We Tested 13 Makeup Sponges—These 4 Are the Best

The Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Precision Makeup Sponge 100 reigns supreme.

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Makeup Sponges
InStyle / Tamara Staples

Once upon a time, makeup sponges were a newfangled beauty tool that had very few options to choose from—and confusion about how to use them. (Psst…Most brands work best when the sponge is damp.) Now there are dozens of designs on the market, however, like most products, not every makeup sponge is cut out for the job. With that in mind, we had a group of 11 testers set out on a mission to uncover the best makeup sponges of 2022. Given beautyblender is the classic, cult-favorite sponge that all other sponges are based on, their mission was to discover the lesser-known makeup sponges worth incorporating into your routine.

First things first, our testers researched the top-rated makeup sponges to confirm the initial pool of contestants. After a week of research, they came up with 13 sponges. To determine the effectiveness of each sponge, they tested each one with a variety of makeup products to analyze how well they apply makeup, what types of makeup they work best with, how much product they waste (based on absorption), and how easy they are to clean. After conducting all their research, they narrowed the pool down to the four best makeup sponges, with the Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Precision Makeup Sponge 100 coming out on top.

Of all the products that InStyle tested, these are the best makeup sponges.

Best Overall: Fenty Beauty Precision Makeup Sponge

4.7
Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Precision Makeup Sponge 100 with InStyle Badge

Sephora

What We Love: The unique shape makes applying makeup all over the face easier—and smoother—than ever.

What We Don't Love: The porous design seems to soak in more product than other firmer sponges.

Beloved by our testers—not to mention over 65,000 Sephora shoppers—the Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Precision Makeup Sponge 100 is a flat-sided teardrop makeup sponge that can be used for various applications, including foundation, blush, and under-eye concealer. The latex-free sponge is designed to be a "triple threat" for applying liquid, cream, and powder foundations anywhere and everywhere on the face.

When our reviewers put this makeup sponge to the test, they loved how light and airy it was, which made blending makeup a breeze. Additionally, they were enamored with the unique shape. Given many makeup sponges are round tear drops or angular wedges, this three-sides sponge was found to be quite innovative, with a large round side for coverage, a smaller flat side for precise application (like contouring), and an even smaller tip for targeting the under-eye area. "I love the flat shape and narrow edge at the end," one reviewer says. "It's very unique and makes makeup easy to apply."

Despite being a porous sponge, our testers found that this three-sided sponge was particularly easy to clean. Simply run it under water and the product came right out.

Price at time of publish: $16

Material: Latex-free sponge | Shape: 3-sided teardrop | Foundation Type: Liquid, cream, or powder | Size: Smaller than an egg

Makeup Sponge
InStyle/Tamara Staples

Best Value: Essence Makeup & Baking Sponge

5
Essence Makeup & Baking Sponge

Ulta

What We Love: It's affordable and it gets the job done flawlessly.

What We Don't Love: This is a firmer, denser sponge than some others on our list.

Speaking of affordable makeup sponges, our testers deemed the Essence Makeup & Baking Sponge to be the very best value.

"​​It's a dome shape with an angled side; it applied my foundation very well and it didn't transfer onto the sponge, nor did it absorb too much—all the product made it to my face," our reviewer shares. And for just $6 that's quite a feat.

Logistically, this pale pink makeup sponge has a classic shape—a wide bottom that tapers into a sharp point at the top. "The very wide bottom helped to apply foundation quickly and efficiently on large areas of the face," our reviewer says.

While on the topic, it's worth noting that it gets even wider than it looks in the packaging, for it nearly doubles in size when wet. "This is a great sponge," our reviewer says. "It didn't soak up my product and it blended quickly into my skin. It gets huge when damp, it bounces nicely when applying, and the angled size is great for getting smaller areas of your face. Overall, I would use this sponge on the daily."

Price at time of publish: $6

Material: Dense foam | Shape: Teardrop | Foundation Type: Liquid, cream, or powder | Size: Smaller than an egg

Makeup Sponge
InStyle/Tamara Staples

Best for Foundation: L'Oréal Infallible Blend Artist Foundation Blender

4.3
L'Oreal Infallible Blend Artist Foundation Blender

Amazon

What We Love: The size and shape make this blender very user-friendly.

What We Don't Love: It applied the makeup evenly but was difficult to build up the coverage.

Here we have an hourglass shaped hot pink sponge that almost looks like a cinched beautyblender. Made of plush foam, the makeup sponge is lightweight and works well to apply a variety of products. Although it's recommended for liquid and cream makeup, given the slightly tapered tip, it can be used to set powder, too.

"It's the goldilocks of beauty blenders," one of our reviewers says. "It feels soft and bouncy—but not too bouncy."

Unlike a beautyblender, this makeup sponge is designed to be used dry. Still, our reviewer tested it under multiple circumstances. "It's feels slightly rougher when dry but fairly soft when damp," she says, noting that despite the textural differences, it never feels rough on the skin.

What's interesting about this makeup sponge is that even though it's denser in nature, our reviewer found that it doesn't work well for heavier coverage applications. If your goal is a light, more natural-looking finish, however, they found it to be a great option—especially given the drugstore price.

Plus, it's easy to clean! "Outside of that, it's a no-fuss blender that does what you'd expect," our reviewer says.

Price at time of publish: $8

Material: Plush foam | Shape: Hourglass teardrop | Foundation Type: Liquid and Cream | Size: Smaller than an egg

Makeup Sponge
InStyle/Tamara Staples

Best for Setting: Beauty Bakerie Organic Eggs Beauty Sponges

4.3
Beauty Bakerie Organic Blending Eggs

Amazon

What We Love: The size of the sponge covers a larger surface area and feels soft on the face.

What We Don't Love: While a great value, we do wish you could buy a single blender, instead of a set of six.

Another great value? This set of six makeup sponges from Beauty Bakerie. Designed with the classic beautyblender shape in mind, these sponges are nothing short off a bargain dupe—especially since you get multiple for less than the price of one beautyblender.

"The shape is very similar to a beautyblender, but the rounded side is a bit more square," our reviewer says. "It gets really big when dipped in water, which is great for covering a lot of surface area. The other side is great for getting under your eyes and around your nose."

Although it expands in water, this sponge doesn't get airier in the process. "This is a very dense sponge," our reviewer says. "It feels heavier than a beautyblender, but still feels extremely soft and bouncy against the skin."

Most importantly, it does what it claims to do. "The foundation applies very smoothly and evenly with this sponge," our reviewer says. "It covers a lot of surface area, so application is quick and easy. The only downside is that it seems to absorb a ton of product when in use. This is probably because it is much denser than other picks."

Given the level of absorption, our reviewer was surprised to find this sponge easy to clean. That said, she reveals that it's difficult to clean it entirely. "The product washed out, but you could still see a stain of the foundation on the bottom," she admits.

At the end of the day, the best thing about this makeup sponge is the fact that it comes in a set. "Overall, I like this product, but do not feel like it is very unique," our reviewer shares. "I would use it for foundation, but would choose something a bit lighter like the beautyblender for everyday use."

Price at time of publish: $18

Material: Latex-free sponge | Shape: Teardrop/Egg | Foundation Type: Liquid, cream, or powder | Size: Smaller than an egg (when dry)

Makeup Sponge
InStyle/Tamara Staples

Our Testing Process

Our testers spent a week researching the most popular (and most unique) makeup sponges on the market. In doing so, they were able to curate a pool of 13 makeup sponges to put to the test. To determine the effectiveness of each makeup sponge, our testers analyzed their material, the type of foundation they're meant to be used with, their size, and how easy they are to clean. Then, they rated each makeup sponge on a scale of 1 to 5 for three categories: absorption, application, and ease of cleaning. By taking everything into account, our testers were able to whittle down the initial selection of makeup sponges to uncover the four best makeup sponges of 2022.

Makeup Sponge
InStyle/Tamara Staples

What to Keep in Mind

Material

The material that a makeup sponge is made out of matters because it not only impacts how smoothly it applies makeup, but how much foundation, concealer, or cream blush it absorbs in the process, too. Generally speaking, silicone makeup sponges absorb the least amount of product (if any at all) given they're not porous (our favorite is the Ulta Fingerprint Silicone Blender). That said, foam makeup sponges tend to be the lightest weight and, as such, are able to deliver the most natural-looking airbrushed finish.

Foundation Type

Nine times out of 10, makeup sponges are designed to be used with liquid or cream formulas, as they make blending them in easier than ever. That said, some sponges work well to "bake" powder under the eyes. If your goal is to find a makeup sponge for the latter, those with flat edges tend to work best, as the edges make it easier to apply makeup into the tight corners under the eyes.

Size

The size of your makeup sponge determines 1) how quickly you'll be able to apply your makeup and 2) where you can apply your makeup. While larger makeup sponges are great for applying makeup to the forehead, cheeks, and chin, they don't work as well for tight corners around the eyes. Because of this, many makeup sponges come in multiple sizes so that you can cater to the part of your face you're hoping to use it on. Or have different shapes, rather than a uniform oval, to fit into smaller and larger areas with the same sponge (like our Best Overall pick, the Fenty Beauty Precision Makeup Sponge).

Your Questions, Answered

What is the correct way to apply makeup with a sponge?

Thanks to a certain cult-favorite makeup sponge that's designed to be used wet, many people assume that the best way to apply makeup with a sponge is to start by holding it under a faucet. Check the instructions for the sponge you buy: most brands will indicate if a wet or dry application method is best.

TikTok sensation, Rose Siard, also says that freshly-soaked makeup sponges sometimes are to blame for patchy, separated foundation. With that (and other foundation application mistakes) in mind, she created a series dedicated to teaching people how to apply their foundation correctly. When it comes to using a makeup sponge, she says to use it dry or get it wet during your evening skincare routine and let it dry down overnight. Then, when using it to apply your makeup, dab—don't swipe—your foundation on.

How do I clean a makeup sponge?

Since makeup sponges are designed to absorb water, they can sometimes absorb a bunch of foundation (or whatever makeup you're using with them), too. As a result, they can often seem tricky to clean. But don't stress. InStyle created a video dedicated to the topic. For starters, former InStyle Beauty Editor, Dianna Mazzone, says to always dry clean your makeup sponge after each use. This means rubbing any excess product off onto a washcloth or paper towel. Then, a couple of times per week, give your sponge a deep clean with baby shampoo or a dedicated makeup sponge or brush cleaner. And whatever you do, after giving your sponge a bath, don't toss it into a cramped makeup bag or closed drawer. Instead, allow it to air out to prevent mold from growing. Your skin will thank you.

What Is InStyle Picks?

We created the InStyle Picks seal of approval to help you find the best-in-class buys worth your time and money. To determine which products live up to their hype, we rate and review them against a unique methodology. We do this in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers, so you can rest assured that what we call the best is exactly that. Once testing is complete, our team collects all the insights and determines which products deserve the InStyle Picks seal. If we can't vouch for a product, it won't receive our seal of approval — plain and simple.

TL;DR: InStyle Picks are products we love, ones that were put to the test to be absolutely sure you will too.

Want more product recommendations? Check out all of our InStyle Picks content.

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