Makeup sponges have become very popular among bloggers, artists and women everywhere as we strive for flawless skin and perfect selfies. Since the original Beauty Blender hit the market, many brands have taken advantage of the trend and created their own applicators but how do we know which ones actually work?
Recently I received a few of the newest sponges to hit the market so I thought it would be interesting to test and compare them to determine which ones perform best. To conduct this little experiment I considered a few key factors including: efficiency of application, finish/results, ease of use, cleaning, design/material, price and durability. I will list my findings from best to least favorite.
#1 The Original Beauty Blender $28.00 (best used damp)
(Available at Sephora)
The most popular sponge on the market still ranks #1 mainly because of the material. Although many brands can market their applicators as “beauty blenders” the material used to make the original is patented – meaning it cannot be replicated or copied. The sponge absorbs a lot of water and expands into a soft, porous teardrop that is excellent for applying liquid makeup, bronzer and powder. Although it does suck up a lot of product, it blends everything quickly and consistently for a smooth, flawless finish.
Although this tool has been my number one choice for years it is pretty pricey, especially when you consider how long it lasts. This is the most delicate sponge I’ve used and just a couple days after purchase small tears began to form. Cleaning this thing is a tedious task even with the brand’s special cleansing bar. It takes a long time to get rid of all the foundation sucked into the core and the color fades. Rinsing is not enough to remove bacteria so I recommend deep cleaning at least twice a month and being extremely gentle to prevent rips. The worst thing about this product is how long it takes to dry and the moisture harbors bacteria that can trigger the growth of mold. This also makes it a poor choice for travel but when it comes to performance it is definitely the best!
#2 Sephora Perfectionist Airbrush Sponge $15.00 (best used damp)
(Available exclusively at Sephora)
The makeup sponge by Sephora is about half the price of the Beauty Blender and the closest dupe I’ve come across. When wet the sponge becomes large, plush and soft but it doesn't have a round surface. Although application is not quite as flawless, the results are still pretty amazing! The sponge absorbs some product (but not as much) and the material isn’t quite as porous which makes washing it less time consuming. It also comes in a set with mini sponges and cleansing bar.
#3 Real Techniques Miracle Sculpting Sponge $10.49 (best used damp)
(Available at farley.ca, Walmart & select drugstores)
The original Real Techniques makeup sponge gained popularity as the Beauty Blender’s more affordable cousin. Recently the brand has released a new sponge with a better design and material.
Of all the sponges I’ve tested this one has the most variety in terms of application surfaces. It has a rounded body, flat base and a pointed top with one side shaved flat to access hard to reach areas. Once wet it becomes soft and delicate (watch out for tears) and it is one of the easiest to clean. The material is porous but doesn’t seem to absorb as much foundation as the Beauty Blender and although I have to layer a bit more product for full-coverage, I love the smooth, silky finish it provides. The sponge takes a while to dry but if you are looking for an effective applicator for a great price it is definitely worth having in your makeup bag.
#4 EcoTools Perfecting Blender Duo $15.99 (best used damp)
(Available at farley.ca, Walmart & select retailers)
EcoTools is well known for their brushes and they recently released a new sponge duo that claims to provide 50% better application than leading prestige sponges. There are 2 sizes in the pack: large and soft - for light, buildable coverage and mini which is firmer for precise coverage. The material isn’t quite as light as the Beauty Blender but it is soft with a dense core that seems more durable. These sponges absorb a lot of water which is not a bad thing when it comes to retaining dampness for application and the large one swells to almost palm size! They do take more time to dry and clean but I love the big flat surface, plump rounded end and the long tapered edge. In terms of attaining a flawless finish, it gets the job done quickly and efficiently!
#5 BEAUTE.e Clear Silicone Makeup Sponge (Silisponge) $8.85
(Available on Amazon – click HERE for direct link)
Silicone sponges are the newest beauty trend to hit the market with claims to reduce product waste and be easier to clean. At first I had no idea how a flat, implant looking product could produce a smooth, poreless finish but it does have some advantages. Since you don’t have to wet it, there is no drying time which also makes it ideal for travel. It wipes clean, doesn’t harbor much bacteria (although you should wash it with soap and disinfect occasionally) and it’s true what they say – you can use less product because it isn’t absorbent.
The downside (and this is pretty major) is that foundation application is substantially less consistent because the sponge (if you can even call it that) feels like a flat piece of gummy rubber that simply smears everything around. My results were not nearly as smooth and flawless as I’d hoped and there was some patchiness. Using flat strokes seems to be most effective but my foundation looked like I merely rubbed it around on the surface of my skin instead of blending it out seamlessly. Although I think the Silicone Sponge fails with makeup, I like using it to apply moisturizer, serum and cream.
#6 THEFACESHOP Holiday Beauty Blender $20.00 for 3
(Available in stores and thefaceshop.ca)
Although these sponges look most like the original Beauty Blender they rate last on my list. The material is like a firm ball that actually bounces which is much too hard for proper blending and once wet they don't soften or enlarge. This is probably the least effective applicator I’ve used and it left my foundation looking patchy instead smooth and even.