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The no waste foundation applicators

So, as I explained in my first post, today I found a story I'd spent AGES on, and a lot of geekery, had been wildly cut (as often happens because of space) and I thought that was a real pity, so here it is in full... (images copyright of the websites that sell each product)


ANYONE who’s ever washed a foundation brush or make-up sponge must have wondered quite how much of their expensive foundation they regularly sluice down the drain.

So little wonder that the launch of a no-waste applicator became big news for beauty fans.

Called the Silisponge, this silicone sponge looks like a miniature version of a chicken fillet-style bra insert, but devotees claim you only needed a fraction of the foundation you’d normally use as it spreads it so evenly, doesn’t absorb anything, and is easy to wash.

To find out, we put it to the test alongside a number of other foundation applicators. Using a set of super-accurate scales from Woodley Equipment who provide pharmaceutical companies with gadgets for clinical trials, we weighed the foundation — I used two pumps each time, the amount I usually use to cover my face — and the applicators before and after use to find out how much foundation was used, and how much was left on each tool.

We then gave each a mark based on how much foundation they used, the results they gave, how easy they were to clean, and how much they cost. The results were enlightening…


Beauty Blender, £16,

One of the make-up tools that devotees have claimed has been a game-changer when it comes to make-up application. This small, pink egg-shaped sponge with a point (to help get into the nooks and crannies of your face) is designed to be used while damp.

Amount of foundation left on sponge: 50 per cent

Easy to use, using a combination of dabbing and dragging techniques, and because the sponge was damp, the application felt less drying. It gave a very even result that I was happy with, but the texture of the sponge felt slightly rough and as if it was dragging on the skin. Despite being used damp, it soaked up half of my foundation, and was also really difficult to clean effectively.

3/5 — a nice result but hard to clean, and hard to justify the price when there are cheaper sponges


Silisponge, £5.95,

​This is the product labelled revolutionary by make-up fans — a soft, silky, translucent, flat pebble of silicone that looks like a piece of worn glass that you might find washed up on the beach.

Amount of foundation left on sponge: 0 per cent

I initially loaded way too much product onto the sponge and it was sliding all over my face, difficult to control and made me feel like I had to work very quickly before the foundation dried. However, I soon found a more successful approach was to spread a very small amount of foundation over the skin and then dab rather than drag and the narrow side of the applicator was good for tighter areas. I needed half the amount of foundation I usually use, because the applicator doesn’t soak up anything, and cleaning it, with a drop of soap under a warm running tap, couldn’t be easier.

5/5 — inexpensive, good finish, and doesn’t waste a drop.


Bold Metals Collection Triangle Foundation Brush, £15,

Part of the hugely successful Real Techniques brush collection, this foundation brush has a triangular head that tapers to a point, and a nicely weighted handle that is meant to make it easy to use.

Amount of foundation left on sponge: 25 per cent

The individual hairs that make up the bristles of this brush seem quite thick and plasticky, and it felt quite rough. However, the shape of the head and the handle made it very easy to apply foundation to every part of the face — even around the eyes, nose and mouth. I was surprised that the bristles seemed to suck up less foundation than other brushes I tried — maybe the fact that they’re thicker and tougher worked in their favour.

4/5 — more economic on foundation than others


Beau Belle OV1 Foundation Brush, from set of eight, £64.95,

‘Toothbrush-style’ make-up brushes have become hugely popular in recent years. This is part of a set of different sized, densely packed, soft bristle brushes.

Amount of foundation left on brush: 50 per cent

It felt like the standard amount of foundation didn’t give me the same amount of coverage that I usually get, and I could have done with a bit more. And, while the big head and dense bristles were good for buffing product into the cheeks and forehead, you’d need to use another brush to get into smaller areas. I’d hoped that the densely packed bristles wouldn’t soak up so much foundation, but they did, and the fact they’re so tightly packed makes it harder to clean than looser brushes.

3/5 — a beautiful looking brush but tricky to clean.


Starskin Patting Make-up Applicator, £79.95,

This gadget — an egg-shaped sponge mounted on a vibrating head, which you charge by USB, is apparently ‘inspired by the expert patting techniques of celebrity make-up artists’ and pulsates at a rate of 4,800 pats a minute.

Amount of foundation left on sponge: 50 per cent

At first I thought this was wildly over-engineered, but actually it did give a really nice result which was perfectly blended. You have to hold the device quite lightly otherwise it does drag the skin, or just stop patting. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to use any less foundation, and like the other sponges I tried, soaked up half the foundation and was almost impossible to clean properly. I’m not sure I could justify spending £80 on something (replacement sponges are £9 for two) when using a sponge and manually patting gives the same result, albeit it takes a bit longer.

2/5 — great result but for a really hefty price.


Estee Lauder Sculpting Foundation Brush, £38,

The short bristles of this brush form a curve that the company say ‘intuitively follows the contours of your face for precision definition, seamless application and blending.’

Amount of foundation left on sponge: 50 per cent

The brush was comfortable [to] — it fitted perfectly over the curves of my cheekbones, jawline and forehead, while the pointy edge was useful for getting foundation under the eye area. However, the advice to ‘finish with a swirling motion to blend over entire face’ was trickier because it’s so stubby. I had hoped that the shorter bristles might soak up less foundation, but they didn’t.

3/5 — lovely finish and a luxury brush, but at a price


Barely Cosmetics Definer Sponge Soft, £9.99,

​One of many less expensive versions of the Beauty Blender, like the original, this sponge is latex-free, non-allergenic, odour free and designed to be used slightly damp. The distributors say that it soaks up less product than other sponges.

Amount of foundation left on sponge: 50 per cent

Really easy to use, spread the foundation easily across the face and felt very soft on the skin, but despite claims that it would soak up less foundation, it performed exactly the same as the Beauty Blender and was just as tricky to get clean.

3/5 — cheaper and softer than the Blender but didn’t live up to promises to use less foundation.


Make-up Drop Silicone Make-up Applicator, £14,

Just launched in Boots, and aiming to cash in on the success of the original Silisponge (which doesn’t yet have a UK distributor but is available on Amazon), this teardrop-shaped piece of silicone is thicker and denser than the original — and more than twice the price.

Amount of foundation left on sponge: 0 per cent

This didn’t absorb any foundation, and was easy to clean, but despite the pointy bit, the thicker edges and the denser silicone made it harder to get into crevices around the eyes.

4/5 — excellent for foundation economy but there are better, less expensive versions around.


By Terry Sponge Foundation Brush, £25,

A pointed sponge that’s curved on one side and flat on the other devised by the woman who revolutionised the make-up industry when she worked for YSL by creating Touche Eclat.

Amount of foundation left on sponge: 50 per cent

There’s no reason why mounting a sponge on the end of a handle should make it easier to use, but somehow it does — I used this dry, although it can be used wet, and the combination of the point and the flat and curved sides made it very easy to apply an even layer of foundation. But, as with any sponge, it sucked up the liquid, and was tricky to clean.

3/5 — a lovely finish if you’re a sponge fan, but tricky to clean.


Royal Cosmetic Connections Foundation Brush, £2.99,

​A bargain basement foundation brush with incredibly soft synthetic bristles making up a flat head and a gently rounded tip.

Amount of foundation left on sponge: 50 per cent

For a super cheap brush, I’m a big fan of this — it spreads foundation quickly and easily over the face, gets up right under the eyes and is flexible enough to swirl and buff the product into the skin. Like most of the other brushes, it still absorbed 50 per cent of what I used though.

3/5 — a good performance for an inexpensive brush.

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