have a one-of-a-kind round brush head, different from the traditional buffing-brush shape. It’s great for stamp-buffing, which is a term she coined for the technique of stamping and buffing foundation in order to get a nice, even coat.
A Hands-Free Alternative: Kevyn Aucoin Duet Foundation Brush
We like to think of the Duet Foundation Brush as a BOGO deal. For those who prefer using their hands to apply makeup, this brush offers a less messy alternative. One side of the brush mimics the shape of a finger for foundation application, while the other side buffs and blends everything effortlessly — the precise shape of this side can also be used to apply and blend concealer.
Best Makeup Sponge: Beautyblender Original
Although not technically a brush (but definitely a Best of Beauty Award winner), the original Beautyblender is what Davy always finishes her foundation application with. When used clean and damp, it ensures a smooth and seamless finish. “I love that the Beautyblender, when used as a final step, can pick up excess foundation and help create a more natural finish,” she says. “If I need to add more product to certain areas, I dip the sponge directly into the foundation on a palette and press and stamp it onto the face.”
Silky-Soft Bristles: Rare Beauty Liquid Touch Foundation Brush
When you’re ready come and get it — it being the Liquid Touch Foundation Brush from Rare Beauty of course. Its soft, silky bristles ensure you’ll never look cakey or — heaven forbid — streaky. It’s best paired with the brand’s complementary Liquid Touch Weightless Foundation, so yes, Selener is coming for your wallet.
Best Brush for Liquid Foundations: Saie The Base Foundation Brush
Saie it ain’t so! The Base Foundation Brush gives you the flexibility and precision you need to blend in liquid or cream formulas, even in hard-to-reach areas such as around the nose and under the eyes. The dome-shaped brush is made up of cruelty-free, ultra-soft bristles that’ll disperse foundation evenly without soaking it all up.
Best Kabuki Brush: Real Techniques Foundation Blender
The beauty of this Real Techniques kabuki brush is the handle-less design, which gives you more control and precision. The bristles themselves are densely packed yet nonporous, so they won’t pick up excess product — also making them easier to clean. Use this to blend and buff liquid, cream, or powder foundations — whatever you prefer any given day.
Best Dense Brush: Trademark Beauty Foundation Brush
There’s a common misconception that the more expensive a brush is, the better it functions. Trademark Beauty challenges that notion with an affordable foundation brush that, according to Henney, “allows you to apply foundation to a full face in no time,” thanks to its flat brush top and dense bristles. Editor’s note: This particular brush is part of Henney’s collaboration with Trademark Beauty.