beauty blender

(Instagram/@kathymakeup20)

I went through a months-long period of time during which I was convinced that I needed literally every single beauty tool and product that’s ever been created. I bought countless brushes of different shapes, lipstick in virtually every finish, several different bronzers in an attempt to find one that I could use for contouring without looking like a normal-sized Oompa Loompa, and, of course, beauty blender. Well, actually, a beauty blender dupe, but whatever, potato po-tah-to, am I right? While I’ve been able to either master things or purge them from my arsenal after realizing that, no, I really didn’t need heated eyelash curler, the beauty blender remained elusive.

(Related: The Gloss Investigates: Are Professional Makeup Brushes Worth It?)

I’m kind of a slob, so I had actually lost the original packaging for the beauty blender by the time I got around to using it, and I’m also kind of stubborn, so I refused to look up directions. Honestly, I thought it would just be as simple as a normal triangular makeup sponge that I used when I was first learning how to apply foundation (this was before I realized that buffing brushes and my fingers were legitimate beauty tools). I mean, it’s a blending sponge—how difficult can it be.

The answer is LOL SO DIFFICULT JOKE’S ON YOU BECAUSE YOU JUST LEFT THE HOUSE LOOKING LIKE A CLOWN. Actually, though. I don’t have any pictures of the incident for obvious reasons, but the first time I tried to use my blender, I ended up looking like zebra with nude stripes, so, like, not even an exciting zebra.

And then there was the whole issue of cleaning it. After hearing about this woman who was paralyzed after using a dirty brush, I went on a shampooing spree. I graduated from expensive brush cleaner to simply soaking my brushes in baby shampoo (super gentle, smells nice and clean, and gets the job done after about an hour of soaking), but when I popped the beauty blender in there with rest of my brushes, it didn’t get any cleaner. All it did was absorb the dirty water, which, honestly, I probably should’ve seen coming, considering that’s what sponges do.

she's the man i'm brilliant shh

(GIF: Tumblr)

But I digress. The whole ordeal was just unpleasant, and I put my beauty blender away for several years, thinking I would get around to using it when the time was right. Well, as it turns out, the time was right only recently, and at long last, I’ve finally figured out how to use it. I don’t wear foundation daily so it’s not necessarily my go-to tool, but it really does make face makeup application so much easier, and looks a lot more natural than foundation applied with a brush or your fingers. Plus, cleaning it is a lot easier (and weirdly kind of fun?) than I thought it’d be.

Here are some helpful tips for using and cleaning your beauty blender:

USING IT

1. Make sure it’s damp. It actually says this in the directions that come with the blender, so I guess that’s Beauty Blender: 1, Sara’s inability to stay organized: 0. Keeping the sponge damp ensures a smoother application and keeps some (not all—remember, it is a sponge, after all) of the makeup from absorbing into the blender’s core.

2. There’s a wider and narrower side for a reason. The wider end is to be used on the larger parts of your face (cheeks, forehead, chin, etc), and the narrower end reaches the smaller ones (under your eyes, around your nose and the edges of your lips). Don’t try to convince yourself that you’re delicate enough with your movements to complete your face with the wide end. You’re probably not.

3. Dab, don’t wipe. I’ve actually found this to be true of any liquid makeup, but you have a better chance at successfully blending your makeup in and avoiding harsh lines if you tap it into your skin rather than wiping it across.

CLEANING IT

1. Baby shampoo is your friend. Turns out that I was using the right product, just not the right cleaning method, so I’m going to just go ahead and consider that a victory.

2. Soak and squeeze, just like you would a normal sponge. You guys have all used a sponge before, right? Like, this isn’t the blind leading the blind here, is it?

3. Do this often. Otherwise, you’re just plopping a dirty ol’ sponge on your face every day, and that can’t be good for your skin.