Does it blend? New vs Old Blending Brushes and Sponges

Hi friends! Today we are going to compare the new “make-up” style ink blending brushes to color dusters (they look like shaving brushes) as well as blending sponges.


I tested them over a stencil (above) as well as fading the ink off onto paper as I did with the clouds below. (Cloud die from My Favorite Things)


Watch the video to see all the brushes and sponges in action and see what’s right for you and how your favorite tool compares!

An overview of the materials (Affiliate links used when available)

New Ink Blending Brushes. I purchased mine at a stamp show, the multi-pack I bought was $20 from double Trouble but they are sold out online. Prior to purchasing, I used a friend’s set who said she ordered this set on Amazon half what I paid at the show. I was so impressed I bought a set!

These are the Life Changing Brushed from Picket Fence Studio if you want the best of the best. (or at least the first ones to be used with crafting)  That set has the 4 larger brushes for $25

Pros of the new “make-up style” brush:

  • Captured fine detail for stenciling
  • Very Smooth ink blending with both dye and pigment inks
  • Easy to clean, most ink transfers to paper with hardly any left on the brush. Wipe brush of a rag and move on to next color without needing to wash it.
  • Very smooth fades when working off a mask on for rouging the edge of a paper.
  • No awkward ink blotches even when you stat on the paper instead of off the edge. Foolproof blending.
  • These can be compactly stored on your table in a small jar

Cons of “Makeup Style Brushes”

  • It takes longer to apply the ink over a surface
  • They can be more expensive than other methods HOWEVER you don’t need as many as they wipe clean so easily between colors
  • You could snap the neck of the brush and stain your wrists if you hold the brush at the end rather than supporting it at the head/neck area. My natural inclination was to hold it at the neck with my finger supporting the back of the bristle area and it was very comfortable to use. Not much pressure is needed this way.

Color Dusters (Judikins, Rubber Stamp Tapestry and the new Tim Holtz/Ranger ones in the silver tubes are all examples. Also called ink sweepers and sometimes come on long handles. These have stiffer course bristles made of hog)
Judikins color dusters
Tim Holtz
Rubber Stamp Tapestry

Pros of Color Duster style brush:

  • Quick soft blends
  • Easy to use
  • The more you use a brush the better it gets as the ink buildup in the brush primes the bristles
  • They won’t wear out

Cons of Color Duster style brush:

  •  You need a brush for every color family (reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, browns, greens, blues, purples, greys, black)
  • You get a less defined look when used with a stencil or mask.
  • Although you get a very even application of color with little effort the stiffness of the bristles give the blend a bit of texture

Foam style blenders. Examples of this are:
Ranger blending foam
Colorbox Stylus
Fingertip daubers
My Homemade make-up wedge and bottle cap blenders (my favorite!)

Pros of Foam Blenders/ Blending sponges

  • Inexpensive
  • You can achieve a bold saturated color or a softer blended color (skill required)
  • The more you use them the better they get (until they wear out)
  • They are inexpensive enough to have a blender for every inkpad you have and many brands (such as Ranger) have a reusable handle that you can swap out the foams on so you can store a lot is a little space.

Cons of Foam/Sponge blenders:

  • You need a sponge for every color family, many crafters have a sponge for every inkpad to ensure they don’t cross contaminate their pads as it is easier to transfer color from the sponge to a pad.
  • They take practice to get good results
  • It takes longer with foams than color dusters to blend.
  • They eventually wear out and start to break apart but you can get a couple years out of them.

I also wanted to mention the Darice sponge daubers I showed at the end. I like them for coloring stamped images but not for use with stencils or large areas because I don’t think they can take the heavy use. Unfortunately, I can’t find them online. I got them at a stamp show years ago.

What is your favorite? I think they are all useful and you can pick one and be happy with the result. The most important thing is that you practice and learn to use what you have.


15 thoughts on “Does it blend? New vs Old Blending Brushes and Sponges

  1. I use those brushes with paint, metallic waxes, cosmic shimmer. I haven’t found any art supply I can’t use them with. they’re so plush everything goes on so smooth, I really like them. got mine at wallyworld.


  2. Hey Lindsay,
    I’ve been watching people use these brushes for a bit, so it was good to see a straight up comparison with the tools we already have. So then, I went on a search to find some, there are no art/craft supply stores near me in Murrumbateman, so I got online and went on a journey – turns out these brushes look alot like what the beauty industry call ‘toothbrush make-up blending brushes’ and cost only around $10 for a set of 10 – so I’ll let you know how they perform when they arrive.


  3. Hi Lindsay, thank you for this video! I recycled my makeup brushes a long time ago, rather than throwing them .. for saving I also bought badgers, found on the internet at $ 0.75 each, I like their effect melted and blurred .. the fingers I I use it mostly to color the stamps and the edge of the cards, they wear out very quickly, and I used your way of doing with the caps, but with rolls of credit card terminal, I have a tip longer and I messed up my fingers less .. my 2 favorite : makeup brushes and fingers .. it all depends on the project and the desired effect .. Friendship from France !


  4. I just purchased a couple of the make up brushes at Big Lots for a couple of dollars a piece. Darice makes a case with daubers. I have a few if you are still looking….


  5. Thanks for such an informative video! I have been wavering on purchasing some of the cheaper makeup brush style and this has encouraged me to give them a try as I do like that you don’t need a brush for each colour. Have you found that you end up using the one size of brush or have you used the smaller ones as well?


    1. I find the larger brushes useful but the smaller ones are nice for coloring small backgrounds around a stamped image. I’d go with a cheap multipack if you think you will use them.


  6. Great video-I ordered the brushes from Amazon. But totally lost about the cloud effect. Link doesn’t go to cloud die.But I’d still be lost as to how to use a die like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am using it as a stencil, the die comes in a kit intended to make swing cards with an interactive swing. tThere is a really good tutorial on that die on the MFT youtube channel.


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