Budget Beauty Throw Down: Six beauty sponges at P250 and under

What is the secret to creating a flawless face base? Does it depend on the foundation formula? Is it the little tricks and techniques that make all the difference? Or will your application tools be the deciding factor? It's all of the above! This is why keeping ourselves updated with the latest developments can bring us closer to foundation perfection.

Thanks to its ability to create a skin-like finish while providing ample coverage, the Beauty Blender has remained a constant favorite among both beauty enthusiasts and professional makeup artists. It has become so hugely popular that it has inspired quite a few dupes for people who balk at the OG's P1,000+ price tag. We've done a dupe test before to great results so this time, we decided to try even more sponges that cost no more than P300 each!

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For this test, I decided to do a half-face challenge, using one full pump of Deborah Milano Dress Me Perfect Foundation on the back of my hand for each sponge. On the left side of my face (your left), you will see the Beauty Blender at work, while the challenger sponge’s results can be seen on the right side. I did not use any concealer or primer for this test, and all sponges were used damp. So let’s get to it!

San San Sponge (P70 at HBC)

Expands when wet? No

The only sponge in the selection with the trademark curvy figure, I found this sponge to also be the most matipid of the bunch. I was able to achieve the coverage level that I wanted with only half a pump! I feel this would make my foundie bottle last much longer but the catch is that it doesn't allow for coverage to be layered on. I attempted to dab at my blemishes with the remaining foundation but it only ended up reabsorbing the product instead of layering the pigment where it needs to go.  

Ever Bilena Blend Me Sponge (P200 at Watsons)

Expands when wet? Yes

Looks can be deceiving. Initially, I got the impression that this would be overly dense and firm, making it difficult to blend foundation properly. Surprisingly, it was actually quite the opposite: it was very lightweight and marshmallow-like! Getting the desired coverage doesn’t take too much effort either, and I find myself looking at a dewy finish that doesn’t stray too far from what I get when using the Beauty Blender. I also found that this sponge doesn’t take a lot of effort to clean it up, but there are stains that stick. 

Shawill Sponge (P209 for a set at Watsons)

Expands hen wet? Yes

With one pack containing a regular-sized sponge for foundation and a mini one for concealer and highlighter, this might be the most economical option. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how similar it is to the Beauty Blender in terms of sponge pore size and squishiness. When it comes to coverage though, it brings out the powdery matte finish of my light foundation, which is an effect I wanted but couldn't achieve with BB.

Pressing the saturated part of the sponge to blemishes also helps build coverage. There is one major caveat, though: after washing the makeup off the sponge, I noticed that there were several nicks on the material caused by my short, dull nails. The material is sensitive like a rubicell sponge, so special care must be taken when handling this.

Bonus: The tiny sponge included is very smooth with superfine pores that almost make it slippery to the touch. It smoothes foundation and cream concealer well, but it does take several passes to do so. It expands a bit when wet but remains a comfortable size for application on harder to reach places.  

Cathy Doll Petit Ice Cream Magic Blender (P219 at Watsons)

Expands when wet? No

The cute, ‘mint ice cream’-themed sponge gives light coverage and a smooth, even texture with one pump of foundation. Finish-wise, it is slightly less dewy than BB, leaning towards the more matte side of the spectrum. The sponge is very firm and dense with fine pores, so it feels uncomfortable to bounce on my face - it's almost like I'm gently slapping myself over and over. It is also one of the most difficult to clean as the foundation stains really get stuck in the tiny pores of the sponge.

Nichido Blending Sponge (P250 at Watsons)

Expands when wet? No

It looks to be made of a similar, if not the same, material to the Cathy Doll and San San sponges but it creates a fabulous translucent powder finish that doesn’t quite look like the other two sponges. That is, the foundation looks matte but not flat with a thick appearance. When wet, the sponge goes from somewhat dense to soft and slightly squishy, though there is still some firmness to it. As with the Cathy Doll sponge, the hard texture makes it difficult to bounce and to clean, which is unfortunate as it is prone to staining. 

FS Chiseled Puff (P245 at Watsons)

Expands when wet? Yes

Because of its shape, I see this as the All-in-One Sponge for foundation and contour. I find the flat surface is still the best for applying foundation to the planes of the face while the pointy tip works for nooks and crannies. Finally, the straight wedge portion can be used for the undereye area, serves as a guide for contouring cheekbones, and prevents eyeshadow from straying to the temples. It also allows for a buildable matte coverage similar to Shawill's.

The material of this particular sponge is quite velvety, and is also the easiest to clean out of all the sponges here, with no stains leftover post-wash.

Final verdict: The one that feels the most like the Beauty Blender when on the skin is the regular-sized Shawill sponge. I like the lightweight, airy material that’s a little bit squishy and makes application comfortable. When my BB reaches the point of no return, I think I will replace it with Shawill sponge. Though the finish isn't the closest to that of Beauty Blenders, I appreciate how it can really bring out the coverage and matteness of even a light, dewy foundation.

If you do like the filter-like effect of the Beauty Blender, Ever Bilena's sponge gives the same lovely, healthy-looking glow.

Do you use a Beauty Blender to apply your foundation? Have you tried any of these dupes? How do they compare to the OG?