The 6 best foundation brushes for beautiful skin every time

Your base will only ever be as good as your tools, these are the best foundation brushes that are ideal for creating a smooth, flawless finish

Product shot of Sculpted by Aimee Foundation Duo Brush, Jones Road The Face Powder Brush and ICONIC London Glossing Brush, some of the best foundation brushes on a pale brown background
(Image credit: Sculpted by Aimee Foundation, Jones Road, ICONIC London)

If you want a flawless base, you need the best foundation brush. As the old adage goes, a man is only as good as his tools—and when it comes to makeup, never a truer word was spoken. 

You could have the best foundation, beloved by makeup artists, beauty editors, and A-listers, but if your application game is flawed, your complexion may look patchy, streaky, and a little bit off. The main makeup tip everyone should know? It's all about the application. A great foundation brush will make your makeup application faster, smoother, and more even but the secret to achieving beautiful results is knowing which of the best foundation brushes to use and when. 

This depends on many factors, including the type of foundation you're working with. Are you applying your cream foundation or a powder foundation? Do you need to mask blemishes or prefer a sheer finish? "Generally speaking, the larger the brush head, the softer the coverage will be," explains Makeup artist Rose Gallagher. "For areas where you want to build up coverage, a smaller, denser brush head will pack makeup onto the skin rather than buffing it out." Time to brush up with our tried and trusted guide of forever favourites and new finds. 

The best foundation brushes, rated by a Beauty Editor

Why you can trust Woman & Home Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

How we tested the best foundation brushes

Writer Dionne Brighton testing some new and tried and tested selection of the best foundation brushes

Writer Dionne Brighton testing some of the best foundation brushes

(Image credit: Future)

In the interest of absolute fairness, I tested each of these brushes with the same foundation to assess how the coverage and finish adapted with each tool. Price was also a consideration – as I have discovered, an expensive brush doesn't necessarily guarantee a more beautiful result. I have used each brush on this list (and others that didn't quite make the cut) multiple times to test the feel and density of the bristles, how well it applied my base and, of course, the finished look. 

What type of brush is best for liquid foundation?

Like choosing the best mascara or nailing your signature scent, finding the best foundation brush to use with a liquid formulation often comes down to personal preference. For Rose Gallagher, a larger brush reigns supreme. “I love to use a large, rounded brush with either a domed or flat edge,” she says. “The soft shape means that you achieve a seamless finish without streaks,” Rose says she can achieve anything from soft to full coverage using this type of brush. “If, however, full coverage is your main goal, switching to a flat edge buffing brush is great because you can not only whisk your foundation in, but you can also press this brush onto the skin and lay coverage flat onto any areas of discolouration.”

It’s not just the brush shape that makes a difference, but the bristle type, too. “I personally think synthetic brushes are much better when using liquid foundation,” says Gallagher. “Natural hair bristles can go a little floppy when teamed with liquid – think of how your hair softens when you wash it. You can wield a synthetic brush with much more power.”

How do I choose the right foundation brush?

Beauty Editor picks the best foundation brush buys

Beauty Editor Stephanie with a selection of the brushes she tested

(Image credit: Stephanie Maylor)
  • Liquid or cream foundations: A flat, slightly tapered head, like a paintbrush, provides a more full-coverage finish, allowing you to build up coverage where needed. For a more natural, airbrushed effect, go for a larger, domed shape.
  • Mineral or powder foundations: Mineral makeup needs to be warmed and worked into the skin so a flat top buffing brush or kabuki style works well here. “A flat top means that you can pack product onto your brush, and you have complete control of each application,” explains Gallagher.

How do I use a brush to apply foundation?

Now that you’ve sussed which brush is best for you and your base, it’s time we discuss how best to apply it. Rather than applying foundation directly on the skin or even the brush head, Gallagher recommends using the back of your hand as a palette. “Instead of having a set rule of working from the outside of your face in or the inside of the face out, I would just tell you to begin with the area you want to look the most flawless and work outwards from there." 

She continues: "I begin my journey in the areas that need the most cover – for me, that’s my cheeks. I sweep a generous amount of coverage in these areas, then as my product starts to dwindle I take what’s left on areas that don’t need as much cover. Then, I will keep picking the foundation up from the back of my hand, building, blending, and repeating."

How often should you wash your foundation brush?

“Get into the habit of leaving your foundation brush by the dishes each evening – it’s honestly the best thing you could do for your brushes, and will give you the most magnificent skin and makeup,” says Gallagher. “If daily washing isn’t doable, once a week is also great. You don’t need to do this for every single brush but definitely foundation and concealer brushes.” Here are her three simple steps for washing brushes like a pro. 

  • Use warm water, never hot as this can melt the glue in your brush, causing the bristles to shed. Then massage a gentle amount of soap into the brush. 
  • Rinse then towel dry, moulding the bristles into place.
  • Leave it to dry on a ledge so that 360 degrees of the brush head are exposed. 
Stephanie Maylor

Stephanie Maylor is a Beauty Editor working across five national magazine titles, with almost 15 years' experience in the industry.  She has written for many brands, including woman&home, Grazia, Now, More!, Fabulous, NW, Woman, Woman's Own, Woman's Weekly, Essentials, Best, Chat, and OK! online. 

In 2010 she launched her own beauty blog, which was shortlisted for Best Beauty Blog in the 2011 and 2012 Johnson & Johnson Beauty Journalism Awards. She has interviewed many high profile industry experts and celebrities including Alesha Dixon, Twiggy and Christina Hendricks.