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Whether you're a full-face-of-makeup-everyday kind of person or someone who whips out a contour palette just once a year, a makeup sponge is a universal tool to have in your cosmetics bag—that is, if you care at all about a clean and smooth application.
“Makeup sponges help to blend in your makeup seamlessly without leaving streaks,” says Renee Loiz, celebrity makeup artist and founder of Color May Vary. “The foundation, concealer, blush, or highlighter you apply basically becomes one with your skin.” Nothing against makeup brushes or our trusty—read: clean—fingers, but there's no denying that makeup sponges can help you achieve complexion perfection fairly quickly.
Ready to try? Read on for the best makeup sponges.
Best Overall: Beautyblender The Original Makeup Sponge
This top-selling makeup sponge reduces product waste and has a stellar reputation for a streak-free application. "I am a huge fan of BeautyBlender makeup sponges," Renee Loiz says. "They have a ton of different shapes to cater to specific parts of your face and also a variety of colors which is always fun. They also clean really easily, and most importantly, make your foundation application look flawless.”
It’s always best to dampen your sponge for the best results. When your makeup sponge is damp, it absorbs less product, creating less product waste and a more even application.
Best Drugstore: e.l.f. Cosmetics Total Face Sponge
Minimal investment, major reward with this drugstore facial sponge. It features angled sides for the perfect highlight and rounded sides for effortless blending. It also has a precision point that’s ideal for concealing small areas.
Best Budget: Wet n Wild Makeup Sponge
Makeup lovers are pleasantly surprised by the efficacy of this budget-friendly makeup sponge. The large size is super user-friendly and the soft material delivers a smooth finish. Byrdie Editor Eden Stuart sings its praises, stating, "I actually prefer this one over the original BeautyBlender! It's softer, but not too soft."
Best Set: Beauty Bakerie Blending Egg Beauty Sponges
Get more for your buck with this set of six beauty blenders that fit perfectly in your hand for seamless blending. This sponge is a bit on the firmer side, but users rave that it provides a quality blend when dampened.
Best Dual-Density: Uoma Beauty Hey Big Head! Dual-Density Makeup Sponge
You get the best of both worlds with this double-sided sponge. The high-density, angled side is great for applying full-coverage foundations and contouring without absorbing too much product, while the low-density, smooth side works to blend blushes or light to medium-coverage foundations.
Best for Powder: Jane Iredale Flocked Sponge
Most sponges are made with liquids in mind, but this sponge works well with powder and cream formulas as well. Use it to layer powder foundations or for an airbrushed finish with liquid foundations.
Best for Under Eye Concealer: Fenty Beauty Precision Makeup Sponge
It should surprise approximately zero people that Rihanna was able to create a makeup sponge that rivals the classics. This three-sided sponge is latex-free, and I especially enjoyed the flat top; it stippled my under-eye concealer into creaseless perfection.
Be sure to store your makeup sponge in a cool, well-ventilated place where air can reach it evenly to prevent bacteria growth.
Best for Contouring: Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge
This Byrdie-favorite sponge is only $6 but it performs just as well as some of its more expensive counterparts. It's great for contouring, blending, and precision application with liquid foundations—plus, users say it doesn’t absorb all of their foundations.
Best Plush: Juno & Co Microfiber Lemon Drop Sponge
This might just be the softest makeup sponge out there. The first layer is an ultra-soft, non-abrasive material made of tiny microfibers that hold onto your foundation without absorbing it. The second layer is that of a traditional makeup sponge for expert application and smooth product laydown. Word on the street is, it’s even softer than the OG Velvet Sponge.
Best with Handle: EcoTools Beauty Makeup Blender Sponge
Sponges are great for blending your foundation but they’re not exactly ideal for keeping your hands clean. This solves that problem with a bamboo handle that allows for easy control. The smaller size is ideal for use under eyes and other areas that demand precision.
Best for Mixing: Real Techniques Miracle Missing Sponge
This sponge gets major points for innovation. Most of us use the back of our hands or other surfaces to mix or spread foundation, but this tool handles that for you. It has a slanted, non-absorbent silicone surface on one side that’s perfect for mixing while the rounded side delivers an airbrushed finish.
Best Disposable: Beauty 360 Jumbo Cosmetics Wedges
Long before we had our 2-in-1s or microfiber sponges, there were these simple wedges—and they still get the job done. Whether you’re doing makeup on others or don’t trust yourself to clean a beauty blender frequently enough, use this latex-free applicator to blend foundations and even for quick makeup fixes.
Best Multi-Purpose: Alleyoop Multi-Tasker
This award-winning tool combines four must-have makeup applicators into one simple tool. It’s great for handling everything from your foundation application (hello, sponge side) to applying powder and even eyeshadow. It’s also handy for travel or for those that simply want to slim down their makeup bag.
First things first we have to recommend the BeautyBlender Original Makeup Sponge for its super-soft, latex-free composition and skin-like finish application. The Uoma Beauty Hey Big Head! Dual-Density Makeup Sponge is also a great option. It has dual-density sides to give your control over your makeup coverage. For those looking for something ultra-plush and lightweight, try Juno & Co Microfiber Lemon Drop Sponge.
What to Look For in a Makeup Sponge
The denser the makeup brush, the less porous it is—which means it’s less likely to absorb all of your products. A high-density brush will be great for seamlessly applying a full coverage foundation. Lower density sponges are better for blending light to medium coverage foundations.
The ideal makeup sponge has a soft texture so that it’s comfortable to use, and it should also be flexible so that it can easily bounce and bend to evenly distribute the product.
Ability to Clean
This factor is super important. A great makeup sponge will be easy to clean and rinse easily to avoid product buildup and/or bacteria.
When it comes to makeup sponges, size matters. It often comes down to a matter of preference, but large sponges can cover a larger surface area, making them great for blending. Smaller sponges, on the other hand, can be great for precision applications and hard-to-reach areas.
How Often Should You Clean Your Makeup Sponge?
Our makeup expert Renee Loiz recommends cleaning your personal makeup sponge every week to keep bacteria at bay with soap and a cleansing pad.
How Do You Clean Your Makeup Sponge?
“First wet sponge, then rub in the solid soap (bar soap is OK too), gently rub fingers through the sponge to mix soap around, and then gently scrub the makeup sponge on a cleansing pad to remove the product. Run under water to rinse and repeat the process if necessary,’ says Loiz.
When Should You Use A Sponge Versus A Makeup Brush?
According to Renee Loiz, makeup sponges are best for applying and blending liquid foundations. “Powders are better applied with makeup brushes, but liquid and cream products blend best when applied with a sponge. Often, liquids and cream products look streaky when you use a brush, but sponges give you more control to pat the product evenly into the skin.”
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Kindra Moné has been creating fashion and beauty content since 2013. Whether contributing to some of the top women’s lifestyle magazines or working in-house with global brands, Kindra has collaborated with some of the most knowledgeable beauty professionals in the industry. When she isn’t writing or trying out Instagram recipes, she’s giving wellness tips and sharing fashion news on The StylingSOUL Podcast.”