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Monday, May 2, 2016

Review + Comparisons: Battle of the Makeup Sponges (BeautyBlender, Real Techniques, Swissco, Sephora, Black Up)

Battle of the Beauty Blender Makeup Sponge Dupe Comparison Review

Makeup Sponges

  • works especially well for those with dry skin (Using a synthetic brush in a buffing motion can cause exfoliation and make your foundation look flakey. Using a sponge in a tapping motion prevents exfoliation and is ideal for those with dry, flakey skin.)
  • prevents full coverage foundations from looking cakey (Since sponges sheer out coverage, it makes it more difficult to over apply foundation. Therefore, sponges work well for those with a heavy hand.)
  • allows foundation to "melt" into your skin (The method of stippling in conjunction with the moisture from the sponge allows foundation to blend into the skin seamlessly without any lines of demarcation, while leaving an airbrushed finish.)
  • suppose to be replaced every 1-3 months (Those who take good care of it have been able to make it last for about 6-8 months. I've had brushes that lasted 5+ years. Therefore, those who are on a beauty budget may not find makeup sponges to be economically sound.)
  • more product gets absorbed and wasted (I find that sponges soak up more product compared to synthetic brushes.)
  • time consuming (Stipping with a sponge requires more time compared to buffing with a synthetic brush. It's also best to use a foundation that doesn't dry as fast to prevent it from applying blotchy or else you'll have to work alot quicker. Also, when using a sponge, I have to apply 2 layers of the MUFE HD foundation in order to get the coverage that I need, while it takes only one layer when using a synthetic brush.)
  • emphasize pores (I find that sponges can make my pores appear larger when used in a stippling motion compared to a synthetic buffing brush. To prevent this from happening, you can (1) wear a silicone-based primer (review) underneath or (2) use the sponge in a painting motion on areas where there are visible pores.
I don't find sponges to be superior or inferior to synthetic brushes. Just like everything else in life, there are always pros & cons and trade-offs. This post is meant to be informative and to explain why sponges may or may not be right for you.

How to Use

Damp: Wet the sponge under running water until it becomes full saturated and then squeeze it gently a few times until it expands fully. Then, turn the faucet off and squeeze out all the water gently instead of wringing it in order to prevent tearing. Finally, use a towel to soak up any excess water. (Some sponges may not expand. I will discuss later in this post which ones do and which ones don't.) 

I find that it's best to use the sponge when damp (not dripping wet) for foundation application as it provides a more even and smooth finish. Using a sponge when dry can cause it to soak up even more product and apply more blotchy. Using a sponge that's dripping wet or too damp can change the consistency and the components of the foundation as you're essentially diluting the formula. Also, it can make your foundation look separated.

Dot: I recommend dotting and spreading the foundation all over your face using a clean finger. If you apply the foundation directly onto the sponge, then most of the product will get absorbed by the sponge. Those who are using a foundation that dries quick should work half the face or in small sections at a time.

Dab: Use the sponge in a stippling/tapping motion rather than a sweeping/painting motion to blend the foundation into your skin.  I personally prefer to use the side of the pointed end because it provides a bouncy effect and I find that it fits into the contours of my face better than the bottom flat side. Though, the bottom of the sponge can cover a bigger portion of your face and blend in the foundation alot quicker.  

Foundation Preference: I prefer medium coverage and since sponges tend to sheer out foundation, I find that pairing them with a full coverage foundation provides the type of coverage that I need with only one layer. If I pair the sponge with a medium coverage foundation, it'll leave a light finish and I'll have to build it up by using more product (and time) in order to get the coverage that I need.

Keep in mind that these are just suggestions and guidelines. At the end of the day, do what works best for you!

Beauty Blender Makeup Egg Shape Sponge Storage Ideas

How to Wash & Dry

I highly recommend washing it after every use to prevent mold and bacteria growth. Using a dirty sponge can lead to breakouts. Also, bacteria grows in moist conditions. So, make sure to gently squeeze out all the water from the sponge and use a towel to absorb any excess before you let it air dry on a clean surface. I usually lay a clean towel on a table and place my sponges on there to dry before storing them in a candle jar. (Do not dry it in a container or makeup pouch where air is limited!)

Directions: Wet the sponge, squeeze out any excess water, and apply gentle soap, such as baby shampooPurity Made Simple, or the Liquid Blender Cleanser, directly onto the stains. Then, rub it in using your fingers (not nails). Wait a few minutes before rinsing.

Alternative Methods: Oil and eye makeup removers break down liquid/cream products alot easier and quicker. For tough stains, you can apply a drop of olive oil or the Neutrogena Eye Makeup Remover directly onto the stain and massage it in using your fingers for a few seconds. Wait a few minutes. At this step, the stains are still visible. Once you add soap to wash out the oil or eye makeup remover, you'll notice that the stains will start to disappear. Follow up with a rinse to get all the soap out. (If you use too much olive oil, it's going to be difficult to rinse out and it'll leave a greasy residue. Also, this method is recommended for latex-free sponges as oil can cause latex sponges to disintegrate. This method can also be used to wash synthetic brushes without damaging the bristles.)

For those who are heavy handed and want to prevent from using too much olive oil, you can mix a little bit of olive oil and soap together in a small rice bowl or plastic container. Then, dip your fingers into the concoction and apply it onto the stain. Wait a few minutes and then rinse until all the soap comes out. You can follow up with another wash using only soap to ensure that all the oil has come out.

Dish detergent is also effective at removing stains, but it's not as gentle as baby shampoo and can cause the sponge to look worn down alot quicker. There's a trade-off. However, it wouldn't really matter to those who plan on replacing it every 1-3 months. So, the "best" method is really up to you.

BeautyBlender Makeup Sponge Storage Ideas Collection Review

Storage Solution

Some sponges, such as the Beauty Blenders, don't have a flat surface. So, they can roll around and fall off the table. The Airport Pro Travel Pouch Case is ideal for beauty minimalists and is very handy for small trips. Beauty hoarders enthusiasts can store them in an egg carton like the half-dozen size as the large size may take up too much space on your vanity. You can also store them in an empty candle jar, kitchen canister, cotton container or brush holder. (Make sure the sponges are fully dry before placing them in a carton since water weakens cardboard and before storing them in a container where air is limited.)  

Beauty Blender Foundation Sponge Candle Holder Container Storage Idea Collection Review

Beauty Blender Royal Original Blusher Pro Micro Mini Correct Four Damp Dry Review
All sponges are damp unless noted otherwise.


Original ($20) - It bled pink dye during its initial wash, but has stopped since. The size of sponge works well for applying foundation to the entire face and is not too small. (Though, I would be interested in purchasing an XL version since stippling requires more time compared to a buffing brush.) It also fits well underneath the eye area due to its pointed end.

Pro ($20) - When damp, it's slightly longer than the Original and has a more sharp point compared to the Royal one. It is intended for applying darker-toned products and long-wear foundations as it makes cleaning easier than when using a light-colored sponge. It also looks more sparkly than the Original and Royal version, especially under direct lighting, but the sparkles do not transfer onto the face.

Royal ($20, Limited Edition) - This one also bled purple dye during its initial wash. When damp, it has a wider base and is slightly fatter than the Original and Pro version. Regardless, all three versions work essentially the same and provide the same finish & coverage.

Beauty Blusher ($16) - The cool-toned grey color of the sponge is suppose to allow you "to distinguish color undertones" of the blush and provide the "perfect blushing effect." I find that the color of the sponge makes it easier to clean than a white sponge and it also makes it easier to see the intensity of the blush compared to the color of the Original, Pro and Royal sponge. The size fits nicely on the cheeks and applies cream blushers beautifully without disturbing the foundation. Those who want a smaller version of the Original, but find the Micro Minis to be too small would enjoy the Blusher version. It also works well for applying concealer underneath the eyes and highlighting the cheekbones. 

Micro Mini Correct Four ($30, Limited Edition) - This one also comes in a duo for $18. You don't need small fairy fingers to get a good grip on the Micro minis, but those with big sausage fingers may find it more difficult to hold. I find that it's ideal for precision work, such as spot concealing, reaching the under eye area, contouring the nose and highlighting the cheekbones, cupid's bow & bridge of the nose. It's also great for those who need to match the color of their sponge to the color of their corrector. (Those who are OCD will completely understand this.)

Out of all the brands mentioned in this post, the BeautyBlenders are the softest of the bunch. They all expand when damp and provide a bouncy effect that allows product to blend into your skin seamlessly, while blurring harsh lines. They are also latex-free. 

Beauty Blender Makeup Sponges Limited Edition Royal Original Blusher Pro Micro Mini Wet Review

BeautyBlender Makeup Sponge Royal Original Blusher Pro Micro Mini Damp Dry Review
All sponges are damp unless noted otherwise.
Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge Dry Damp Review Dupe

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge ($5.99 each and $10.99 for set) - The sponge is latex-free and made from polyurethane foam. It is slightly bigger than the BeautyBlender Original and is easier to hold & control, especially for those with bigger hands. It feels firm when dry and softens up when damp. The flat edge is intended for fitting the contours of the face like underneath the eyes & around the nose. It also prevents the sponge from rolling off the table. The curved sides provide a bouncy effect and is intended for blending large areas of the face. I prefer to use the curved side because the bouncy effect allows product to blend into my skin easier and creates a more flawless finish. The tip also allows for precision and gets into all the nooks & crannies. When compared to the BeautyBlender, I find that the Real Techniques version provides the same finish & coverage.

Sephora Collection The Painter Airbrush Sponge Teal Swissco Precision Blending Black Up Contouring Damp Dry Review

Sephora Collection The Painter Airbrush Sponge in Teal ($12) - When I ran it under water the first time, I noticed that there were soap bubbles coming out of the sponge even though I hadn't applied a cleanser, yet. After a quick wash and rinse, the soap bubbles were gone. It has an ergonomic shape that provides optimal grip and expands when wet. Also, it has a puddy-like texture that feels more durable than the BeautyBlender, but it's not as easy to clean unless I use oil. Just like the Real Techniques one, the flat edge of the Sephora sponge feels firm and doesn't provide a bouncy effect like the curved side does. When compared to the BeautyBlender, I find that the Sephora version provides the same finish & coverage, while the BB makes it easier to reach underneath the eyes because of its sharp point. The Sephora sponge requires a soft pinch to get into the small crevices of the face. (The sponge is latex-free.)

Swissco Precision Blending Sponge ($5.99) - This one comes in 2 colors, including pink and purple. You cannot choose your preference of color online and will receive either color at random. It softens up and expands when damp. The entire sponge, even the bottom flat side provides a bouncy effect. It's also easier to wash compared to the Real Techniques and Sephora version. When compared to the BeautyBlender, I find that the Swissco version requires a soft pinch to reach underneath the eyes, but it essentially provides the same finish & coverage. The size and ergonomic shape also allows for a better grip. This one is my favorite out of the bunch! (The sponge is latex-free.)

Black Up Contouring Sponge ($19.50) - This one doesn't expand when damp and feels the firmest of the bunch. It's intended for contouring rather than for applying foundation. I included it in this post just for size reference. 

BeautyBlender Sephora Real Techniques Swissco Makeup Sponge Dupes Dry Wet Review
All sponges are damp unless noted otherwise.

Bottom Line: Sponges are a great tool for those who want to achieve a flawless finish without looking cakey or flakey. You can choose from a variety of sizes and colors from Beauty Blender to suit your needs. The versions from Real Techniques, Sephora and Swisso are great alternatives and you can purchase them for a fraction of the price. 

Note: The Beauty Blender Original, Pro, Royal, Blusher and Micro Mini sponges are available at Nordstrom, Sephora, Dermstore, and B-Glowing. The Real Techniques sponge is available at Drugstore.comTarget, Ulta and Walmart. The Swissco sponge is available at Ulta. The Sephora Painter sponge and Black Up sponge are available at Sephora.

This post contains affiliate links. None of the products mentioned are sponsored.

1 comment:

  1. thr best way to clean all sponges, blenders, is with bar soap. i prefer Dial, because it antibacterial. wet thr sponge and brush against soap, comes clean, and looks brand new everytime. its cheaper too. Any bar soap will work.


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