Probably my most used brushes and sponges (definitely sponges) are the Real Techniques brushes and sponges. I find that they are a great balance between reasonably affordable and also long lasting and good quality. Real Techniques recently brought out a new range of sponges and a few new sets.
One of the new sets is the limited Ultimate Base Set (AU$45) that comes with the classic Expert Face Brush (great for buffing in foundation, applying powder or even blush/bronzer), the Deluxe Concealer Brush which is exclusive to this set, the Miracle Complexion Sponge (I use these every day!) and the exclusive travel case that holds the brushes and also contains a mirror.
If you are starting out with brushes and are looking for a set that is perfect for applying your base then this set is fantastic and is great value!
Real Techniques have also brought out three new types of sponges (including the Bold Metals Miracle Diamond which I don't have).
The little purple sponges are the Miracle Mini Eraser Sponges (AU$16.99) and come in a pack of two. These are very similar in shape to the original Miracle Complexion Sponge (AU$16.99) and they are just as good! I have about half a dozen of the original Miracle Complexion Sponges that I use for foundation, concealer, cream face products and even sometimes applying powder. The mini version are designed for erasing mistakes but I think they word best for applying concealer and even setting concealer with powder.
Then there is the pink sponge which is the Miracle Sculpting Sponge (AU$16.99). This is a strange beast. You are supposed to use the smaller side to highlight and the larger side to contour. I have been highlighting and contouring for quite some time (I am definitely not a pro, but I know how to use a sponge) and I just don't get this sponge. I personally get a better result using the original Miracle Complexion Sponge to contour and highlight with. If you have it and you love it, let me know your secrets.
Overall I really am enjoying the new releases from Real Techniques. They have great quality, are (generally) really easy to use and last a very long time. I highly recommend the Ultimate Base Set and the Miracle Mini Eraser Sponges, but I personally haven't figured out the Miracle Sculpting Sponge.
You can buy Real Techniques online or in store at Priceline or online internationally from iHerb.
Note: these products were given to me as a press sample. My review is 100% my own opinion