How to Clean Makeup Brushes and Makeup Sponges the Right Way


A 2016 study, focused on beauty products in salons used by multiple consumers, found that a harrowing 100 percent of the skin and eye products were contaminated with bacteria. Fungus or yeast was also found in 19 percent of the makeup brushes used. The takeaway? It’s crucial to know how to clean makeup brushes, how often to do so, and when it’s time to just throw them the heck out.

We paint, contour, and highlight our faces with makeup brushes every day, but we can’t always say the same thing about how frequently we’re cleaning our most-used brushes. Giving them a thorough washing every month or so is not enough. According to dermatologists and makeup artists, we should be sudsing up our tools far more often in order to prevent bacteria buildup, which can lead to breakouts.

“At least a few times a year I’m able to track down a new breakout to a patient’s old makeup. But there is always the question of how much the makeup brush may have had to do with the problem,” says Loretta Ciraldo, M.D., a Miami-based board-certified dermatologist. “When that makeup gets old it may start to harbor bacteria, and the bacteria can overgrow on the surface of the makeup brushes which don’t have any antibacterial or antifungal protection. In fact, we know that makeup brushes do grow bacteria and fungus but we don’t know how common this is in our own home [if] we’re watching them regularly.” 

If that doesn’t convince you to wash your brushes often, perhaps a step-by-step guide from makeup artists and dermatologists on how to clean makeup brushes will do the trick.

Ahead, read on for brush-washing tips from the experts, along with ideas for brush cleaner, tools, and all the intel you need to keep your face blessedly fungus and yeast free.

How often should you clean makeup brushes?

There’s no one answer for when exactly you must clean makeup brushes, but makeup artists and dermatologists generally agree that the answer is: Often. “I recommend washing makeup brushes at least every two weeks or more if you start to see that there is any makeup visible on the brush,” says Dr. Ciraldo.

Legendary makeup artist Bobbi Brown is even more conservative, choosing to wash her brushes once per week. Because these brushes are used on your face, the cleaner they are the better, she says. She’s a little more lenient with eye shadow and liner brushes, however. “Brushes that are used around the eyes should be cleaned at least twice a month,” she says.





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