These 7 Makeup Sponges Were Easier to Master Than I Expected
This is part of our new weekly series called Test Drive, where our team of beauty experts demystify products and tools, as well as explore new techniques IRL.
Ask any makeup novice or aficionado what their tool preference is for applying foundation or concealer and you’ll likely find that there’s a divide between team sponge and team brush. Personally, I toe the line between the two, depending on how much time I have to pull myself together, which as a mom and beauty editor, is often very little.
Both tools can give you a professional, airbrushed finish, depending on how you use them.
Celebrity makeup artist Jamie Dorman’s rule of thumb is to use a blender for liquid makeup and a brush for dry products like powders. Due to its natural porosity, a sponge will absorb some of the liquid makeup that you put on it, the result is a lighter application on your face.
Whereas, a brush and powder duo is the better option if you need more coverage or want to mattify oily skin. Overall, the versatility and simplicity of a sponge is way more my speed and I've learned a few tricks for using a makeup sponge.
Wet It First
“Run the sponge under tap water and wring out the excess water. A damp or wet sponge allows the product to blend and spread seamlessly,” says celebrity makeup artist Robert Sesnek. A dry sponge will suck up a liquid or cream so you end up wasting product. The exception to this rule: If you are applying a product that doesn’t mix with water, like a powder or wax or silicone-based product (like cream blush or highlighter), leave the sponge dry. Otherwise, you can end up with a blotchy, uneven application, says Dorman.
Learn the “Bounce” Technique
Use the sponge to tap the product into your skin, rather than swipe on the product. “You have to find your finesse or you can actually take off all the makeup. It’s like learning how to dance,” says makeup artist Jamie Greenberg. It took me a few tries to get into the groove, but now I lightly pat the makeup into my face instead of rubbing it on. I’m mindful of blending the perimeter of my face too so that it all looks seamless. I noticed a difference right away with this method. The product goes on more evenly and although I’m not applying as much product as I would if I wiped it on, I still got just the right coverage I wanted.
Use It As a Final Step or a Touchup
A sponge can also be used at the end of your routine. “I always blend with a sponge after the makeup is complete; I find it’s almost equivalent to buffing with a brush. It pushes the makeup into the skin and gives the perfect softness to the makeup. If you feel that after several hours the makeup is breaking down or looking worn out, I’ll take a little moisturizer, place it on the fuller side of the sponge and bounce it into the skin. It refreshes the foundation or makeup and brings the skin back to life,” Sesnek adds.
Store It Carefully
“Don’t store a wet sponge in a plastic, airtight bag or container if you don’t plan on washing it before the next use; this can cause bacteria to grow in the sponge,” says Dorman. Instead, she recommends placing it in a mesh pouch so it can dry while being protected inside your makeup bag.
After learning how to properly use a sponge, I put some to the test. These were my favorites: