I firmly believe that the way you slap on the ol' warpaint can make or break the product (unless of course the formulation itself sucks). Which is why the beauty industry's tendency to include cheap and useless applicators with their decent products baffles me.
Each new formula, blend, form, and ingredient used in cosmetics may require different application methods and tools. I am a compulsive researcher and have been experimenting and testing different techniques with different formulas. Here's a rundown of my findings.
Foundations & concealers are by far the trickiest cosmetic to apply, since what you truly want is a method that makes you look like its your skin. Only better. This is a case where understanding what goes into your foundation or concealer is key.
Cream & Oil based
If you live in a cold country, you'll find that warming it up helps it go on in thinner, smoother layers. You can opt to blast with a hairdryer, pop it on the heater for a bit, hold it in your hands, or (as some girls in MUA do with their MAC cream concealers) sit on it while doing your skincare!
Applying with your fingers also helps warm up the product. However, I find I seldom like the look achieved by using my fingers. I find it takes off more product than I puts on and the finish can be uhh.. fingerprint-y.
Here's what I do now with my GloMinerals Oil-Free Cream Concealer:
Step one: Load it on with Bare Escentuals Maximum Concealer Brush (excellent for heavy coverage with either cream or powder concealers and foundations).
Step two: Buff it into the skin lightly with a dense Kabuki brush (I use Lily Lolo's Mini Buki).
Try it! I find this gives me high coverage plus a very natural uncakey finish.
Light reflecting concealers
I've tried a few of these, and again I hate blending it into my skin using my finger as it shifts the concealer about and takes off more than it blends in. Plus it makes your finger shiny.
Instead I blend it out using The Body Shop's foundation brush. Any foundation brush will do of course, so long as the bristles are soft and synthetic and the brush head is flat.
In this instant, you can opt to use a wedge, your fingers, a brush.. whichever you feel works best for you and the foundation you choose. I find fingers usually work fine, with a brush for heavier coverage in spots.
Powder & Mineral Foundations
A good dense Kabuki is often best in both cases. It lets you apply as lightly or as densely as you need. For the wet application method, simply spritz the kabuki before blending it into the powder. Not all mineral foundations work well with this method though. So test and see!
I've also found amazing results with the Illuminare Fast Application Pad! I'll admit I had my doubts initially about this leopard-spotted furry thing, but I'm SOLD. It not only applies Illuminare's liquid foundation like a dream it works wonders with mineral & powder foundations (like ZA's Two-Way Foundation). It DOES make application fast, and the finish is bee-yoo-ti-ful. I still reach for my kabuki because minerals like to be buffed and the application is lighter. But if I'm in a rush, I reach for the Fast App Pad.
Silicone Based Foundations
This is the new-comer to foundation technology. While most foundations now have dimethicone in them, some are almost entirely silicone based. Examples include Max Factor Miracle Touch & Benefit's Some Kinda Gorgeous.
I've mentioned this before, but just to be thorough, I find these foundations work best when applied with a foundation brush. Fingers just don't cut it, and neither does the foam pad provided by Max Factor. With a brush you use a startlingly tiny amount, but attain the most gorgeous perfect coverage!
Foundations brushes are also one of the few that I feel need not be pricey to work as the bristles MUST be synthetic. The Body Shop's offering has more than kept me happy. =)
Well, that's all for this installment. Mascara, Eyeshadow and Eyeliners to come next!
Note: This is not intended to be absolutely complete or even definitive. It's just me sharing what works for me. Please share with us YOUR chosen method, and what works for you! Can't wait to see what you girls have to say. =)