I didn’t expect to love Smashbox’s bizarre new silicone sponge, the Photo Filter Gel Cushion. It’s a hunk of rubber with a fingerprint stamped on it. In all honestly, the idea seemed gimmicky—a little too “made to take off on Instagram” as the next weird beauty delivery system for putting makeup on your face. I distinctly remember seeing it and thinking of Huda Kattan’s April Fool’s joke about releasing finger-shaped Fender Blenders. Because I’ve tried all the other silicone blenders on the market, and each one has felt like slapping your foundation on with a fish, I picked up the Smashbox version on a very low-expectations whim. And now I need to backtrack on all of that: This thing is incredible.
If you missed the whole silicone-sponge craze, they all claim to deliver flawless, Beautyblender-level results without absorbing any of your makeup or carrying around festering pits of bacteria. Emphasis on claim. Other common denominators: They’re typically thin, flat pieces of rubber, usually compared to a breast implant or bra insert, and not one has worked on my face.
I’m honestly not even that picky. All I ask from a blender is that my foundation is blended. But instead, with every silicone sponge I’ve tried, I feel more like I’m sweeping—and sometimes worse, caking—streaks of makeup on my skin. Of course, until this.
Just in appearance, the Smashbox one looks almost nothing like the rest of them. It’s a thick, hefty chunk of silicone with a series of indented circles radiating out from the center, similar to that of a fingerprint. According to the brand, the theory is that the grooves “mimic fingertips for the smoothest, no-mess application,” while its diamond shape reaches every angle. Overall, it’ll use less foundation to get the job done (see: promises of no absorption).
I didn’t really buy the whole fingerprint-technology thing, but the proof is in the
pudding results. It sinks into my skin as fast as a brush would blend it or a Beautyblender would stipple it, and the finish is that elusive glowy-smooth look that celebrity makeup artists reference when they say things like, “I heat it up with my fingers—it applies better that way.” That has never been true for me. Like, it’s taken a piece of fingerprinted silicone to convince me that was an effect I could see in real life.
Still, I don’t think all the magic should be credited to the ridged top. It also has something to do with the thickness, which gives the sponge a unique, spongey gel texture (truly, it’s so much fun to play with and can multitask as a stress ball). But given that the rest of the applicator benefits follow through—you wipe it off with a tissue, and voilà! Clean! No elaborate brush cleaning night required! I’m a convert. This is no gimmick, friends; this is my new way of life.
Smashbox Cosmetics Photo Filter Gel Cushion Applicator, $20, macys.com
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