We make a pretty compelling argument that the basic makeup sponge is THE most versatile and important makeup tool in your kit. A makeup sponge does everything from airbrush your foundation, seamlessly blend your cream products, and it’s even great for applying a myriad of powder products too.

The beautyblender elevated the basic makeup sponge to icon status, but the multiple drugstore versions that emerged afterward made it a staple in everyone’s makeup bag – and are proof that a great makeup sponge doesn’t need to cost $20. For a tool with a lifespan of just a few months, we prefer to stick to these amazing drugstore makeup sponges that do the same job for less than half the price. Here are our tried and tested favorites:

1. Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge, $4.90 for one/ $18 for four

budget makeup sponges

This bright orange sponge is our go-to and not just because of the great price. The latex-free sponge is firm when dry, but when damp it becomes a super soft, flexible sponge that gives the most seamless, airbrushed finish. When it’s damp it makes blending-out foundations extra quick thanks to the large surface. The flat side is great for applying powder products and the pointed tip is great for precision. It also lasts a lot longer than many other makeup sponges.

2. EcoTools Perfecting Blender Duo, $10 for two

budget makeup sponges

Made with EcoFoam® Technology that’s made with 70% plant-based material, these little and large makeup sponges have different densities so you can easily create your ultimate makeup look. The Large Base Blender is soft and flexible to create light, buildable makeup application while the Mini Detail Blender is firmer for more precise and detailed coverage. The little one is also a great size for on-the-go.

3. Morphe Highlight & Contour Beauty Sponge, $8

budget makeup sponges

Morphe tools are iconic for a reason and we love this soft sponge with a chiseled edge that makes it the perfect contouring tool for those that love precision contouring. Use it with liquid, cream or powder formulas and use it damp for the most flawless finish with any formula.

4. e.l.f. Cosmetics Camo Concealer Sponge, $5

cheap makeup sponges

This uniquely-shaped sponge was specifically designed to work with e.l.f.’s Camo Concealer but it works amazingly with any concealer or foundation formula. The unique shape means it’s great for the undereye area and for blending concealer into any tricky spots with precision.

5. Dear Dahlia Marble Multi Blender Pear, $12.50

cheap makeup sponges

This unique pear-shaped blender has a super fine material that makes it great for creating a flawless, full-coverage base. With 13 different facets, the soft yet dense sponge is great for getting into every space.

Check out these 15 makeup sponge hacks for the most flawless makeup finish.