Disposable makeup sponges have been on my drugstore shopping list for as far back as I've been wearing makeup. I've always used a liquid foundation, and I thought those foam wedges worked best to blend it into my skin. The look was much more seamless than when I’d use my fingers and be left with streaks that never seemed to smooth out.
While a big bag of disposable sponges is relatively cheap, the price quickly adds up when you consider that they're only designed for one use—if you try and clean them, they'll disintegrate, and it's crucial to regularly clean your makeup tools or risk infection and breakouts. The amount of dollars I’ve spent on sponges (and the amount of sponges I’ve guiltily thrown into landfills) over the years is embarrassingly high for someone who wears makeup most days.
Thank goodness those days are behind me, thanks to the beautyblender. This $20 reusable applicator has been a lifesaver for my skin, the environment, and my wallet.
What sets it apart
The beautyblender is an oval-shaped, super-soft sponge applicator with a unique shape designed to fit the contours of your face. "Unlike other sponges on the market, it’s completely elliptical so that every area of the sponge can be used to apply and blend makeup seamlessly," says Rea Ann Silva, brand founder of beautyblender. "The wide base is great for base complexion products while its tip blends smoothly into hard to reach areas like around the eyes or nose.”
Now it’s true that $20 is a lot to shell out for a sponge. But since the beautyblender is reusable for up to three months with proper care and cleaning, you'll end up saving money over time.
The math checks out: A bag of 32 disposable sponges will last you a month and costs about $5. Compared to the $20 for one beautyblender that will last three months, which equals out to a little more than $6 per month.
Beyond the cost of the product alone, I've found that where I really save money is on the amount of foundation I use now that I've switched to the beautyblender. I suffer from monthly cystic acne so I'm addicted to pricey, high-coverage foundation by Make Up Forever. With the beautyblender, less makeup really goes a long way. Disposable sponges heavily eat up product, since by nature, a sponge's main function is to absorb, but the beautyblender's unique usage instructions, "wet.squeeze.bounce" prevents makeup from disappearing into the applicator.
“What’s so unique about beautyblender is its proprietary, soft, skin-mimicking material that is designed to be used wet to ensure minimal product waste and flawless, easy application and blending—no matter how much experience you have applying makeup,” says Silva.
That's right—you first need to wet the blender to get its magic started.
How it works
Repeatedly squeeze the beautyblender beneath running water to fully saturate it, then gently squeeze it dry (it will still be damp). Apply liquid foundation on the pointed end and "bounce"—that's beautyblender's term for the dabbing effect recommended to apply the product
"It doesn't absorb the product because you get it fully wet before use, and then apply the product in a stippling motion," explains Natalie Soto, Global Educator at jane iredale. The technique smoothly and evenly distributes your makeup so you aren’t stuck with blobs in weird spots.
“Water is also an old ‘pro’ tip to set makeup, so with a damp base, your makeup looks more natural and lasts for longer,” Silva explains.
While I only use the blender with liquid foundation and concealer, Silva notes you can also use it to apply primer, powdered makeup or bronzer, BB and CC creams, and even highlighter. "It’s also really great to apply cream blush and concealer, so it’s a true multi-tasker," says Los Angeles-based makeup artist Melissa Murdick. Powders can be applied using the rounded part of the tool, while liquid foundation goes on the tip.
Is it worth it?
There is a downside: cleaning the blender can be tricky. It’s difficult to get makeup stains out of the sponge, which can make the sponge feel less than clean: you really have to work hard to rid your blender of makeup, which can be time-consuming and frustrating.
Even still, I swear by my beautyblender, and I'm not alone. "The reason the beautyblender is worth the price tag is that it’s completely unique," says Murdick. "The texture makes it so that as you apply your makeup, it’s simultaneously blending so you get a super seamless look to your makeup that you just can’t get with other sponges or foundation brushes."