Once in a blue moon, a product comes along and shakes up the entire beauty industry—so much so that now, a decade after launch, this beauty tool is so commonplace that beauty editors like me can’t even remember what we used to apply our makeup with beforehand.
In fact, it’s so damn popular that 17 of them are sold every single minute somewhere in the world. And while you yourself might not have fallen for the charms of this cult product (yet), I’ll bet a tenner that you’ll at least have spotted this distinctive egg-shaped tool in the makeup bags of friends or the beauty aisles of Boots.
So with everyone from beauty editors and pro makeup artists swearing by it and the A-list seal of approval coming in the form of Khloé Kardashian and Meghan Markle, what is this cult £17 tool that everyone is obsessed with for applying their makeup?
Of course, it’s the Beautyblender (£17). Launched in 2009, I vividly remember stateside beauty influencers going crazy for this rather unassuming-looking makeup sponge and wishing that I could get my hands on one too. Thankfully, it soon landed on British soil, and I only too happily parted with the hard-earned cash I’d made from my student job at Topshop to pay for this bright pink, egg-shaped piece of sponge.
What was I using to apply my foundation before this came along? Honestly, I would pretty much exclusively use my hands to smear it on. (Mainly because I don’t feel like tools had started being marketed as a makeup essential yet and also because the only foundation brush I had looked like a flat paintbrush and consequently gave the same artificial, heavy, painted-on effect that you’d expect when decorating the walls of your house.)
The Beautyblender, on the other hand, promised to create a flawless, high-definition complexion where your product really meshed with your skin for natural-looking results. “Get the base right,” explained founder Rea Ann Silva. “No one should say, ‘Oh, your foundation looks good. Instead, people should be saying, ‘Wow, your skin looks incredible.'”
I have to admit that the first time I used the Beautyblender, I just didn’t get it. It’s made from an aqua-activated sponge that grows to around twice its size when wet. Not only does using it wet mean that it absorbs less of your foundation, but it also helps to blend the product into your skin for a smooth, even finish. To me, using a damp sponge to pat product into my skin just felt really bloody weird. I wasn’t sure how much foundation to use and my initial attempts with the sponge left my skin looking patchy and strange.
However, after pro artists like Makeup by Mario were spotted using it backstage at fashion week and on his Kardashian clients. Even Meghan Markle herself revealed to Birchbox that she swore by the Beautyblender, so I decided to persist. (That and the fact that my parents would have disowned me if they found out that I’d spent nearly £20 on a tiny sponge that I wasn’t even going to use.)
“Only apply foundation to the spots you need it and spread it with a Beautyblender,” said Markle. “I never want to cover my freckles, so we just do a wash of foundation in certain sections instead of over the entire face.”
Now I honestly can’t think of a makeup brush, sponge or beauty tool that I prefer to the Beautyblender. I tend to dot one pump of foundation onto my face using my fingertips before bouncing the sponge over my complexion to press and buff the product into my skin. I’ve found that the more water you apply to the sponge before, the dewier the coverage. That being said, if you want a sheerer and radiant finish, then soak the sponge in water. If you prefer a higher-coverage, matte look, then thoroughly squeeze out any excess water before you get to work.
Yes, there are now plenty of makeup sponge dupes out there, but for me, the Beautyblender is genuinely the best one. And I’m not the only one that agrees—50 million Beautyblenders have been sold since 2009 when the brand originally launched.
Since then, Beautyblender has gone on to release various incarnations of the cult sponge in different colours and sizes, has launched cleaning products so you can keep your sponge germ-free and has even branched out into complexion products like foundations and primers.
Keep scrolling to shop the cult classic makeup sponge and my other Beautyblender picks.
Next up, I’ve ditched all my other foundations for this new one.