Traditional foundation brush - I don't reach for this brush to apply foundation hardly ever. I feel like I am painting my face. But I know whenever I go to a makeup counter and they apply foundation on me, it is always with this type of brush. I find it can get streaky this way.
Flat top foundation brush - This is my favourite type of brush to use, I love the ELF Powder brush because it's quite wide so you can cover a large area of your face and pack this on quickly. Also for me I don't tend to blend with this type of brush but more just pat it on and I am done. I get great coverage and it applies evenly. The Sigma F80 can function the same way. Another brush is the MAC 109, it's sorta flat but also rounded, I use this method sometimes as well, for the same purpose, tapping or pouncing the foundation on.
Stippling brush - This method can give the most "flawless" application because you are basically stippling foundation on, and then blending if needed. It is time consuming however. I have been using this method more and more lately, but I only stipple no blending anymore, however I prefer the flat top method over this.
Blending sponge - This year especially many companies have put out beauty blender type sponges for applying foundation. The sponge is soaked in water and it expands to twice the size and can give very precise application of liquid foundation. The sponge is washed and used again and again. I have the Sonia Kashuk verison here. I very very rarely use this method because I am not very good at it and prefer using my brushes.
Cosmetic wedge - Some products include their own sponges inside, most of the time these are useless because they can only be used a limited number of times. However it can give a nice looking finish as well. Wedges can also be purchased at dollar stores or drugstores (I have packs of them).
Recently, I watched a youtube video from the fabulous "gossmakeupartist" where he goes over how we need to wet our sponges when applying makeup. How it will sheer out your foundation, and not give you that cakey look that everyone hates. It makes your foundation a lot easier to work with and you can layer it much easier. Wetting your sponge does not allow the foundation to settle into the sponge either, so you aren't wasting product.
What interested me most was how he said that those with dry (me) or combination skin have areas of the face where the skin feels textured and rough, if we use a stippling brush and blend we are basically "micro-exfoliating" our faces! That made total sense to me, after watching that, I no longer blend my foundation in anymore, if I need to I do so with my hands. Similarly, when you powder your face afterwards to set your face, you are "micro-exfoliating" again and disturbing your face, instead we should be using a powder puff and pressing the powder into our skin instead.
I think his advice is genius if you have this type of skin and have issues. I know I definitely do and this has helped me so much. Makeup brushes are fun to collect and make you feel all professional when using them, but sometimes they may not be the best option for you, and a simple thing like a sponge can make a lot more sense. For me, the stippling method works the best, no more blending!
What is your favorite way to apply liquid foundation?