Sunday, August 11, 2013

Battle of the Beauty Blenders

Beauty Sponges From top clockwise: Ulta brand, original Beauty Blender®, Qosmedix brand

In corner #1, is... Ulta's Super Blender Sponge, weighing in at $4.99 per sponge:
Use dry sponge for full coverage and damp sponge for sheer coverage.  Ergonomic finger notches.  Ideal for contouring and blending tight areas.  Use the pointed tip to gently blend around the nose and eyes.  Use the round bottom to smooth along jawline.  Applying Cosmetics: For applying and blending liquid and cream makeup.

In corner #2, we have... the original Beauty Blender®, weighing in at $19.95 per sponge: Beautyblender® is the first ergonomically designed non-disposable sponge applicator that allows you to flawlessly apply your makeup. It's designed to be cleaned with its partner blendercleanser®—making it super eco-friendly. It comes with an instructional pamphlet so you can quickly master your application technique.

Note: when wet, beautyblender® doubles in size and becomes even softer, returning to its original size when it air dries. Its package can serve as a pedestal is the perfect way for the beautyblender to dry on your vanity. Not only is the smaller end the best applicator for concealer under the eyes and around the nose, but also for achieving dramatic results with your eye shadow. Feel free to use the beautyblender® with all types of makeup, including loose powder and mineral cosmetics.

In corner #3... the Oblong Blending Sponge by Qosmedix, weighing in at $1.95 per sponge: The unique shape of this latex-free oblong blending sponge provides a comfortable grip, while easily reaching facial contours during make-up application. To clean, wet sponge in cold or lukewarm water. Apply a small amount of facial cleanser, antibacterial liquid soap or sponge cleanser to the stained areas. Gently work into a lather without twisting or stretching the sponge. Rinse and repeat if necessary. Squeeze to remove excess water. Set aside on a piece of paper towel to dry.

I've always been a hard core foundation brush user.  When I worked cosmetics retail, I had the perfect sales pitch for why everyone who used liquid foundation had to have one. It was usually a guaranteed second product to bump my transactions and boost my commission, but I was also one of those holy believers in them.  Up until I started airbrushing, foundation brushes were one of the kinds of brushes I stockpiled like they were being discontinued.  I never did my own makeup without using one, although I was horrible about cleaning it.  I told myself it wasn't as bad as using a dirty sponge, which I utterly detested.  I'd see women bring in their makeup bags to the counters so they could "restock" products, and when they'd open them everything inside would be caked with crumbles of powder and shadow, bronzer or blush, and drips of liquid foundation.  Then there would be the inevitable dirty cosmetic wedge that would tumble out onto the counter, brown and dirty, and it would make my stomach turn.  By the time they had left, I'd make a believer out of them for the foundation brush, and it would reaffirm in my own mind that this was the way foundation should be applied.

Eventually, I branched out to other styles of brushes, but I was still a believer that brushes were the only way that was proper and sanitary.  Airbrushing came along, and I found it an easier and more sanitary way to apply foundation quickly to clients, but at home my trusty Lancome foundation brush stayed firmly by my bathroom sink.

Enter the Beauty Blender®.  I'm one of those people that has to stay up on anything and everything new in the makeup world, whether I agree with it or not, and the Beauty Blender® was an oddity to me.  A sponge shaped like an egg?  Say what now?  And for the $19.95 a pop, I just couldn't justify it in my mind.  I'm sure a lot of people approach the concept of the blending sponge this way.  What is it about them that makes them so revolutionary?  And how do you really keep it clean?

The original Beauty Blender® brand wasn't the first of these three that I tried however.  I got one in a Birchbox first, but that got stuck in a box in the bathroom of samples I really never intended to try.  Instead, I tried the one from Qosmedix first by accident.  One day while shopping for disposables, I saw them on the Qosmedix site for just a measly $1.95 each and thought they'd make a great goodie bag gift for the makeup artists on my team for Christmas.  I had one left over and decided to try it out on myself one day nearly a year later to see what the hype was.  Not knowing a thing about how to use them, I used it dry and immediately disliked it.

More and more, I heard people talking about how amazing these things were, so I washed it that night and decided to give it another go the following day.  It was still damp, and so it was all puffed up and bouncy.  I used it to apply my foundation, and it completely transformed my opinion!  I couldn't believe the difference!  I've been using one ever since, and I buy them in bulk now on the Qosmedix website to keep in my studio.  I can wash them and use them for several months before needing a new one.  I've also discovered that for applying a concentrated amount of cream concealer over a breakout, they work better dry than wet.  So when I'm doing my makeup, I now use a damp one for my foundation and a dry one to apply concealer with the pointed tip.

When I started doing my blog again, I knew I had to find that original Beauty Blender® again so that I could compare.  Was it really different or better than what I was using?  I mean, at ten times the price, I knew there had to be at least a few differences.  Here's what I found:  the two main differences are the shape and the texture.  The original is truly egg shaped, while the oblong blending sponge is indented in the center for finger grips and slightly larger even when fully dry.  The texture of the sponge is also a little denser.  This gives it a little less "bounce" when applying the foundation, although I find that it also absorbs less foundation in general into the sponge.  I like the Qosmedix brand a little better for these two differences.  The indentations help me grip it better, and they also work great to blend out around my jawline or cheekbones.  It fits and hugs those contours perfectly.  And who doesn't like wasting less product?

I still wanted to do more research, and with every brand and their brother coming out with their version of the blending sponge, I knew I had to do more comparisons.  Enter my good buddy Ulta.  At only $4.99, I wondered if this was the more affordable version of the original available to a mass market?  Qosmedix is a wholesaler, and while you can purchase from them without being a professional, you do have to order a minimum of $25, and at only $1.95 each there may not be much else from them people could need.  (I do recommend getting their cotton rounds if you do opt to purchase from Qosmedix.  They are much cheaper than a drugstore and better at removing makeup than a cotton ball.  The blending sponges don't last forever, so it's good stock up, and they do make fantastic gifts for cheap!)

Sadly, the Ulta brand was not up to the level of the other two.  I would recommend skipping it altogether.  It does share the shape bonus of the Qosmedix brand, but the texture of the foam is very porous.  It absorbs a lot of the liquid, even when wet, and it doesn't give as nice and even a finish as the other two.

And the winner is...  the oblong blending sponge by Qosmedix.  You can't beat the price on these, even if you do have to order a minimum of $25 from the site.  The slightly denser foam does make it a bit more durable as well.

Intrigued?  Watch my video on how to use one to apply your makeup!


  1. Oooh! I like it. I really love your reviews!

    1. Thanks Caroline! I'm so glad you're enjoying my reviews! :)

  2. Quick question, do you have any other suggestions for "must haves" on the Qosmedix website that could help me get to the $25 order minimum? I don't think I need $25 worth of sponges (all at once anyway). :)

    1. Their brushes are actually really good! I have an angled blush brush and a buffing brush from them that I use all the time for cream foundations.


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