The ultimate bacteria breeding ground... your makeup sponge.
I understand you like your sponges. I know you might be offended, but I have to say this.
Here it is, I'm going to step up on my soapbox now and scream that I hate sponges. I hate them.
Sponges soak up foundation, wasting expensive product.
They collect dead skin cells and are an ideal environment for growing bacteria, just like kitchen sponges and loofahs.
They often sit inside a compact, breeding that bacteria in an oxygen free environment, which is great for p acnes, the acne bacteria that you're reintroducing to your face every time you apply makeup.
The little angled wedge ones create little squares or triangle sponge marks on the skin that have to be blended out.
I don't like the egg or circular ones, either, before you ask, they feel silly to use and I still don't like the lack of control.
I don't like that it's close to impossible to properly wash and sanitize a traditional sponge.
I hate that clients use a sponge for a month without even trying to wash it and then buy a new one. I hate even more that some clients use the same sponge for the entire compact.
I don't like it when clients complain about how expensive $40 is for the best foundation brush they've ever used that will last them a lifetime, yet they're willing to shell out $3 for a pack of sponges that they'll go through in a few months, and be back for more, forever.
I love brushes! I love how they apply product, I love how soft bristles feel on the face. I love how they distribute product instead of soaking it up.
I love long handles. I love being able to adjust my technique by holding the handle differently.
I love blending with brushes. I love being able to wash and sanitize brushes easily, knowing I'm getting a clean application every time. I love having tons of different sizes, shapes, bristle lengths, bristle materials, even colors. I love my growing collection of brushes; from Aveda, Sephora, Wolfe Brothers, Merle Norman, Ebay, the drugstore, the hardware store, WalMart, Michael's... I buy brushes like other beauty junkies buy nail polish. I buy brushes that range from ridiculously cheap to high end quality.
I don't love how expensive real, high quality brushes are (who does?) but I do love knowing that if I take care of my brushes properly that they will last for decades.
The Bottom Line
I think the advantages to investing in a nice foundation brush are pretty clear. Makeup is applied more easily, product is preserved, blending is easier, sanitation is better.
Obviously you're free to continue using sponges if you want, but no expert oil painter is using a clunky sponge brush trying to paint a detailed piece of art, and when I see someone using a sponge I imagine Michelangelo trying to paint the Sistine Chapel with these.
Purchase a high quality foundation brush in the size and shape that you prefer (This one is my favorite, if you were wondering, and it's fantastic).
Ideally wash the bristles after every use with brush cleaner, shampoo, or gentle dish soap. Reshape the bristles and let it air dry. Sanitize with alcohol. Brushes can also breed bacteria but they're easier to wash.
If you can't manage every day, every week should be your absolute maximum. Don't ever share your brushes without washing and sanitizing them between each and every face.
Do you use sponges or brushes? What brand? Speak up in the comments below!