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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Manicare Blending Sponge: The Australian Beauty Blender and Sonia Kashuk Blending Sponge Dupe

The Beauty Blender is raved about so much for giving a 'flawless application' of foundation that I've almost considered spending the 30 or so dollars it would take for me to purchase it. Almost. At the end of the day it's still just a sponge and I haven't had the best experiences with using a sponge to apply my makeup in the past so I've never been able to justify buying it.

A few weeks ago I came across the Manicare blending sponge and it looked to be based on the same basic idea as the Beauty Blender and it was only about $8 so I decided to give it a go. It's a purple sponge that has a small pointed tip on one end, a large rounded side on the other and a pinched shape in the middle where you're meant to hold it.

This brush is an exact dupe (in looks at least) for the Sonia Kashuk Blending Sponge which is raved about as being the American dupe for the Beauty Blender. I don't have either the Beauty Blender or the Sonia Kashuk sponge so I can't really tell you how the Manicare one compares with them in terms of size and density. The Beauty Blender doesn't have the little groove in the middle which I think would make it less comfortable to hold than the Sonia Kashuk or Manicare sponges.

These sponges are always talked up as being perfect to complete a whole face of makeup (minus the eyeshadow) so I thought I'd put it to the test. This morning I used this one sponge for everything from primer application all the way up to my blush application. Before I started I put this in a bowl of warm water and kept squeezing the sponge until it was completely soaked. I then squeezed out the excess water so it wasn't dirpping wet and also wrapped it in some paper towel to get even more water out. I was then left with a damp sponge. It's important that the sponge is damp when you use it so it doesn't absorb too much product.

I applied my primer, foundation and concealer using a bouncing/stippling motion all over my face with the large rounded end. I then used the smaller tip to apply my under eye corrector, under eye concealer and also my setting powder. I then used the large end to apply some Laura Mercier Loose Setting powder to the rest of my face and some Studio Fix powder in areas that needed extra coverage. I finished off by applying my Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in gold to the top of my cheek bones and then applied my Clarins Cream blush to my cheeks and topped it with some NARS Taj Mahal blush. As a quick side note, be aware that you'll need to clean this after every use because of the build up of product and bacteria.

Okay, so I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised with the result because my makeup looked really nicely blended and wasn't thick or cakey looking. Everything transitioned really nicely and the whole effect was very natural. However, as much as I like the results, I don't think I'll keep using this for my foundation application because it just takes too long! The rounded side is quite a bit bigger than the head of my Sigma F82 brush, which I use for my foundation, but with the brush I can blend using circular motions and be done in a minute or two but with the sponge I have to sit there bouncing the product for a while before it looks blended in.

I know I'll still be getting use out of this sponge though because it's phenomenal for cream and liquid highlighter/luminizer and cream blush application. I love the look it gives because the bouncing motion seems to get the product on to your skin in a way that's very natural and which I haven't been able to replicate with a brush. I also really liked this with my Laura Mercier Setting Powder to set concealer and I can see myself using it for that too. The only thing I really wouldn't use it for is powder blush application because it's just too imprecise. This doesn't matter much with low pigment blushes but all of my blushes are highly pigmented so I'm sticking with my NARS Yachiyo brush for them.

I would definitely recommend this sponge to anyone interested in the Beauty Blender because it's a good way to figure out whether or not you like the result enough to pay the extra money for the Beauty Blender. It's also awesome for those who can't justify spending the extra money for the Beauty Blender but still want a similar result. For less than $10 for a really well made product you can't go wrong!


  1. I totally agree with you on this one, I own the Sonia Kashuk sponge and love it. I replace sponges so often that I wouldn't want to pay the beauty blender price every few months (how often I replace my own Sonia sponge- and yes I do wash it every week) to replace it.

  2. That's so true! At least if you spend 30 dollars on a brush you know you'll be using it for years but a $30 sponge or a $10 one still need to be replaced every few months regardless of price.