[I’ve had this post in draft mode for ages! Random timing to post this but no time like the present!]
The Beauty Blender needs no introduction. These hot pink egg shaped sponges cost a whopping $26 each and have spawned a slew of BB-like sponges. So is a $26 sponge 26x better than a $1 one?
For years, I refused to succumb to the Beauty Blender. I resisted and bought the dupes to satisfy my Beauty Blender curiosity. I simply could NOT justify paying $26 for a flimsy little egg shaped piece of foam. So I bought some off ebay, and a few from drugstores before I finally decided to get the real thing during the Spring 2013 VIB sale. I’ve been using my stash of makeup sponges for a while now. Let’s have a look at how they stack up the the original Beauty Blender:
L to R [These are arranged from the most airy / porous (L) to the most dense / heavy (R)]:
• Beauty Blender (hot pink) – $26 [note: I paid $26 for mine but I see that it’s now $28 – damn that exchange rate!] (Sephora)
• MAC Pro Performance Sponge (orange) – $24 (MAC)
• Quo Blending Sponge (purple) – $5 (Shoppers Drug Mart)
• Sephora Airbrush Sponge mini (teal) – $12 for 2 [bought this during Black Friday sale 2014] (Sephora)
• Blending sponge from eBay (black) – $1 (shipped from China)
• Kit Super Blenders (mint) – $12 for 3 (Rexall)
Here’s what the sponges look like once dampened with water (as recommended to do prior to using for foundation application):
And here’s the animated gif to show the difference:
I was surprised to see how much each of the sponge grew in size despite having very different textures. I thought the more dense sponge wouldn’t absorb and retain so much moisture but they did. The odd one out was the MAC sponge (the newest to my collection) – it seemed to either remain the same size or even shrink a little after being dampened.
Beauty Blender and MAC Pro Performance Sponge
These 2 have the most similar feel in the hand – very spongy and airy. They both don’t retain too much water after being dampened, which leaves them feeling drier compared to the other sponges. For me, while the Beauty Blender does make foundation look airbrushed and smooth, I find that it absorbs in quite a bit of product due to its porous nature. The MAC sponge behaves similarly but I did enjoy the cone shaped end for crevices and the wider base for larger surface blending. These 2 are the most expensive, with the MAC only $2 less than the Beauty Blender.
I’ve had the original Beauty Blender for 2 years and it’s developed a small tear – I should note that I always wear dish washing gloves to wash all my sponges so my nails don’t accidentally dig into them.
The MAC sponge is a lot more textured compared to the original Beauty Blender – it also has a larger base.
Quo Blending Sponge and Sephora Airbrush Sponge
Not only are these 2 similarly shaped but they also have similar textures – they’re spongy but slightly firm. I suppose I would call these the “Goldielocks” sponges since they’re the best of both worlds – they’re neither too soft nor too firm. And they provide airbrushed looking blending without retaining too much product inside the sponges. The gourd shape of these are great because the base are slightly flatter, so they cover more area but still have the rounded edge that helps to diffuse foundation application.
The firmness also means they don’t tear easily – my Quo sponge has been going strong for at least 3 years and it’s just developed a rip recently.
The texture of the Beauty Blender and Quo are quite similar.
eBay sponge and Kit Super Blender
Shape-wise, they are almost identical to the Beauty Blender but they are the least like the original Beauty Blender in that they’re very dense and don’t have a lot of give, so they don’t bounce well on the skin. The texture of these are the smoothest as well – less spongy and almost silicone-y feeling. These retain the most water in the sponge when dampened, so they don’t absorb much foundation, which is a plus. However, they do sometimes pull foundation off the skin when bounced onto the skin. Overall, these are passable foundation sponges but don’t provide as flawless of a finish compared the others shown.
This sucker is durable – I’ve had this sponge for at least 4 years and it’s just developed a small tear – considering it only cost me $1, it’s not bad at all!
My conclusion? I actually prefer my Quo Blending Sponge over the Beauty Blender! It has more “body” and retains water a bit better so that it doesn’t absorb too much of my foundation, whereas I find the Beauty Blender to have a very dry texture and soaks up too much product. The texture of the Quo is quite similar to the Beauty Blender, creating a nice smooth airbrushed look on the skin. And the Quo is only $5 compared to $26 for the Beauty Blender – it’s a no-brainer. And if the fact that it is constantly out of stock at the store is any indication, I think a lot of people out there loves the Quo sponge too. [unfortunately, Quo is a Canadian brand – as the 2nd alternative, I think the Sephora Airbrush Sponge at $15 is comparable to the Beauty Blender!]
• Once upon a time I did have the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge, but the darn thing fell apart on me after only a few washes so I tossed it. From memory, it had a more airy texture, somewhere between the original BB and Quo, but it was so disappointingly flimsy. I didn’t particularly like the shape – the flat edge wasn’t as good as the curve of the egg shape for blending. It also isn’t that cheap either – it costs $11 each.
• I’ve been trying to get my hands on the Sonia Kashuk‘s version – I heard it’s a great alternative to the Beauty Blender and I suspect probably similar to Quo’s. But, it’s also on the more expensive side, at $10.50 USD, and perpetually out of stock.
• I used to wash my makeup sponges simply in dish washing liquid (Dawn is better than Sunlight) but then I discovered the Daiso Puff and Sponge Detergent. This stuff is amazing! It removes ALL foundation from the sponges, and it even removed some of the stains I had. Notice how new looking all my sponges look? It’s due to this gem! I bought mine from an Asian cosmetics shop for $7 (80ml bottle) but it’s usually only $2 from the Daiso store (none near me!) Also, I implore you – please wash your makeup sponge after every single application – using a dirty sponge is just inviting bacteria and possible break outs!
I hope you found this helpful! Are you a fan of the original Beauty Blender? Or do you prefer the cheaper alternatives? 🙂