Serum foundations (also known as foundation fluids or skin tints) are currently one of the biggest trends on the beauty market. The milky, oil- and silicone-based emulsions feel weightless and give the skin a beautiful, velvety finish without looking like makeup. And while applying foundation isn’t exactly rocket science, there’s a bit of a learning curve with these watery formulas. First off, they need to be shaken up a little, and they come with a dropper that you have to dab onto your skin. But the hardest thing to figure out, at least for some editors on staff, is how best to spread this kind of foundation over your face. Fingers seem to wipe it all away, and most brushes and sponges act more like a mop than an applicator. So to figure out how to get the best results, we reached out to New York City–based makeup artist Rommy Najor. We were a bit surprised at what he had to say.
“Serum foundations can be extremely thin and watery and travel very quickly, and because of that you need to distribute them quickly. I’ve found that a traditional flat foundation brush gives you the most control,” he says. “It distributes evenly and doesn’t leave any streaks.” Why is this surprising? Because for the past several years, makeup artists have shied away from traditional foundation brushes for the sole fact that they leave streaks, instead reaching for fancier angled brushes or their trusty Beautyblenders. But it turns out that with these newer, lighter, less viscous foundations, the stiff, densely packed synthetic bristles of a flat foundation brush are just what the doctor (or makeup artist) ordered.
In terms of which brush is best, Najor has his favorites. He cites the M.A.C. 190 Foundation Brush as the most widely used traditional foundation brush, but he especially loves the Shu Uemura Synthetic Brush 14 and the Real Techniques Setting Brush. At $36 and $8 respectively, they’re on opposite ends of the price spectrum, but he loves them both for the same reason: “They are perfect, happy, medium-size brushes that fit everyone’s facial structure.”
If you want more coverage, Najor recommends using the Shu Uemura brush—it has a firmer paddle, which he says is the key to building up the opacity. On the other hand (or should we say cheek?), the more flexible Real Techniques brush is perfect to “to buff on a light veil of coverage.” Either way, you’ll be sure any imperfections are covered—and you won’t be wasting an ounce of these game-changing formulas.
Photographed by Roger Cabello, Allure, August 2013
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