Foundation brushes have their time and place, don’t get us wrong. But there’s a very good reason beauty blenders have become a must-have in every makeup bag. Whether you’re a product lover who’s layering on dozens of formulas or have a tinted-moisturizer-and-done mentality, having the best makeup sponges in your arsenal is non-negotiable for easy application. After all, getting a second-skin finish with a damp beauty blender is pretty foolproof. Just keep this rule in mind: always dab, never rub.
“You never want to drag the sponge because that creates harsh lines and streaks,” says Alexandria Gilleo, celebrity makeup artist and My Zen Den founder. “When you bounce a sponge, it gives off such a luxurious, flawless, and evenly toned glow.” While there are plenty of do-it-all makeup sponges (cough, cough Beautyblender) that will work for the whole face, Gilleo explains that you may want to build up a robust selection. “Some sizes and densities of sponges can be better to use for different areas of the face,” she explains. “For example, I have a smaller, less dense sponge to use around the eyes and nose to more easily target those tighter spaces, and a larger, more dense blender for the face.”
While we could rattle off the pros for makeup sponges (reusable! easy to use!), they do still require a bit of upkeep. It’s important to remember to wash off the excess product with a gentle cleanser or soap and water. “It’s not uncommon to have bacteria or even mold build up. They can lead to breakouts and even rashes depending on the level of irritation they cause,” says Dr. Dhaval G. Bhanusali, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Hudson Dermatology and Laser Surgery. Daily cleansing would be ideal, but Dr. Bhanusali recommends cleaning your sponges at least once a week.
Now that you’ve received the down low on how to use (and clean!) your beauty blenders, allow us to break down the best makeup sponges—for every purpose, finish, and price point.
The Best Overall
There’s a good reason this specific sponge has a cult following—it’s unmatched. For starters, the shape of the product is key. The rounded bottom is great for applying foundation, diffusing harsh lines, or setting powder, while the pointed tip comes in handy for smaller spots, like the under eyes or around the nostrils. This sponge is supposed to be used while damp (we find that warm water works best) and melts makeup right onto your face for a finish that's truly flawless.
The Best All-in-One
Shape plays a big role when choosing a makeup sponge. If you’re looking for a single tool for your foundation, concealer, buffing, and powder, don’t sleep on Rihanna’s recommendation. This sponge has a slanted edge great for stippling on blush or highlighter, a flat mini-moon side that makes applying concealer a breeze, and a rounded half that effortlessly blends out contour or foundation.
The Best for Foundation
This sponge is a no-brainer thanks to its incredible adaptability. If you wet it with warm water ahead of use, it will sheer out your foundation’s coverage and give a glowy, dewy finish. But, if you're looking for a full coverage application that leans a bit more matte, use the sponge dry.
The Best for Under Eyes
While this beauty sponge works wonders when applying all kinds of complexion products, it’s our all-time favorite for concealer. The narrow, flat tip is ideal for getting close to the lower lash line and inner corner of the eye. How you apply your makeup is totally up to you, but we’ve found that dabbing product directly onto the skin and blending with an ever-so-slightly damp sponge delivers the best results.
The Best Drugstore Buy
For a makeup sponge that won’t break the bank but still delivers, look no further than this option from e.l.f. With a bouncy texture, an angled edge, and rounded sides, it's perfect for applying powder, liquid, and cream formulas. The super pointy tip is also the best shape for covering blemishes.
The Best for Highlight and Contour
With two distinct, angled edges, this affordable makeup sponge is ideal for applying bronzer and highlighter back to back—each product gets a dedicated side. Strategically place your cream or liquid formulas with the flat surface and then buff and blend them out with the rounded half.
The Best Bundle
If your makeup routine is a 10-step minimum, it’s time you crossed paths with this massive bundle. Not only will these top-notch sponges give a streak-free application, but the bag also includes five medium sized sponges and five small sponges, so you'll be able to dedicate a blender to every product in your regimen.
The Best for Powder
On the hunt for the best makeup sponge for baking and powder products? Allow us to introduce you to this miracle-working flat sponge. Not only is it great for applying setting powder to the under-eye area and t-zone, but it’s also our go-to for mineral-based complexion products. The flat edges deposit makeup evenly onto the skin for a flawless, but never cakey finish.
The Best for Small Spaces
Whether you’re trying to expertly blend around your nostrils or cover the inner corner of your eye with concealer, Kaja’s heart-shaped sponge will get the job done. It’s the best option for getting coverage in the hard-to-reach areas. Plus, the divot in the center is great for diffusing bronzer or contour around the jawline.
The Best Eco-Conscious Option
With a non-toxic, vegan composition that’s both free of dyes and completely recyclable, these super soft sponges are environmentally friendly. But don’t get it twisted: they feel insanely luxe and blend foundation without any tugging or pulling. They can be used dry or wet and work with every product consistency.
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Samantha Holender is the Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she reports on the best new launches, dives into the science behind skincare, and keeps up with the latest trends in the beauty space. She has previously written for Us Weekly, Popsugar, Makeup.com, Skincare.com, and Philadelphia Wedding. Follow her on Instagram @samholender.
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