Monday, May 29, 2017

Real Techniques Mini Sponges

Something different today: a mini-review of something that isn't makeup! You've probably noticed that my obsession with color makeup is several orders of magnitude greater than my interest in skincare, brushes, haircare, or "boring makeup" (mascara, brow stuff, concealer, etc). But for variety's sake, I thought I'd write about a new tool that's been amusing me for the past month and a half. What's more, it's a tool that I use to apply "boring makeup"!


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 skinbut 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...)?

10 comments:

  1. Interesting! I do find that damp sponges in general give a sheerer coverage but that they blend product a lot more seamlessly than brushes. Whether they do a better job than my fingers depends on the product and how dry my skin is. I always get the best coverage from my fingers since none of the product is sucked up into bristles/sponge holes, so your results make sense.

    I find the sponge blends better when it's thoroughly soaked, and I've heard that it soaks up less product too (which I guess makes sense, since it's already full of water). So that might help you get more coverage? I like the idea of wetting it with some sort of facial spray, though - I always find that my undereyes look quite dry halfway through my day, so I wonder if that might help that issue. I will have to experiment!

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    1. Hmm, I'll try soaking it completely and see what happens. (The reason I haven't been doing that is pure laziness: I do my makeup in my bedroom and don't want to interrupt the routine by walking down the hall to the bathroom.) The sponge usually blends more smoothly than my fingers, but sometimes it betrays me and makes the product clump up under my eyes, which probably has to do with the dryness of my skin.

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    2. Hahaha I used my sponges most regularly when I was living in a dorm room that included a sink. Since then I have made do with fingers or a brush more regularly because I, too, am far too lazy to go all the way downstairs to wet my sponge.

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  2. Oh that's interesting! I wonder if the concealer mixing with the water from the sponge causes it to not last as well. I tend to pat on my concealer with my fingers, and then come back in a minute or so to use the sponge to blend it again (after it's settled a little into creases). Partly because I don't like the idea of damp sponges sitting around and needing to be washed frequently, but that method also just seems to work well for me.

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    1. Yeah, I assume the water is diluting the product somewhat (which I should have deduced without having to write a post, but hey). I wash the sponge probably less than I should, because the first one developed a huge crack the very first time I tried to wash it.

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    2. Somehow I didn't mention that I use my sponges completely dry. Important detail!

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  3. I use my full size RT sponge to apply my concealer, and I do find that if the sponge is very wet (as opposed to just slightly damp), it applies my concealer very sheer. I run my sponge under the faucet in my bathroom and wring it out/squeeze almost all of the water into a towel before using it and that helps. I don't use it to apply foundation, but I'll use the sponge with no additional product to even out my foundation and ideally remove cake-iness anywhere foundation has built up unevenly.

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    1. That sounds like a good technique--I'll try doing most of the application/blending with my fingers and then going in with the sponge to even it all out.

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  4. I love sponges! They keep my concealer from getting too cakey - but I mostly need concealer on my chin, which gets dry.

    If anyone's looking for mini sponges, I HIGHLY recommend sephora collection eggspert sponges. It's a six-pack with two different sizes and I love it. They work great for concealer and cream blush and the pack is $7.

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  5. I, too, have gruesome undereye circles and tried to mask them for a while with Maybelline DreamLumi highlighter/concealer and the Sigma F86 Tapered Kabuki brush. To me, it was a game changing duo until I decided I couldn't be bothered with trying to cover those suckers up any more (a true exercise in futility, unless I have multiple products and more time). Blender sponges look fun but I could never get past the talk that none of the knockoffs held up like the original BB. Whole facewise, I stick with powders, which means brushes, which possibly speaks more to me being a product of the '90s than anything. I've always found foundation to be icky, but that could be because a junior high mean girl didn't know how to properly apply it and I've got all sorts of bad connotations associated with such things.

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