Beauty Tools, Cleansers, Education, Maintenance, Skincare

Cleaning Your Brushes: Bacteria and YOU!

When was the last time you washed your makeup brushes? A month ago? Last year? Never?

NEVER?!

DID YOU JUST SAY NEVER?!

I just…

I mean…

I can’t even…

That’s not ok.

It’s not like I’ve never been guilty of letting my brushes get dirty. For a long time, it didn’t even occur to me to wash them. I think I thought since I was the only one using them, it wasn’t necessary.

WRONG. JUST SUPER, SUPER WRONG.

Oils, dust, dirt, makeup, bacteria…these are the things that live on your dirty brushes. So then you use them, and you smear all that gross stuff around your skin. Doesn’t that sound awful? Keeping your brushes clean is good for the life of your tools, and it’s good for the life of your skin. Plus, it’s really easy and super satisfying.

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These are my dirty brushes. It’s been way too long since the last time I washed them. I’m really trying to get my skin in tip top shape, and I figured getting my brushes clean was a good idea. I’m not really acne prone, but I get those little white bumps. You can’t really see them unless you’re really looking, but I know they’re there, and I know what they are. Tiny little underground bacteria rocks. Gross. Have you ever tried to squeeze one of those out? That’s how I end up with a big hole in my face.

First, you’re going to need a cleanser. You can use a mild shampoo, like a baby shampoo, but I prefer to use a cleanser specifically for brushes. Those usually have the added benefit of being antibacterial.

sephora brush shampoo

Sephora, 2 oz., $7

I use this brush shampoo from Sephora. It does a great job of pulling even the most pigmented colors out of my brushes, and a little bit goes a long way.

After you’ve decided on a shampoo, and you’ve washed all the dirty dishes in your sink, you’re ready to get started!

First, thoroughly saturate your brush with lukewarm water.

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DO NOT drop it down the garage disposal. This was a dangerous game I was playing here. If any of those suckers had slipped down into that disgusting pit, that brush would have been dead to me. Like, might as well flip the switch and chop it into a million pieces because I never want to see it again. So, yeah, get your bristles good and wet, being careful not to lose it forever.

Next, squirt a small amount of brush shampoo into the palm of your hand.

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Don’t skimp, but don’t go crazy either. You want enough to break everything up, but not so much that you can never rinse it out, or you waste a bunch.

Then, swirl that brush around in the palm of your hand. You can go crazy here.

clean brush gif

Really scrub it good! You’ll start to see all the makeup coming out of the bristles, it’s pretty gnarly. Add more shampoo if you feel like it’s running short. Sometimes, I do this part twice. Especially on my foundation brush. That’s the one in all the pictures, as you can see, it was really dirty.

After you’re satisfied the shampoo has lifted out all the makeup and debris, give it a good, thorough rinse in the lukewarm water.

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I see that this photo is sort of redundant. But, I’m trying to be as detailed as possible! Rinse, rinse, rinse the brush. Rinse it so good. Rinse it until the water is clear, and the bristles feel clean. You DO NOT want any extra shampoo or makeup left behind. That would make this whole thing totally pointless.

After your brush has been fully rinsed, gently squeeze out any excess water, and then reshape your bristles and lay your brush flat, to dry.

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I like to put mine on a towel so they don’t go anywhere, and water doesn’t collect underneath the handles. I also like to let the bristles hang over the edge. That way, they dry evenly and you don’t have to come in and flip them. I wash my brushes when I know they’ll have plenty of time to dry, preferably overnight.

When everything is dry, just get the bristles fluffed back the way they need to be, and you’re all set! No more gross tools of cross contamination!

How often you clean your brushes is up to you. If you use your brushes on anyone else, you have to wash them after every time you use them. If yours is the only face they touch, then once is a week is the gold standard. If you never ever clean your brushes, try to get into the habit at least once a month, and work up from there. It’s a good thing to do for your tools and your complexion. My brushes are an investment, and they’ve been pretty carefully curated. I’d like them to last as long as possible.

Keeping your brushes clean is the kind of thing that seems obvious, but I have a feeling that it’s the territory of people who are really serious about makeup. I know I sleep on cleaning my brushes more often than I should, and I’m a state licensed beauty professional. I should really know better! Let’s make it our Thanksgiving resolution to keep our brushes cleaner. Together, we can make the world a less bacteria laden place.

P.S. I cleaned my BeautyBlender with Ivory soap. It took forever to rinse it clean, and I haven’t used it since then, so I don’t know if it was a complete success. It LOOKS like it’s clean, but the jury is still out. I’ll let you guys know.

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