Makeup Sponge Battle, Round 2: Miniso, AOA, SOLA, and Real Techniques comparison

Makeup sponges are some of the most universally recognized tools in beauty. Remember your first foray into makeup? Did you immediately go hunting for a brush, or were you first acquainted with the humble sponge applicator of your powder foundation compact? Mine was the latter, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this!

As beauty technology continuously reaches new heights, so do the unusual shapes and textures of these beloved applicators. Case in point: I’ve got four new contenders on the chopping block today. I tested these wet with the mattifying Covergirl Outlast All-Day Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 Foundation. Things are about to get super spongy!

Miniso Mushroom Shaped Foundation Sponge (P179 at Miniso)

The most accessible and cheapest of the four, this nipple-shaped polyurethane sponge provides a firm yet comfortable application experience. When applying on open surfaces like the forehead and cheeks, gripping the curvy part and utilizing the wide base is a breeze. I get a lot of control, and the curved base means I can work on different planes (e.g. cheekbones, cheek hollows) without any sharp edges poking me. When it comes to precision application with the smaller head though, gripping becomes a little more awkward as I have to pinch near the tip to keep the end from twisting or folding as I dab at hard-to-reach places. But the small head does have excellent reach for the under eye area as well as the sides of my nose.

 Foundation applied using Miniso sponge

Foundation applied using Miniso sponge

The foundation finish comes across as a satiny matte, and it actually has a fresher look versus the normal, somewhat cakey, powdery matte finish I get when applying the foundation with just my fingers.

  • Expands when wet? Yes

  • Clean-up? Foundation stains wash off with a little bit of extra rubbing. Color doesn’t bleed.

AOA.JPG

AOA Studio Paw Paw Charity: Super Soft Wonder Blender (P185 at Make Up Depot Ph)

The latex-free AOA Wonder Blender has been getting a lot of hype from online sellers (ehem, Shopee) for being an affordable dupe for the original Beauty Blender. Application is squishy, but noticeably more dense and firm than the Miniso sponge. I’ll describe this as “bouncy”.

 Foundation applied using AOA sponge

Foundation applied using AOA sponge

Like the OG beauty sponge, this has an egg shape that makes going back and forth from wide areas to nooks and crannies a seamless activity. Unlike the Beauty Blender though, it doesn’t soak up a lot of foundation! I also get a more satin-y effect with my foundation compared to Miniso.

  • Expands when wet? Yes

  • Clean-up? Foundation stains wash off completely with not too much effort. Color doesn’t bleed.

SOLA Beauty Velvet Sponge (P350 at DTC Makeup)

What… even are you?! No doubt, this fuzzy sponge is the most curious of the set. The protective velvet layer serves to prevent the foundation from getting absorbed into the sponge too quickly. The result is the preservation of the foundation’s original finish and coverage levels. It is easy to layer and build up without the need to use up as much product.

 Foundation applied using SOLA sponge

Foundation applied using SOLA sponge

The only major difference I have noticed while using this is the unusual texture. I’m getting a mostly smooth and velvety feel from this with a hint of scratchiness. It takes some getting used to, but the coverage trade-off isn’t bad at all.

  • Expands when wet? Yes

  • Clean-up? If washed immediately after application, the foundation won’t soak into and stain the sponge underneath. You’ll mostly be washing surface stains off with moderate ease, though I notice that the stains on the beveled edges really cling on for dear life. Color doesn’t bleed.

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge (P460 at Watsons)

Probably the closest in experience to the Beauty Blender, I’d say that RT’s offering can already be considered as a dupe! This intensely soft and squishy sponge will bring out your gigil. The beveled base is so wide that it covers a lot of ground, while the pointed tip is so soft that getting on the under eye area and other hard-to-reach places doesn’t cause any discomfort at all.

 Foundation applied using Real Techniques sponge

Foundation applied using Real Techniques sponge

If you are heavy-handed, this is a great pick as you’ll get that feather-light application feel. Out of the four sponges I tried, this also creates the lightest, most dewy coverage and finish.  

  • Expands when wet? Yes

  • Clean-up? Exercise a lot of caution. This super soft sponge is quite delicate and is prone to getting nicked, even with short, dull nails. I wasn’t able to get rid of all the foundation stains as I noticed that too much rubbing was causing some very slight shredding on the surface of the sponge.

  • Bleeding? The orange color bleeds as well.

So what’s the verdict? If soft and squishy is your top criteria, get you some Real Techniques or AOA. If you don’t want to give up your coverage levels, grab the SOLA blender. If the subtle nuances of sponge feel is something you’re attuned with, then the Miniso sponge has the smoothest feel of all.

Can’t get enough of our sponge battles? Check out our budget beauty edition as well as our very first beauty sponge comparison post. Also, add in your vote for best beauty sponge in the comments below!