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How to Properly Apply Makeup with a Beauty Sponge

Three women apply makeup with three different beauty sponges.
EcoTools/BeautyBlender/Real Techniques

When it comes to quick and easy makeup application, many people just use their hands. However, if you’re tired of getting foundation all over your fingers, it might be time to learn how to use a beauty sponge.

Whether you’re on a budget or feel the urge to splurge, you can use a beauty sponge. The best news is it’s probably much easier than you think. Here’s everything you need to know about applying makeup with a beauty sponge.

What Is a Beauty Sponge?

Two women apply makeup with beauty sponges.
EcoTools/Real Techniques

A beauty sponge is, well, a sponge you use to apply beauty products. These aren’t like the rubbery, triangular ones you’ve seen at department stores, though.

Beauty sponges are designed to give you flawless, natural-looking makeup. They’re often made of soft, skin-mimicking foam and designed to be used wet. This helps them push makeup into your skin without making it too cakey. Ultimately, it gives you a more natural look, with a dewier finish.

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

An oft-cited, more affordable alternative to the BeautyBlender.

While there are multiple brands that come in multiple shapes, nearly all of them feature rounded, soft curves that won’t leave behind marks or streaks like a brush does.

Sponges also feature pointed ends or a single straight edge that allow you to get into small areas of your face, such as around your nose and under your eyes. If you want a natural-looking finish and fast application, give a beauty sponge a try.

EcoTools Perfecting Blender

A personal favorite of ours, thanks to its soft texture and great price.

Where Did Beauty Sponges Come From?

When you think of modern beauty sponges, the BeautyBlender likely comes to mind. Arguably, it’s the most famous beauty sponge on the market.

Created by Rea Anne Silva, a Hollywood makeup artist, the BeautyBlender is the perfect example of necessity becoming the mother of invention. While working on the TV series, Girlfriends, Silva needed an application technique that made an actor’s skin look natural despite wearing makeup.

At the time, airbrushing was the most popular option, but the machine’s noise meant it couldn’t be brought to the set for retouching.

Thus, Silva created her own tool. She began cutting those traditional makeup sponges into specific shapes that suited her needs and finally settled on the teardrop. The tip to wet it first came from Kelcey Fry, a fellow makeup artist and educator.

Silva ran with the idea and launched the tool in 2003. Since then, the BeautyBlender has become the dominant application tool in the beauty industry and has spawned a multitude of copycats.

The BEAUTYBLENDER Makeup Sponge

The invention that launched the makeup sponge craze.

How to Use a Beauty Sponge

If you’ve never used a beauty sponge, it’s much easier to do so than you might think. In fact, they’re practically foolproof, thanks to their clever design. However, you can follow these general steps:

  1. Wet your sponge. This prevents the sponge from absorbing any of your foundation, so it’ll blend easily onto your skin. When you do so, it should grow in size. Wring it out with your hands until it only feels damp.
  2. Dispense a pea-sized amount of foundation onto the back of your hand or a palette, and then press the sponge lightly into the product.
  3. Press and tap (don’t drag) the sponge into your skin to apply your foundation. Repeat until your face is covered.
  4. Swipe a small amount of concealer onto a blemish or under your eyes, and then use the flat edge or pointed tip of the sponge to blend.
  5. Use the edges of the sponge to tap and press the product into those small, hard-to-reach areas.
  6. If you use a cream blush or bronzer, you can swipe or blot it onto your skin, and then repeat the same tapping and pressing motions with a sponge to ensure an even blend.

How to Clean a Beauty Sponge

A sponge sits in a case, and a person washes a beauty sponge.
Real Techniques/BeautyBlender

Unlike the sponges of old, modern beauty sponges are designed to be used more than once. Most, when well cared for, can last for up to three months. The trick, though, is actually caring for them.

Obviously, you’ll want to clean your beauty sponge after every use. This will ensure that any germs that were on your face or any leftover product won’t get lodged into the sponge where they can grow bacteria.

Many companies, including BeautyBlender, make specific cleaners for their sponges, but they aren’t required. In fact, all you need to clean a beauty sponge is some baby shampoo.

BEAUTYBLENDER BLENDERCLEANSER Lavender Solid

A specialized cleaner is available for your BeautyBlender.

Just follow these steps to wash a sponge after each application:

  1. Wet your beauty sponge.
  2. Apply a few drops of baby shampoo directly on it.
  3. Gently rub and squeeze the sponge in your palm.
  4. Rinse and wring out the sponge until the water runs clear.
  5. Set it on a counter or in a holder to air-dry.

Some brands also make holders for storing your beauty sponges. Real Techniques offers a vented container for its Miracle Complexion sponge that allows airflow for easy drying, as does BeautyBlender.

Real Techniques Premium Sponge Case

Keep your sponge dry and safe.


If you want to get a more natural look with your makeup, applying it with a beauty sponge could be just the solution you’ve been looking for. With little risk of streaking, ease of use, and plenty of options to choose from, there’s no reason not to try this application method—it could be your new beauty BFF.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »
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