I've wanted to try a Beautyblender since pretty much the start of this blog, but only recently managed to actually order one. I'm content with my brush collection and my curiosity about elliptical-shaped sponges was temporarily satiated with the purchase of the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge, so while I had always intended to eventually try the Beautyblender, there wasn't a pressing need. With a discount coupon in hand however, it was the perfect opportunity to finally try the iconic beauty tool.
Having used it a couple of times, a lot of my thoughts mirror those of the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge. I think the two are fairly indistinguishable, except that the Beautyblender seems to be a bit more durable (but harder to clean) and I prefer the overall shape of the Beautyblender over the Miracle Complexion Sponge, which has the addition of a flat edge.
The most apparent thing about the Beautyblender is that it's a lot more work than a brush. Having to quickly stipple (bounce) the ball all over the face to evenly distribute, press and blend in foundation requires much more manual labour than anticipated. At some point, my arm started to tire. If only I were ambidextrous, then I would've switched hands to at least ensure an even workout.
I noticed that I use at least twice as much product, probably due to the sponge absorbing a lot of it. This doesn't overly concern me as I have a surplus of foundations, most of which I don't envisage finishing before they go off. But if you only have one or two treasured and expensive foundations that you want to stretch out for as long as possible, the amount of product that gets soaked up might be a concern.
The other major downside is that it's a pain to clean. I'm lazy at the expense of stricter hygiene standards, so it's not uncommon for me to only wash my foundation brushes once every 3-4 weeks despite near daily use. I can't really do that with the Beautyblender because I'm paranoid remnants of foundation will solidify and dry within the sponge itself, making eventual cleaning much more difficult. It's also the fact that I feel the sponge won't work properly the next time I use it if it's dirty, unlike a makeup brush. So far, I've tried cleaning it with regular soap and a face cleanser, and both weren't entirely effective in that foundation stains were left on the sponge. The Beautyblender also leaked pink dye as I squeezed it under the tap which I prepared myself for having read previous reviews.
Despite all that extra time and effort, the tradeoff is a more natural, seamless finish that can't exactly be replicated with a makeup brush. I'm convinced that something happens as water from the damp sponge evaporates from your face along with the foundation it's mixed with. The result is that foundation seems to have been thoroughly worked into skin in an undetectable fashion. It's akin to really spending time to buff and stipple foundation all over with a fluffy or flat-top kabuki-style brush, except that the sponge gives a more close contact, skin-like result. Although you use more product than with a brush, it gives sheerer coverage because everything is blended and patted away with the damp, spongy surface. Sheering out foundation with water from the sponge and applying thin layers also seems to make foundation more transfer-proof and less prone to getting oily, especially around the T-zone.