I have a side-by-side comparison of the beloved Beauty Blender with two drugstore versions: the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion sponge (the orange one) and the Precision Beauty Blending sponge (the purple one, not to be confused with the yellow Sephora Precision Sponge). The Real Techniques sponge is $4.99 at Ulta, and the Precision sponge is $4.99 at Marshall’s. These two drugstore sponges are talked about the most, I think, as dupes for the Beauty Blender, so I wanted to put them to the test first. If there are other dupes you’ve heard about, please let me know so I can do a part two.
I know I promised this post and video long ago (this post was drafted back in June…yikes!), but I hated my initial footage and wanted to cut the chatter and just show you how the sponges work. It took me a while to refilm everything and hack it together, so let’s get started!
First, let’s talk shape…
All three have different shapes. The Precision sponge is similar to the Beauty Blender but has a groove through the center, which I can only assume is to get a better grip around it. The tip is not as narrow as the Beauty Blender, but is still helpful for tight corners and smaller areas. The Real Techniques sponge has a different shape entirely with a flat edge on one side and a pointed tip at the other.
These sponges surprisingly all have very different textures, which you may be able to see in the photos above. The Beauty Blender is soft and light, and it feels very plush. The Precision sponge is similar but more dense, even when wet. The Real Techniques sponge is light but has a kind of a rough texture, and it isn’t as bouncy as the other two. It feels more like the disposable sponges you get from the drugstore.
I think now’s a good time to cue the demo:
There are a few things you can see right away. The Beauty Blender and Precision sponge both give a good amount of coverage and blend nicely. I was able to apply my foundation to those two parts of the face in less than a minute each, which is even faster than some brushes. The difference in density between the two sponges is certainly noticeable, but I found it negligible in terms of how they each perform.
The Real Techniques sponge, however, was pretty awful. I left the full unedited clip of my application because it took me literally a minute to do just one cheek! You can see that it wasn’t blending very well, and I literally started dragging it across my face to try and blend it out a bit. Needless to say, I was left with a much more uneven coverage than the other two sponges.
EDIT (December 2014): The Real Techniques sponge works better when it’s been completely soaked through and then squeezed out. It gets much softer and blends foundation much more easily. However, this method isn’t an everyday method of applying foundation because it takes a lot more time to prep the sponge that way (versus spraying it with Fix+ like in my video), and I still don’t think it works quite as well as the other two. Plus, the other two are great to use dry, damp, or squeezed out, while this one is really difficult to use dry or damp. So my opinion was only changed very slightly, but I figured I’d share this detail with those of you arriving to this post after it was originally posted!
The Bottom Line: Are They Dupes?
If you’ve been reading this entire post and/or watched the video, this will come as no surprise: the Precision sponge is a near dupe, and skip the Real Techniques sponge.
I think the Beauty Blender is worth the money if you know you love applying foundation with a sponge and will get a ton of use out of it, and if you can’t deal with a denser sponge. It’s also a great purchase if you apply makeup on others and want to present the brand name product. But, if you’re just starting out with makeup sponges or know you won’t use it every day, I highly recommend picking up the Precision sponge first until you feel comfortable parting with that $15 difference between the two. That’s a significant enough chunk of change to warrant some caution!
The Beauty Blender is $20, and can be found at Sephora, the official Beauty Blender website, or select online vendors
The Precision sponge is $4.99, and can be found at Marshall’s (I also found it on Amazon for $10 if you don’t have a Marshall’s near you)
The Real Techniques sponge is $5.99, and can be found at Ulta
Thanks for reading!