4 Ways To Apply Your Foundation Better

With these techniques, those wedge-shaped drugstore sponges can ALMOST mimic the glory of a beautyblender.
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With these techniques, those wedge-shaped drugstore sponges can ALMOST mimic the glory of a beautyblender.

I love the beautyblender and all the knockoffs it has inspired, but I dislike the price tag. To save some cash, I recently revisited ye old wedge-shaped makeup sponge--the kind you can buy a big bag of for under $4. While they're not exactly interchangeable with a beautyblender, I have a few tricks on how best to use them for an airbrushed finish.  

1. Use a block of two latex-free wedges.

white makeup sponge

Using a block of sponges as opposed to individual wedges gives you better control.

One of the advantages of the beautyblender is its teardrop shape. The pointed tip can get to all those hard-to-reach areas, like the sides of the nose, while the rounded end gives you a lot of control over the sponge without it soaking up all your foundation. Run-of-the-mill sponges are wedge-shaped, with a pointed tip that's great for covering smaller areas of the face. The downside is that your finger can easily sink into the sponge when you try to apply foundation using the longer sides. For better control, don’t separate the sponges into wedges when you take them out of the bag. Instead, use them as blocks so you’ll be able to apply even pressure when stippling your foundation.

2. Keep the sponge dry.

applying foundation with a wet sponge

Applying foundation with a makeup sponge block.

Even though makeup sponge makers say you can dampen the sponge for a softer effect, using the sponge wet causes my foundation to apply unevenly and overly sheer (since it soaks up a lot of water). Instead, keep the sponge dry, especially if you want medium-to-full coverage. For sheer coverage, just use less product in the areas you want to cover. For reference, I am using CoverGirl Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 Foundation in Medium Beige.

3. Apply foundation to the skin, not the sponge.

foundation blended with a wet sponge

My face after using a regular cosmetic sponge to stipple foundation.

Start by dotting foundation on your face--work in small sections if your foundation sets fast. Then use the sponge to stipple the makeup very gently so it won’t soak up a lot of product. It can take a bit of time to blend, especially since the sponge is dry, but hang in there. To save time, use the longer side of the sponge to cover bigger areas like your cheeks and forehead, and the smaller side to cover areas like your nose. If you're having trouble covering pores, add a tiny amount of foundation to the area and lightly dab the sponge over it. If the foundation ends up settling on the sides of your nose, very gently blend it outward using the edge of the sponge.

4. For a more natural look, use a damp sponge to soften coverage.

using a wet makeup sponge

Take another pass with the sponge for a lighter look.

If you’re already pleased with the way your foundation looks, you can skip this step. But if you want a more natural look, sweep a clean, lightly dampened sponge over your face. A simple tap will do: If you overdo it, you’ll run the risk of lifting or dragging your foundation. I ran the clean end of the sponge I was using under water for a second, and then squeezed out as much water as possible before lightly going over the sides I wanted to soften up, such as my forehead and chin. I like extra coverage on my nose since it gets oily, so I left that section alone.

foundation applied with a wet sponge

After a bit of effort, here's the finished look.

makeup sponge foundation application comparison

 Foundation applied with a Beautyblender (left) and a regular cosmetic sponge (right).

The beautyblender still covers my pores better, provides a softer look, and is much easier to use than my regular cosmetic sponge method. But at least now I know that if anything ever happens to my beloved beautyblender, a cheaper and pretty good alternative awaits. 

  • Do any of you use regular cosmetic sponges?
  • What non-beautyblender techniques do you use to get an airbrushed finish?