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The Silicone Makeup Blender Craze Is Really Getting Out of Hand

They’re being hyped as the new Beautyblenders — but do they work?

Photo: Molly Cosmetics

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A few months ago, a vaguely kidney-shaped, transparent, flat, silicone makeup applicator suddenly popped up all over Reddit. Called the SiliSponge, it’s sold by Hong Kong-based company Molly Cosmetics. Big name YouTubers like Jeffree Star and Tati Westbrook (who claimed it was her most-requested review ever) tried it out and got five million and two million views, respectively. It’s been sold out ever since.

I ordered one about six weeks ago via a waitlist at the bargain price of $9.90 plus twice that amount in shipping, and it finally arrived last week.

These sponges were gleefully heralded as “Beautyblender killers,” because the internet loves to say that “Y is the next X.” While Beautyblenders blend makeup really well, they have some downsides. If you’ve ever seen those terrible pictures of moldy-looking sponges cut in half, a sleek option that you can just wipe clean seems desirable. Plus, sponges and dense brushes waste a lot of product due to absorption.

My preferred application tool of choice is a really dense brush that I can buff out my foundation with. I hate that layered-on look, so it’s actually desirable to me to take off some of the product and have it spread really thin. But I had an open mind.

My first impression was that the best possible use for this sponge is as a stress reliever. It is so squishy and tactile, and it bounced satisfyingly back into place when I was done mangling it. When I handed one to Eliza, who sits next to me, she looked instantly calmer. The tranquility you get upon touching one is just that immediate.

Back in my bathroom, once I stopped playing with it, I squirted a tiny dollop of my favorite Laura Mercier foundation directly onto the sponge and proceeded to try to swipe it on. I was left with a streaky mess that looked like three times the amount of foundation I usually wear, even though it was a third of the amount by volume. After pausing to go watch some YouTubers, I figured out that the smear-tap method is best: Smear it all over, then tap-tap-tap until it’s uniformly applied.

This next part is slightly NSFW: Tapping a silicone sponge on your foundation-moistened face sounds very, um, fleshy. Repetitively fleshy. I’ll leave it there.

However, the tapping worked. I did one half of my face with my regular brush and the other half with the SiliSponge and there wasn’t a huge difference, although it took much longer to apply with the sponge than it does to buff on with my brush. Also, it did seem like the sponge side was a bit more caked on, and dry patches were more visible on that side — possibly because a sponge or brush, since they’re rough, cause a tiny bit of exfoliation. The sponge cleaned up really easily with soap and water, which was fantastic. But bottom line, it’s not going to replace my brush.

Since November, there have been tons of knockoffs available on Amazon from $1.99 up to $11.99. If you’re intrigued by this product and want to try it despite my milquetoast review, I don’t think this is the kind of thing where you have to buy a name brand. A slab of silicone is a slab of silicone. You could also DIY it with a “chicken cutlet” silicone bra insert, as many enterprising people tried. (The most amusing example is Nikkie Tutorials’ “boobyblender” version. Worth a watch.)

While an insert warned me not to eat my SiliSponge or feed it to my pet, it didn’t say anything about temperature, so I tossed it in my freezer. This is another promising use. It felt great as an undereye soother, and I used the chilly sponge to tap-tap-tap on my eye cream, something I usually do with my fingers, which is just boring.

Other manufacturers have started messing with the shape. One of the biggest complaints about the kidney-shaped one is that it’s hard to get into the smaller nooks and crannies the way a Beautyblender can. A company called Makeup Drop made a version that’s teardrop shaped. It even had a red carpet moment, via Natalie Portman’s face at the SAG Awards. Makeup artist Pati Dubroff used one on her with two different foundation shades and liked it. I tried one of these as well. It was a bit stiffer than the SiliSponge, but the tip really was better for getting around my nose and hair line. Otherwise, it was a similar experience.

Photo: Makeup Drop

The next iteration is going three-dimensional. Elle tried one called the Evie Blender, which launched via Kickstarter (now on Indiegogo) and blew through its fundraising goal early. They’ll be available to ship this April. They’re pebbled in texture and are the shape of a lumpy Beautyblender, but wipe clean because they’re made of silicone. Also of note, they are GLITTERY. It was created by a special effects makeup artist, so this thing could be legit.

What is not legit is putting a Beautyblender into a condom to try to get the same effect, which is the latest tomfoolery happening online, as reported by Cosmopolitan this week. To get the Beautyblender shape with the SiliSponge’s smoothness, women are wiping lube off of their condoms and doing who-knows-what kinds of maneuvers to get their sponges in there. Watch it here and pass your own judgment.

SiliSponge? A little silly.

We tried one:

Silicone sponges are *everywhere*, but do they work? We're putting the raindrop-shaped makeup sponge (to the ultimate test! Will it replace your Beautyblender? Watch and see! Got questions? Ask away!

Posted by Racked on 9hb Februari 2017