How often should we be cleaning our makeup brushes and beauty tools? Many of us it turns out, are not cleaning them often enough.

The beauty experts at RY, part of the LOOKFANTASTIC group, spoke with doctor and skincare expert Dr Deborah Lee on how often we should be cleaning our makeup brushes, blenders and sponges, and how often we should be replacing our trusty makeup tools.

How often should we be cleaning our beauty tools?

You may not realise it, but your makeup brushes are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and other microorganisms. Would you really want to take a paintbrush and smear bacteria all over your skin? This has been linked to acne flare-ups and more serious skin infections.

Dr Lee says: “Makeup brushes are cited as a possible reservoir of infection for the dangerous, contagious, superbug – methicillin-resistant staphylococcus (MRSA). This bacterium is a cause of a wide range of skin conditions, as well as systemic illnesses. It can result in erysipelas, cellulitis, impetigo, folliculitis and skin carbuncles. 

“If you don’t wash your makeup brushes, they gradually get clogged up with dead skin cells, dried clumps of makeup, dirt and grime. This makes applying foundation smoothly impossible. You end up trying to plaster it on more thickly, which is expensive and nonsensical. Stiff bristles can cause tiny micro-abrasions in the skin, allowing bacteria to get into the deeper layers of the skin. Trauma to the skin increases inflammation with increased levels of oxidative stress. This is harmful to good skin health.

“There are reports of an increase in conjunctivitis and blepharitis associated with the use of dirty mascara brushes. Makeup brushes used with dry powders should be washed 1-2 times per week. Liquid foundation is an even worse culprit, and they recommend washing brushes every day. Makeup sponges should also be washed every day”.

How often should we replace our beauty tools?

If you look after your beauty tools properly, they can last years! However, take care to wash and dry them effectively. When the bristles start to fall out, you will know it’s time to replace them.

Dr Lee advises on which makeup brushes we should be purchasing: “Always purchase good quality brushes. These should feel soft in the palm of your hand, not dry and bristly. Check you can’t see any bristles falling out of them, as this indicates low quality. Natural bristles are superior; they tend to hold the colour pigments better than synthetic ones. However, these are derived from animal sources, which, depending on how they are produced, may not be popular with animal lovers. If you want a good makeup finish, the quality of your makeup brushes is essential”.

5 step guide on how to clean makeup brushes

  • Step 1: Choose your favourite makeup cleanser.
  • Step 2: Run the brush under the tap to wet it using lukewarm water. Take care not to let the handle end of the brush where the bristles attach get wet, as this will damage the glue and encourage the bristles to drop out. Focus on cleaning the end of the brush.
  • Step 3: Add some cleanser to the brush and swirl this around, pressing the bristles into your palm with a circular motion and getting a good lather. You can use a brush cleaning mat for this if you prefer. Then wash the bristles again under the tap to get rid of all the suds and grime.
  • Step 4: Squeeze the bristles downwards between your finger and thumb to get rid of the excess water.
  • Step 5: Lay the damp brush on some kitchen towel overnight to dry.

Important things to remember

When it comes to keeping our makeup tools nice and clean are:

  • You should clean makeup brushes once every two weeks… yes really, bacteria multiply on your brushes, beauty blenders and makeup sponges!
  • Even after appropriate cleansing, bacteria can remain on your makeup brushes. To completely disinfect your brushes choose a sterilising makeup brush cleanser.
  • Having clean and hygienic makeup brushes is essential for not only making sure your skin doesn’t break out, but for a smooth and flawless makeup finish and to maintain brush quality.
  • Through daily use, impurities, dead skin, sebum and product build-up means makeup brushes become a breeding ground for bacteria. Such bacteria can lead to breakouts and flare-ups of skin conditions, such as eczema.
  • Product build-up also weakens the brushes ability to blend, which can cause irritation and redness when the skin is pulled through applying makeup with a dirty brush, as well as prevent a smooth application and flawless finish.
  • Cleaning your makeup brushes regularly will also increase their longevity. Cleaning is essential to maintain brush quality, as product build-up weakens fibres, eventually causing them to break.