It used to be considered unhygienic to use anything other than your fingers when applying foundation, but the popularity of makeup tutorials means the makeup blender is the new, well, hand. See, when you’ve got to blend three or four layers of makeup, you need more than a couple of dabs from your ring finger.
For the average consumer, who buys foundation once a year, less is always more. But for anyone who loves makeup and views it not as an enhancement but a proper obsession, more is barely enough. And the latter group is growing.
This month Forbes released its list of Top 10 Beauty Influencers. Between them they have a reach of over 135 million. You might be familiar with Zoe Sugg or Michelle Phan, but most of them are not household names – yet.
Youtube and Instagram are the two most popular platforms for beauty influencers, garnering a reach of 46 million and 49 million, respectively.
The genre, if you will, of a makeup tutorial, involves a hell of a lot of makeup. And tricks. You’ve gotta show some magic or it’s not worth watching. That magic often comes in the form of “contouring” (defining cheekbones, narrowing noses, widening eyes and sometimes completely altering a person’s appearance) and “highlighting” (creating a luminous, healthy looking shine on temples, brow bones, upper cheekbones, and the tip of the nose).
Most beauty influencers are moving away from simple “how to apply eyeliner properly” and going way over the top. The result is magical. Its purpose is to make the wearer look as though they’re an Instagram filter cartoon hybrid. It’s art and it’s the future of the beauty industry,
Cosmetic companies have taken note and are developing a range of tools that have up until recently, primarily been used in makeup tutorials. ModelCo and Benefit now include not just foundation, but tutorial-specific contour sticks, bronzing cream and highlighters in their makeup ranges. They also have social media-friendly makeup packs. ModelCo has an Insta-Ready Powder Face Kit and Benefit has a Blenders with Benefits kit. Which makes sense, as these two brands are focused on the millennial consumer, exactly the person who is watching the tutorials.
Some beauty influencers prefer brushes, but more often than not, a makeup sponge is used to take your layers of concealer, foundation, bronzer, highlighter, low-lighter and blush from stripes to subtle shading. In other words, to stop you from looking like Amy Schumer in that music video.
Makeup blenders, originally known for their cute little shape and (usually) pink colour, are now getting a makeover, with more brands bringing out blenders made of silicone. The idea is that you waste less makeup because the silicone doesn’t absorb any, but they can take a while to get the hang of.
The best ones are those that have a bit of texture, so you can blend better. These silicone blenders (that sort of resemble breast implants) are said to be more hygienic because they’re easier to clean properly. And they last. Foam sponges usually have to be thrown out every couple of months, whereas the silicone ones last for a year or more.
Grant Power, the national face designer of Giorgio Armani Beauty, still recommends using a brush or fingers, especially if you’re running low on time.
“However,” he says, “some of our make-up artists will dampen a blender, which works the foundation into the skin more. This is a good technique for someone who likes a heavier coverage.”
The lesson then, is if you’re into wearing foundation for everyday activities or work, you’re better off going for a light-weight ultra-smooth one, such as Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation, or, Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Teint Touche Eclat; or, my old favourite, Laura Mercier’s Illuminating Tinted Moisturiser. All of these really only take a few quick swipes with your fingers and they blend instantly into your skin.
But if it’s a glamorous night out with the girls, or hell, a night in, laptop on one side, mirror on the other, then by all means, layer up with your heavier coverage, pack it on with your silicone makeup sponge and finish up with a foam blender and brush.
Crystal Teardrop Miracle Blender $12
This makeup sponge is made of medical-grade silicone and known as “Australia’s No.1 silicone blender”.
Silisponge in Stardust $12.90
This is a limited-edition stardust covered sponge, it’s rounder than others and works well for broad blending.
Matte Magenta Evie Blender $24
This one is not only pink, but textured as well, so there’s a greater grip when you’re applying foundation.