Makeup 104.3: Choosing Foundation Tools Plus Makeup Removers

foundation tools

Alright so you got your samples. Now you need something to apply this foundation with and you need to remove it properly. Let’s talk about foundation tools as well as some makeup remover options.

foundation tools_2
Domed top and flat top brushes

Foundation Brushes

Sometimes the best way to know what you want is to know what you don’t want. This is definitely the case with makeup brushes unless you already have some that you love. I recommend purchasing an inexpensive set if you are going to wear multiple makeup products. The set should have no more than 20 brushes so you get a feel for what type you like/dislike.

For under $30 you can find some really cute sets from BH Cosmetics that are beginner friendly. You can also find some good ones by Elf (I usually stick to the ones with black handles). If you take care of them properly they can last you years. Don’t get caught up in buying the most expensive brush(es) until you know that you like a certain shape and how it applies your makeup.

If sets are not your thing you can buy brushes individually. Foundation brushes are densely packed yet soft. Most have synthetic bristles but there are some that are natural or blended. Synthetic brushes are best for liquid foundation because they allow you to have more control when applying the product. You can use a natural-haired brush but it may not blend as well and can leave streaks.

Flat top brushes are good for stippling product on when you’re working with a buildable formula. This is helpful for when you need more coverage in a specific area of your face. Domed top or buffing brushes allow for blending or buffing the product into your skin, which gives more of a natural finish. If you’re going to wear a lighter coverage formula, the best tools for applying that will be clean fingers. You have better control of where the product is applied and use less in the process.

dry makeup sponges
Dry makeup sponges (from L to R): Sonia Kashuk, Real Techniques, Elf Total Face Sponge

Makeup sponges

Sponges should be soft yet durable. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and colors. When dampened they can be used to apply foundation, concealer, and setting powder. The good thing about them is if you apply too much foundation, you can pounce this on your face to take some product away to make it appear more “skin-like.” Sponges are best used when you wet them with warm water and then squeeze out the excess.

damp makeup sponges
Dampened (clean) makeup sponges (from L to R): Sonia Kashuk, Real Techniques, Elf Total Face Sponge

Best practice is to wash the sponge before each use with a gentle soap and replace it with a new one after 3-6 months. Because they need to be replaced so often I wouldn’t recommend paying more than $10 for one. The elf Cosmetics Total Face sponge is a really good one and can be purchased directly from Elf’s website, Target, and Ulta. Other options are the ones by Sonia Kashuk (available at Target) and Real Techniques (also available at Target and Ulta).


Makeup removers

Seems like a no-brainer but thought I would throw this in anyway. Some are great at removing base makeup but not eye makeup, and vice versa. It’s important to note that makeup remover is not a substitute for cleansing your face so follow it up with a gentle cleaner. I’m going to list a few that I’ve tried and what I’ve used them for.

  1. Micellar water. Good for removing eye makeup especially mascara. It does a good job at removing light base makeup but I wouldn’t rely on it solely if wearing a full face. Apply it with a cotton pad after washing your face with a cleanser to make sure all the makeup is gone, being sure to wipe around the hairline. Garnier has a good one (multiple options available here) as well as La Roche Posay and you can buy both from Target. If you find that it leaves a film on your skin, you can always use a warm wet cloth or cotton pad to remove it.
  2. Cold cream. A cheap and effective makeup remover. Best for removing base makeup and eyeshadow, not the best for removing mascara. Ponds Cold Cream can be found in almost every drugstore for less than $8 and is good to keep on hand. Apply it with clean hands or a cotton pad and removed with a warm wet cloth or just warm water.
  3. Cleansing balms. Great for removing all types of makeup and better for travel. Clinique’s Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm is good for those with sensitive skin. You can get it from Clinique’s website, Ulta, Sephora, and some major department stores. Also applied with clean hands or a cotton pad and removed with a warm wet cloth or just warm water.
  4. Cleansing oils. Great for removing all types of makeup. If your skin can handle oils these are a great option. Sephora Collection Supreme Cleansing Oil and Clinique’s Take the Day Off Cleansing Oil are effective for removing your makeup without stripping your skin. Also applied with a cotton pad or clean hands and removed with a warm wet cloth or just warm water.
  5. Face cleanser. Not necessarily a makeup remover but it’s something you should be using after removing your makeup with one of the methods listed above. Plain water will not remove the residue from the cleansing oil so you’ll need something to break the oil down. My faves include Cerave Hydrating Face cleanser, FAB Face cleanser, and Krave Beauty Matcha Hemp Hydrating cleanser
  6. Cotton pads. My faves are the ones by Shiseido. But in an effort to reduce the amount of waste I’m producing, I bought some reusable cotton pads from Amazon. I use about 4 a day and rewash them at the end of the week when I do my regular laundry. You can also use a soft washcloth.
    Reusable cotton rounds from Amazon

Keep in mind that everyone’s skin is different so what works for some may not work for others. I can use micellar water on my whole face but others can’t. This is where knowing your skin comes in handy. If you have sensitive skin stick to the brands you already know and trust for makeup remover options.

Additional Tips

  • If using a brush, apply light pressure while sweeping the foundation across your face. Do not drag the brush and do not press hard. Let the brush do the work for you.
  • If using a dampened sponge, squeeze out the excess water before pouncing it LIGHTLY onto your face. This will blend out the foundation and give you an airbrushed effect.
  • If you want more coverage after the first layer, then apply a little more foundation (the size of a tic tac) to that each spot. Stipple* the brush or sponge until desired coverage is achieved. 

*lightly patting in one area without smearing the product around

You can ask me any questions you have down below or shoot me an email via my Contact Me page. I’ll try to respond as quickly as I can.

Don’t forget to check out the other Foundation posts:


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