When I first started out using liquid foundation, I used my fingers to apply. I’m not sure if it was a bad colour match – I looked orange! – or poor application, but I looked awful. Hat-tip: Never try a new foundation (or new makeup for that matter) for an important occasion! My mom asked me what happened to my face, so I washed it all off and nothing was ever said of it again.
The next time I learnt how to use liquid foundation, it was with a brush. I’d experimented with using my fingers again over the years, this trick in particular was very helpful, but in the main, I used brushes. I’ve amassed a large number of foundation brushes over the years!
But recently, I found myself reverting back to using my fingers to apply foundation, and I loved it! :)
It started out when I was introduced to the Nars Radiant Longwear Foundation which does look best when applied with fingers, and I was sold on the idea. So, I used the same technique with other foundations, and I discovered a few things that I thought would be helpful to share.
I have one caveat. My preference is for a light to medium coverage when it comes to base, which is why this technique works for me. If you want something higher coverage, you need to use a brush, because it can provide better coverage with layering and without the heat of our fingers.
There are also other ways to build coverage without using a high coverage foundation all the time. I’ll share those tips another day :)
Fingers work best for creamy foundations
My experience shows that applying foundation with fingers work best with creamy foundations. So, if your liquid foundation has a thicker, creamier texture akin to that of a moisturiser, then your fingers can usually do the trick.
With lighter textured, drier or water-based foundations, I do find that fingers deliver a more streaky finish because the product dries too quickly before you can work it into your skin.
When I use a brush with creamier textured foundation, I often find that the coverage is higher than I like. With fingers, I can apply just a thin layer of colour, and blend it right into my skin, by gently rubbing it in as I would a moisturiser. For me, this technique works well with foundations like the Nars Radiant Longwear Foundation, Bobbi Brown Skin Longwearing Foundation, YSL Touche Eclat All in One Glow Foundation and most, if not all BB and CC creams I’ve used. It also works well with stick type foundations.
I do find however, that it does not work as well with foundations that are more matte or drier in texture, so it does not work as well with foundations like the Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion foundation, or Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow foundation or even Bourjois Healthy Glow foundation, or some of the older Dior foundations for me.
Applying base with fingers give a more natural finish
I have found that when I use my fingers, I get a more natural finish on my skin. The product does not feel as heavy, which is crucial in a higher coverage product.
I have heard complaints that high coverage foundations like the NARS Radiant Longwear Foundation looks cakey or like a mask on the skin, but I have never experienced that. In fact, most of the time, people can’t tell that I’m actually wearing that particular foundation!
The trick I feel, is to use less product, but more importantly, to apply it with your fingers. The warmth from your fingers will help the product meld with your skin better, and you can actually spread it out to a thinner layer as well. This gives you a lighter coverage overall, and you can work on the areas that need coverage later.
I find this especially true for products like BB or CC Cream. Often, the texture is akin to that of a moisturiser, and I find that applying it with my fingers gives me a more transparent finish, yet the basic coverage I am comfortable with.
Using fingers to apply foundation gives a more skin-like finish
I noticed when I used my fingers to apply my base product, that the effect was more skin-like. We all want that don’t we? For our skin to look like we don’t have makeup on it – just healthy and glowing and even-toned. Well, few of us are that blessed. The rest of us depend on makeup :P
I think it’s the warmth from our fingers, and the way that you blend it into the skin that delivers this skin-like finish you don’t really get with a brush. Up-close, I notice that it looks less like you have makeup on, and more like your skin is transparent and glowing. From further away, it also looks natural. That is what I strive for in how my makeup looks, so it sits well with me.
Using fingers will not give you a high coverage effect
Again, I must remind you that using your fingers to apply your base will not give you a high coverage effect. So, if what you want is something that looks like you have makeup on, or something that is very flawless, then you will do better with some proper makeup brushes.
The warmth of your fingers will not allow you to achieve that sort of high coverage effect without it looking streaky and patchy.
But for day-to-day makeup, I have found that fingers do the trick just as well, and maybe even better or more quickly than using a makeup brush.
How to use your fingers to apply foundation?
Here’s how I do it, which is very simple.
- Pump foundation or BB/CC Cream on back of your hand – Remember that less is more and you do not always need a full pump of product. You can add more as you go.
- Use your fingers to blend it out on the back of your hand – This is the same motion you go through with warming up your moisturiser before you put it on your skin – you do warm it up first right? :P It makes it go on more smoothly and evenly.
- Take a little product from the back of your hand, and blend into skin – Imagine that the foundation is a moisturiser, and apply it accordingly, rubbing it gently into the skin. In this instance, this skincare tip does not apply :P Use the last 3 fingers so you don’t tug too much at your skin. I usually use only two – the middle and fourth fingers.
- Tap a little extra product where you need it – You may find that the coverage is a little lighter than you like. In that case, tap a little more product where you want more coverage – imagine you’re playing the piano – and lightly blend it out with the same tapping motion. You’re done!
I’ve seen some people do the dotting method, where they put a dot of foundation on each part of their face before working it in. As with applying skincare, I don’t recommend it because the finish can be uneven. Blending it out on the back of your hand first, before working on each section of your face individually gives a more even finish.
Does it take longer than normal? Nope it doesn’t. And you save time not having to have to clean your brushes :P Just wipe your fingers, wash them and go.
So, if you’re wondering what the best foundation brush is, wonder no more – it’s at the end of your hands and goes with you everywhere ;)
Do you use your fingers to apply foundation? Will you try it?
I do still use my brushes of course. But these days, because I go for a lighter finish, I’ve stopped using the flat topped brushes like this one that tend to deposit more product, and opt more for the fluffy round brushes instead, that offer a more diffused effect. Or, if I pick out a creamy foundation, or BB/CC Cream, I just use my fingers. Faster and more natural, just the way I like it :)