Is a $3 Makeup Sponge as Good as a beautyblender?


makeup sponges, makeup flatlay, beautyblender with cheaper alternatives, beauty comparisons, beauty blogger

Makeup sponges are essential for me and pretty much everyone else on this planet. I've literally been using some variety of a makeup sponge since junior high. I'm sure you've seen dozens of sponges pop up in stores all over - from the Dollar Store to Walmart. Not all makeup sponges are made equally, so I wanted to test some different ones out and find out - can cheap makeup sponges really make the cut? I'm all for saving money wherever I can, but some things just can't be replaced with a cheaper alternative.

If you've been living under a rock, beautyblenders are little egg-shaped makeup sponges that came out in 2007. What makes them so special, you might ask? These sponges fit the contours of your face, and they can be used wet or dry - either way makes your face makeup look flawless. There are so many products that can be applied with these makeup sponges - liquids, powders, and creams. All this magic comes at a pretty hefty price for a tiny little sponge. They are priced anywhere from $16-$20 for one sponge.

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Since the rise of the beautyblender, dozens of other similar sponges have hit the market. You can find them almost everywhere, but don't be fooled - they aren't all great. I have used (and been amazed) by an authentic beautyblender before, so I wanted to experiment with some of the off-brand makeup sponges and see if any of them had comparable results. The results were kind of surprising. I used a 5-star rating system in some of the categories to make it easier to follow (5 stars = best of the best). Let's get into it!

original beautyblender sponge, comparing makeup sponges, black beautyblender with marble background, beauty comparisons, beauty blogger

B E A U T Y B L E N D E R

MY OVERALL RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

PRICE: $16 - $20 each
BUY IT: Sephora or Ulta.. You can buy the beautyblender individually or in a set. I love buying the mini ones in a set on Black Friday! It's the best time to get a deal.
DURABILITY: ★ ★ ★ ★ 
COVERAGE/APPLICATION: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

First up, the real deal - the beautyblender. They've been described as magical, and I can attest to how amazing they are. It's designed to be used wet, but it also works dry. The "magic" happens when it is used wet though, so keep that in mind! Honestly, I use mine dry about half of the time, and it's still really impressive how well it applies my makeup. I typically use my original beautyblender to apply foundation, concealer and setting powder when I'm in a pinch. The original beautyblender really shines when my skin is super dry. Sometimes it doesn't matter how much moisturizer I apply, my skin gets really flaky. Using a wet beautyblender is the best way to apply face makeup to my super dry skin without making the flaking and dryness worse!

I love the beautyblender for many reasons: how easy they are to use, that they are less dense than other sponges, and obviously because they make my makeup look flawless. My only complaint is the price because it's hard to shell out $20 for something you throw away every three months. I am fully on board for paying that price though, because they truly are magical! Like I mentioned above, it is recommended that you replace your beautyblender sponge every 3 months. You might also be wondering the best way to travel with the beautyblender (or any makeup sponge) to make sure it stays clean and in-tact. There are actual travel cases out there (like this one), but a cheap alternative is using a plastic easter egg! 

real techniques miracle complexion sponge, comparing makeup sponges, orange real techniques makeup sponge with marble background, beauty comparisons, beauty blogger

R E A L  T E C H N I Q U E S  M I R A C L E  C O M P L E X I O N  S P O N G E


MY OVERALL RATING: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

PRICE: $3 - $5 depending on where you purchase one
BUY IT: Ulta, Amazon, Real Techniques website, Walmart, Target, Walgreens
DURABILITY: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
COVERAGE/APPLICATION: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge is an amazing low-cost alternative to the original beautyblender. I love this sponge - it might be one of my favorites! It is very comparable to the original beautyblender at a much lower cost. They are available at tons of retailers, and they also come in sponge sets. 

Some of the main differences between the Real Techniques miracle complexion sponge and the beautyblender are the density, shape, and durability. This sponge feels a little bit heavier and denser when it's wet, but this does not impact the application. I am absolutely obsessed with the flat side of the sponge, and because of this feature, I use this sponge more than my actual beautyblender. It's so nice for the flatter areas of your face, while the rounded sides are great for the contours of your face. 

It's recommended that you replace your Miracle Complexion Sponge every 1-3 months. It has a little bit shorter of a life than the beautyblender, which is why it has fewer stars in the durability category. It does seem to tear a little bit more than the original beautyblender as well. Overall, this is my favorite alternative to the actual beautyblender, and you can't beat the price!

Target dollar spot makeup sponge, comparing makeup sponges, green makeup sponge with marble background, beauty comparisons, beauty blogger

T A R G E T

MY OVERALL RATING: ★ ★ ★  ☆

PRICE: $3
BUY IT: Target Dollar Spot (seasonally available)
DURABILITY: ★ ★ ★ ★ 
COVERAGE/APPLICATION: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

I was so excited to see beauty sponges in the Dollar Spot. We all know how much I love Target! I got this particular sponge about a year ago, but I have seen them again in the Dollar Spot several times. Even if you can't find them right now, keep a lookout for them! These are great, affordable sponges that are ideal for travel and makeup sponge backups. It's awesome to have these cheap little sponges for travel because you can just throw them away after your trip if you don't want to wash them! 

These also feel slightly denser than the original beautyblender, but it's the same size. This sponge applies makeup shockingly well considering the price tag. These seem to be slightly more durable than any of the Real Techniques sponges I've tried, which I was not expecting. I've washed mine many times and it hasn't torn once. These sponges are a great find!

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R E A L  T E C H N I Q U E S  S C U L P T I N G  S P O N G E


MY OVERALL RATING:   ½ ☆ ☆

PRICE: $6
BUY IT: Ulta, Amazon, Real Techniques, Walmart, Target, Walgreens
DURABILITY: ★  ☆ ☆ ☆
COVERAGE/APPLICATION:  ★ ★   ☆

This is another Real Techniques sponge, but it is a very different shape than the above sponges. What drew me to this sponge was this unique shape. It's like a combination of the miracle complexion sponge and the mini eraser sponge. I'm all for simplicity and products doing multiple things, so this sponge seemed like the perfect fit. Having two different sides makes it amazing for travel or for people who like to keep things simple. The smaller size can be used for undereye concealing and the larger side can be used all over your face.

Sadly, this sponge didn't last a super long time. I started to tear in the middle, and it didn't take long for it to be totally ruined and ripped in half. I loved the idea of this sponge though and for the few days I used it, I loved it so much! I wish it was more durable though. 

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R E A L  T E C H N I Q U E S  M I N I  E R A S E R  S P O N G E


MY OVERALL RATING: ★ ★ ★  

PRICE: $5 - $6 for a set of two
BUY IT: Ulta, Amazon, Real Techniques website, Walmart, Target, Walgreens. They frequently come in sets with other Real Techniques sponges.
DURABILITY: ★ ★   
COVERAGE/APPLICATION: ★ ★   

These little guys are my favorite! The mini size makes these ideal for travel, keeping in your car for touchups, and applying makeup to smaller areas and creases. They're great for wiping off eye makeup that smudges and flakes during the day. They also have a small chiseled end that I am obsessed with! I like having different sides to use for different areas of my face.

These should be replaced every 1-3 months. The small size makes them super easy to clean too. As far as durability goes, I wash all of my beauty sponges with beautyblender soap, dish soap or baby shampoo and air dry them. I take care of them all the exact same way so they last as long as possible. 

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T H E  V E R D I C T


Nothing truly compares to a beautyblender, which explains why they are put on such a pedestal. However, there are definitely some pretty close contenders. I think it's incredible that there are so many options out there because not everyone can shell out $20 for a tiny sponge every few weeks. If you've never tried an actual beautyblender, you definitely need to at some point. Yes, they are a little pricey, but they will honestly change your life. However, if you're in college like me or aren't quite ready to take the plunge, the alternatives above are a great starting point. You can click on any of the photos or links above to shop and find out more about each one!

For any makeup sponge, I can't stress enough how important it is to make sure you wash them regularly. Like any makeup product, eventually, bacteria builds up on them. You can get some major breakouts and even infections if you don't wash your sponges and replace them regularly!

I hope this post was useful for anyone curious about the beauty sponge world. I'm by no means an expert, but I do love trying out new products and finding great deals and alternatives to brand names. 


*This post contains affiliate links. For every purchase using one of my links, I earn a few pennies at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting this blog!

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