Makeup applicators have come a long way, growing with fashion and aesthetic changes. As our aesthetics and techniques have continued to evolve, there were several incredible improvements in the tools – like the BeautyBlender, which honestly changed the way we have been doing our makeup.
It seems that we will all hit the point where we have to ask ourselves, “what is the best option for applying our makeup?” A makeup puff like the old-school days? How can we tell which o makeup applicator is best? When do you try a makeup blender and how do you know which is the best makeup sponge available?
Check out below not only our top 17 picks for the best makeup sponges, blenders and powder puffs, but also tips and tricks on how to use them. If you have one to add, let us know and share the intellectual wealth!
Guide to Makeup Sponges, Blenders & Powder Puffs: Contents
• 17 Best Makeup Sponges, Powder Puffs & Makeup Blenders to Buy
• Makeup Sponge vs. Makeup Brush vs. Your Fingers
• How to Choose the Right Makeup Sponge
• How to Use a Makeup Sponge
• How to Clean Makeup Sponges
• How to Clean Powder Puffs or Makeup Brushes
• Makeup Sponge Hacks & Tips to Know
From the best makeup sponge to the powder puff that makes powder product applications so much easier, these are our top picks of makeup blenders and applicators that really rock.
1. The Original BeautyBlender
The original game-changing BeautyBlender clearly had to make the list! Described as an edgeless, non-disposable makeup sponge, this is the makeup tool that changed the game. It won the Allure Best of Beauty award in 2018 and gave us the streak-free application with its water-activated unique material. Dreamlike soft skin created with this makeup sponge is now available to us all, and you can get yours from Amazon or Net-a-Porter.
2. Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge
Real Techniques’ makeup sponge is designed to provide everything you need for your concealer, foundation and blending needs. Use the rounded side to blend large areas with a stippling or dabbing motion. Apply concealer with the precision tip to cover blemishes and use the flat edge for contouring. Working together with each area of this makeup sponge will reliably provide an excellent matte finish. Get yours from Ulta Beauty!
3. Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Precision Makeup Sponge 100
Another incredible addition to the Fenty by Rihanna beauty line is this three-sided makeup sponge. Designed to work with liquid, cream or powder products, this makeup blender is great for customizing your coverage for a perfect application each time. The rounded end is for all over buffing, the mini moon edge is for targeting areas like under the eyes, and the slanted edge is for stippling. Order yours from Sephora!
4. Milk Makeup Dab + Blend Applicator
Milk Makeup’s gel makeup sponge is nothing like other beauty blenders. This one doesn’t absorb your makeup, so there is no waste! It’s easy to clean (just rinse with soap and water) and doesn’t grow bacteria. It even has a cute holographic case. Dab your makeup on and use a rolling motion to seamlessly apply your makeup to your skin. This makeup applicator is great for foundation, highlighter, contouring and baking. Get yours from Sephora!
5. Morphe Highlight and Contour Beauty Sponge
Morphe’s beauty sponge is a latex-free precision tool for applying liquid makeup. The shape is one we’re familiar with, allowing total control of your liquid foundation for a flawless final look. Order yours from Ulta Beauty to test it!
6. Laura Mercier Velour Puff
Laura Mercier’s powder puff was specially designed to be the ideal applicator for setting powder. The makeup puff has a soft luxe feel and texture that molds to pick up, hold and apply the right amount of setting powder each time for a soft focus and a matte finish. It is even easy to clean! Order yours from Sephora now!
7. BeautyBlender Pure
Designed and noted for being a colorless, edgeless makeup sponge perfect for skin care application, the BeautyBender Pure is dye-free, making it a good option for those with sensitive skin. It works perfectly with options outside of makeup that you could apply to the skin like moisturizer, sunscreen or primer. Pick up yours from Sephora!
8. Dior Backstage Blender Fluid Foundation Sponge
Each of Dior’s egg-shaped makeup blenders has a beveled side and is made from a soft yet high-density material that applies the perfect amount of product with each use. Use the flat side to blend, the round side to build coverage, while the precision tip for areas like around the nose and eyes. This makeup sponge is made in France but available for purchase at Saks Fifth Avenue.
9. Sephora Collection Total Coverage Sponge
Sephora’s makeup sponge is specially designed to cover the larger areas of the face but includes a precision end that is ideal for contouring. Thanks to the design, precision around the nose, chin, and under the eyes is a breeze. The shape is ergonomic, and the results are flawless. This makeup blender can be used for liquid, cream or powder makeup application. Get yours from Sephora!
10. BeautyBlender Power Pocket Puff
BeautyBlender makeup sponges aren’t just for liquid foundations, but this updated version of the classic powder puff is exceptionally designed for powders. The pink side is incredibly soft and plush, designed to apply the perfect amount of powder while the tan suede side is designed to re-blend your makeup to a perfectly seamless finish whenever you need. To make it easier to use, there is a built-in, stretchy finger band that allows you to use this powder puff easier than any other. Get yours from Sephora!
11. EcoTools Total Perfecting Blender
Designed with EcoFoam technology, this makeup sponge was designed from content to shape to create the appearance of flawless-looking skin. From the angled tip and flat sides to the rounded base, there is a proviso for every application need. Order one for yourself from Ulta Beauty now!
12. Sephora Collection Jelly Makeup Sponge
The greatest benefits of using a jelly makeup sponge over a traditional sponge are minimal waste and durability. Because the jelly sponge is easier to clean and dries quickly, it is less likely to mold or grow bacteria. This is also the best makeup sponge, since it lasts a good long time and can be used to apply any foundation, highlighter, blush, concealer or primer with ease. It is ultra-soft and easy to find, so order yours from Sephora!
13. Laura Mercier 4-Pack Sponges
The four pack of Laura Mercier makeup sponges features egg-shaped makeup blenders for a good feel in hand and increased control when applying makeup. The four pack allows for a more reliable set of backups if these are your favorite sponges. Grab yours from Nordstrom!
14. Hourglass Ambient Strobe Light Sculptor
The dual-ended makeup sponge from Hourglass provides a precision application for a refined, natural highlight. It was designed to be the perfect makeup applicator for the Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder. The angled side was designed for applying makeup to the high points of the face, and the velvety side blends for the most natural look. The texture is dense, and the makeup sponge can be used wet or dry. Get yours from Sephora!
15. Tarte Pineapple Throne Sponge & Sponge Holder
Tarte’s makeup sponge is the perfect two-piece set to keep your beauty tool in pristine condition and easy to reach. The sponge itself has glitter in it just for another pop of cuteness on a tool designed to give you the perfect look and easy application. The “throne” for your dream makeup sponge is shaped like a pineapple for another pop of fun. You can easily apply your concealer, foundation, contour, and highlight with this single tool and achieve a flawless finish. Get yours from Ulta Beauty and feel like a princess!
16. Wander Beauty Wander Cushion Sponge
Wander Beauty’s makeup sponge is designed to create a streak-free soft photo finish. This is the softest and the best makeup sponge, as it has a cloud crafted into a unique design that features a curved and flat shape. The shape is responsible for evenly distributing both liquids and powders to create a smooth, natural finish with either medium. Pick up yours from Net-a-Porter!
17. Givenchy Makeup Blender Fluid & Compact Foundation Sponge
To set their makeup sponge apart from the others on the market, Givenchy designed one with a double cone shape to ensure clean fingers while providing precision application. The sides of the cone can be used to apply foundation to areas like the forehead and cheeks, while the tips of the cone should be used for harder-to-reach areas. Order one for yourself from Sephora!
The question of what makeup applicator to use and when is actually a lot easier to answer than we all thought. Simply put, when you want to apply something the methodology of application is based on the finish you want to achieve.
Here are a few ways that each makeup application method differs from the other and how this can affect your choice, as truthfully, one is not necessarily better than the other on all counts. Also, you can always combine different application methods to customize your look accordingly.
Applying Makeup with a Makeup Sponge
Makeup sponges have been in use for quite a while throughout the history of makeup. The creation and inclusion of sponges like the BeautyBlender really changed not only how we do our makeup but also the final effect we were aiming for. Surprisingly it is about more than just the soft, natural look that can be achieved with the makeup sponge, but the actual effect it has on skin.
• The best makeup sponge creates less skin damage. While this may seem like a stretch, it’s true! The dab and roll motion with a wet makeup sponge stretches and pulls at skin much less than other application methods. Though the damage is minimal or negligible in most cases from other methods, a difference, no matter how small, should be accounted for.
• Makeup sponge is easier on the delicate skin around the eyes.
• Makeup sponges like the BeautyBlender have to be replaced often to prevent bacteria build-up, and they wear down quickly. This is a benefit for those who do not diligently clean their makeup tools.
• The shape is easy to hold and incredibly versatile, allowing you to apply multiple products with a single tool.
Applying Makeup with a Makeup Brush
Makeup brushes have a few benefits over makeup sponges and finger application. Most importantly, a brush doesn’t have to be wet to be used, which is great for people who have drier skin. Why? A wet brush or makeup sponge adds water to the makeup and surface of the face, which can create a clumpy appearance and cause skin to actually be drier.
• When using a powder, you definitely want to utilize a makeup brush. Brushes give better control over the amount of powder deposited, built up and spread out evenly for a smooth finish.
• Makeup brushes absorb less makeup, making them good for liquid makeup, but without using the right amount, you could end up with a streaky appearance, so using the right amount is key.
• Brushes have longer lifespans than makeup blenders.
• Brushes are better for applying full-coverage makeup.
• They feature synthetic bristles.
Applying Makeup with Your Fingertips
Applying your makeup with your fingertips is ideal for some and not for others, but there are a few obvious and not so obvious benefits of using your fingers to apply your makeup. There is an art to this style of makeup application, but once you have it down, you can do your makeup anywhere.
• The most obvious benefit to a fingertip application is that you are unlikely to lose your tools!
• Your fingers are warm, which can make it easier to blend out your makeup, especially if it is a cream-formula makeup. This can be duplicated by using warm water to wet your makeup sponge, but eventually it will get cold so you’re on a timeline.
• Your ring finger provides the perfect amount of pressure for soft, seamless application and blending of your makeup.
• Using your ring finger is especially helpful when applying pressed powders, as you can deposit more color and manipulate it with better control.
Generally speaking, there are so many different types of makeup sponges and applicators that it is hard to tell which one is right for what situation. There are several factors to consider of course, but the main one is this – you want a tool that does what it is supposed to, and meets as many needs as possible all by itself.
This is where the first important factor comes in: shape. Also, the type of makeup you are applying, where and your skin type should be enough to help you make your decision.
Shapes of Makeup Blenders
• The drop-shaped makeup sponge is the most popular of the shapes. It is multifunctional, allowing you to apply makeup to the larger areas with the rounded base and to the areas around the nose and eyes with the pointed end. This makeup sponge can be used wet or dry, though wet is the preferred method. It is ideal for blending makeup, but excels with liquids like primers, BB creams, foundations and moisturizers.
• The cone-shaped makeup sponge focuses more on eyes and contouring most often.
• Then there are the wedge-shaped makeup sponges, which have been around longer and are usually disposable latex sponges. These are not great for larger areas like the forehead, cheeks and décolletage area, but are great for detail work.
• The powder puff is another makeup blender, which is designed especially for the application of powder products, like powder blush, powder foundation or setting powder. They are great for creating a flawless air-brushed finish.
Depending on the look you want and how much detail work goes into it you can work with any of these types of makeup sponges.
Material of Makeup Sponges
Some makeup sponges are made from latex, others from silicone, and others from artificial fibers. Both artificial sponge and natural sea sponge can be used to apply makeup.
Recently, silicone makeup sponges have been creating a lot of hype even though they are not technically a sponge. They are more hygienic than both makeup brushes and sponges, and it cannot be underestimated how easy it is to clean them.
Silicone sponges are ideal for more sensitive skin because they are easier to clean and they are gentler on skin than brushes. There is nearly no product waste, as these don’t soak up any foundation, and they are easy to store and save.
The flat side is for larger surfaces, while the edge is designed for the sides of the eyes, nose and mouth. Silicone pads are not meant for powders however, unless you intend to mix them into a cream.
Consider the size of your makeup sponge as well. Smaller sponges are great for blending and applying eye makeup and concealer.
You can actually apply all of your makeup with a makeup sponge if you so choose, using either the wet or dry method.
Wet Method Makeup Application
• In order to achieve the best results with your makeup sponge, wet the sponge first, as water will help create a smooth and flawless application.
• First, squeeze a small amount of your foundation, primer, moisturizer or any other product onto the back of your non-dominant hand.
• Using your makeup sponge, dab up the makeup onto the sponge and apply to your face with a tap and roll motion for a seamless, ideal finish.
• Build up your foundation as needed.
• For the final step, use your sponge without adding any more makeup to it and dab all over your face to create a smooth look you really want and blend any portion you may have overlooked.
Dry Method Makeup Application
Using a makeup sponge like BeautyBlender dry isn’t recommended for liquid foundation, as you won’t get the sought-after natural look. Other makeup sponges, like those made from latex or silicone work beautifully dry.
• Just add the foundation onto the sponge or silicone pad and then roll the sponge /pad from side to side to apply the product to the face.
• If you want to apply a dry powder foundation, consider using a powder puff or a brush applicator.
Clean your makeup sponges with cleanser and water. All methods will require you to soak your sponge in a type of soapy water.
After some research, one of the absolute best methods of cleaning makeup sponges is to microwave them. Bear with me, there are good reasons for tossing your beloved makeup sponge into the microwave, as it is a specific way to clean it without causing damage. Microwaving your best makeup sponge will clean it and disinfect it simultaneously.
So what method is best to go about this task?
• Mix a mild soap with warm water in a microwave-safe bowl or cup. Mix enough to fully submerge the makeup sponge once it has soaked up some of the water and expanded.
• Submerge the makeup sponge in the dish.
• Place the dish in the microwave and let it run for one minute.
• Remove the dish carefully. Your water should now be full of makeup residue while the makeup sponge has a new life.
• Let the water cool and squeeze out the excess water from the sponge. Let it air-dry and then put it away for the next application.
Not sure you want to microwave your makeup sponge? Just follow steps one and two, then squeeze the sponge continuously to flush out some of the makeup.
You can also soak the makeup sponge and rub it with soap. Afterwards, continue to let it absorb and squeeze out the excess water beneath a running tap.
You can even throw your makeup sponge in a mesh or lingerie bag and throw it in the laundry with your clothes!
• Clean your powder puff and makeup brushes by first tapping it on a paper towel or over a washcloth to get rid of the excess powder that would otherwise clump up when it was wet.
• Fill a bowl with warm soapy water.
• Submerge your powder puff or the bristles of your makeup brush into the warm soapy water and swish it a bit to get it throughout the tool. Rub your tool with your fingers or on the side of the bowl to help remove any makeup or debris. Do this until the water running out of it is clear.
• Rinse your powder puff or makeup brush off with clean warm water.
• Let your tools air-dry.
So, now that you have much more information that you likely intended, you may be wondering if there is anything else that was left out. We do have a few makeup sponge tips and tricks for you to consider as well.
• Don’t be afraid to test out different makeup application methods, trial and error is the best way to find out what works best for you.
• Use your fingers when applying pressed eyeshadow – this provides the greatest color payoff.
• If you’re using your fingers, make sure to tap and not rub with your ring finger. Your ring finger uses the least amount of pressure and there is no need to ground the makeup in.
• Always wet your makeup sponge before use to get the most even distribution of makeup on and keep it from sucking up and absorbing a lot of your product.
• Build up your coverage no matter what tool you use. Don’t apply it all at once.
• A “wet sponge” never means a dripping wet sponge. It means damp, so squeeze out the excess water before use. A damp makeup sponge is also better for your skin than a dry one, as there is less pulling.
• Even if you applied your foundation with a damp makeup sponge, you can clean it up or provide extra spot coverage by dabbing with a small amount of foundation on a dry sponge.
• There are plenty of tools to make cleaning your makeup sponges and blenders quickly and easily, some even dry your sponges, which is what takes the longest amount of time.
• A dry makeup sponge works like magic eraser when you have applied too much product like bronzer or blush. Just drag the dry makeup blender over the area to pull up some of the product.
• Keep your makeup sponge moist while you use it, it will dry out as you apply makeup to your face. Spritz it or soak and squeeze out the excess if you feel it begins to dry.
• Remember that makeup sponges are delicate, so never wring them or they will rip and tear.
• Wash your makeup sponges after every use to prevent bacteria build-up. At the very least, keep rinsing and squeezing the sponge until the water runs clear.
• If your makeup sponge comes with a case, keep it and use it to store your sponge after it’s dried. That will prolong the life and keep it from being moldy.
• Remember that your makeup sponge can be used to apply all sorts of products ideally, so make certain to check that you are utilizing yours as beneficially as you can.
Photos via @marianna_hewitt, @tiaa_angeline, @teegan_victoria, @anajohnson, @n_boyarkina, @caro_e_, @vivaluxuryblog