Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Are Sponge Tip Applicators Really that Bad?

I've gotta say that the most I usually get out of sponge tip applicators is a headache from rolling my eyes so much when I open an eyeshadow palette and wonder why the company bothered to put them in there in the first place.  I mean, I'm just gonna throw them out anyway, and that's the attitude of many others out there.  When I first really got into makeup, everyone I watched on YouTube used brushes so that's what I did too.  Although lately I've realized that I never gave the poor little guys a real chance so being the equal opportunist that I am, I decided to put them to the test.  Find out if I'm gonna add them to my brush collection or if there permanent home will be at the bottom of my trash can after the jump!

As per my normal policy of tossing the included sponges in a palette away, the only applicators I could find were in an old Revlon Quad I got during the past CVS clearance.  In this quad were 2 very short applicators, one being of normal size and width and a second being quite narrow.  I figured this would provide a decent representative example of the applicators since I've seen both of these types of sponge tips in other palettes, usually connected together.
Revlon Quad in Nude Elements
I figured it was only fair to use the palette the applicators were designed to be used with so the shadows used will be from the Revlon quad in Nude Elements (the old packaging, not the new Colorstay Quads).  This includes an off-white shimmer, light bronze shimmer, dark plummy-brown shimmer, and gunmetal shimmer.  I'm not going to give a full review of this product since I think they're being discontinued in favor of the Colorstay quads, but I will note quickly that I think the older quads are better in quality and pigmentation than the new quads.  *Just sayin'*
I'm pleasantly surprised to say that, for the most part, they did a decent job.  I pretty much followed the suggestive guide on the back of the quad for the look above by placing the light bronze over the inner half of the lid and the dark brown over the outer half, both with the bigger sponge, the gunmetal shade along the lashline with the smaller sponge, and finally the gunmetal shade also into the crease with both sponges.  I also applied the off-white shimmer as a brow highlight with the larger sponge.

In regards to the all over lid color and brow highlight, the larger sponge worked pretty well.  It applied a moderate amount of color that wasn't too subtle that you couldn't see it but wasn't too much either.  It also helped to keep some of the shimmer from falling out all over my face since the sponge grabbed the shimmer up and held on to it better than the typical shader brush.  

My favorite part was using the smaller brush to to line my lashline.  It smudged the shadow effortlessly and didn't tickle my lashline as much as brush bristles do.  And since the sponge maintains it's form unlike a brush with bristles that splay out, it kept the shadow pretty neat and allowed for precise application.

But of course this experiment couldn't just be all rainbows and sunshine, right?  I could not, for the life of me, figure out an effective way to do crease/outer V work with these things.  I tried both sponges to no avail.  The big sponge made it seemingly impossible to control were the color went while the smaller sponge was too precise and just drew jagged lines.  

This is where brushes have a key advantage:  blending.  If I was using brushes and had the problems with the crease and outer V that I experienced, it would've been easily fixable.  I would have just gotten a blended brush and blended the jagged lines and overly applied shadow out and it would've been fine.  I couldn't blend properly with the applicators since you can never truly wipe all the shadow off the sponge and going in to blend just adds more shadow to the mess.

I also find these a bit unhygienic.  With brushes you can get a real deep clean going on by getting in between the bristles.  Since the sponges are, well, sponges, you can never be sure that you've thoroughly cleaned the applicator because you can't really get deep into the applicator :-/

Bottom Line: gonna stick with her brushes (but I'm keeping the smaller sponge...)

Aside from the smudging capabilities I didn't see anything in application that my brushes couldn't do just as well or better.  I think I will think twice, however, about just instantly tossing them now that I've seen how well they can smudge out liner shades.  And I do think they hold value when you may be in a pinch as it's usually a hell of a lot easier to transport sponge tip applicators than a whole barrage of brushes.  

Do you like to use sponge tip applicators?  If so, do you actually prefer them to brushes?


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