Battle of the Beauty Sponges

I think we can all agree that beauty sponges aren’t going away anytime soon. When the OG Beauty Blender achieved cult status, it inspired a plethora of copycats available for every budget. We’re not complaining though because while we love the real thing, a thousand bucks for a tool that’s only good for three months isn’t exactly wallet-friendly! So I tried and tested five different beauty sponges to see if I can achieve the same airbrushed finish for less.

To test, I used my usual primer and foundation duo: Nivea After Shave Balm and Céleteque Photoready Liquid Foundation. I applied a full squeeze of foundation on the left side of my face with a dry sponge, while I dampened the sponge for application on the right side. I didn’t use any concealer to be able to compare the coverage, so please excuse my dark circles! After every application, I made sure to clean off everything with a wet wipe and dry my face before going in with my next base application. I tried not to change anything else so the conditions are as consistent as possible. So here’s the full report on the beauty sponge breakdown!

BYS Cosmetic Sponge (P149, available at Watsons)

Unlike the Beauty Blender, the BYS cosmetic sponge is a flat teardrop-shaped tool which doesn’t expand when soaked in water. Instead of the usual dabbing motion, what I found worked best for the BYS sponge is sliding the material over my face in small strokes similar as to how you would use a mushroom brush. That being said, it took a while to get everything blended out. The sponge also sheers down the coverage, and it will take several passes to get to a medium coverage. If you can put in the work, I do find that it does a nice job of making foundation look like second skin. Out of all the sponges I’ve tried, this one is the most porous and absorbed a significant amount of product.

I did a bad job of blending the foundation to my hairline. Not the sponge’s fault!

I did a bad job of blending the foundation to my hairline. Not the sponge’s fault!

Nippon Pro Blend Sponge (P400 for two sponges and a cleanser, available at Nippon)

Shape and material-wise, the Nippon Pro Blend Sponge is the closest dupe to the Beauty Blender among the four other sponges I tried. It’s slightly larger than the BB and also expands when dampened, but it’s denser and less porous than the original thing. You can see right away that the coverage is so much better compared to the BYS cosmetic sponge. The dampened side also provides a more luminous finish compared to the matte effect on the dry side.

If I were to use the Original Beauty Blender on half of my face and the Nippon Pro Blend on the other half, it would take a whole lot of makeup experience to know which side is which. You can feel feel the difference when it comes to application though. The Nippon sponge isn’t exactly as soft as I wish it were, so it’s not as bouncy as the Beauty Blender. It doesn’t absorb much product but it can be a pain to clean because of how firm and dense it is.

Happy Skin Air Touch Sponge (P499, available at Happy Skin stores and counters)

The Air Touch Sponge is the biggest and has the most unique shape of all. It has a curved edge, a flat edge, and a rounded bottom that’s meant to cradle the contours of the face easily. While I do love the shape of the sponge, the material of the sponge is sadly a deal breaker. The sponge expands unevenly when dampened. The edged parts become soft and malleable but the rest of the sponge remains stiff and hard to work with.

This one absorbed the most amount of product, which affected the coverage so you can easily see the blemishes on my forehead. If I was working with a tougher foundation, I think it would have been obvious how inefficient this sponge is in blending my base. On top of it all, the sponge is also a pain to maintain! It stains and tears easily, and even after a few washes, I couldn’t get it to be as pristine as when I got it.

Missha Air in Puff (less than P100 at online stores)

Using a tapping motion, I was able to achieve the most intense coverage with the Missha Air in Puff - or what they call a rubicell sponge. Despite the heavy coverage, I didn’t feel the thickness yet my skin looked flawless! Note that I used the same amount of foundation for all sponges and this one stretched out my foundation the most. The sponge absorbs very little and is the easiest to clean. I read on K-beauty blogs that wetting the sponge would create a more dewy base but I personally didn’t really notice the difference.

Rubicell sponges in general can inspire a battle of their own but they still can be classified under the makeup sponge category. For this post, I used the Missha Air in Puff which comes with all Missha cushion foundations.

Doing this battle reminded me again how thankful I am for K-beauty! If you’ve been meaning to try a beauty sponge for so long but don’t have the budget for it, get a rubicell sponge from Korean beauty brands! AmorePacific was on to something when they patented the cushion technology.

Original Beauty Blender (P1,000, available at Sephora PHGlamourBox, Purebeauty)

Now down to the sponge that inspired it all: the original Beauty Blender is a pink egg shaped sponge that expands to about 175% of its original size when dampened. I’ve been a fan of this stuff ever since I purchased it and I hope you can see why! Nothing beats the airbrushed effect of the Beauty Blender in making my base look like my skin but better.

This makes blending the easiest thing, and I love how great it is at taking away any cakiness. It’s the perfect amount of soft and malleable, which makes it easy to cover every nook and cranny of your face. You do get heavier coverage when you use it dry but dampened is still the way to go IMO. The Beauty Blender absorbs very little product, is hypoallergenic, and is easy to clean so it’s not hard to see why this product has won multiple awards!

Final Verdict

I’m both happy and sad to be saying this but the Beauty Blender still wins at creating the perfect, second-skin-like base. If you prefer a heavier coverage for a tenth of the price, go for a rubicell sponge, even though it may not be as versatile in blending all types of cream products. If you want a nice, blending multi-tasker but can’t afford to splurge just yet, the Nippon Pro Blend is the next best thing.

Have you found a perfect dupe to the Beauty Blender just yet? What other beauty sponges have you tried?

*Header image: (from left) Nippon Pro Blend Sponge, Original Beauty Blender, Happy Skin Air Touch Sponge, Nippon Cosmetic Sponge, Missha Air Puff