Introducing the many wonders of the makeup sponge, a humble tool that’s been around for decades but that’s only recently been revamped and is experiencing a well-deserved renaissance.
If you’re still using brushes or your fingers to apply makeup, it may be time to try something new. (And no, I’m not talking about those fancy schmancy airbrush machines that blow nanoparticles of foundation onto your face.) Allow me to introduce you to the wonders of the makeup sponge, a humble tool that’s been around for decades but that’s only recently been revamped and is experiencing a well-deserved renaissance.
Before we dive into the the “how,” let’s cover a few important-but-oft-overlooked details first:
Size and shape matter:
That’s right, not all makeup sponges are created equal. The size and shape of a sponge should depend on how you plan to use it. Larger, rounded sponges are best used to apply makeup like foundation, cream blush and BB cream to large areas of the face, while smaller sponges with more severe angles should be used to get into harder-to-reach spots, like under the eyes, and for more precision, like to cover a zit.
You must keep it clean:
Seriously, if there’s one thing you take away after reading this it’s that you absolutely, positively, must keep your makeup sponges clean. If not, they become breeding grounds for bacteria that will then end up on your face. All you need is a few minutes, once a week, a mild cleanser, and your hands. Run the sponge under warm water, add a few drops of soap to your palm and massage it into the sponge until the water runs clear. Remove excess water gently with a clean towel and let it dry.
Storage is important:
Since makeup sponges work best when they’re damp, storage is super important so as not to hasten the growth of mold and bacteria. Between uses (and washes!), store it in a cool, dry place with plenty of airflow to dry it out.
They’re the best:
Have you ever been applying liquid makeup and realized you used way too much, so you aggressively wipe it off with a towel and have to start all over or you rub it in for 10 minutes before it’s passable? Or maybe you didn’t use enough and the foundation isn’t spreading far enough or it’s too thin or it’s just…wrong? Well, if you’d been using a makeup sponge, this never would have happened! Why? Because this thing is basically magical. If you accidentally use too much liquid makeup, the sponge soaks up the excess so you don’t over-apply. If you use too little, the damp sponge will help spread the makeup evenly across your skin while simultaneously blotting it into the skin so it’s basically flawless.
All right, here’s how to use that magical makeup sponge:
- Wet it. Seriously. Run a clean sponge under the faucet, squeezing to saturate it with water. When it’s nearly doubled in size, you know it’s wet enough.
- Squeeze it. You want to make sure to squeeze out any excess water so it doesn’t dilute your makeup too much. If you want to play it extra safe, squeeze it in a towel.
- Apply a dollop of foundation/tinted moisturizer/cover up/BB or CC cream onto the back of your non-dominant hand. Then dip your damp makeup sponge into the makeup to pick up the pigment. Alternately, you can apply the makeup directly to your skin before getting in there with the sponge, but I’ve found the first way to be more effective in not overdoing it.
- Stipple! Instead of dragging the sponge across your face, dab it gently into your skin in a continuous, bounce-like motion. Pick up more makeup as needed and continue the motion. This will ensure a smooth, even, line-free application of color. For full coverage, use the broad side of the sponge. For under-eye concealer, the corners around your nose and small blemishes, use the smallest, pointiest part of the sponge. If you’re using it for cream blush, opt for a rounded side to apply up and out.
- Smooth. When you feel good about the coverage, gentle go back over you whole face with the cleanest, still-damp side of the sponge to make sure everything is blended and to leave a dewey finish.
- Wash it. Remember where we started? The minute you’re done, wash that sucker out until the water runs clear and let it dry.