This is the second installment of what is eventually going to be The Non Blonde's Epic Guide To Makeup Brushes (see the first post about lip brushes here). It will have a separate page on the blog and will also include an all time favorite brushes section, a guide to shopping the Hakuhodo website, questions and answers and more. You can also make requests on The Non-Blonde Facebook group.
Choosing a foundation brush is a matter of preference, method of application and the formula or texture of your foundation. Some people rather use their fingers, others like a heavier coverage and go for a damp sponge. While I'm a firm believer in "anything goes", I highly recommend watching this YouTube video.
Foundation brushes can be roughly divided into three categories: classic paddle shape, duo-fiber stippling ("skunk") brushes and buffing brushes. The latter group can be further divided into flat tops, round tops and "others". I have favorites in each category, but generally speaking prefer the last one since I tend to use sheer liquid formulas.
There's no competition here, really. Most paddle brushes are more or less the same and only differ in the hair- natural vs. synthetic. The best one I've ever had the pleasure to use is the Hakuhodo G520.
If you're looking for an excellent synthetic brush, I'd recommend Le Metier de Beaute angled foundation brush. It can be used in a similar way to regular flat brushes, but its extreme flexibility and the way it maneuvers on the hard-to-reach areas makes it a brilliant tool. An honorable mention in this category goes to Giorgio Armani Blender brush. It's small, made of natural hair and has a great softness/density balance to give great coverage and an even application.
While I own several stippling brushes from the classic MAC ones (187, 188, 130) as well as an elegant Guerlain foundation brush, it's the modest Sephora Platinum Professionnel #44 that is the best in class. This brush doesn't clump and curdle like the MAC ones and gives me a far better application.
- flat tops- Stila #21 is not technically a foundation brush but I use it as such and have a couple of backups because it's that good (newer ones ten to shed a lot more, though). The Rolls Royce of flat tops, though, is the Hakuhodo G543 Powder DR Round. Nothing buffs and gives a perfect even finish as well as this brush. It doesn't get any smoother, but you need to really love the method and the feel of a dense flat brush in order to justify the price.
- round tops- Louise Young LY34 Super Foundation Brush, Sephora Platinum #55 and its smaller sibling #56 for big, flexible synthetic ones, and Hakuhodo 210 (technically a blush brush) for the best, densest natural goat hair.
- others: Cover FX #160 and Shu Uemura #18 are probably more of a hybrid- a flattish brush that's made of goat hair and can both swipe and buff. The Cover FX is bigger and fluffier, the Shu is softer, I alternate between the two.
I like having at least one very directional and precise foundation brush for touch ups and concealing redness around the nose. Cover FX #170 and Trish McEvoy The Point are both great and they double as concealer brushes.
All the brushes in this section were purchased by me.