I now have a bonafide foundation collection, and each foundation has been tested to determine my preferred method of application. Funnily enough, most of my foundations work best with different application methods, which makes me glad I have such a selection! I'm also including (what I hope is) a bonus for you guys; a comparison between the Real Techniques Stippling Brush and Core Collection Buffing Brush. But that's not until the end. Please stick around and let me know if you like the same application methods as I do!
EcoTools Bamboo Bronzer Brush $10
I like this with loose or pressed powder foundations (or whenever you want more coverage from a powder - this packs it on pretty densely) i.e. Bare Escentuals in Light $28 (not pictured) or e.l.f. Mineral Foundation in Light $5 Please note: Some won't like the super-thick base of this brush as it can't fit in a brush cup.
Combo = $15 to $38
e.l.f. Studio Flat-Top Powder Brush $3
I prefer this with sheer, watery liquid foundations, like my Jemma Kidd Light as Air, $38 on Beauty.com
Combo = $41
Sephora Pro Foundation Airbrush #55 $34
I prefer this with my Chanel Perfection Lumiere $55 (light-weight, medium coverage)... both are priciest in my collection! This is my go-to when it's a special occasion but I won't be photographed. This just doesn't photograph well on me (full review here).
Combo = $89
Beauty Blender Sponge $20 (but I always buy it in value-packs)
I like this best with medium-weight, full-coverage liquid foundations like my Bourjois Healthy Mix, $12 from ASOS.com when I bought it - this is my go-to for special occasions at which I can expect to be photographed because it covers well and doesn't cause much flashback. I also love the beauty blender with my Boscia BB Cream, $38, which isn't the usual BB Cream texture (it's more light and gel-like).
Combo = $32 to $58
Real Techniques Stippling Brush $10
I adore this with my L'oreal Magic Smooth Souffle Foundation $15 (an airy mousse). This is my HG, everyday combo and by far my favorite. It blends the easiest and quickest of all these combos! I must admit, though, that the stippling brush takes a bit longer to blend liquid foundations because they'll go on streaky at first. Not a problem with this mousse foundation at all :)
Combo = $25
BB Creams (i.e. Missha M Perfect BB Cream No. 23 $12.99 for 20mL from iMomoko.com, not pictured), Tinted Moisturizers (Origins Vitazing $35, Stila Sheer Color Tinted in Medium SPF 20 $34, not pictured), L'oreal True Match Foundation $10 (light coverage with a heavier, lotion-like consistency)
Now, the moment of truth - because I TOTALLY lied. I claimed earlier I was going to compare the Real Techniques Stippling Brush with the Core Collection Buffing Brush, but the honest truth is that they don't compare at all. The Core Collection Buffing Brush is more densely packed than the Stippling Brush, and I noticed a similar finish to the E.L.F. Flat-top Powder Brush when I tried it out with all my foundations.
Obviously, they don't look alike, but they offer the same finish and work best with sheerer liquid foundations. They don't leave streaks as much as the Real Techniqes Stippling Brush so if buffing in a sheer liquid foundation is your thing, either of these will be great for you! Seeing as the Core Collection Buffing Brush is smaller than the E.L.F. Powder Brush, it might be better for people who want to feel as though they have a bit more control over where the foundation goes (but the E.L.F. brush is $15 cheaper than the Core Collection kit and buffs in your foundation more quickly. Things to consider).
I hope you found this interesting and helpful!