Bougie vs. Broke: Original Beautyblender vs. e.l.f. Makeup Sponge

Makeup sponges are the unsung heroes of makeup tools. While fingers are acceptable, and brushes can be fun, nothing gives a smooth, skin-like finish like makeup sponges.

There are plenty of makeup sponges to choose from. It’s best not to go on price alone, but with so many options it can be a daunting task trying to figure out which one is the best for you.

Does price affect quality? Which makeup sponge is best?

In Bougie vs. Broke, I compare two similar products at different price points. In this edition, the original Beautyblender is the bougie makeup sponge, e.l.f. makeup sponge the broke.

What Are Tools For Makeup?

Makeup tools include makeup sponges (like the Beautyblender), tweezers, eyelash curlers, eyeliner stencils, I could go on and on. These products make makeup application easier.

When shopping for makeup tools, keep in mind both desired outcomes and weaknesses. Craving air-brushed skin? Then you want a makeup sponge. Looking for a flawless winged eyeliner look but lack the coordination? Then you need eye-liner stencils.

Struggling with brows? You’d be more interested in tweezers and shaping tools. Get mascara everywhere upon application? Then you’d love a mascara shield.

Some makeup tools are more useful than others. I’ve seen some pretty questionable Wish and Instagram ads. Be careful out there. Not only could some products be ineffective, they could be straight-up harmful.

Research products and companies before purchase, we don’t want anything sketchy touching our face or eyes.

Makeup tools on a mirror
Can you imagine owning only 3 makeup brushes? lol

The most common makeup tools are for makeup application: makeup sponges, brushes, silicone doodads, and more.

Blending with one’s fingers can be done. But, a makeup sponge gives the best control plus a flawless finish.

What Is A Makeup Sponge?

A makeup sponge is typically a tear shaped, well…sponge. While it doesn’t feel or look like the sponge hanging around your kitchen sink, it is soft and porous.

Makeup sponges come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors.

Many are marketed to blend certain types of liquid makeup. There are makeup sponges specifically for foundation, concealer, highlighter, BB Cream, etc.

Most makeup sponges work with several different kinds of liquid makeup products.

How Do I Use A Makeup Sponge?

Step 1: Choose Makeup Sponge

Size matters when it comes to choosing makeup sponges. Beginners will want more of a “do-it-all” sponge; big, tear-drop shaped, with a flat edge.

A good teardrop shape blends products into hard to reach areas like inner eyes and around the nose. A flat edge pats powder into place and is good for contouring.

A smaller, more precise makeup sponge is great for blending concealer. Makeup sponges with flat edges are ideal for bronzer, contour, and highlight.

If you’re feeling experimental, get a makeup sponge pack of varying sizes and purposes.

Step 2: Wet Your Sponge

“Apply with a damp makeup sponge” is a phrase we’ve heard in every YouTube beauty tutorial, ever.

But do you understand how much water is needed to “dampen” a makeup sponge? A lot. Like, A LOT.

A makeup sponge should be held underwater for at least thirty seconds, continually squeezed, and allowed to fill back out. A makeup sponge isn’t ready until it has doubled or tripled in size.

Then, and only then, does one squeeze out enough water to make the makeup sponge “damp.”

If a makeup sponge is too dry it will absorb, and therefore waste, product. Too wet and it’ll smear product all over your face. It’s a fine line, but you’ll get it.

Feeling extra fancy? Spray a makeup sponge with a soothing finishing spray to refresh skin.

Dry and damp original Beauty Blender makeup sponge blog graphic

Step 3: Bounce, Don’t Blot

The secret to a flawless application with a makeup sponge is the bounce. The idea is to lightly press the product into the skin, not drag it. Bouncing ensures a more even application and skin-like finish.

Dot makeup across your face and use the largest area of the makeup sponge to bounce the product all over. Use the tear-drop shaped side for smaller, harder-to-reach areas.

I like to use my makeup sponge to bounce in my final application of finishing spray, as well.

Applying foundation with the original beauty blender
I’m serious about my bouncing

Cleaning Makeup Sponges

Makeup sponges can harbor bacteria, which is not something we want to bounce all around our face (that encourages break-outs).

There are a slew of soaps on the market designed specifically for use with makeup sponges (this one looks good), but warm water and baby shampoo works too.

Experts claim that makeup sponges should be cleaned after each use. I know they’re right, but man. That’s a lot of time. I only clean mine weekly. Uh, if I remember (I know, I know!).

What’s the Difference Between a Beautyblender and a Makeup Sponge?

The beautyblender company claims that their product is made from exclusive aqua-activating material (there’s even a little TM after “aqua-activating”).

beautyblender states that this material provides an air-brushed application and absorbs minimal product.

There are a variety of different kinds of makeup sponges, made by different brands at assorted price points.

Typically, other brands are vague about what their makeup sponges consist of (some kind of foam) and are more likely to hype the shape.

Bougie vs. Broke: Original Beautyblender vs. e.l.f. Makeup Sponge

Is there truly a difference in performance between the original Beautyblender and the e.l.f. makeup sponge? Let’s find out.

The Original Beautyblender

The original beautyblender is just that. The OG.

It’s won the Allure Best of Beauty award twelve times and has a 4.6/5 consumer rating on Amazon. Out of nearly fifteen thousand reviews.


The classic teardrop shape of the Beautyblender makeup sponge is very handy. It gets right into the corners of the face and the under eye area.

After using the Beautyblender to apply foundation and concealer, I did not need to go back in with a makeup brush.

beauytblender makeup sponges


There’s something about this makeup sponge that beautifully marries foundation and concealer. I have never had such a smooth under eye area in my life.

And, without repeated bouncing!

A few pats and the usual tell-tale demarcation between my under eye and cheekbone is gone. The original Beautyblender seems to blend concealer directly into my dark circles, seemingly…sopping them up.

Verity of Product Claims

beautyblender asserts it is “the first, the best, the original” makeup sponge and I think they may be right.

I have used makeup sponges by several other brands, and it’s not as if they were…bad. They just don’t compare to the Beautyblender makeup sponge. This product truly does deliver a flawless blend.

e.l.f. Makeup Sponge

The e.l.f. makeup sponge is newer on the block but attempts to set itself apart. Mostly by its’ shape.


I like the divet in the middle of the e.l.f. makeup sponge; it makes it easy to grip amid all the bouncing.

But the shape of this sponge is too big. The tip doesn’t get into hard-to-reach areas as easily.

It was necessary for me to go back in with a makeup brush after applying foundation and concealer. Especially in my under eye area.


While the size of the e.l.f. makeup sponge is an issue, so is the blendability of the sponge material.

Bouncing alone does not blend in product as well as the beautyblender makeup sponge.

e.l.f. makeup sponge
e.l.f. makeup sponge

Verity of Product Claims

The e.l.f. website states that their product will blend makeup to a “professionally-even” finish and make skin “smooth-looking.”

I disagree and do not think that the e.l.f. makeup sponge alone provides those results. Extra steps were needed (and taken) to get the blend they described.

e.l.f. is smart to tout the sponge’s shape, as that is innovative and helpful.

And The Winner Is…

Oh, beauyblender. Hands down.

I wasn’t expecting the Beautyblender makeup sponge to be so special. I was definitely of the “if you’ve seen one makeup sponge, you’ve seen ’em all” camp.

I was wrong. Performance-wise, the beautyblender makeup sponge is worth the price.

If I were comparing the e.l.f. makeup sponge to an equivalent drugstore brand, e.l.f. would probably win. But it just can’t beat Beautyblender!

Ish Mom wearing foundation and concealer blended with beautyblender and e.l.f. makeup sponges
I blended products with the two different sponges on each side of my face. I’d ask if you can tell the difference, but I had to use a brush on the e.l.f. side so you can’t

I’m always a bit disappointed when the bougie product wins. But that’s how it played out.

How do you apply makeup? Have you used any other beautyblender products? Let me know in the comments.

Happy blending!


megan imhoff

ish mom bougie vs broke beautyblender makeup sponge vs e.l.f. makeup sponge
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Megan writes everything on Ish Mom. She possesses a bachelor's degree in psychology, a flair for theatrics, and a whole lotta nerve. She lives in the Midwest (and loves it) with her wonderful husband and three young boys.

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