Genius or Gimmick: Do Makeup Spatulas Really Make Your Foundation Apply Better?

Meet the beauty tool that’s taken over TikTok.

Last month, I took a one-on-one makeup class at a popular salon in the beauty capital of the world, Seoul, and picked up a few tricks and tools from the pros, including a formal introduction to the makeup spatula. Those who are on TikTok may have already come across clips of people spreading on their foundation using this thin metal tool, but for the uninitiated, allow me to explain.

What Exactly Is a Makeup Spatula?

With a flat-edged tip like the kitchen tool it’s named after (though it technically looks more like a painter’s palette knife), the makeup spatula is made to apply the absolute thinnest layer of foundation on your face, so you get the sheerest, most natural-looking coverage.

Whereas it used to be more of a pro tool, it’s since been adopted by the masses in Korea. And now, thanks to TikTok, it’s also been gaining traction here in the States.

How to Use a Makeup Spatula

1. Dispense no more than a pump of liquid foundation onto a flat surface. (Note: Many makeup artists use a mixing palette for this, but you can also just use the back of your hand.)

2. Positioning the blade of the spatula at a 90-degree angle, push the foundation to one side before running the edge through it in a vertical line to evenly coat one side (just like the video below shows).

3. Run the foundation-coated side of the spatula against your face, spreading it thinly in small sections. You can always add additional layers of foundation to any areas where you want more coverage.

4. Gently buff the foundation in using a makeup sponge, so you get a seamless finish.

5. Wipe off the spatula with a tissue and place it in its storage case to keep it clean between uses.

As TikTok creator @taxinoodle shows us in great detail, to get an even spread of foundation, you want to first make sure you’re coating the edge of the spatula with the right amount of product. To do this, push the drop of foundation you just dispensed to one side of your hand (or mixing palette) before dragging the blade down at an angle.

For the application itself, rather than swiping the spatula across your face in one fell swoop, which can make it go on too thick, ideally, you’ll do multiple feathery strokes using little to no pressure. Pushing down with the spatula can take off some of the makeup you just applied.

A final tip: Work in small sections. Because the foundation is going on so thinly, it’ll dry and set faster, so you want to work in small sections and blend as you go for the freshest finish. Think spatula swipe, then buff with sponge. Spatula, then sponge. Repeat until you reach your desired level of coverage.

Where Can I Buy a Makeup Spatula?

Often imitated, never duplicated, the O.G. makeup spatula is the Piccasso Makeup Spatula, which is sold through popular K-beauty retailer Olive Young (aka the Sephora of Korea). Thankfully, you can order it online and have it shipped to your home, but if you’re looking for a slightly less expensive or faster option, we found a few alternatives for you as well.

Having used an imitation makeup spatula recently, I will say the key is to go for one with a longer edge and handle (rather than some of the shorter, wider ones that are also available). I’ve found that this helps with the overall spread.

Final Thoughts: Genius or Gimmick?

So back to the original question of whether makeup spatulas are genius or a gimmick? I’d say they’re genius, particularly if you’re someone who prefers a lightweight base—or your foundation tends to look cakey by mid-day. Because your makeup is being applied in thinner layers with a spatula than without one, it looks more natural and is less likely to get patchy since there’s less of it on your face to begin with.

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Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...