Monday, August 22, 2011

Foundation Brushes- My Favorites

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.

Paddle Brushes:
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.

Stippling Brushes:
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.

Buffing Brushes:

  • 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.

  • 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.

Everything Else:
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.


  1. Hi Gaia. Question about the buffing brush - does it blend and buff out any uneven/excess application?

  2. I'm looking forward to the eyeliner and blush brush chapter since those are at the top of my list to replace. Except now I want a foundation brush!

    How do you clean your brushes? I've been using cleaners like Bobbi Brown gel and now a MAC liquid...only an MA recently told me they don't disinfect. And I read somewhere not to use anything with alcohol...the MAC says flammable to it probably has some.

  3. What an epic post! This was so helpful. I'm really glad to hear some of the Sephora Pro brushes made the top of your list. They're easy to access and I love to choose synthetics whenever possible. Who knew the Sephora skunk brush was better than MAC? Well, you I guess =P

    Thanks! <3

  4. Your brush collection is just simply amazing! I want and need at least one of each type...

  5. Great post!! I especially love the two Hakuhodo buffing brushes you mentioned. I think I am going to get them as well.

    Another great buffing brush I know of is a relatively new brush from the Chikuhodo GS series. Great for buffing loose powders or mineral products. The great thing is the brush comes with long handle and thus easier to handle.

  6. That first photo is so beautiful. Thank you very much for this post and I'm really looking forward to reading about all your other favourites.

  7. These favorite brush posts are amazing! So, for a sheer foundation, like Ellis Faas, what particular brush do your recommend (I prefer smaller brushes since my face is also quite small)?

  8. I'm a fan of the stippling and buffing brushes, they really do make my skin look soft, smooth with an airbrushed effect. Once I found my holy grail foundation (Chanel), these brushes were the icing on the cake!

  9. Love your Favorites series!
    For foundation, I am looking forward to picking up either the LMdB or Hakuhodo paddle brush!

    I do already have Sephora stipping brush #44 and the round #55. I realize they probably handle different jobs, but do you have a preference between these two?

  10. hi! Gaia
    I know Cover fx is made by Takara
    (changed name from Hakuhodo)


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