Blending 101: A Makeup Artist's Guide to Flawless Skin

Now, to use a makeup sponge, a brush, or your fingers?

Blending 101: A Makeup Artist's Guide to Flawless Skin
Photo: Jimmy Fermin/Unsplash

Makeup is an art — that we can all agree on. Whether you stick to no-makeup makeup, go for a full beat with contour, or focus on one area — such as the eyes or cheeks — color cosmetics can help enhance your features and give you an outlet to be creative. However, as with all types of art, some techniques are learned overtime — and blending is one of the most important skills to master.

"You want your complexion products to be undetectable and seamlessly blend into your skin," says Rea Ann Silva, founder and CEO of Beautyblender.

She adds that good blending doesn't create harsh lines — unless done deliberately. A well-blended smoky eye can take a look from zero to a hundred, and even if you're going for a natural look, a badly blended bronzer can give you the opposite effect.

Thankfully, there are several tools on the market can help smooth out our makeup looks, like makeup brushes and sponges. And when all else fails, hey, you can always use a finger.

Here, we tapped two makeup artists to share how to use them correctly so you can achieve a perfect finish right at home.

What's the Best Way to Blend With a Makeup Sponge?

"Makeup sponges are meant to be used damp, so remember to run it under your faucet and squeeze all the excess water out," says Ciara Glionna, New York City-based Tarte makeup artist. "A damp sponge softens the application process when the product goes onto the skin, allowing it to blend easily."

Silva adds that for the best result, bounce your blender — never drag it. "With an easy bouncing motion, you can create a streak-free finish and cut your makeup routine in half," she says, adding that makeup sponges can be used with primers, concealers, foundations, powders, creams, and even sunscreen.

Not all makeup sponges are created the same, though. Some use cheap material that absorb all the product into the sponge where it remains damp and harbors bacteria, so spending a little extra cash on a high-quality one, such as the original Beautyblender, is ideal as it'll help prevent acne. "Our exclusive aqua-activated material provides an airbrushed application and absorbs minimal product, so your favorite formula lands on your complexion, not in your sponge," explains Silva.

What's the Best Way to Blend With Makeup Brushes?

"Brushes function like little brooms and sweep product on or off of the skin, so you want to be applying deliberately where you want the product to be detected and then blend until you have the desired look," says Silva.

If using a makeup brush for complexion products, Gilonna says to take a less-is-more approach since it's easier to add more product than remove it once it's on your face. "I apply the product to the back of my hand first and then onto the skin from the brush. This warms up the formula so it blends even smoother on the face," she says, adding that for the best results, use your brushes in small circular motions for a seamless finish.

When using makeup brushes, using ones that are created for your specific goal will help you reach your makeup goals. The denser the brush, the more full-coverage the result. (Tarte has a great line of vegan brushes for the complexion and eye area, BTW.)

Can You Blend Your Makeup With Your Fingers?

Look, we've all been there. But in a pinch, your fingers can absolutely work.

"Cream and liquid products blend amazingly with your fingers, but remember to use less than you would with a brush or sponge, because no product will get absorbed into the tool," says Gilonna. For application, she suggests tapping the product into your face and lightly pressing it in — swiping it across the skin will cause streaking. The only thing to take into consideration is cleanliness, as Silva points out that fingers can be unhygienic if you're not properly washing your hands before makeup application.

VIDEO: Believe It Or Not, You Can Actually Give Yourself a Face Lift Using Makeup

When Should Someone Use a Makeup Sponge Over a Makeup Brush?

Ultimately, it depends on your personal preference. For a more natural-looking complexion, our experts recommend using makeup sponges. "A sponge will sheer out any product, whereas a brush will give you a bit more impact," explains Gilonna.

So if you want more of an impact, go the brush route. "Remember the denser the brush the fuller coverage you'll get," adds Gilonna. When it comes to eye makeup though, they both agree that brushes are the obvious go-to.

What Are the Biggest Mistakes People Make When Blending Their Makeup?

If you take the time to do your makeup, you want it to look good. But hey, mistakes happen. Silva says the biggest blending mistake she notices is after someone forgets to look at their makeup from a side profile. "We often look straight ahead and may miss lines of demarcation when blending," she explains.

Additionally, Gilonna says that a big faux-pas is neglecting the neck when blending out your makeup. "Your skin doesn't stop at your jaw — blend your complexion down your neck so your foundation looks seamless and more natural," she suggests.

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