When it comes to makeup application, you’re usually in one of three camps: those who apply with their fingers, brushes, or sponges. If you ask me, you really can’t beat a sponge; in fact, I’ve detailed my 12-year experience with sponges and blenders here, which saw me go from a sponge denier to a total die-hard believer.
While the originals (such as BeautyBlender) can set you back a little extra cash, there is actually a huge choice out there to choose from, no matter your budget. You can even pick up an effective sponge for as little as £5, if you only know where to look.
Whether it’s an OG favourite or a newer iteration from Real Techniques, Fenty and more high street faves, these sponges will ensure your makeup application is smoother than ever before.
The original Beautyblender
While makeup sponges have existed for as long as makeup artistry has been a thing, it’s the Beautyblender Original, £17, Boots, that rocketed the humble makeup sponge into the world of viral beauty products. The bright colours and unusual egg shape – rounded at one end and pointy at the other – made it instantly recognisable and, although other brands have since come out with their own incarnations of it, I truly think that it’s the best makeup sponge on the market. Caldognetto also rates this one thanks to its durable texture and the way it provides the “perfect bounce to apply product to the skin”.
The best budget makeup sponge
This little makeup sponge from Spectrum is so absorbent that it practically triples in size when you run it under warm water, making it perfect for mornings when you’re running late and want to get your foundation on your face quickly. It bounces effortlessly over skin and leaves behind no marks or traces of applications; just seamless, beautifully dewy skin. If I’m honest, I’d probably be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the results of this and my beloved Beautyblender, and you really can’t argue with the £5 price tag.
The beauty-expert favourite
After the Beautyblender, the Real Techniques makeup sponge is probably the most raved-about sponge applicator within the beauty community, and for good reason. It has three distinct surfaces – a pointed tip, curved edges and a flat side – so that you can use it for everything from large surface foundation application to pinpoint concealing and contouring. And although I personally still prefer to use this one when it’s damp, it also works well dry if you’re after a more full-coverage, less dewy, finish.
The 5in1 sponge set
Okay, strictly speaking this is five sponges and not just one, but hear me out. When a new makeup sponge lands on my desk for work I tend to pass it straight onto friends or family due to my unwavering loyalty to my Beautyblender. However, I don’t know whether it was the cutesy packaging or the vibrantly-coloured sponges themselves, but something made me take this collection of Morphe makeup sponges home with me and I’m so glad I did. I am so surprised at how versatile this set is and I’ve genuinely been using them daily. My biggest shout outs go to the small teardrop-shaped sponges, which are perfect for concealer, and the full-sized sponges which I use to apply everything from tinted moisturiser to liquid bronzer.
The most versatile sponge
Apparently, Rihanna really wanted to make sure that everything from the texture to the bounce of this Fenty sponge was just right before launching it and, like pretty much everything that she’s launched in her beauty range, it really is spot on. It’s another three-sided makeup sponge so it’s incredibly versatile and plays nice with liquid, cream and powder formulations. And both RiRi and I agree on one thing: the best way to use this makeup sponge is damp.
The best value
I’ll be honest: a large part of the appeal of the NYX makeup sponge is that it’s black and therefore looks less grubby than my other iterations do by the end of the week. However, it’s also one of the best affordable makeup sponges on the market. It has two sloping edges and a curved bottom, and it makes really light work of stippling in cream and liquid products. Plus, it’s made from a really smooth material that feels super comfortable when pressed onto the skin.