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Silicone make-up applicators: Yay or nay?

by Aisling Keenan
25th Mar 2019

In theory, they will save precious euro by not sucking up lots of foundation before it goes onto your face. But in practice? Do they really work, and do any make-up artists rate them?

When I first saw these little silicone make-up applicators for sale, I honestly thought they were tiny bra inserts, chicken fillets, if you will, for giving your ladies a bit of a boost. That’s what they look like, little see-through pockets of silicone that, apparently, are for applying make-up.

Skeptical but hopeful…

I was instantly skeptical, and to buy one was about €2 at the time, so in the name of research, I bought one and took it home to try.

I am not a make-up artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I have been putting make-up on my own face for quite some years now, and I did a small amount of make-up training in the recent past, so I have an okay handle on things.

Well, when I say I found it absolutely beyond useless. I couldn’t blend anything in with it, although it didn’t soak up any foundation. It just sort of left the make-up sitting on my skin, which I then had to go over with a brush anyway.

But, as I am not a make-up artist, I figured I was probably doing it all wrong and there was a knack to it that I was missing altogether.

Related: 10 iconic make-up brushes you need to own

I asked the artists…

I took to my phone and started messaging some of the very talented make-up artist I’ve come to know in the industry. I asked: Silicone make-up applicators: Yay or nay? Very simple (and coincidentally, also the title of this piece) and straight to the point.

I got a flurry of quick ‘Nay’ votes – followed on by these messages:

Rose Gallagher, UK and Ireland brand ambassador for It Cosmetics

“I totally see all of the pros – less product being used, very hygienic – but I just never seem to get the same finish as when I buff in with a brush or press in with my fingers. I have tried them a few times but they’re not for me when I like a really fresh skin finish.”

Tara Anderson, beauty blogger @tara_makeup

“Not a fan! They don’t absorb water. When using a regular Beauty Blender I would spritz it with water to get a lovely, natural finish. They don’t help with the application of foundation at all, they don’t help with blending or buffing.”

Roisin Malone, make-up artist @roisinmalonebridal

“It just slides the make-up over your face, so it’s a layer on top of the skin. At least with a beauty blender it buffs it onto the skin…”

Jen Morris, beauty expert and blogger @toodollymakeup

“It doesn’t work the product in, you end up with thick foundation sitting on the surface of your skin! With a beauty blender or a brush you are actually working with the product and melting it into the skin.”

Bonnie Ryan, make-up artist @bonnieryan

“I’ve actually never tried only cause I thought it was a bit of a fad… I just don’t see how they can give you a good blend?”

And these were just some of the responses. I’ve yet to get a ‘yay’ vote from any of the 15 make-up artists I spoke to.

I did an Instagram Poll…

…where a whopping 80% of my followers voted against silicone applicators, choosing ‘terrible’ over ‘great!’.

I even checked YouTube…

I did a bit of digging around YouTube to see if anyone liked it… I wasn’t having much luck. This video by Emily Canham showed pretty much exactly what happened to me when I tried it.

What ARE they good at?

Well, the two things that stood out to me were that they don’t absorb any product, and they’re supremely easy to clean. Both handy, both good for people who use a lot of make-up. But neither count for much if they’re useless at blending, which by all accounts, they are.

What to use instead?

As you could see above, without any prompting, all of the make-up artists I spoke to mentioned beauty blenders. Not necessarily the branded, OG Beauty Blender, but just make-up sponges in general. I’ve tried a few, and these would be my picks, along with some properly fantastic foundation brushes I love for buffing, blending and a seamless finish to my make-up.

Beauty Blender Original, €22

Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, €14.99

Blank Canvas F20 Buffer Brush, €15

Nima ‘Suzanne’ Foundation Brush, €17

SoSu by SJ Pro Airbrush Blender, €5.95

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