November 15, 2014

The Beauty Sponge - The Beauty Blender Pro

Makeup sponges to me would either be that triangular sponge that makeup artist used to dab dab dab around your nose or that little white cushiony number that would turn beige/orange over time, nestled in your makeup compact, one which I would be first to toss into the bin preferring to use a makeup brush instead. What a snob!

Since the beauty blender came out though, the beauty industry has been buzzing and raving about it for YEARS. The airbrushed results from using a beauty blender to stipple, stamp or dab foundation onto the skin that every online beauty blogger keeps talking about should have sucked me in but it has honestly taken me almost 4 years to give into the hype. I'm not one to give into makeup marketing or gimmicks, usually preferring to research the heck out of a product before buying and also hunt around for any affordable duplicates. So after MUCH research and setting aside my snobbiness, I purchased the beauty blender pro (the one in black) for my kit and thought I would give you my 2 cents.
So is it worth it? And have I found an affordable dupe that I like? Yes and Yes. With a tail between my legs, I do declare, yes :P Here's the quick lowdown:

Beauty Blender Pro

The thing that deterred me about the beauty blender was the price versus the longevity of the sponge. Am I prepared to fork out $AUD20+ (price varies depending where you buy it) for a sponge that has a shelf life of up to 2 or 3 months? I would have thought I'd need to be a full time working MUA (Makeup Artist) to make it worthwhile but after a few uses on myself and on other lovely ladies, I am convinced.
I only used the beauty blender sponge damp, and with no real amazing technique, dot foundation or concealer or creamy cheek colour in the places on my face where I would like the coverage and simply dab dab dab the sponge across my face, adding more product if I have to, until the desired coverage is achieved. And then use the pointy end for finer work like concealer under the eye and around the nose.

Great ForHeavier foundations and all skin types, especially those with flakey dry skin. The sponge, when used damp, lays down a sheer wash of foundation, it helps hydrate and cover flakey skin, leaving no visible skin flakes. It's super easy to use, with no training required. With your hand being closer to the face and the sponge contorting to your facial nooks and crannies, blending foundation at the same time it is applied, the results are flawless. It allows you to have great control over how sheer or full coverage you want your foundation. Application time is a lot quicker than using a brush (it took me less than 40 seconds for finished foundation and concealer!) and the velvety sponge actually feels great on the face, like a mini facial massage!

Best For: flawless under eye concealing and very quick and natural foundation (liquid, cream or stick!) application

Pain Points: 
  • Price (considering it isn't a one time purchase for life), 
  • If you're a makeup artist, you would need multiple sponges on set as you can't be sure of a thorough clean between uses (unless of course you have a sink nearby
  • Cleaning and drying time is a tad more laborious than brushes (but really, cleaning any makeup tool is freakin' annoying, note I use a combo of baby shampoo and MAC brush cleaner to clean and make sure you leave the sponge to dry the right way up or you will get a lopsided egg shape), and 
  • The short shelf life.

Current Beauty Blender dupe: 

My preferred cheaper alternative of the moment is the Kit Cosmetics Blender Sphere ($AUD15). A pink rugby ball shaped sponge with dual ended points which serves as a bonus, allowing you to dab on a couple of colours at a time without having to wash the sponge again. It puffs up the same way as the beauty blender when soaked in water and squeezed dry, and seems to cover a larger surface area so is probably pretty good for the neck and decolletage area. It seems to deliver a similar foundation finish to the beauty blender (I only used the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk foundation for all testing purposes on myself).
Pain points of this dupe however, if you can live with them, is that I found the sponge a bit on the firm side, seemed to soak in more product, and wasn't porous enough like the beauty blender to redistribute the product back out onto the skin. And because of this, the cleaning and drying time of the Blender Sphere after washing was A LOT longer than the beauty blender. Pink dye also came out of the sponge upon first wash (baby shampoo and MAC brush cleaner combo).

There is also the Kit Cosmetics Flawless Sphere (same price as the Blender Sphere) which is like a Fanta Orange version of the beauty blender, however this feels even firmer than the blender sphere and beauty blender, smells a bit rubbery and also doesn't fully expand to be as big and cushy feeling either, resulting in the need for a more forceful approach to foundation application. Now this is ok on my own face, but I prefer not to stab my clients with a sponge to make it work, don't you? The sponge also was a pain to wash and dry...with fanta orange colour running out upon its first wash. I'm currently waiting on my Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge to come in the mail, perhaps this may trump the Kit Cosmetics dupe?

Anyways, I can certainly agree with everything Rea Ann Silva claims with her beauty blender invention. One of the claims to fame is also that it is latex free for anyone allergic to latex, and there is the white beauty blender for skincare products or those that are allergic to dye colour, and also the original beauty blender in a beautiful hot pink. The flawless finished makeup application results that came from the beauty blender truly totally got me, considering the cooperation of my bipolar skin is unpredictable (one minute super dry, next minute congested). I'm not paid to say this, but I am a total convert. Previously unworkable foundations or thick concealers that would settle into fine lines or emphasize dry skin now just applies on dreamily.
Makeup novices and professionals alike would love this little egg shaped friend. Foundation, Cream blush, Concealer, Highlight or Contour, Solid or liquid formulation, it's all good in the hood when the beauty blender is around. I am probably the last person to be convinced but I'm certainly not the last person to re-purchase and keep these little egg babies as a staple number in my personal and professional makeup kit. I currently have my eye out for the mini mini babies too!

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