Helping us take on that which makes us self-conscious, foundation is an essential piece of a MUA’s kit and a staple in many amateur artists’ routines. But if you’re not sure where to start, you’ll find this article about the best drugstore foundation brushes helpful in your decision process.
Applied with brushes, sponges, silicone, or – messily – your hands, it hides blemishes and dark circles to present a fresher face when you’re feeling worn down. Having seen a boom in business over the last decade, makeup manufacturers are in their thousands, each one seeming to offer a new and better set of brushes.
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You might already have a favorite, but it’s important to make sure you’re using the right brush for your formula and desired finish, especially if things seem a bit patchy.
Whilst popular YouTubers would have you believe the hot new $50 release from a designer label is best for your face, a high price tag does not equal a quality brush.
It’s just as possible to achieve a flawless finish by using a more budget-friendly drugstore product, so long as you know what to look out for. We’ve performed thorough research to bring you our top five affordable foundation brushes, saving you time, money, and frustration when you get ready.
A clear, concise buyer’s guide lays out exactly what budding brush experts should look for, and answers to burning customer questions can be found in the FAQS.
Need Full Coverage Now? Here’s Our Top Pick:
Our Top Picks for The Best Drugstore Foundation Brushes
From a trustworthy brand that makes high-end beauty affordable, to shoppers in a hurry we suggest this RealTechniques brush promising even application every time.
Successfully conceal, highlight, contour and shade with a versatile face brush suited for cream and liquid foundation or blushers. Ultra firm synthetic bristles nestle together to make a broad head, for excellent buffing results and a seamless, airbrushed finish.
Made from taklon, they’re non-porous, less prone to breakage and won’t trap or absorb your makeup as you apply, saving you even more money in the long run.
Medium to full coverage is easily obtainable, and like every other brush from RealTechniques, it’s cruelty free and ethically produced. Well-made, sturdy and attractive to display on your dresser, they clean up easily using brush shampoo and warm water, sure to be your sidekick for years to come.
- Suitable for use with cream and liquid foundation
- Professional coverage at drugstore prices
- Well-made and simple to maintain
- Synthetic, non-absorbent bristles – cruelty free production, too
- Not suitable for powders
- BLENDING BRUSH: This face & body blender brush features large, dense bristles for blending & buffing for full body coverage A...
- BRUSHES FOR MAKEUP: Quality makeup brushes are important & popular by Real Technique, MUAs & other beauty gurus because they pick...
- MAKEUP BRUSHES: From foundation to liner our professional brushes & beauty sponges flawlessly apply concealer, eyeshadow & more...
- QUALITY MAKEUP APPLICATORS: We provide brushes & sponges for primer, concealer, foundation, color correction, highlight, contour &...
- REAL TECHNIQUES: Launching in 2011, Real Techniques created cruelty free makeup brushes with you in mind Goodbye basic eyeshadow...
Last update on 2021-05-10 at 10:31 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Vegan makeup lovers rejoice! This collection from wet n’ wild is not only beautiful but friendly to our furry friends and 100% cruelty-free; never to be tested on animals.
Such an incredibly low price tag might feel off putting, but trust us, the thousands of five star customer reviews don’t lie. Sometimes simple is just better!
Expertly created with densely-packed bristles, it picks up any formula – no matter cream, liquid or powder – to suit any user, whatever product they use. Balancing firm and soft for that application sweet-spot, you’ll attain a streakless finish thanks to polymax fibers that mimic the consistency of natural hair.
As a result, it holds all kinds of makeup effortlessly, picking up product at the gentlest of touches with no opportunity for absorption.
Designed with amateurs in mind, the ergonomic handle offers total control for newbies and makeup masters alike.
- Vegan and cruelty free
- Most economical purchase on the list
- Suitable for all foundation formulas
- Won’t absorb and waste your product
- More fan-shaped than the advertised images might suggest
- VEGAN MAKEUP BRUSHES: Your search for the perfect brush is over! This foundation brush is expertly designed with densely-packed...
- FOR THE FACE: wet n wild face makeup brushes feature synthetic bristles that are soft on skin, and fit perfectly in your hand in...
- CRUELTY FREE: wet n wild cosmetics are 100% cruelty-free & not tested on animals. We also carry vegan makeup & tools such as...
- EYES LIPS FACE: Reorganize makeup bags, train cases, and your vanity with cosmetic brushes and products that are perfect for full...
- WILD ONES: As America's #1 value brand, our beauty products are the best-priced & all inclusive. Our lipstick, foundation, primer...
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For matte makeup all day, the Can’t Stop Won’t Stop foundation brush is designed for effortless application of long wear foundation with a soft, angled design. Bristles are synthetic and designed to hug the curves of your face – one swipe, they say, and you’ll ditch your old brush forever, so it’s worth the extra few bucks.
Made specifically for buffing, it’s easy to glide across those facial contours for a smooth, patch-free finish you can be proud of.
Working in harmony with their professional makeup range, if you really want to see how well this brush performs, pick up their Can’t Stop Won’t Stop foundation to try.
On the firmer side, but not entirely stiff, the bristles won’t separate upon contact with your face, nor will they absorb any makeup, so your foundation will last longer too!
Those well-versed in Beauty Gurus might recognize this brush as a staple in Jackie Aina’s collection, which is enough endorsement in itself! All NYX products are certified cruelty-free and not animals tested by PETA. Only humans test these babies: use guilt-free in the knowledge they’re made for you.
- Works well with liquid foundation
- Full coverage is more than achievable
- Angled to fit the contours of your face
- In the sweet spot between firm and soft
- Pricier than other brushes we’ve chosen
- For All Day Matte Makeup: Our Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Foundation Brush is the first step in your quest for a matte makeup...
- Love Your Longwear Foundation: Soft, synthetic bristles designed to hold liquids, placed at an angle to hug the curves of the...
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- Cruelty Free Cosmetics: We believe animals belong in our arms, not in a lab; All of our makeup is certified and acknowledged by...
- Discover NYX Professional Makeup: Try all of our professional makeup and beauty products today, from eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara...
Last update on 2021-05-10 at 02:41 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
As the name suggests, everything EcoTools manufactures is as good for the planet as it is for your face, produced from recycled aluminum and plastic. High-quality, environmentally friendly and cruelty free brushes are hard to find, but this flat foundation applicator evenly coats your face with cream or liquid.
Effortless blending can be achieved with its flat, paintbrush-like design, and its smaller size means under-eye and around-the-nose applying is a breeze.
Super-soft bristles allow you to look as good as you’ll feel using this sustainable bruch, with long and short strokes equally possible for full-face coverage.
Produced from 80% bamboo fibers and 20% cotton, its packaging is completely tree-free too, so it’s probably the most Earth-friendly makeup brush you could get!
- Eco-friendly, cruelty free brushes
- Stick to a budget but still achieve salon-perfect makeup
- Easy to use – suits professionals and amateurs alike
- 100% recyclable packaging
- Can lose shape after washing if not dried correctly
- FLAT FOUNDATION BRUSH: Evenly apply powder, liquid & cream foundation to your face with this classic foundation makeup brush that...
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- POWER OF BEAUTY: Aside from our quality cruelty free & vegan makeup products, we donate to Glamour's The Girl Project to support...
Last update on 2021-05-10 at 02:41 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
A household name for most makeup lovers, the Ultimate Blending Brush from e.l.f takes a dome shape and makes it universally usable, no matter the formula of your foundation.
Picking up just the right amount of product, designed to achieve a professional look, ultra-fine, hand-cut and shaped fibers are expertly assembled for a luxury experience.
It didn’t win the Teen Vogue 2018 Acne Awards for Best Foundation Brush for no reason – it’s ergonomically designed to rest perfectly in your hand and deliver impeccable results.
At these drugstore prices, you’ll be surprised at the level of quality you get from e.l.f; as over a thousand five star reviews will attest, though, it’s entirely legitimate.
Brilliant for use personally or professionally, you’ll easily attain seamless, even coverage whether you’re sculpting, blending or buffing out.
Simple and swift to clean, like every brush in this collection, it’s cruelty free, vegan and 100% free of nasties like phthalates, parabens and other skin destroying chemicals.
- Affordable prices from a reputable brand
- Cruelty, chemical and animal-testing free
- Works with liquid, cream or powder formulas
- Hand-cut, hand-shaped fibres created by actual artists
- ACHIEVES FLAWLESS COVERAGE: The large dome-shaped head and densely packed bristles maneuver in and around the crevices and...
- MULTI-USE & VERSATILE: The brush picks up the perfect amount of product to build coverage with powder, liquid, or mousse formulas...
- FOR EXPERT RESULTS: The e.l.f. Ultimate Blending Brush is specially designed to allow you to achieve advanced makeup techniques...
- LUXE TREATMENT: The ultra-fine fibers are hand cut, shaped, and assembled by artisans for expert craftsmanship offering a luxury...
- 100% VEGAN & SYNTHETIC BRISTLES: All e.l.f. bruhses are made of synthetic, vegan fibers. All e.l.f. products are 100% cruelty-free...
Last update on 2021-05-10 at 02:51 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Best Drugstore Foundation Brushes Buyer’s Guide
When it comes to picking out a new foundation brush, there are two main considerations to bear in mind: formula and finish.
Yes, these are two different things.
Although they all do the same thing, depending on the texture or consistency of the foundation you’re using, you’ll want to apply it with a certain kind of brush.
This will prevent any caking or over-application, simultaneously making sure you don’t end up losing half your product and quickly running out thanks to absorption into the brush.
Liquid foundations work best with a flat-topped brush to achieve full coverage, especially when bristles are densely packed and soft, unless you’re more of a sponge person.
Synthetic brushes are best in this case, as they don’t retain as much of your liquid, so more actually makes it on to your face!
Cream foundations benefit from the use of a flatter, more painterly brush, blending under your eyes or around the nose streak-free and with ease.
You’ll find they come in a variety of sizes, so a smaller one for detailed cover-ups and a larger option for full face foundation days might work best.
Powder foundation users should seek out a ball shaped brush, remembering to tap off any excess product before applying to the face.
As you’re only looking for that softening, mattifying effect in the areas you feel shiny, like your t-zone, you can achieve precise strokes that target those places, blending as you go.
Natural, everyday looks that utilise minimal makeup for a fresh-but-flawless face only require light coverage, which can also be beneficial for those trying to avoid clogged pores.
This can be achieved most easily with an oval brush, mimicking the surface of a sponge for a careful coating that might not hide all imperfections but certainly gives a cleaner look.
Those who aren’t bothered about achieving perfection but want something more resilient than a lighter finish can obtain medium coverage with a kabuki brush.
Shaped to contour, they’re great for blending creamy formulas on top of liquid or powder, without leaving those unmistakable makeup lines behind.
A full coverage look, particularly one achieved with liquid foundation, benefits from the use of flat, dense brushes; the softer, the better, when it comes to avoiding a blotchy face.
You’ll never achieve the perfection that airbrushing and Photoshop are capable of, but it might help you feel better about those parts you aren’t so proud of.
A final and major consideration to bear in mind is the ethics of the brush manufacturer – all of the choices we have listed here are at the very least cruelty-free and not animal tested, so be sure to read the fine print before committing to buy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a brush or a sponge better for foundation?
The answer to this question will differ depending on who you ask, and it really comes down to your own personal preference – each is capable of doing the job just as well.
Techniques for application vary, so you might feel more comfortable using one over the other; likewise, a sponge might be better suited to liquid application whilst brushes are best for powder all around.
Beauty blenders need to be wet every single time you use one, which is a pain if you’re trying to reapply your foundation on the go… or, like me, you’re too lazy to walk to the sink.
Should you wet your foundation brush before applying?
Short answer: no! This will have a detrimental effect on your overall application and coverage, as unlike sponges, foundation brushes are best when dry. Why?
If you use powder foundation, this will fail to provide you with that matte finish you’re looking for, and you’ll end up with not just a messy brush, but a gritty face too!
You may change the shape of your brush head by wetting, which will affect your ability to buff and blend, leading to streaks and unsightly patches.
It could also dilute your liquid or cream foundation, leading to a reduced coverage and impairing its chances or blending into your skin properly.
How can I get better foundation coverage?
Besides picking out the correct foundation brush for the consistency of formula you use and the finish you’re looking to achieve, there are a few other tips and tricks for a flawless finish.
Pre-makeup preparation is important: by keeping your skin moisturized, and not skipping the primer, you’ll reduce the amount of surface oil on your face and give pigments something to stick to.
Applying in a stippling or tapping motion as opposed to a buff or swipe can help to create the appearance of no makeup, by minimizing the visible signs of foundation wear.
By picking out a formula that’s buildable, you’ll be able to layer up your foundation to force the illusion of perfect skin, without any patches or visible pores to ruin it.
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