A few of my favorite buffing brushes for liquid and cream application are actually from ELF. I didn't include them in this post because I already reviewed them here. (I definitely recommend checking them out because they created the same type of brush in 3 different size and density, which allows them to cater towards a wider audience and different types of preferences. So, I'm sure you'll find the one that's suitable for you.) Also, I reviewed the Real Techniques brushes already, so I won't go into detail about them in this post.
Synthetic buffing brushes are far superior than those made with natural bristles, when using liquid and cream-based products because they don't absorb as much product and blends it into the skin alot easier without streaking. There are so many in the market, ranging in different sizes, shapes, and density. My preference is for those that are not too big or too small so that it can be multi-functional. Also, I like them to be not too dense so it doesn't tug my skin and cause premature wrinkles. Continue reading to find out how these brushes compare to one another!
EcoTools Stippling Brush ($7.99) - Traditionally, duo fiber brushes are made with natural and synthetic bristles. This one is made with solely synthetic material and is cruelty-free. The base of the head is densely packed with shorter fibers, while the light-colored fibers are longer and more sparse. This allows the brush to disperse the product more evenly and easily, while still maintaining control, when using it in a stippling or patting motion. I love using it to apply blushers and bronzers whether it's in the form of powder, liquid or cream. It picks up the right amount without looking blotchy. It also works very well for buffing in setting powder because it covers the entire face evenly without moving your foundation. However, it's important to note that when applying liquid or cream-based foundations, it can go on streaky. So, I recommend it for only blush, bronzer and setting powder application.
Target Up & Up Complexion Brush ($6.99) - This one is smaller, shorter and denser than the Real Techniques Buffing brush (review). The brush also feels like it's made from the same type of bristles as the Tarte Prime & Proper brush. The bristles absorb more product and provides less coverage; however, it buffs thicker and heavier foundations into the skin easier due to its density. Therefore, this is ideal for those that want to make their heavy coverage foundations look more natural.
Tarte Prime & Proper Bamboo Primer Brush ($40) - This one is no longer available for sale individually and is now sold exclusively in a set. It's shorter, smaller and slightly denser than the Real Techniques Buffing brush. When compared to the Target Up & Up one, the Tarte brush is not as dense and doesn't absorb as much product. I like how it fits nicely under the eye area so I don't have to reach for another brush when applying concealer. The flat top also allows you to contour the cheeks using the side of the brush and then buff in the product using the top part.
Sigma F86 Tapered Kabuki ($24) - This one is dense, but still has enough flexibility to buff in liquid & cream-based foundations without tugging the skin. It's big enough to cover the entire face quickly, but can also fit around the small crevices of the face easily like around the nose because of its tapered tip. I also love using it to pat concealer underneath the eye. It also works well for contouring when you want a more natural look and not a precise chiseled cut. It applies and buffs in the product without having the need to reach for another brush.
Tarte Retoucher Flawless Finish Bamboo Foundation brush ($30) - This is one of my favorite brushes for applying liquid foundation because it's small enough to get into the small crevices of the face, but it's not too small where it would take too long to cover the entire face. The bristles are not as densely packed as the Real Techniques Expert Face brush (review) and has more flexibility without being too flimsy. It's also alot easier to clean!
Tarte Brush (comes in the BB Tinted Treatment Primer set $49) - This one is slightly smaller and denser than the Tarte Retoucher Foundation brush. So, I prefer to use it to apply concealer underneath the eye area and for contouring when I want a more natural look rather than using it to apply foundation. It does all the blending work for me when used in a tapping motion!
Real Techniques Bold Metals 300 Tapered Blush Brush ($24) - This one is just as soft as the other two Real Techniques brushes, but you can tell that they're made with different synthetic materials when you feel them. The #300 is not a buffing brush, but I included it in this post because I use it the same way as the Tarte one that comes in the BB Tinted Treatment Primer set. The difference is that the RT one has more flexibility and glides product onto the skin more easily. Also, the tapered tip offers better control, while still being fluffy enough to blend in the product. Therefore, this is ideal for applying concealer underneath the eye and contouring the cheeks for a natural look. It's also great for patting on cream blush to the apples of the cheeks, but it's too small for those that like to cover their entire cheek area.
Bottom Line: All of these brushes are very soft without any prickly feeling and are all great when used with liquid and cream-based products. Though, some are more versatile than others. What it comes down to is accessibility and price.
Note: The EcoTools Stippling brush can be purchased at Drugstore.com, Target and Ulta.The Up & Up Complexion brush is sold exclusively at Target. The Real Techniques Buffing brush, Expert Face brush and Bold Metals 300 Tapered Blush brush can be purchased at Target, Drugstore.com and Ulta. The Tarte Prime & Proper Bamboo Primer brush and Tarte BB Tinted Treatment Primer brush comes in two different sets and is exclusively at QVC. The Tarte Retoucher Foundation brush is available at Tarte online. The Sigma F86 is available at Nordstrom.
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