Sponge or brush? Which should you invest in?

Make up brush v sponge
Make up brush v sponge

I’ve used the Bobbi Brown foundation brush for yonks, then au naturel clean fingers, then switched to tiny pyramid sponges, then back to the Real Techniques stippling brush, then over to the Real Techniques Miracle Sponge, then back again  . . .   Good grief!  What’s the difference?  What’s the best?  Where should you invest your hard-earned cash?


Even the cheap pyramid sponges (for sale everywhere, usually in packs of four) are specially angled so you can get great coverage at the sides of your nose, on your chin, as well as targeting under your eyes.  The new breed of sponge are more egg-shaped, with chiseled edges for corners and packing product onto the sides of your nose.  You can get even, full and swift coverage with the new sponges and the option of a dabbing motion, so if you like even fully coverage you can really achieve this with a sponge now.

The Real Techniques sponge is £5.99 but many of these new ‘egg’ style sponges are upwards and over £10.  They seem to be the most popular option at the moment.

On the plus side – you can completely control the level of coverage you want, up to seriously packing on product (interested in baking?  You will need a sponge to achieve this technique).

On the negative side – with even the most strict hygiene routine, sponges do look a  bit worn and manky after a while!  They take longer to clean and dry than brushes.  From a storage perspective, you can’t really display them neatly in pots and jars on your dressing table now can you?  You’ll probably have to keep them in their originally packaging in a drawer somewhere.


The range, sizes, styles, brands and prices of foundation brushes is just plain crazy!  I have various Real Techniques foundation brushes, along with Bare Minerals and Bobbi Brown versions.  Even the drug store options  are well over £10, but you could easily spend £40 on a single foundation brush.  I’m personally (and currently!) a huge fan of the Real Techniques Stippling Brush (£11.99) for applying foundation.  I know some serious names in the beauty blogging world don’t get on so well with this brush, but I love it!  If you asked me to chose today I would definitely opt for a foundation brush, and probably abandon all others in favour of this one!

So brushes, why so great?  How much product you apply to your brush and then to your face will seriously affect the performance of the brush and the look you achieve.  Brushes are great for building up coverage because of this, start small and work outwards from your T Zone.  You can use your brush all over your face, even starting with a clean brush and your primer if you choose, ending with concealer, same brush for all.  I personally think, with a brush you are more likely to get an airbrushed style look, there is a danger with a sponge of packing the product on so much you start to look scary, or using too little that the sponge cleans your face of product.

I love using my brush to apply my foundation and my concealer, it all blends perfectly and gives me a really lovely polished look.  In the winter I may revert back to my sponge when I need more coverage as no doubt I will be paler and my skin will be red with wind burn again!


Putting aside the cost factor for one second, if you are making an investment today, which should you opt for?  Well if you use a liquid foundation, and like a light to medium coverage try a brush. Go for something with multiple uses like the Real Techniques option.  You can use this one with cream blushers for example.  Get the maximum you can for your pennies.  If you are keen on covering blemishes, pigmentation or scaring and you use quite a thick foundation, or a cream based one (there is a reason the pallet style ones come with those mini square sponges) go for a sponge.  You don’t have to go for the new shaped ones, the little pyramid ones that are cut to give you different angles are just as good and give you options in terms of application.  I do really like the egg-shaped ones though!  If you can stretch to £5.99 give it a go, but you will need to replace your sponge regularly, as it will show wear far quicker than a brush ever would.

Adding in the cost factor, it’s brushes all the way for me!  You outlay let’s say £15 for a good foundation brush, but with care, regular cleaning, air drying etc it will last you years.  A sponge, no matter how great and how well cared for will degrade with constant use.  You will be replacing your sponge I would think, at least on a six monthly basis.

Let me know what you think and your preferences  xx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s