Makeup 101: How To Apply Foundation – the right way!

cover Makeup 101 how to use foundation the right way

I bought the best foundation – Bobbi Brown. And I had the best foundation brush – MAC. Well, technically it’s a multi-purpose brush, but it works just fine.

Or does it?

I’m still a makeup novice (though I could’ve fooled you with the amount of makeup gyaan I’m always willing to share!) so I roped in a REAL expert – Tejasvini Chander! She’s a young MUA, though she’s already making waves in the beauty world. And she was on my list of the hottest bridal MUAs in Delhi!

I spoke to her about how we have the best foundations, the best brushes, but are clueless about how to use them correctly. Is my heavy coverage foundation giving sheer coverage just because I’m using it with the wrong brush? Why is the application streaky, and I end up spending 10 minutes just blending the damn thing?! What am I doing wrong?

Tejasvini came to my rescue, and decided to write her very first guest post for us on the right way to apply foundation.

Take it away, Tejasvini!

Aside from owning the perfect foundation for your skin type, your priority numero uno should be to find out what would be the best tool or method for its application on your skin.

I am going to take you through the various methods that work well with different types of skins and foundations.

which foundation with which brush

Method#1: FINGERS

Skin type: All

Best paired with: Liquid & cream foundations

Coverage: Sheer to high

While a lot of people hesitate to use this method, there isn’t anything wrong with using those digits to blend in your foundation.

The Do’s:

  • Divide the face into sections and work on each area with your fingers.
  • Remember to use your ring finger while working on delicate areas like the under eye as it applies the least amount of pressure.
  • For extra coverage: Patting and dabbing motions work better for areas that need special attention.

The Don’ts:

  • Do not smother up the product on your entire face like a moisturizer.
  • Go as close to the hairline as possible but not inside it.

The Pros:

  • You have great control over how sheer or high you want your coverage to be.
  • Warmth from the body helps the product blend better.
  • Works well for all skin types.

The Cons:

  • It can get a little messy and unhygienic.
  • Cannot be used with powder foundations.



Skin type: Normal to oily

Best paired with: Liquid foundation

Coverage: Medium

Stippling Brush

Stippling brushes are typically made of two kinds of fibers. The tips are usually white and the lower portion has darker fibers.

 The Do’s:

  • The ideal way to use is gently move the tips in circular motions to buff the product in.
right way to use stippling brush
Buff it – move in small, quick circles
  • Best Brush: The Real Techniques Stippling Brush is my favorite for an airbrushed finish.
  • For Enlarged Pores: If you have very large pores, you’d want to use a tiny stippling brush or one which is made of goat hair fibers like the Shu Uemura Natural 18 Goat Foundation Brush (note: it’s pretty pricey!) Working in swift circular motions with this can really reduce the appearance of enlarged pores.

The Don’ts:

  • Do not press the brush down too hard, as it would result in a streaky finish. Editor’s note: this is what I used to do till I read this post! A light gentle press works much better – tried & tested!
  • Dabbing motions can also make the finish look very uneven.

The Pros:

This method works very well for normal to oily skin.

The Cons:

Dry skin however could look flakier after the brush tips cause micro exfoliation and irritate the skin. Editor’s note: No wonder the dry areas on my skin were getting exacerbated with this method!


Skin type: Dry (also for those with facial hair)

Best paired with: Liquid

Coverage: High

MAC Foundation brush

The Do’s:

  • Just paint the product onto your skin.
  • Pat the brush down wherever the application seems uneven.

The Don’ts:

  • Use only downward strokes of the brush and not the opposite upward strokes.
Downward strokes only
Downward strokes only

The Pros:

  • Very high coverage.
  • The downward movement of the brush helps keep the hair and flaky dry skin, stuck closer to the surface.

The Cons:

  • If you have very large pores, then using this method could make them look even more pronounced.
  • Foundation brushes are very difficult to clean.


Skin type: Oily (also for those with facial hair)

Best paired with: Powder & liquid foundation

Coverage: Sheer

Powder brush
A great way to wear foundation on a daily basis is to do it with a powder brush.

A powder brush can give you the sheerest application resulting in a finish similar to that of a BB cream/ Tinted moisturizer.

The Do’s:

  • Be sure to choose a powder brush with slightly stiff yet soft bristles for this purpose. Bounce it on the back of your hand to make sure that the bristles don’t splatter completely.
  • You could use this method even if you have a lot of facial hair; just move the brush in downward strokes.
  • For summers: I like to use a slightly damp powder brush. It blends quickly, sheers out the application and lasts longer.

The Don’ts:

  • Avoid circular motions with this method.
  • Avoid blending cream foundations using a powder brush.

The Pros:

  • Gives sheer application, great for everyday use.
  • Works well with powder and liquid foundations.

The Cons:

  • At times, the bristles from the powder brush shed and stick on your face.
  • Does not give full coverage of imperfections.


Method#5: SPONGES

Skin type: Sensitive skin

Best paired with: Cream Foundation

Coverage: Sheer to High


A damp sponge gives you great control over how sheer or high coverage you’d want to go with your makeup. 

The Do’s:

  • A sponge should be soaked in water and then the excess should be squeezed out. It should be damp enough to not absorb any product.
  • For a flawless finish, smooth out the product on your skin using a sponge and then press and pat it down as well.
  • It is a good idea to thoroughly rinse them with soapy water after every use.
right way to use sponge
Smooth foundation onto skin, then press and pat

The Don’ts:

  • Do not keep using the same sponge without washing/cleaning as it can be very unhygienic.
  • Make sure the sponge is never soaking wet before use. It should just be moist.

The Pros:

  • This one serves as the best method for cream foundations and for sensitive skin.
  • Easy to build up product.

The Cons:

  • You have to get rid of your makeup sponges after a few uses, as latex sponges are a breeding ground for bacteria.

TejasviniTejasvini Chander is a bridal and fashion makeup artist. She runs a beauty blog, and can be contacted at +91-9810188161. You can have a look at some of her work on her Facebook page.

What’s your best tip for applying foundation? What are your favourite brushes?

10 thoughts

  1. nice tips Tejaswini.. my favorite brush is the Sigma F80 flat top kabuki… have tried all the above tools, but I find the finish and ease of application with Sigma F80 to be the best.. almost airbrushed 🙂 stippling brushes next 😉


  2. What an informative post this is! Thanks for sharing all the information. I use L’Oreal True Match Foundation (almost) on a daily basis, and right since the beginning I’ve been using my fingers to apply the product. I believe no tool gives as much control as your bare fingers. But then again, that might just be my excuse for not being a pro at using brushes! 🙂


  3. Very helpful post, I am WFH today and can’t resist myself from trying this out. It does help. Fingers do blend foundation and gives better finish also circular motion use of brush works really well. Thanks for sharing such useful tips.


  4. I am a no make up person and after marriage I literally struggled with the make up kit 😛 Thank you for sharing such great tips, these are really helpful :).


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