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Here is the second installment of "Do I Need This?", a series about new and trendy beauty products (or just those that might be unfamiliar and baffling to both of us). I'll offer my experience and opinion about whether or not I think the product under consideration is worth shelling out for. Obviously, you don't need ANY beauty products, so the answer is always going to be no, a little bit. But is it going to change your life (or face)? Is it going to make things easier? Are you going to notice any difference at all if you use it? That's what I'm getting at. You may disagree with my verdict, because we all have different bodies/faces/brains/desires, but I'll try to give you a starting point at least.
Short answer: Maybe. If you wear foundation, it's nice, but a cheaper version will also work.
What is it?
Beauty Blender and its knock-offs are soft, dense sponges that you use damp for blending foundation and similar types of makeup (BB cream, tinted moisturizer, concealer, etc.). They're rounded so that you don't get any marks/lines left from edges like you might with a triangular wedge sponge. They're meant to be used by patting against the skin to stipple the makeup, rather than by rubbing it across the surface to spread it. This also helps to avoid streaking and makes your makeup look more natural. You're supposed to soak the sponge in water before you use it, and then squeeze it out so that it's just a little damp. When you wet the sponge it expands up to twice its original size.
Beauty Blender also sells a special cleanser for cleaning out the sponge. It gets pretty full of makeup pretty fast. Some people clean it after every use, but please, ain't nobody got time for that, as they say. Except, apparently people do. Not me. I clean it when I get around to it - that's a decision you have to make for yourself. Also, you do not need a special fucking cleanser for it. You can use whatever liquid soap you have handy. I've used Dawn dish soap, and it worked beautifully. Shampoo or hand soap would also work. You just wet the sponge, work the soap into it, and watch the gross skin-colored water pour out. There are actually YouTube videos that show you how to do this, if you are confused. These things are really durable. I don't know how many times you would have to wash it before it wore out, because mine shows no signs of wear yet, after months and months of use.
Why you might need it:
It really does do a nice job of blending your makeup. I think you can get an even finish faster with one of these sponges than with a wedge. That said, my preferred method for blending my tinted moisturizer is to set it with some translucent powder and a flat top brush (I talk about it toward the end of this post). I have one of the original Beauty Blenders, which I got in a BirchBox once, and what I most often use it for is blending my concealer. I just use it dry. I pat it against spots of concealer, and it does a really nice job of making them disappear into my skin. The pointier end is good for doing small spots and tricky places like around your nose or eyes, and the bigger end is best for doing larger areas like foundation on your cheeks.
I've also tried cheaper similar products. I have one for Avon that I got for $4. They don't carry it anymore, but it appears to be identical to this one, which sells for around $2. I have to tell you, the original Beauty Blender is better. It is, however, also $20, and I'm not sure that it is 4 times better. Its advantages are that it is a little softer and less dense, so it feels a bit nicer and blends things just slightly better. It also has a smaller point on one end, which is easier to get into the grooves alongside your nose, etc. I haven't been using the cheaper sponge long enough to know if it is less durable. So far it seems just about as good in every other way. I don't think I'll spend the $20 to replace the Beauty Blender when the one I have is dead. The cheapie does the job.
From what I've heard, though, not all the knockoffs are equal. I'd recommend looking at reviews so that you don't end up buying 4 different shitty ones before you find a good one and spend enough money that you might as well have bought the fancy thing in the first place. This one (same as the above link) has good reviews, and I like it too. (Or there is another option for excellent reviews, which looks just the the Beauty Blender, for $1.10 on Amazon. Has anyone tried it?)
I do think one of these can make your foundation application more even and natural-looking and possibly even faster. Like I said, it also does a good job of blending concealer. So if those are important parts of your makeup routine, it might be worth trying.
If you must have it, it's actually a better deal to buy 2 for $30 or so, but if you're not sure you're going to love it, it might be smarter to save the extra $6, since they don't seem to need replacing often. Though really, if you're not sure, you should just get the cheap one for a test run, and then upgrade if you're really into it. Or not, because if you're really into it, why would you get something different?