Since I don't wear foundation, I miss out on a whole category of beauty-world hype. Last year, the internet went crazy over Beauty Blenders (and knockoffs thereof), but I paid no attention until I became aware of the mini versions. Because, of course, I do wear base makeup: I apply NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla to my gruesome undereye circles almost every day. I'd never had much trouble blending it out with my fingers, but during my last trip to Ulta, I picked up a four-pack of mini "miracle complexion sponges" by Real Techniques. Above, I'm holding the two that are still pristine; I'm currently using the purple one, and the fuchsia one developed a huge crack when I washed it for the first time. Here's the purple sponge in my hand for scale:
It has a flat end for stamping on product...
..and a pointy end for getting into the inner corners of the eyes:
To cover my dark circles, I dab the concealer in a few little dots below my eye, spray the sponge with my Heritage Store glycerin and rosewater face mist until it's damp, and then blend in the product with a patting motion. A huge part of the hype around facial sponges must be that they're just plain fun to use. The damp sponge is soft, bouncy, and cooling. My skin feels like it's being pampered, not heartlessly spackled. And the pointy end of the sponge is a lot more efficient than my fingers at blending concealer up to the tear duct.
Novelty aside, though, do the sponges actually deliver better results? Let's take a closer look. Here are my unconcealed dark circles:
For my first attempt, I applied the same amount of concealer with the sponge (your left) and my fingers (your right). I also made up my eyes and brows: Glossier Boy Brow in Brown, Maybelline Bad to the Bronze cream shadow, Urban Decay Whiskey eyeliner, and Revlon mascara.
As you can see, the sponge delivered less coverage, likely because some product disappeared into its crevices. So I applied another layer to that eye:
Better, but still not quite as good as the other eye.
Finally, my full face, with Illamasqua Zygomatic cream blush, ColourPop Lunch Money highlighter, and NYX Alabama lipstick. Today was overcast with very thick clouds, like almost every other day this May, so I look a bit washed out:
Oddly, the concealer applied with the sponge seemed to wear off faster. I glanced in the mirror two hours later and the circle under my right eye really jumped out at me. To be fair, I don't aim to cover my circles completely (I think I look a little uncanny-valley with thick undereye concealer), but I need some coverage. I also find that every few days, the sponge fails to blend the concealer over one particular spot under my left eye. The product sort of clumps up on itself and I have to go in with my finger and try to spread it around and ARGH.
I'm glad I decided to write this post, because my little experiment was enlightening. It turned out that I had to use almost twice as much product to get the same result with the sponge as I did with my fingers. And since NARS concealer ain't cheap, I may have to return to the old-fashioned application method and use my fingers like a goddamn peasant. But I do love how precisely the sponge delivers product to my inner corners, so I may use it for that specific purpose and pat in the rest of the concealer with a finger. In any case, I don't think I'd recommend these sponges for anything but their feeling on the skin—but some days that's enough for me. Introducing sponges to my routine has reminded me that makeup is about not only the finished result but also the process of application. Which should be fun!
What's your experience with beauty sponges? And is it possible that I could use my own sponges more effectively (by wetting them more, or not at all, or...)?