Meet the make-up sponges that will help you buff your way to a flawless finish
A beauty blender is the best, most reliably consistent way to apply foundation. After all, even the most expensive of foundations requires the right tools for the job. It doesn’t matter how silky smooth your base product, if you’re not applying it correctly, you could end up with a sub-par finish – and what a waste that would be.
Foundation brushes and, indeed, our fingers can be great for applying certain products. High-quality brushes allow you to buff and layer for a beautiful, even finish, while the heat from fingertips works well to warm liquids or cream products, helping them to blend seamlessly into the skin. But the tool most professional make-up artists swear by? A beauty blender. These innovative foam sponges are available in all sorts of shapes, sizes and textures to allow for buildable application of product that’s smooth and even every time. Hello, perfect canvas!
How to choose the best beauty blender for you
Is a beauty blender better than a brush?
While some brushes can absorb product, a beauty blender (or make-up sponge) allows you to build layers delicately – and with precision. Sponges also allow you to control the type of finish you achieve. Most are best used damp, and how wet your sponge is will determine the overall look. For example, a saturated sponge will create a sheer finish on the skin, while an ever-so-slightly damp sponge, or a dry sponge, will give fuller coverage. You could even set your base by spritzing your beauty blender with a setting mist and gently patting onto the skin.
READ NEXT: Our pick of the best CC creams
Egg, teardrop or almond-shaped?
Make-up sponges have transformed significantly over the past few years, and the number of shapes and sizes available can be a bit of a minefield if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Traditional foundation sponges are usually egg- or teardrop-shaped – this style is perfect for blending large areas, while the tapered tip will get into those hard-to-reach spots such as the crevices around the nose.
Almond-shaped sponges, on the other hand, are perfect for contouring and precision. The slanted edge offers controlled stippling, while the rounded edge is, again, perfect for wider areas such as the cheeks. You’ll also find curvy pear-shaped varieties, which are great for targeted coverage and a more opaque finish. When it comes to size, dinkier versions allow for greater precision, but much of your decision will come down to personal choice and what you need it for.
How much should I spend?
It’s recommended that you replace your beauty blender after 30 uses, but you’ll see from our list below that you don’t need to spend a fortune for great results. Make-up sponges can start from a purse-friendly £5 each, all the way up to £17.50 for the pioneering Beautyblender Original, which remains a firm favourite with beauty junkies – and for good reason.
How we test dark-circle concealers
To test the concealers you see below, they become staples in our testers’ makeup bags, so we can thoroughly assess their ability to cover dark circles and blemishes. During trials, we look at the texture of a product and how easily and well it can be applied, how it blends, the overall finish, plus the length of time for which the concealer stays put. Bonus points are given to those formulas that prove water-resistant and that contain skin-nourishing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid.
READ NEXT: The best false eyelashes to buy
The best beauty blenders you can buy in 2023
1. Beautyblender Original: Best make-up sponge for foundation application
Price: £17.50 | Buy now from Cult Beauty
Beautyblender launched the original make-up sponge in 2007, and it changed the way we applied our base products forever. Although other brands have launched their own dupes since, the Beautyblender is still considered one of the best for applying foundation without any caking or creasing. It’s designed to be used wet – simply run under water, squeeze out the excess and get ready to stipple and buff your way to an airbrushed finish. The trick apparently lies in the patented aqua-activated sponge, which grows to about twice its size when wet to absorb minimal product. It’s soft, satisfyingly bouncy and a joy to use.
2. Brushworks HD Definer Complexion Sponge: Best beauty blender for contouring
Price: £5.99 | Buy now from Soinvogue
Brushworks offers a brilliant budget-friendly range of beauty blenders in assorted shapes and sizes. We tested the HD Definer, which has been designed to fit into those hard-to-reach areas but also proves to be pretty versatile. While the rounded edge is great for smoothing foundation across your cheeks and forehead, the straight edge is perfect for getting into the hollows of your cheeks to achieve that chiselled look. This blender can be used dry or damp, since it absorbs minimal product, and it’s great for applying blush and powder, too. A great sponge at a great price point.
3. e.l.f. Camo Concealer Sponge: Best beauty blender for concealer
Price: £5 | Buy now from e.l.f.
This narrow, almond-shaped sponge was originally designed to complement e.l.f.’s Camo Concealer, but we found it works equally well with other concealer brands. Made from soft, latex-free foam, the dual-point ends allow for targeted coverage around the eyes and for buffing along the forehead and bridge of the nose. This is another sponge that’s best used damp.
4. madebySunday Big Fuzz Microfibre Make-Up Blender: Best all-round beauty blender
Price: £8 | Buy now from madebySunday
Thanks to its velvety, almost fleece-like texture, madebySunday’s Big Fuzz sponge absorbs up to 70% less product than your average make-up sponge. It’s designed to be used dry as well as wet, making it perfect for powders, blushers, highlighters and more. It even has added vitamin E to help hydrate your skin. When used damp, it almost doubles in size, and foundation and base products glide on smoothly, even over our tester’s acne-prone skin. It’s a great choice if you regularly use a range of make-up products with different textures.
5. So Eco Complexion Sponge Duo: Best make-up sponge set
Price: £10 | Buy now from Soinvogue
If you’re looking to transform your make-up haul for the better, So Eco is a brand dedicated to using only responsibly sourced packaging, not to mention cruelty- and plastic-free products, all of which have been PETA-accredited. This handy, super-soft set is perfect for both precision concealing and foundation application and can be used damp or dry. For fuller coverage, use dry, dabbing with the rounded edge of the sponge, while the tips are perfect for covering blemishes and imperfections.
6. Huda Beauty The Basic B Sponge: Best beauty blender for controlled application
Price: £15 | Buy now from Feel Unique
We love how easy this sponge is to use, regardless of the product formula we applied. From liquids to creams to powders, this double-sided blender offered smooth and controlled application, soaking up minimal product. It can also be used wet or dry, and swells to a pretty good size when damp. The teardrop point hugs the natural contours of your face, while the flat side is perfect for blurring under the eyes. The result is super-light and even coverage that’s easily buildable if required. Extra points for the fact that it’s black, so any staining is barely noticeable!