Clean Your Makeup Tools and Cosmetics for Healthier Skin

When was the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes and other makeup tools? For most of us, it may have been a couple of months ago…or maybe never! But if you are a professional makeup artist, you probably cleaned them yesterday. The pros clean their makeup tools thoroughly every day. You wouldn’t tackle your housekeeping with dirty cleaning tools, so why would you use dirty applicators on your face?

According to the pros, cleaning our makeup tools regularly prevents bacteria buildup and keeps our applicators working like they should. Even cosmetics themselves should be given proper care to minimize the spread of bacteria and to prevent the makeup formulas from breaking down.

Read on to find out why, when, and how to clean your makeup tools like the pros.

Clean Makeup Tools Mean Healthier Skin and Better Beauty

The most important reason to clean your makeup tools is for better hygiene. There are numerous stories floating around about everyday folks getting an infection or rash from dirty makeup brushes or cosmetics. Professional makeup artists understand the dangers of dirty beauty tools and keep disposable applicators like cotton swabs, cotton pads and single-use mascara wands on hand as backups. 

Makeup brushes and applicators aren’t the only concerns when it comes to your beauty routine. Bacteria and mold can grow in cosmetics and may cause a range of skin reactions, from inflammation to infections. Be aware that expired makeup can make things even worse. 

Most of us keep our makeup in our bathroom—but the humid conditions are horrible for cosmetics and even the cleanest bathroom harbors lots of bacteria. Because bacteria thrive in warm, humid conditions, cosmetics should be stored in a cool, dry place away from sunlight or other heat sources. Think a closet, or even a drawer in your bedroom. Since the ideal temperature for cosmetics like lotions and creams is around 49 degrees Fahrenheit, your fridge is another option for keeping cosmetics safe and sanitary. 

Clean makeup brushes and cosmetics simply produce better beauty results. “Would you trust a painter to paint the walls of your interiors with a dirty brush? I’d sure hope not,” Dominique Lerma, the executive makeup artist for Royal & Langnickel, says. “Makeup artists cannot create a perfect canvas with subpar tools.” 

Clean your makeup tools regularly and they’ll last longer and perform better. Store cosmetics correctly for longer shelf life and better results. Take care of your makeup gear so you can hang on to your favorite brushes longer and create a more beautiful you. 

How Often Should I Clean My Makeup Tools?

Most dermatologists recommend that you clean your makeup toolsespecially foundation and concealer brushesweekly to prevent product and bacteria buildup. Because we use makeup brushes and applicators on our face’s delicate skin, the cleaner you can get them, the better, says Bobbi Brown. “Brushes that are used around the eyes should be cleaned at least twice a month,” she says. “All others can be washed once a month.”

“Brush hairs and sponges are porous, so they hold on to oils, debris and bacteria,” says pro makeup artist Ashleigh B. Ciucci. “If your brushes are dirty, your application will be spotty and blending will be difficult. For face brushes like foundation, concealer, or powder, you should be cleaning them once a week. For eye brushes or brushes that you’re using for different shades, clean in between uses.”

How Should I Clean My Makeup Tools?

While there’s no shortage of commercial products for maintaining and cleaning makeup brushes and applicators, the pros tell us that DIY cleaning solutions are more than up to the task. One of the most popular and effective methods for cleaning your makeup tools requires only water and a gentle cleanser. 

Especially important for brushes made with natural bristles, soaps and shampoos with harsh cleansers can break down bristles. For a DIY solution, mix one part baby shampoo to four parts water. Ciucci recommends using a moisturizing shampoo for a deep clean. “For really dirty brushes, you can apply the shampoo directly to the wet bristles and massage.”

Dish soap is also a popular option; makeup artists like Avendaño believe it helps lift away stubborn foundation from bristles. Many makeup artists like to wash their brushes with their favorite face wash, too. 

8 Easy Steps for Clean, Fresh Makeup Brushes 

  1. Wet the bristles thoroughly with warm water
  2. Place a drop of your makeup brush cleanser into the palm of your hand.
  3. Gently massage the tips of the bristles in your palm using a swirling motion.
  4. Rinse the bristles with warm water.
  5. Disinfect your brushes by swirling them around for two minutes in a bowl with two parts water and one part vinegar. Be careful to not submerge any part of the ferrule or handle. 
  6. Gently squeeze out excess moisture with a clean towel.
  7. Reshape the brush head by gently shaping the bristles from the base to the brush tips. 
  8. Dry the brush with its bristles hanging off the edge of a counter so they maintain their shape. Never let your brushes dry on a towel—that’s how they end up mildewed

While you’re cleaning your makeup brushes, keep the base of the brush head away from soap and water. The bristles are glued to the base, and water and detergent can cause the glue to weaken and bristles to shed. 

When Should I Replace My Makeup Brushes?

According to, Natural-hair brushes can last for many years if taken care of properly. Synthetic brushes last only about a year and need to be cleaned at least twice a week.

“It’s time to toss your makeup brush when the bristles start to fray, shed or lose their shape,” says Brown. “I can’t emphasize enough that the right tools are as important in getting the look you want as the actual makeup itself. If your brushes become too pinched or squashed, then they simply will not be up to the job.”

Should I Clean or Replace Makeup Sponges?

Regular makeup sponges aren’t meant to be reused. But microbial-resistant sponges are, and can last for three to four months. Just like with makeup brushes, make sure to clean your sponges and blenders at least once a week to prevent the growth of bacteria and germs. 

How to Clean a Makeup Sponge

  1. Soak the sponge with warm water. 
  2. Place a couple drops of your makeup cleanser onto the sponge or blender. Work the makeup and dirt out of the sponge with your fingers.
  3. Rinse the sponge while squeezing out all the suds until the water runs clear. If you still have buildup, repeat step two.
  4. Wring out the sponge and pat dry with a clean towel. Allow your sponges and blenders to air dry. 

Make sure you are cleaning your makeup sponges every few uses for optimal results. them in good condition and reduce the risk of mold and bacteria. 

How Do I Keep My Makeup Clean?

Before removing or applying makeup, wash your hands with soap and water to minimize the transfer of germs. Once a week, disinfect the edge of jars, tubes and caps, and remove excess product on the edges. For powdered cosmetics like blush and eyeshadow, use latex sponges or disposable applicators to prevent sebum and other contaminants from getting into the powder. 

If you use serums or creams in jars, avoid touching the contents with your fingers. Use a small plastic putty knife to scoop out the makeup or moisturizer to prevent the risk of bacteria from your fingers. Keep jars, tubes and bottles sealed tightly to avoid prolonged contact with air that can break down makeup formulas. 

Make cleaning your makeup tools and cosmetics a regular part of your beauty routine. You’ll spend less money on makeup brushes and makeup because they’ll last longer, your skin will be cleaner and healthier, and you’ll get the most out of your beauty routine.  

But keeping your cosmetics and makeup tools clean is only part of a sparkling home. Contact The Maids to learn more about what we can do for you, as well as arrange a cleaning service to help you create your ideal living space.

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