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Brushes vs. Sponges vs. Fingers for Makeup Application

What's the best way to apply foundation and other makeup? Brushes and sponges are the main options. Learn the best way to apply makeup.

Best Way to Apply Foundation: Brushes, Sponge, or Fingers?

Everyone who wears makeup has their preferred method of application, and we will swear by it. Some of us have been using the same method since we wore our first “allowed” makeup, and maybe even when we were still sneaking our mother’s.

But what do the experts say? What are the advantages and disadvantages of applying makeup with fingers, sponges, or brushes? Is there a really a method that works best, or is it all a matter of personal preference?

According to makeup artists, it’s all about which products we are using and the effects that we are trying to achieve.

Finger Application of makeup: Pros and Cons

Fingers are free, and we all have them without having to go out shopping for them. They are also something we carry around with us all day, naturally, so we don’t have to worry about cluttering up our purses and makeup bags with extra items. Using your fingers to apply foundation gives a concentrated result, with no wasted product begin absorbed by your sponge or brush. Many makeup artists believe that the warmth of fingertips adds extra blendability to makeup application.

For eyeshadows and cream blushes, your fingers will give you the most color with the least amount of product, so it’s a cost-saver. Many makeup artists recommend using your ring finger to apply eyeshadow. It’s the fingertip that’s the best size for the job and will avoid giving too much pressure during application.

Unfortunately, fingers have their downsides for makeup application. It’s messy, the control isn’t as good as with a brush or sponge, and could result in streaking. If you have oily skin, you should avoid using your fingers because they will add more oil. Fingers can spread bacteria, so always begin with clean hands, and if bacteria is a worry, only use your fingers with pump-style makeup so they aren’t entering the product container.

Brush Application of makeup: Pros and Cons

According to makeup artists, brushes are ideal for contouring and highlighting. Brushes are great for perfect blending and for precise application. Brushes add a lot of product all at once, so makeup artists recommend starting with small amounts and build up from there. Brushes work well for powders, creams and liquids and their perfect blending methods result in a flawless, airbrushed look.

Using a brush keeps fingers from adding oil, and potentially bacteria, to your face which could result in break-outs.

Some negatives for using makeup brushes include the fact that they must be properly washed and maintained. A brush that has dirty, matted bristles will not do a good job of blending your makeup, and could potentially cause transfer of bacteria. Brushes can be expensive and need frequent replacing. Cheaper brushes may not blend as well and can leave bristle hairs stuck in makeup.

Sponge Application of makeup: Pros and Cons

Many makeup artists swear by sponge applicators for makeup. They result in a well-blended, flawless finish that is long-lasting and easy to build upon. Sponges are best for heavy makeup application. Even a full coverage foundation and a heavy concealer can be seamlessly blended with a sponge, and the sponge texture will imitate real skin. You can dampen the sponge for a lighter, more natural look that is dewy and youthful.

Sponges come in many shapes including wedges, acorns, eggs, and discs. They can reach into nooks and crannies and are inexpensive.

There are some negatives associated with sponges, like the fact that they tend to soak up product, causing you to go through your makeup faster. They need frequent washing and replacing, and they trap moisture which harbors bacteria and even mold. Dermatologists warn that sponges should actually be washed daily, and most women don’t have the time to wash and dry sponges every day, which means they probably won’t, which could be a potential risk. Risks can be limited if sponges are not shared and are washed as frequently as possible.

While it’s true that most makeup users are very attached to their preferred method, it can be fun to change it up a little and try something new. You might just be surprised with the results.

Resources— Byrdie, Slice, Lauren Conrad, Popsugar