How to Use a Stippling Brush to Apply Your FoundationApril 21, 2023
Stippling is the unsung hero of achieving a flawless foundation application. While using a stippling brush to apply your foundation isn’t as common as swiping complexion products on with a makeup sponge or your fingers, the stippling technique can actually give you a seriously smooth, full-coverage and airbrushed finish. To find out what a stippling brush is exactly and how to use it, we turned to celebrity makeup artist Billie Gene for some tips.
What Is a Stippling Brush?
Whether you have a red, inflamed breakout to diminish or just want to look camera-ready on the regular, using a stippling brush is an easy way to achieve it. “It’s great for high coverage, minimizing pores and acne scars and covering blemishes,” says Gene. “The brush provides more coverage and forces you to use a different technique than you would with a regular brush or makeup sponge.” Stippling brushes typically have synthetic white bristles at the top and a set of black, denser fibers closer to the base which help push product onto the skin. If you are struggling to settle on a stippling brush, we recommend the NYX Professional Makeup Pro Dual Fiber Foundation Brush. Keep reading to find more brush recommendations we love.
What Is a Stippling Brush Used For?
Stippling brushes are typically used to apply liquid and cream foundations. Their dense, synthetic fibers lay product on top of the skin and help you achieve an even, full-coverage finish. Stippling brushes can be used to apply other cream and liquid products as well, such as blush, bronzer and highlighter — though again, they’re typically reserved for foundation application. Stippling brushes provide a higher coverage level than a damp makeup sponge, so they’re ideal for full-glam makeup looks and covering up breakouts or dark spots.
How to Use a Stippling Brush
Once you’ve applied your skincare and primed your complexion, grab your favorite foundation, a stippling brush and follow these steps.
Step 1: Select Your Products
“I suggest using a liquid foundation or cream foundation as they work best for building the coverage,” says Gene. Our go-to is the Giorgio Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation. It gives a smooth finish, and even though the stippling application method provides a full-coverage look, the foundation’s lightweight formula prevents the face from looking cakey.
Step 2: Put Product on Your Brush
Gene recommends putting a quarter-size amount of foundation onto the back of your non-dominant hand. Then, dip the white bristles of your stippling brush into the foundation and gently tap the product onto your face in small dots. Don’t rub the product in just yet.
Step 3: Swirl Away
“Next, swirl the brush all over your face in a circling motion, similar to waxing a car,” says Gene. “Continue the process in areas that need more coverage, and once you’ve achieved your desired pigment, you can continue with the rest of your face makeup application.” If you like to do midday touch-ups, skip your setting powder so you can go back over any areas that lost coverage throughout the day with your stippling brush and liquid foundation. You can also touch up with a powder foundation that adds coverage as it mattifies. The Maybelline New York SuperStay Up to 24HR Hybrid Powder-Foundation offers a soft matte finish and comes with a mini sponge applicator and a mirror to make on-the-go touch-ups a breeze.
The Best Stippling Brushes
NYX Professional Makeup Pro Dual Fiber Foundation Brush
This dual-fiber synthetic brush evenly distributes your base makeup for smooth, airbrushed-looking coverage. Reviewers love it for stippling on their favorite liquid, cream and stick foundations, calling it “lightweight” and “the perfect shape and firmness." For the perfect NYX Professional Makeup Foundation to use with this tool, keep scrolling.
IT Cosmetics Airbrush Complexion Perfection Brush #115
The angled shape of this brush allows the bristles to hug the contours of your face, making this an ideal option to blend out foundation in addition to liquid and cream bronzer or contour. The big, flat-top surface also makes it easy to cover a lot of surface area fast, which will cut down on the time it takes you to blend your foundation to perfection.
Real Techniques Stippling Brush
We love this brush for its long, dense, synthetic fibers and self-standing handle, which is extra convenient when we’re running around trying to find a spot with natural light to do our makeup in. It blends liquid foundations with ease, and reviewers rave that it allows them to use half the amount of foundation they normally use, while still achieving a full-coverage finish.
SEPHORA COLLECTION PRO Foundation Brush #64
This foundation brush features bristles of different lengths to smoothly deposit foundation without leaving a cakey or heavy finish that gets trapped inside your pores. The bristles are soft and make stippling and blending your foundation an effortless step of your makeup routine.
e.l.f. Cosmetics Domed Stipple Brush
For less than $10, this is a perfect stippling brush for makeup beginners and those who are just starting to expand their brush collection. The synthetic bristles are soft and delicate and can be used with cream, liquid or powder products for an even, diffused blend.
Morphe M406 Large Duo Foundation Brush
This stippling brush provides a flawless, airbrushed finish that’s gorgeous for big events, photos or just regular days when you’re craving skin that looks filtered in real life. It’s soft, synthetic and rings up at a little under $15, making it another great budget-friendly choice to add to your brush arsenal.
ROSE INC. No. 5 Bronzer Brush
Cream bronzers and contour products make it easy to sculpt and snatch your bone structure or add an extra hint of warmth to the face. This brush picks up the perfect amount of product and stipples it across your skin for a believable, airbrushed-looking contour that will have people wondering when your cheekbones got so defined.
bdellium tools Studio 953 Duo Fiber Foundation
The small size of this brush gives it superior control and precision, so you can easily smooth hard-to-blend areas at the sides of your nose or along your hairline. It gently swirls and stipples your liquid and cream products across your skin, giving you a full-coverage finish that looks undetectable.
Mally Beauty Stippling Blush and Bronzer Brush
While this brush is technically labeled a “blush and bronzer brush,” it makes any cream or liquid product glide on easily and blend into your skin without a trace. The soft, synthetic bristles are longer than that of a buffing brush, which helps you achieve a smooth, even layer of product that never looks or feels heavy, despite having a high level of coverage.
wet n wild Small Stipple Brush
Beside just being adorable, this pink-and-white stippling brush is perfect for blending and diffusing makeup in small, hard-to-reach areas. The multiple lengths of bristles pick up just the right amount of product and blend it effortlessly into your skin. We also love the handle, which has an ergonomic indentation for you to rest your finger on as you use the brush.
The Best Cream and Liquid Makeup Products to Apply With a Stippling Brush
Giorgio Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation
For a complexion that looks nothing short of flawless, we recommend the Giorgio Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation. The cult-favorite formula offers buildable, medium-coverage and a radiant finish that looks candle-lit, not shimmery or glittery. With a wide range of undertones and shades, it gives any skin tone a seamless, air-brushed effect.
NYX Professional Makeup Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Foundation
This foundation offers full coverage and a natural matte finish that stays shine-free for up to 24 hours. Not bad, right? In addition to its impressive lasting power, this pick is waterproof and doesn’t transfer. By applying this foundation with a stippling brush, you’ll be able to use a tiny amount of product and still have an all-over full coverage finish.
Valentino Beauty Very Valentino 24 Hour Wear Liquid Foundation
This buildable, semi-matte foundation boasts a 24-hour wear and is available in 40 different shades. It’s also enhanced with SPF 26, so you get extra sun protection on top of a flawless finish.
Kulfi Mehndi Moment Long-Lasting Radiant Cream Blush
Stippling brushes deposit the perfect amount of color and make blending a breeze, which is why we love using them to dab on our cream and liquid blushes. This cream blush from Kehndi comes in five ultra-pigmented shades, so a little goes a long way. A stippling brush will help you control your blush placement and blend the edges seamlessly.
MILK MAKEUP Sculpt Cream Contour Stick
We also love using a stippling brush to blend out cream contour products, like this contouring stick. For the most natural-looking finish, dab the bristles directly onto the contour stick and then apply it to your face, rather than touching the stick to your face. This will save your contour from looking overly harsh while still providing structure and definition to your skin.