The 9 Best Foundation Brushes, Tested by Editors and Makeup Artists

Perfect finish, promise.

A model gets foundation applied backstage at the Houghton fashion show during MADE Fashion Week fall 2014 at Milk Studios on February 6, 2014 in New York City.
(Image credit: Mireya Acierto/Getty Images)

Whether you’re a liquid, cream, or powder gal, finding the best foundation for your skin tone and type isn’t the end of the perfect-skin equation. You need something to apply it with, and your fingers aren’t always your best option. From buffing bristles to the cult classic beauty blender, using the best foundation brush for your desired finish is the real cherry on top of your completed look.

Because there are so many styles of foundation brushes and application methods to choose from, I turned to the people who use, test, and obsess over them the most: makeup artists and fellow Marie Claire editors. Ahead, experts and editors break down the types of foundation brushes that are best for each formula or finish, the best specific brushes at just about any price point, and what to look for in a great brush that will stand the test of time, even after more than a few deep-cleans.

Why Use a Foundation Brush?

Some makeup users swear by using their fingers to apply their foundation, concealer, and other base products like cream blush, liquid blush, or cream bronzer. However, using your fingers only gives you one finish or one look, whereas having a great brush in your collection can diversify the ways you wear your foundation—and brushes give a more professional-looking finish.

 “I love using fingers and brushes, but at the end of the day, brushes give you a lovely, buffed finish that you just can’t get with fingertips,” says celebrity makeup artist and Co-Founder of Bakeup Beauty Jo Baker, who counts Vanessa Kirby and Natasha Lyonne as clients. “A seamless filter finish can only be created using brushes. And more than one brush.” 

Baker notes, though, that “There are great brushes at a cheaper price point and supreme beautiful handmade brushes that are on the high end of the budget,” and that “both can give you great application and performance,” so you don’t need to necessarily worry about breaking the bank to complete your brush collection. 

Types of Foundation Brushes

There are a few commonalities between the majority of foundation brushes on the market. “Foundation brushes are almost always made from synthetic fibers (rather than natural hair) because this allows the liquid and cream textures you’re working with to apply more smoothly,” says Melissa Murdick, a celebrity makeup artist who has worked with Selena Gomez, Ashley Park, and Ashley Tisdale.

Murdick explains that there are also two common shapes, both of which give you a different final look when it comes to both the level of coverage and finish. 

  • Flat Brush With Rounded Edges: Murdick says that these foundation brushes “offer buildable coverage, so you can really control whether you want a sheer application of the product or want to build up to fuller coverage in certain areas.” 
  • Dense, Domed Brush: These types of foundation brushes, on the other hand, offer “fuller coverage because having more bristles means it will hold more product.” 

Now that you've learned everything there is to know about when and how to apply your foundation using a foundation brush, it's time to get shopping and find your great foundation brush. Ahead, our editors and experts compiled a list of tried-and-tested brushes. Some, like ones from Real Techniques, are affordably priced at under $20. Others, like ones from Anisa and Kevyn Aucoin—which are beloved by Marie Claire's Beauty Editor Samantha Holender and Beauty Director Deena Campbell, respectively—are more investment-ready pieces

The Best Foundation Brushes

Meet The Experts

Melissa Murdick
Melissa Murdick

Melissa Murdick (she/her) is a celebrity makeup artist and educator based in Los Angeles, California. Her work spans everything from red carpets to music videos, and major magazine covers to makeup campaigns. Aside from working with some of Hollywood’s leading ladies like Selena Gomez, she has also become a viral sensation on TikTok, where her practical makeup hacks & tutorials have brought in tens of millions of views and over 1.2 million followers (and counting). Melissa also shares her over 20+ years of makeup experience teaching classes at the LA LGBT+ center, and running a first-of-its-kind website called dedicated specifically to educating transgender women who are brand new to makeup. Melissa believes makeup should be easy, fun, and empowering, and is passionate about making sure others have the tools they need to feel that way, too.

Elizabeth Seropian
Elizabeth Seropian

Elizabeth Seropian is an accomplished Los Angeles-based makeup artist with over a decade of professional experience. She’s worked with worldwide brands, celebrities, top photographers, stylists, and models for red carpet events and runways. Her clientele includes the likes of Noah Cyrus, Delilah Belle Hamlin, Anastasia Karanikolaou, the Stallone sisters and more.

Jo Baker
Jo Baker

Born and raised in London, Jo Baker ingeniously translated her passion for fine art into an obsession with the makeup medium. Her innate understanding of crafting unique hues and creating magic-hour glows has influenced her foundational understanding of color and texture.

With a high-fashion London-based editorial background, the 20-year industry artist always had a knack for exploring and experimenting with makeup, and constantly looked for opportunities in her work to channel her wildly expressive imagination.

“To me, the beauty rules are made to be broken, or ignored altogether,” says Jo. “I always start a makeup look by asking the person in my chair how they are feeling because I create based on their truth, which can be different one day to the next. My artistry is inspired by honesty, and I love seeing where that takes me.”

After joining Usher on his 2004 Confessions tour, the natural-born artist quickly became the go-to for men’s grooming, working with the likes of 50 Cent and Eminem. Since then, Jo captivated the world with a new perception of Hollywood glamor, defining it less as classic and more as bold and adventurous. She has gone on to create daring looks for Hollywood superstars, including Lucy Boyton (who she joined on the Bohemian Rhapsody world tour), Sharon Stone, Bella Hadid, Jennifer Lawrence and Salma Hayek.

Julia Marzovilla
Fashion E-Commerce Editor

Julia Marzovilla is the Fashion E-Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she reviews the latest launches from fashion and beauty brands, finds the best on-sale items around the internet, and interviews experts to find the best products in any category to share with her readers. She also creates shopping guides that span every vertical on the site as an expert in everything from the best laptop bags to the best laser hair removal devices.

In her near decade of experience, Julia has both written for several top outlets in the E-Commerce space and worked at major fashion labels. Prior to joining the Marie Claire team, she contributed similar shopping stories to sites such as Bustle, InStyle, The Zoe Report, Who What Wear, and worked as the Trending Fashion and News Writer STYLECASTER. You can find her across the internet at @JuliaMarzovilla. In real life, you can find her creating shopping guides for her friends, cooking or baking in her too-small kitchen, or buying tickets for the next time Harry Styles is in town.

Julia has a Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Journalism from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. She lives in New York City, her hometown.