Dirty Makeup Tools? Here's Why You Should Clean Them and How to Do It

Makeup has seamlessly integrated into many aspects of our daily routines, with makeup tools holding a significant role in this cosmetic ritual. Despite their frequent use, the significance of cleaning them is often overlooked. For instance, unwashed makeup tools create an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, posing potential risks to our skin health. In this article, we'll guide you on effectively cleaning makeup tools to safeguard both skin health and their condition.

Risks of not washing your makeup tools

Forgetting to clean your makeup tools poses potential risks to your skin health, leading to irritations, infections, and compromised skin hygiene. Here's what may happen in case of hygiene negligence.

Buildup of bacteria

Dirty makeup tools are a breeding ground for bacteria. When you use dirty brushes to apply makeup, you transfer bacteria, dead skin cells, and oil onto the bristles. With time, this buildup of bacteria can cause skin irritations and acne breakouts. Additionally, research shows that makeup applicators can harbor dangerous bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli. These bacteria may cause skin infections, which can become severe.

Clogged pores

When you use dirty beauty blenders and makeup brushes, you’re essentially applying a layer of bacteria and dead skin cells onto your skin. This can clog your pores, which can lead to whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. What's more, clogged pores can make your skin look dull and uneven.

Skin sensitivity

Dirty makeup tools can exacerbate sensitive skin issues, which can be especially problematic for individuals prone to acne breakouts or those with sensitive skin. The accumulation of dirt can lead to skin irritation and inflammation, potentially triggering acne breakouts and rashes.

How to clean your brushes and sponges?

Using the right ways to clean makeup tools can go a long way in protecting your skin from complications. Here is a simple guide on how to wash your brushes and sponges effectively.

Cleaning makeup brushes

  1. Rinse. Rinsing is the first step in cleaning your makeup brushes. Run the tips of the makeup brush under lukewarm water to rinse out any residual makeup. Make sure your brushes are facing downward. This helps prevent water from seeping into the glue that holds the bristles together.
  2. Cleanse. Here, you can use either a gentle liquid soap or a gentle shampoo. Put one tablespoon of the soap in a bowl of lukewarm water.
  3. Sweep and swirl. Swirl each of your brush tips in the bowl. To create more lather, you can massage the brush tips in the palm of your hands. You can also use a brush-cleaning glove or pad. These tools really help loosen the solidified makeup on the brushes.
  4. Rinse again. Rinse your brush tips under running water. You can repeat steps 2 and 3 until the water runs clear.
  5. Squeeze out the excess water. After making completely sure that your makeup brushes are clean, squeeze out the excess water using a clean, dry paper towel.
  6. Dry the brushes. Lay your brushes on a dry towel on a flat surface to dry. Avoid drying your makeup brushes upright in a jar because the moisture can run down and loosen the glue, which can eventually make the fibers fall out.

Cleaning makeup sponges

  1. Soak in water. Put your sponge in warm water until it has absorbed all it can.
  2. Cleanse. Lather up your sponge with a gentle shampoo and massage all the product out of the sponge.
  3. Rinse. Rinse it under running water until it runs clear. This usually takes more than one wash, so keep squeezing and repeating until it's completely clean.
  4. Squeeze out the excess water. After you get rid of the excess water, lay the sponge on a towel to dry.

How often should you deep clean your makeup tools?

Washing makeup tools might seem like a chore, but it’s a must if you want to maintain good skin health. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, you should deep clean your makeup tools every 7–10 days. This can protect your face and get rid of any harmful bacteria that tend to linger in your makeup tools.

Cleaning products to use

When it comes to cleaning your makeup tools, there are several products you can use. These include but are not limited to:

  • Gentle shampoo. Gentle shampoo or clarifying shampoo does a great job of washing makeup brushes. It’s also very gentle on the bristles. Always avoid using soap that can dry out the bristles.
  • Liquid dish soap. Some dish soap, especially antibacterial ones, can help clean your makeup brushes effectively. Dish soap is usually gentle and does not strip your bristles at all.
  • Lemon and vinegar. A mixture of lemon and vinegar is a great homemade makeup tool cleaner. It can help kill germs and leaves your makeup tools with a pleasant smell after washing.

Everyday care for your makeup tools

If makeup tools are a necessary part of your beauty routine, taking good care of them will benefit both the skin and long-term use. Here are tips for everyday care that can help you prevent bacteria growth:

  1. Try to surface clean after every use. You can use a makeup cleaner spray or a makeup wipe to gently remove surface residue after applying makeup. This is especially important when you use cream and liquid products that usually linger on brush bristles.
  2. Store makeup properly. Proper storage can help ensure your makeup tools remain in optimal condition. So, ditch closed makeup bags and instead go for a jar or a drawer organizer to avoid a buildup of bacteria.
  3. Clean your storage regularly. Cleaning the makeup storage containers is just as important as cleaning the makeup brushes. You can disinfect your brush jars or drawers with a gentle disinfectant wipe to prevent bacteria transfer back to your clean makeup brushes.
  4. Avoid harsh products. Ensure you stick to gentle cleaning shampoo. Steel clear of harsh soaps, alcohol, and even hot water. These can damage the tools and also shorten their lifespan.
  5. Don't share your makeup tools. Sharing your makeup tools is essentially trading bacteria. By sharing them, you can transfer bacteria back into your skin, which can cause acne breakouts.
  6. Replace your tools from time to time. Toss your makeup brushes when the bristles start to shed or lose their shape and replace them with new ones. The right tools are important in getting the look you want.

Ultimately, cleaning your makeup tools is a rather simple task, yet crucial for maintaining hygiene. Regular washing is essential to prevent bacteria buildup and potential skin infections. Additionally, it's important to refrain from sharing your makeup tools to prevent bacterial transfer onto your skin. The consequences of using dirty sponges and brushes are significant, so it's imperative to avoid this practice altogether.


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