- Fingers: always accessible, good for applying and blending but they are messy. Best for liquid and cream.
- Brushes: great for all types of makeup, depending on the type of brush. Don't have to clean as often as fingers and can apply makeup quickly and evenly.
- Sponges: best for liquid and cream and give a natural, airbrushed finish. Also great for blending, but take a little longer to apply.
cost: this one is a no-brainer!
- sponges--depending on type, these can be very inexpensive to the infamous beautyblender ($19.95)
- brushes--again, these range in price, but are the most expensive of the three. I suggest Real Techniques for an affordable brush option.
- Using many agar-set petri dishes, a few brushes, sponges, and several participants, I tested clean fingers, brushes, and sponges to see which produced the least bacteria. I then tested hands that had not been washed or sanitized in several hours, as well as sponges and brushes that had not been cleaned in a week (some were used every day, some were used once and then left alone for a week) to see which ones produced the least amount of bacteria. Again, everything was tested numerous times, with different subjects and objects, using an incubator. If this doesn't show my dedication to all things beauty, I don't know what will! ;)
- New: sponges had the least.
- Clean or dirty: on average, brushes had the least amount of bacteria, sponges really varied depending on type (really cheap ones had the most and the beautyblender had the least), with fingers having the most bacteria, whether clean or dirty!
- Fingers and brushes are the easiest to keep clean and sanitize. For sponges, a solid cleanser is the fastest.
- Sponges can be used longer before cleaning is needed.
- Using a similar idea as famous vlogger Michelle Phan (she used a lemon), I coated one side of each orange with one pump of foundation to see which one applied the best. This was the easiest and best way I could think of to mimic skin's surface and really show the difference amongst the methods.
- Brushes gave the most even coverage and applied the best.
- When applying a medium or full-coverage foundation, brushes were the fastest, depending on the type of brush used (think kabuki/flat top/similar). Fingers were also very quick but oftentimes required more time for even application, whereas brushes could cover larger areas quickly. Sponges gave a beautiful, more natural finish but took more time to apply.
- This comes down to quality of the tools and how the user treats the tools. I've seen sponges replaced because of the user's nails tearing them or because the user felt uncomfortable having the same sponge for so many years. I've seen poor quality brushes fall apart quickly and I've seen bristles fall out from poor cleaning practices.
- Brushes, but it all comes down to personal preference. While I use all three, I tend to use brushes the most.