Clean Makeup Brushes for Healthier Skin While Sheltering at Home

April 6, 2020

Woman considering cleaning makeup brushes

It can be hard to find the good in the current situation. With so many frightening reports about coronavirus (COVID-19), it may be difficult to consider the potential benefits of shelter at home orders, social distancing, and other changes to our daily routines, but these advantages are there. More time at home is one of the unexpected benefits of this pandemic. However, it’s been a few weeks now, and many of us are starting to feel cabin fever setting in. Staying busy can really help. If you have some extra time on your hands, consider taking the time to get rid of expired skincare products and clean your makeup brushes. Many people are unaware of how important regular cleaning is to ensure makeup application tools remain sanitary and functional, but integrating cleanings into your regular routine can extend the life of your brushes, improve your skin health, and help you prevent the spread of disease – yes even COVID-19. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of regular makeup brush cleaning.

Why Should I Clean My Makeup Brushes?

Cleaning makeup brushes has always been important, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, worries about avoiding exposure to germs and preventing cross-contamination are at an all-time high. This means people are even more concerned about keeping makeup brushes and applicators free from potential contaminants.

Some of the many reasons we recommend regularly cleaning your makeup brushes include:

  • Remove bacteria and grime – Even when you apply makeup to clean skin, your makeup brushes will still pick up bacteria, dust, dirt, and skin cells. Using unwashed makeup brushes can expose skin to these germs and buildup, possibly leading to pinkeye, staph infection, and other bacterial and fungal infections.
  • Keep your makeup clean – When makeup brushes aren’t cleaned regularly, they transfer bacteria to the makeup, so even after you clean your brushes, bacteria in the makeup is transferred back onto your brushes and your skin.
  • Look your best – Using sponges and makeup brushes that aren’t cleaned regularly can lead to spotty application. When you buy nice sponges and brushes, you achieve a more even, natural-looking makeup application. However, failure to keep these makeup tools clean leads to damaged sponge surfaces, broken bristles, and other variations in the applicator design that will show up on your skin.
  • Skin irritation – Without regular cleaning, makeup brushes, and applicator sponges will harden, lose bristles, and attract foreign matter. When you apply makeup with these damaged applicators, your skin can become irritated, leading to redness and inflammation. This is especially true for individuals who already have chronic skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, and acne.
  • Clogged pores and acne flareups – The bacteria, dust, skin cells, and other particles that accumulate when makeup brushes aren’t cleaned regularly can get trapped, clogging your pores and triggering breakouts and acne flare-ups.
  • Accelerated signs of aging – Stress on the skin when it is in repeated contact with bacteria and other foreign matter will breakdown collagen and elastin more quickly, even in young people who produce higher amounts of these essential nutrients for healthy skin, leading to fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots.
  • Wasted money – You invested in nice makeup brushes, but if you don’t clean them regularly, you’ll need to replace your makeup brushes more quickly.

When Should I Clean My Makeup Brushes?

If you’re using makeup brushes for yourself only, you should clean brushes used regularly at least once a week. If your skin is relatively clear and you aren’t prone to sensitivity or breakouts, you may be able to get away with deep cleaning every 10 to 14 days by using a clean, dry towel to wipe down your brushes between uses.

You should also wash your makeup brushes in the following situations:

  • If you use brushes less often (lip liners, eye makeup applicators, etc.), you can clean them once a month, especially if you wipe them off between uses
  • If you use makeup applicator tools on someone else’s skin, they need to be washed immediately
  • If you’ve been sick or had a skin infection, deep cleaning can help avoid reinfection and prolong the life of your applicators
  • If you have an allergic response, even if it’s not to a cosmetic product, residue from the irritant may be on your makeup brushes

How do I Clean My Makeup Brushes?

There are numerous, often pricey, makeup brush cleaners on the market, and while these products will do the job, you don’t necessarily need to invest in pricey cleaners to keep your makeup brushes free from germs and grime. Instead, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends the following simple cleaning regimen using products you likely already have at home:

  • Fill a bowl with lukewarm water and a tablespoon of shampoo. You can also use dish soap or regular hand soap, but they can dry out bristles over time. Shampoo will help to keep the bristles softer and more flexible longer.
  • Rinse just the ends of your makeup brushes, using lukewarm running water. Avoid submerging the entire head of your makeup brush as the water will dissolve the glue that holds the bristles in place.
  • Swirl the tip of each makeup brush through the bowl of soapy water. If your makeup brushes have heavy buildup, you can massage the bristles gently to loosen grime and germs.
  • Rinse the soap from the end of the makeup brushes under lukewarm running water.
  • Repeat the previous two steps until water runs clear when you rinse the brushes.
  • Use a clean, dry towel or disposable paper towel to remove as much water as possible from the tips of the makeup brushes.
  • Lay brushes flat to dry. Do not place your makeup brushes in a container bristles up or down as this can damage the bristles and breakdown the glue that holds your makeup brushes together.

While makeup brushes are still the most frequently used tool for application, blender sponges are now being used by more people, and they need to be cleaned regularly as well. You can use the same cleaning process outlined above for cleaning makeup brushes for your blender sponges. Simply rinse the sponge under running water, submerge in the soapy water mixture, rinse, and repeat until the rinsing water runs clear. Squeeze out excess water and allow the sponge to air dry.

Is it Time for New Makeup Brushes?

As a general rule, it’s good to replace blender sponges every 3 months and makeup brushes every 6 months even if you’re cleaning them regularly. For people who don’t wear makeup every day, you may be able to hold onto your applicators a little longer, especially if you’re washing them at least once a week.

Some reasons to replace your makeup application tools include:

  • Your brushes or sponges are still discolored after cleaning
  • You notice bristles are missing
  • Brushes appear worn or damaged
  • Bristles are hardened or less flexible
  • Your skin is suddenly irritated or breaking out without any other obvious cause like changes in skincare products, cosmetics, or cleansers

Need Help with Skincare? Call U.S. Dermatology Partners!

We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is a pretty scary time for many of our patients, but shelter-at-home orders come with the plus side of time. Many people now have time for little tasks like cleaning their makeup brushes. If you need dermatologic services, U.S. Dermatology Partners is still here for you with teledermatology online appointments. If you’re struggling with a breakout, flare-up from chronic skin conditions, or need to speak with a dermatologist for any other reason, teledermatology allows you to do just that without ever leaving home. If you want to request a virtual appointment, you can simply take a few moments to complete our online dermatology appointment request form. Once you submit your request, a member of our team will be in touch to finalize your appointment details.

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