Ever since its creation in the early 2000s, the beautyblender has been lauded by professionals and amateurs alike for its ability to apply makeup flawlessly. It uses a sponge matrix and edgeless design to facilitate a smooth application while minimizing the amount of product needed. It comes in several sizes and colors for different uses and types of makeup.
I’ve wanted to try the beautyblender ever since I heard about it but hesitated for years due to the $20 price. I finally pulled the trigger due to the amazing deal Nordstrom had during their Anniversary Sale this year — 2 sponges and a solid cleanser for just $35 ($56 value)! It finally came in the mail about a week ago, and now I’m ready to share my thoughts after trying it for the last few days.
I used the beautyblender with the Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Primer, Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk foundation, Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, and Urban Decay All-Nighter Setting Spray. I compared it to what I normally use for application, the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush. For the record, I have not tried any “off brand” makeup sponges, so I can’t comment on those.
The beautyblender is designed to be used when damp to limit the amount of product that is absorbed into the sponge. Run the sponge under a faucet and squeeze the sponge intermittently until it stops expanding. Squeeze out the excess water and towel dry. Although the instructions say to apply product to the sponge, I found that it was easier to get an even application when I dotted my foundation directly on the face. The sponge is then used in a stippling/bouncing motion to press the product into the skin, using the rounded end for larger areas and pointed tip for smaller spots.
The beautyblender is notorious for being a festering ground for dirt and bacteria if not properly cleaned. beautyblender makes 2 kinds of cleanser, a solid and a liquid form. These aren’t cheap, however, so many people have found alternate products and methods. To use the solid cleanser, simply rub the dirty areas of the wet sponge over the solid until a lather forms. There is an included ridged rubber disk that can act as a scrubbing surface. Afterwards, the sponge is set to dry on a breathable surface, such as on the aformentioned disk or the cap of the beautyblender packaging.
It is certainly true that the beautyblender does a fantastic job of creating a beautiful, natural-looking finish. But when I did a side by side comparison to the Real Techniques brush, it only did a noticeably better job when I doubled the amount of foundation product used. When I used my normal amount of product, I couldn’t tell the difference.
The beautyblender did not work well with my NARS concealer. No matter how many layers I put on, it seemed like the beautyblender was rubbing it off rather than blending it into my foundation. I ended up going back over those areas with my brush, which solved the issue.
Compared to brush application, applying with the beautyblender took twice the time, between wetting/drying the sponge and using slower motions to “press” the product in. Having to clean it after every use also adds on to that time. With my RT brush I can get away with using a daily cleansing spray and doing a more thorough clean every couple weeks.
With daily use, the beautyblender is recommended to be replaced every 3 months, even when properly cleaned. Now, $20 may not be a huge investment, but $80 a year seems a little steep when makeup brushes can be used year after year.
I did notice that my makeup lasted longer when applied with beautyblender, maybe by about 1-2 hours. This was likely due in part to”pressing” the product into the skin for a more thorough application.
The fact that the beautyblender failed to outperform the Real Techniques brush should be more to a credit to the brush than a discredit to the beautyblender. The beautyblender does do a great job, but only in certain situations. I can see why makeup artists love using it for photoshoots, which require heavier makeup coverage and better makeup longevity to last under long hours of cameras and hot lights. Incidentally, money is often no object.
But for everyday use (and everyday budgets), I think a good quality makeup brush can work just as well as the beautyblender, while being less time consuming and easier to clean and store. The RT brush retails for just $9 and is clearly the better deal here, but even the more expensive brushes will be cheaper in the long run due to the limited lifespan of the blender.
Still, I do want to leave this review with a couple caveats. The foundation and accompanying products I use are pretty expensive and high quality, and because of that may perform well regardless of application method. The beautyblender may make much more of a difference with lower end products. In addition, I use far less product than what I feel is average, so it’s possible that I’m just part of a minority that doesn’t fit the target market of the beautyblender.
I wil stick to my RT brush for everyday use, but will hang on to these beautyblenders for those special occasions that require an extra boost.
Deal alert: For those with Costco memberships, beautyblenders are on sale online for 2 for $30! The savings are usually even bigger if you can find them in your local store!