Miscellaneous Brushes: The brushes that don't have a home. It's a stretch to call most of these brushes, as some of them are...sponges. Okay, I said it. You'll probably want to stop reading now and curl up in the fetal position with some Hakuhodos. Sponge applicators have the reputation as the most useless piece of crap in makeup. I'm not going to try and tell you the naysayers are wrong, but they're not exactly right. Just give these the benefit of the doubt, along with their random brethren, and you may find a use for them after all.
The joke of the makeup world, sponge applicators have a much worse reputation than they deserve. Sure, they're thrown into every makeup palette from the cheapest to the most luxurious, but don't discount them immediately. Forget any ideas you might have of blending with them, and consider a sponge applicator your secret weapon when it comes to powdery, glittery, or shadows with bad payoff. Also good for packing any eyeshadow all over the lid, and they do a serviceable job of smudging pencil liner. Oh, and you can still throw away the ones that come with eyeshadow compacts, they're still too short to hold comfortable. (Well, actually, don't throw them away. That's wasteful. They're quite handy for arm swatching or if you have tiny doll hands.) If you're interested in trying out the Cousin Oliver of makeup applicators, find one on a long handle (with replaceable heads if you can find it), like this one from NYX.
Silicone Glitter Applicator
This may look like a sponge applicator, but it's made out of silicone. It's specifically formulated to use with loose glitters, pigments, and glittery eyeshadows to reduce fallout. It does actually work, in case you were wondering, and I'd probably use it more often if I liked glitter or loose eyeshadows, but you do have to pack on a lot to get much payoff. This one was made by Sephora, and I'm pretty sure it's discontinued, but I know some other brands make something similar.
The pointy pencil-brush style cousin of the sponge applicator, the sponge smudge is often found on the end of pencil liners (though this ancient Body Shop one was not). It's made for smudging liner, and it usually tends to remove more than it smudges, but it's fine in a pinch.
Spoolie brushes look like mascara wands, and if you're so inclined, you could just wash an old mascara wand and use that. The one on the left is a MAC 204, and the other is a bulk one-use mascara applicator (good for a kit). These are good for applying mascara, if you're not a fan of the brush, or for hygiene purposes (though that pertains more to the disposable one). They work well for combing out already applied mascara, especially if metal combs scare you. They are most useful for personal use, in my opinion, for brushing through eyebrows to neaten them, diffuse previously applied product, or to apply a gel through the brow hairs (like MUFE Aqua Brow).
Mascara Fan Brush
Pros and Cons
Pros: Some of these brushes seem at first glance like the Cousin Oliver of makeup brushes. While some of them (hello Sponge Smudger, why I have kept you all these years, I'll never know) are certainly useless, some of these brushes--the mascara fan brush, and, yes, even the sponge applicator--have their place in your makeup drawer. If you use a lot of glitter, you may want to hunt down a silicone applicator, and everyone needs a spoolie brush, even if it comes with your mascara.
Cons: Some of this stuff is worthless garbage. They throw those cheap sponge applicators into eyeshadow compacts and smudgers onto the end of eyeliners for a reason: they're cheap. As separate brushes, none of these are essentials.
The brushes featured in this post are: NYX Sponge applicator, Sephora Professional Glitter Eyeshadow Brush #24 (dc'd), The Body Shop Line Softener, MAC 204 Lash Brush, Disposable mascara applicator from a Beauty Store (I misplaced the bag after this photo was taken, so I don't know the brand), Princeton Art and Brush Company Fan Brush 3050FN Size 20/0. All were purchased and I received no compensation for featuring them.