It all began in 2007 with the revolutionary launch of the Beautyblender sponge that changed the way women applied make-up, forever.
Buffing and blending foundation, tinted moisturisers and other bases had never been this easy to apply, nor more flawless on the face.
It was a complete gamechanger for professional make-up artists and beauty junkies alike, and one, 13-years on, we’re still very grateful for.
Although we love a make-up brush (or 10), the use of multiple beauty tools has since been replaced by a piece of innovative foam in a host of shapes and sizes that deliver the perfect canvas for our make-up.
Not only do make-up sponges allow for more buildable application, their porous texture holds onto make-up better than other tools and they guarantee an even complexion, every time. But with so many designs and textures to choose from, how do we spot the difference?
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
e.l.f total face sponge
Who are we to argue with a hardworking sponge at a bargain price? It’s solid reputation among beauty editors and make-up artists, make it a must for inclusion on this list. Although it is smaller in size than the average sponge, it has a pointy tip which is ideal for concealing blemishes while the rounded edge of the sponge is the perfect shape for sculpting cheekbones. Plus, it’s latex-free. It is, however, harder to the touch than most other sponges, so ensure you give it a soak (and squeeze out excess water) before using or try a spritz of setting spray which will add extra moisture into the sponge allowing for better application. This punches way above its price point and quite frankly does everything you want from a sponge.
Buy now £5.00, e.l.f
Laura Mercier Luminous foundation sponge
Already famed for its long-lasting bases and perfect colour-matching, it’s no wonder that Laura Mercier has a sponge for pristine application and a seamless blend. This innovative s-shaped edged sponge is specifically designed to hug the contours of your face, while the sides are the perfect size for patting make-up around your eyes, nose and hairline. It works just as well whether the sponge is damp or dry, it comes down to personal preference. It also uses “zero cell technology”, which in beauty terms, quite frankly means it absorbs minimal product, so you don’t waste your beloved base being sucked up by the sponge. Plus, it’s anti-bacterial-treated and latex-free, so it’s highly unlikely you’ll get a flare-up because of a dirty sponge.
Buy now £17.00, Space NK
Real Techniques miracle complexion sponge
With an Instagram following of 2.5 million and countless YouTubers and beauty editors naming this an essential to anyone who takes their make-up application seriously. It has a large surface area that swells up well, which makes it ideal for your base or powder whether this is a cream or liquid formula. The top of the sponge is flat which is perfect for patting on concealer under the eyes and the corners of your nose. The angles allow you to cover your whole face effortlessly. Without doubt one of the best dupes on the market. And at just £5.99, it’s an absolute steal!
Buy now £5.99, Boots
Huda Beauty the basic B sponge
On first impression, we love the fact that it’s black and stains won’t be noticeable. It’s soft and firm and once dampened it expanded well. This is a great all-round shape as it has a flat-side, a pointed tip and a rounded edge too. The sponge absorbs very little product, if any and gives great coverage without leaving behind any textured lines on your face. It gives almost an airbrushed finish to your face, which is super-light. So, if you prefer a heavier coverage, then you’ll have to spend time building up the product quite considerably on your face. If you tend to experiment with your make-up, this is a good choice as it can be used for blending powder, liquid or cream-based products.
Buy now £15.00, Feel Unique
Hourglass Ambient strobe light sculptor
This make-up brand can do-no-wrong in our eyes, and this dual-ended blender is a great addition to its accessories range and the perfect shape if you’ve managed to nail highlighting and contouring your face (which most of us are still struggling with!) It’s a great choice especially if you use many textures from liquids and powders to even gels as they all equally cling on well to the sponge for a seamless application. It’s also incredibly hygienic with its built-in high-grade anti-microbial material that keeps bacteria at bay even when you’ve forgotten to wash your sponge from one day to the next. Our only criticism is that it’s pretty pricey for what is ultimately a bit of foam!
Buy now £20.00, Cult Beauty
Fenty Beauty precision makeup sponge 100
If you’re looking for a sponge particularly to get into the smaller parts of your face with perfect precision, then this multi-tasker is a sensible choice. You can choose to use it like a regular make-up sponge, however, the three-sided edge allows for trickier areas to be covered with ease minus any product build-up or need to rub in with your fingers. Use the slanted edge of the sponge across your entire face, the mini-moon edge for those hard-to-reach areas, and finish with the rounded end for all-over buffing for even coverage. Its soft-feel texture is kind on sensitive skins and glides across skin without dragging and causing irritation or foundation lines. A great all-rounder.
Buy now £13.00, Boots
Beautyblender the original makeup sponge
Without doubt Beautyblender was the pioneer behind make-up sponges and even today, many sponges use this brand as a comparison to their own innovations. It has worldwide status and has been a game-changer for applying make-up both professionally and at-home. The egg shape is perfect for blending small and larger areas of your face without streaking or caking, while the pointy-edge gives you access to hard-to-reach areas.
The only drawback is that it’s pricey and with so many good dupes now available, it’s hard to justify the cost.
Buy now £17.00, Amazon
Tropic Skincare pure precision beauty drop sponge
Sensitive skins need not shy away from using a make-up sponge especially if it’s as soft and drag-free as this one. Designed using hypoallergenic and latex-free materials, this versatile teardrop-shaped sponge ensures you get an even and professional-standard application every time. It’s quite dense in design with one side that is flat, which is great for using as a last step to press powder into your skin to set your make-up. The rounded base is good for dabbing while the precision tip gets into the curves and creases of your face. You can tell this a well thought out sponge which is high quality. And like all Tropic products, this sponge is vegan-friendly, sustainable and truly kind to your skin.
Buy now £8.00, Tropic Skin Care
Real Techniques powder sponge
The latest sponge in the Real Techniques family is unlike any of the other sponges on the market today, in fact it takes some getting used to. Specifically designed for powder-based make-up to give that perfect, even finish that sets your face in place for the day. It can be used with bronzers and blush too, basically anything with a powdery finish. We found that it picks up a lot of product, but at the same time disperses it onto your face surprisingly evenly. We soon learnt that it’s best to use a light-tapping motion to avoid making mistakes. If you enjoy working with sponges, it’s definitely worth a try, but we can’t help but think powder-based make-up was made for brush application.
Buy now £6.99, Boots
EcoTools perfecting blender duo
We also questioned why we need two make-up sponges, isn’t one enough? When it comes to achieving a flawless application, this duo works together to complement your handy work, every time. The teal sponge is firm and large and best used dry for extra coverage while the lime green sponge is soft and small and reaches every crevice of your face. Neither of the sponges are very squishy, but what they lack in bounce, they make up for in even coverage plus they retain their shape well, even after several uses. They’re easy to clean and won’t break the bank either and made up of 70 per cent plant-based materials.
Buy now £7.60, Just My Look
The verdict: Beauty sponges
With its ridiculously affordable price tag and its flawless finish- every time, e.l.f total face sponge is the most deserving of the top spot. Plus, we were most impressed how it kept its firmness after many weeks of testing, almost like memory foam for our skin. However, if you’re willing to invest in a sponge with some added extras, such as anti-bacterial agents and innovative technology, then Laura Mercier’s luminous foundation sponge is everything you want and expect from a makeup sponge, and more.