e.l.f. Discovery

Your Ultimate Guide to Different Makeup Sponges and How to Use Them

By Brooke Sager

If you’re working to apply streak-free foundation, sculpt your cheeks and conceal imperfections, arming yourself with the right beauty sponge—and using it correctly—will make all the difference in creating an e.l.f.ing stunning makeup look.

A makeup sponge is a versatile tool designed to help you apply and blend out your favorite cream, liquid or powder makeup products. Once upon a time, the makeup sponge only came in the form of a disposable white triangle—but today, this easy-to-use makeup tool comes in a variety of different shapes, sizes and colors that each have a unique purpose. Just like you use certain makeup brushes to create particular looks and finishes, there are also a wide range of beauty sponges out there for the same reason.

Choosing the right beauty sponge can be overwhelming, so we’re taking guesswork out of your next makeup application to ensure it’s flawless every time—below, we break down how, when and where to use seven of our holy grail beauty sponges, plus cleaning tips and tricks.

Flat-ended Beauty Sponge

Add the flat-ended face sponge to your list of desert island beauty tools. The ultimate multitasker, our best-selling plush Total Face Blending Sponge features three different shaped sides to help you work your best angles when applying liquid and powder cosmetics:

  • A flat, beveled bottom that’s ideal for contouring, applying under-eye concealer and covering up imperfections with a “pressing” motion
  • A precision tip for detailing in hard-to-reach places (e.g., the corners of your eyes and nose)
  • Rounded sides for applying and blending your foundation all over into a streak-free finish

This all-in-one beauty sponge can be used wet or dry. Dip the sponge into your foundation or concealer and apply to the face using a stippling motion, lightly dabbing the product to blend. Soften and blend using the rounded side by gently bouncing the sponge across your face.

Dual-pointed Makeup Sponge

When it comes to covering up imperfections and dark undereye circles, you need your concealer application to be on point (literally!). That’s why a dual-pointed makeup sponge—like our soft, latex-free Camo Concealer Sponge—is a must-have tool in your makeup arsenal.

An almond-shaped beauty sponge is ideal for applying concealer because it features fine-pointed ends that fit easily into tough-to-reach areas of the face, plus rounded, angled sides that allow for flawless blending. See ya later, blemishes and undereye bags!

To use, dampen the makeup blender sponge and squeeze out excess water. Apply concealer to the desired areas of your face (it’s the perfect complement to our Camo CC Cream and 16 HR Camo Concealer!), then “bounce” the sponge’s points and edges to create a seamless finish.

Pear-shaped Makeup Sponge

Apply foundation, blend it out and contour your look to perfection with one sponge—our pear-shaped Blending Sponge does it all!

This uniquely shaped cosmetic sponge features a full-sized, rounded base that’s ideal for applying makeup over large surface areas (especially the lower half of your face) to create a full-coverage base and layer color; it also boasts a more narrow tip that’s ideal for targeting hard-to-reach areas or contouring your makeup look. Plus, the curved shape fits comfortably in your hand for creating a smooth application with total e.l.f.ing control.

To use, dip the sponge into your foundation or concealer and apply to the face using a stippling motion, lightly dabbing the product to blend. Use the rounded end to cover large areas and the tapered end around the nose, mouth and eyes.

Silicone Makeup Sponge

If you want super-smooth coverage and a foolproof way to apply cream and liquid face makeup formulas, arm yourself with a silicone sponge. Silicone is a non-absorbent material that helps prevent dirt and excess product from seeping into the sponge, giving you a hygienic way to apply and blend out your makeup.

Our three-sided Angled Silicone Makeup Sponge features a silicone bottom for applying and blending out all-over liquid and cream foundation for a stunning, full-coverage finish. (It also has spongy, angled sides to hug the curves of your face with bronzer and blush, plus cover imperfections with concealer.)

PRO TIP: The non-absorbent nature of silicone won’t absorb or waste any product, but it also means a little bit of foundation goes a long way. Start with less foundation than you normally would, and apply all over your face using the sponge’s silicone bottom (it can be used wet or dry).

Sculpting Sponge

Highlighting and contouring your makeup is often thought to be an advanced technique—but even a makeup novice can nail that sculpted look with help from a good sculpting sponge.

Our multi-use Precision Sculpting Sponge has a precise tip that’s perfect for highlighting your best features, a flat edge to help you effortlessly contour and define your look, plus soft, rounded slides to blend your favorite cream and powder formulas into a diffused finish.

To sculpt your makeup look, apply contour with the flat edge and highlighter with the pointed tip, then diffuse out with the rounded sides for a stunning, naturally defined finish.

Powder Puffs

Want to set your base for a beautifully airbrushed finish? Reach for a soft, velour face powder puff, which is specially designed to apply loose or pressed powder foundations or setting powders to your face for that dreamy, soft-focus look.

Our easy-to-use Halo Glow Powder Puff features a teardrop triangle shape, which allows you to fit into all contours of the face for an expertly smooth and even application all over. For a more precise application, our mini Halo Glow Pinkie Puffs are perfect for targeting hard-to-reach areas around the eyes and nose, plus creating spot coverage without caking. Added perk: both are reusable and machine washable!

To use, dip the puff into your Halo Glow powder; tap off excess, then gently press puff onto your skin with a rolling motion. The gentle pressing motion (versus rubbing) is the ultimate way to “set” your look without streaking.

How to Clean Makeup Sponges

Face makeup sponges are a must-have tool for applying and blending your favorite makeup products. But with a job like that, these tools need to be cleaned thoroughly and frequently.

The good news is, cleaning a beauty blender is very simple:

  1. Thoroughly wet the sponge with water

  2. Massage it across a solid sponge cleaner or apply a small amount of mild soap to create a lather

  3. Rub it along a silicone makeup brush cleaning glove until the sponge is free of makeup stains; repeat and rinse until the water runs clear

  4. Set it on a paper towel and let it dry completely before your next use

To protect your foundation sponge from dirt and grime on the go and in between cleanings, store it in a durable makeup sponge holder. Look for a protective case with plenty of vents to help your sponge dry completely in between uses.

How Often Should You Replace Makeup Sponges?

Even with regular cleanings, blending sponges should be replaced far more often than brushes—about every one-to-three months.

With daily use, face sponges pick up and hold on to bacteria and old liquid makeup, so it's important to part ways with and replace your sponges frequently in order to protect your skin.