From fingers during my early years of dabbling with make up, to brushes after I started caring about hygiene and flawless finishes, and now sponges: when it comes to applying foundation, I've tried it all. To me, fingers will always be an inferior method because it's just impossible to avoid patchiness. I only use them when on the road and in need of a quick touch up, but if you use a very light foundation (more like a tinted moisturizer), fingers can do the trick. However, there is a reason why most make up artists use utensils to apply products. Today I'm going to compare two beautyblogger favourites (buffing brush and a dupe for the beautyblender) so you can see which one would work best for you.
This is the stuff I'll be using: my current favourite foundation (Revlon Colorstay for dry-normal skin in 150 Buff Chamois which I reviewed here), my trusty, synthetic hair buffing brush which I got from Ebay (super cheap and really good, get it here) and this new gizmo I picked up: a beautyblender dupe by Real Techniques which you can get at Sephora, Di or online at Boozyshop. It's important to tell you guys that the reason I started looking for a good beautyblender dupe was that my foundation is medium to high coverage. I have a lot of redness in my skin, and I feel a lot more confident when all of that is smoothed out with foundation.
Revlon Colorstay is a great product because it covers just about anything without being drying, too oily or oxidizing, and I think it's amazing value for money. However, its thick and super pigmented formula sets really quickly, making it impossible to get a nice finish using your fingers, unless you already have flawless skin and the foundation matches your skintone perfectly. In which case I'd ask you why you are wearing foundation to begin with. Anyway, those two conditions don't apply to me, so I always used a buffing brush when applying Revlon Colorstay.
for the sake of clarity: my foundation in this pic was applied using my beautyblender dupe. Eye make up: Shiro Mother of Dragons eyeshadow.
I immediately loved using a buffing brush because it allows you to work fast and spread the product evenly. It's also very soft on my sensitive skin, moreso than fingers, and using the buffing brush allowed me to get a more professionally made up look than I got from finger application. I still love the buffing brush: just be sure to wash it regularly with (baby) shampoo. However, I felt like application could get cakey and even a bit patchy at times when I used a heavier foundation like my Revlon Colorstay. Enter the beautyblender dupe.
You're supposed to use this one by making it wet (do squeeze out any excess liquid, it should be damp, not dripping), which keeps it from soaking up all your foundation. Adding water to the sponge causes it to swell up a bit, making it soft and squishy. I generally use my fingers to messily tap on a certain amount of liquid foundation along a section of my face, and then I use the beautyblender dupe to blend it in. You don't rub or swipe the sponge, you dab/bounce it to spread the product and create a perfectly smooth, velvety finish.
This is how the buffing brush compared to the beautyblender on the back of my hand.
As you can see, on the left, the foundation is much more visible. The coverage is thicker, more opaque, but also more cakey. There also seems to be an oily yet fine line emphasizing end result. On the right, however, you can't see the product, just a perfectly smooth finish.
Here is a scary close up of my face comparing the buffing brush versus the beautyblender. I circled the "problem" areas that you should compare between the two application methods.
Again, it is very clear that the buffing brush may leave a more opaque layer of product that cancels out more redness in my skin, but the application is not flawless. There are areas where you see the product lying on my skin, clinging to the peach fuzz that everyone has on their face, or emphasizing dry patches. The sponge, however, covers the redness very nicely, but it does so in a more natural way and leaves a finish that makes it impossible to see that I'm actually wearing foundation. I was hooked straight away and haven't looked back since.
Here is a clear shot of my face after using the beautyblender for my foundation.
I love the end result. You can still see some minimal discolouration here and there, but I don't really mind because it's so minor and it gives the end result a more realistic finish while being pretty damn near perfect. I feel like my T-zone doesn't get shiny anymore, as if the beautyblender soaks up any extra oil that may be present in your foundation. Another plus is that you can simply throw your beautyblender in the dishwasher if you want it to get a thorough cleaning, something that is impossible with brushes because the dishwasher would weaken the glue that keeps the hairs stuck in the brush.
The beautyblender also makes it easy to build your foundation in those areas that need it. In addition, it's perfect to blend all of your make up together after applying intricate patterns of contouring/bronzing/highlighting/blushing. I think this little orange buddy is indispensable for a make up lover. Don't look any further for another or cheaper dupe, because I've read the reviews and none of them are such a perfect replacement for the original beautyblender, which is too expensive for me, being a sponge that will need replacing regularly.
I still think a buffing brush is totally fine if your foundation is a bit lighter than mine or your skin is easier to work with, but for me, this sponge is perfection.
Have I convinced you that you need a beautyblender? :-)