Stippling makeup is an easy but lesser-known application and blending technique that provides an airbrush finish for all types of creams and powders. This post examines this technique and its benefits. Topics cover the best products for stippling, what is a stippling brush and how to hold it, and my recommended 2-step process to stipple foundation and other makeup products. Also included are some brush suggestions.
For more information on basic beauty tools, read my post here.
From buffing with kabuki brushes to bouncing with beauty sponges, a vast world of makeup application and blending choices lies at our fingertips (pun intended). For a beauty lover like me, it’s a wonderful life with an abundance of things to learn, beauty tools to try, and effects to create.
The application of makeup is the building block for better and more natural-looking makeup no matter what age. My belief is that this aspect of beauty is more important than the makeup products themselves-no matter how expensive or “high end” those products might be.
One such application technique is called stippling. It is lesser-known amongst the population at large and to do it, one uses an equally lesser-known brush called a stipple brush. Despite its lack of pervasive popularity, stippling with a stipple brush is an easy way to achieve a seamless look with an extraordinarily minimal amount of makeup. The method particularly lends itself to enhancing mature skin with less product falling into fine lines.
As this post explores the what, when, and why of stippling, my hope is that this will at least inspire you to consider or maybe reconsider how you apply your makeup. Who knows, stippling might be in your future.
What Does Stippling Mean
Perhaps for some of us, stippling is a more familiar term in connection with a style of drawing, painting, or even engraving. Distinct dots, marks, or small short touches are made on a surface to create the illusion of depth, texture, and tone.
The world of beauty has appropriated this speckling concept. Small dots of makeup product are gently dabbed or pressed on the skin with a tool called a stippling brush. The stippling motion along with the brush blends and diffuses the product.
Below is the pattern the stipple brush makes on the skin once dipped into product.
This type of application is very different from the rubbing or wiping motion we use with our fingers or with a typical foundation brush.
What Does a Stippling Brush Do
A stipple brush is also called a “stippling” brush and “Duo Fiber” brush. They are all 3 one and the same.
Two types of fiber lengths and densities characterize this unique brush. Longer, thinner, and flexible bristles surround a dense core of shorter, stiffer fibers.
These brushes and brush heads can vary in size and density. Those differences offer unique application benefits to the types of products being applied.
For instance, a smaller brush head is great for smaller areas of the face and a larger dense brush head has the potential to buff and blend foundation in addition to stippling or dotting. Finally, longer more flexible fibers are fantastic for depositing more sheer but buildable coverage on the skin.
How to Use a Stipple Brush
The stippling method is the same for any size brush. Dip just the tips into the makeup product so the brush looks like this:
Then, tap the tips of the brush onto the skin repeatedly and lightly and in a circular motion. The intent is to distribute the product in a pixelated manner evenly across the skin.
Stippling Brush Benefits
The unique bristle combination and construction play a significant role in how well makeup is picked up and then deposited onto the skin. The 3 main benefits include:
- Product Distribution: The more extended tips of the brush help to evenly distribute and control the release of the product onto the skin’s surface.
- Sheer/Buildable Coverage: As the brush lightly stipples the product onto the skin, the longer fibers “spread” the product in a diffused manner. Depending on the product, additional layers can be built up gradually.
- Blending Ability: The longer fibers naturally feather the product with less streaking than other application techniques.
Best Makeup Products for Stippling
As long as a brush has synthetic fibers (and most do) stippling works very well with both cream and powder makeup.
In my experience, some types of makeup products are well suited for stippling application and blending, and some less so. The best are those that cover smaller areas of the face as opposed to the entire face.
- Cream/Powder Blush: A stipple brush is just about as easy and quick to use as fingers with what can be a better result. This brush is perfect if the desired effect is a seamless flush of color. For a deeper heavier application, other brushes might be better choices.
- Cream/Powder Highlighter: Ditto above. All of the accolades that stippling provides apply here.
- Cream Bronzer: Stippling the product where the sun would naturally hit the face (cheekbones, hairline on forehead, other high points of face) provides a quick and seamless result. If you like to go heavy on your bronzer, other brushes might be better choices.
- Cream/Liquid Concealer: Stippling concealer on the skin is an effective seamless application technique. Once the concealer is stippled on the skin, if wanted, fingers can be used to pat as a final step.
Stippling with any of the makeup products above is surprisingly quick and easy and requires just a few taps for a natural look.
How to Use a Stippling Brush for Foundation
Truth be told, seamless and controlled foundation application is difficult when using ONLY a stipple brush.
Trying to stipple or dot foundation or any product that covers a larger area of the face can easily result in a heavier application of product. While the initial application may look smooth on the skin, it will eventually fall into wrinkles and fine lines.
Consider my recommendation below. It is a 2-step process that leverages a second type of brush. The result is beautiful-looking skin with very minimal product.
First, dip the tips of the stipple brush into the foundation and stipple/dot the product onto the skin.
Next, use a dense foundation/buffing brush, like one of these. These brushes have densely packed even fibers (a few recommendations below):
Buff the stippled foundation into the skin in circular motions until the foundation is even.
How to Hold a Makeup Brush
A few very general rules to know when holding any type of makeup brush:
**The closer the hand is to the bristles, the more constricted the blending motions will be, and the skin will end up with more product than necessary.
**More product means a higher likelihood of harsher less natural makeup.
**Be aware to hold the brush near the ferrule (the metal portion of the brush) or mid-shaft to ensure flexibility as well as control during stippling.
**Avoid gripping too tightly and maintain a light touch to better create an airbrushed effect.
Stipple Makeup Brush Recommendations
Makeup brush preferences are very personal. What one person may like, another may not. I judge a brush by many factors (texture, weight, balance, product deposition, etc). Price is not necessarily an indicator of a good brush.
Here are a few of my personal recommendations.
MAC 187 or MAC 130 synthetic duo fibre face brush
Sonia kashuk stippling brush #124
This has a dense core and results in a stiffer brush than most traditional stipple brushes. It is perfect for both stippling and buffing.
dpolla new expert pro foundation makeup brush (2 piece)
real techniques stippling brush duo fibre
Buffing Brush Options
Stippling is an easy but less-known application technique that provides an airbrushed finish for all types of cream and powder makeup with a surprisingly minimal amount of makeup. This post discussed the what, when, and why of stippling and the stippling brush.
I hope you enjoyed this and thank you for reading!
Please reach out to me directly or in the comments section if you are interested in specific topics. I welcome suggestions!
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