Maybe you’re a newbie to makeup sponges (in which case, welcome to the fan club!). Maybe you’ve been on the Beautyblender bandwagon since Day 1. Either way, we can all agree that makeup sponges are a game-changer. Use them right, and your skin will look like that Snapchat filter everyone loves come to life. But even if they seem pretty straightforward—after all, most of us figured out how to sponge-paint in kindergarten—they’re not exactly foolproof. Luckily, the most common mistakes are pretty easy to fix. We asked celebrity makeup artist Nick Barose to break them down.


Mistake #1: You’re using a dirty sponge.
Even with a ton of TLC, a good sponge will only last a few months—even so, you should be cleaning them after every use (annoying, but true—check our guide on exactly how to do that the right way). “The number one mistake is using a sponge with old makeup on it,” says Barose. “When you use ones with leftover makeup on it, it cakes up and is harder to blend.”

Mistake #2: You use one sponge to apply a million different products.
Sadly, makeup sponges are not one-size-fits all. Depending on what you’re applying—liquid foundation, powder bronzer, highlighter—you’ll need a different shape to get the best application (we broke it down for you here). And if you’re a diehard makeup sponge fan, it could pay to stock up on one sponge in various shades. “I use Beautyblenders in different colors so when I go back and forth, the products don’t mix,” explains Barose. “I can use a black one for foundation and concealer and the pink one for cream blush and highlighter.”

Mistake #3: You buy the cheapest sponge you can find.
We get it: It’s just a sponge! But skimping can kind of defeat the purpose of using a sponge in the first place. “Cheap sponges sold in bulk tend to be too thin and small. Plus, they end up absorbing too much foundation and don’t blend well,” says Barose. “Spend a little more and get good quality sponge that’s a bit firmer but still soft.” He’s a fan of the original Beautyblender ($20, and Make Up For Ever Ellipse Sponge ($12,

Mistake #4: You wet your sponge even when you need more coverage.
If you’re basically a makeup sponge expert, we probably don’t have to tell you that you should get it wet (and squeeze out the excess water) before you use it with your products. This way, it gives super-sheer coverage, since the sponge absorbs the water and thus limits the amount of foundation it can pick up—like built-in color control. And while that’s totally fine, there are always those days you might need fuller coverage. In that case, Barose recommends applying makeup with a dry sponge. And, anyway, it’s easier to blend powder formulas when it’s dry (since the damp sponge plus powder can equal a cake-y mess).

Mistake #5: You blend in makeup by rubbing the sponge across your skin.
If you spent years applying your makeup with a brush, you might be tempted to drag the sponge across your face like you would with your foundation brush. It won’t kill you, but it also won’t give you the air-brushed look and even coverage that a sponge is supposed to. Instead, “gently tap it onto skin, and blend it in using patting motions,” says Barose. (This is called “stippling,” in case you’ve heard the word but had zero idea what it meant.) It’s a little more time-consuming, but on the bright side, your skin will look incredible.

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