You may think that you need a set of high-quality brushes to achieve the look you want, but that’s not actually the case: The Beautyblender ($16, sephora.com), a pink, egg-shaped sponge, can do it all if you’re short on time and money.
If you’re not familiar with it, here’s the deal: The sponge has become a cult favorite among makeup artists and skin-care gurus for its major versatility. While it's generally marketed as a foundation applicator, it has a whole host of other uses. And it's sold at Sephora, beauty supply stores, and some pharmacies (visit beautyblender.com to find the closest location).
All you have to do before using it is wet it with water and squeeze out the excess liquid. The open-cell structure of the Beautyblender absorbs the water so that just the right amount of product sits on the surface, allowing for a very natural-looking application when it comes to makeup.
As far as keeping your sponge in good shape, one of the best ways to wash it—and get a full three months' of use out of one—is by soaking it in Liquid Blendercleanser ($18, sephora.com), submerging it in cold water, squeezing it gently until it lathers, rinsing in cold water, and then setting it out on a towel until it dries.
Here, our favorite way to use this miracle multitasking sponge:
Scrubbing away dead skin: One of the key steps in any skin-care routine is exfoliating, but it’s possible to be too aggressive, which is where the Beautyblender comes in. Robin Evans, facialist and skin-care specialist in New York City, recommends applying just a dollop of exfoliator to the sponge, making light but firm circular motions on your face and then rinsing with warm water. She likes to create her own scrub by mixing sugar with equal parts coconut oil.
Contouring: The small tapered end of the Beautyblender is just as effective at adding definition to your face as an angled, fluffy brush since it can easily fit in areas like the sides and bridge of the nose that you’d want to define. Celeb makeup artist Fiona Stiles recommends patting on bronzer with your finger where you want to contour and then gently dotting those areas with your Beautyblender.
Removing stubborn makeup: A clean Beautyblender can remove waterproof mascara and eyeliner. Dab liquid makeup remover onto the sponge, and press down on your eyelids to take everything off. And if you happen to get powder makeup on your clothing, Stiles likes to use the Beautyblender to buff the product right out. Hold the garment taught, and then swipe the sponge against the mark.
Defining your brows: After applying a pencil or shadow, you can use a Beautyblender to soften harsh lines and blend the makeup in with the natural color of your brows. Another trick: Blend some concealer into the arch of the brow with the smaller end of the Beautyblender to create a more defined look, says Stiles.
Softening heavy makeup: Overdid it on the blush? No problem. The Beautyblender is a great fix-it tool for thinning out anything you’ve applied too heavily. Take a Beautyblender that has a little bit of leftover foundation on it (this will help sheer things out), and bounce it on your skin wherever you’ve applied too much blush. This will blend the seams, getting rid of any hard lines, says makeup artist Lauren Cosenza, creator of DIVAlicious.
Applying facial oil: After washing your face, squeeze a few drops of your oil of choice onto a Beautyblender and apply in circular motions to help seal in moisture and ensure your face doesn’t look greasy.