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1. Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Using dirty makeup brushes isn’t just annoying, it’s bad for your skin and can lead to infections. According to a dermatologist, dirty brushes harbor bacteria that can cause acne breakouts and even worse — gnarly things like staph infections and cold sores. And if you’re an artist, dirty brushes can also spread germs to your clients.

Fortunately, there are simple ways to keep your brushes clean and infection-free. First, rinse your brushes with lukewarm water. Focus the water on the bristles, as you don’t want to get any water in the metal part of the brush (which can weaken the glue and cause shedding). Next, use your cleanser of choice to wash your brushes. For a deep clean, you can use a makeup brush shampoo like Cinema Secrets or Beautyblender Blendercleanser Solid, but you can also just use a clarifying or baby shampoo. Whatever you choose, be sure to gently massage the brushes into the shampoo and work up a lather, then rinse them until the water runs clear. Once you’ve washed your brushes, squeeze out any excess moisture with a paper towel and reshape them into their original form.

If you’re a makeup artist, ideally, you should be cleaning your brushes after every client and disinfecting them daily. But if that’s not realistic for you, Ciraldo recommends washing your brushes once a week and more often if there’s visible makeup buildup. She also suggests being extra vigilant about washing and disinfecting sponges, like Beautyblenders, as they can hold more bacteria than your brushes. And if you’re really worried about germs, she suggests spraying your brushes with an antibacterial or disinfectant before and after each use.

2. Wash Your Makeup Brushes Regularly

Keeping your makeup brushes clean helps you avoid bacteria buildup, which can lead to blemishes and acne. It also ensures that your brushes work better by distributing product evenly.

The best way to wash your brushes is with a cleanser designed for makeup brushes, but if you don’t have one on hand, a liquid dish soap will do the trick. Liquid dish soap is engineered to remove oils and grease, the byproducts of makeup that cake on the brush bristles. Just make sure to rinse thoroughly to prevent water from seeping down the handle and loosening the glue that holds the brush together.

Aim to wash your makeup brushes every seven to 10 days. This includes both synthetic and natural brushes. Those used for applying liquid products, like foundation or blush, need to be cleaned more frequently because they are more likely to harbor bacteria.

If you don’t have a cleanser on hand, try using a paper towel soaked in warm water to get rid of stubborn dirt and oil. Or, saturate your brush with a thermal water spray (such as the La Roche-Posay Thermal Water Spray) and gently swish it around in a circular motion. Then, use a paper towel to wipe away any excess residue.

Once you’ve washed your brushes, use a mild shampoo or baby soap to deep clean them. This step is especially important for brushes that are used with liquid products. Rinse well and squeeze out any remaining water before allowing them to dry. It may take a day or two for the bristles to fully dry, but if you want them to dry faster, place them upside down in a cup or on a towel so that the tips of the bristles are below the handle.

3. Keep Your Makeup Brushes Clean

Clean brushes aren’t just better for your face; they’re actually easier to use. Dirty makeup brushes can cause a build-up of product that can make it difficult to apply your foundation or blush. Plus, bacteria and dirt from dirty brushes can be transferred to your skin and cause breakouts or rashes.

To keep your brushes clean, start by running them under lukewarm water to rinse away any residual makeup. Be sure not to submerge the entire brush as this could damage the glue that holds the bristles together. You can also saturate your brushes with a gentle cleanser like baby shampoo, a liquid makeup brush cleaner, or a special sponge cleaning mat that helps to remove stubborn products like eyeshadow and foundation.

Avoid using any harsh cleaners on your brushes, especially those with added fragrances or sulfates as these can be drying. You can find a variety of brushes and sponge cleansers at beauty stores or online retailers. Alternatively, you can use a mild soap or dish soap for your makeup brushes and sponges, but be sure to use the unscented version since any additional fragrances may be irritating.

Once you’ve rinsed off your brushes, be sure to reshape them and lay them out flat to dry. Never use a blow dryer on your brushes as this can damage the bristles and loosen the glue that holds them together.

If you don’t have any brush cleaners on hand, try using a few drops of baby shampoo or a mild soap for makeup brushes or a liquid makeup brush cleaner for sponges. Alternatively, you can buy a special makeup brush cleaner specifically designed for your tools that makes the cleaning process a breeze.

4. Keep Your Makeup Brushes in a Dry Place

Whether your brushes are made of natural or synthetic hair, they’ll benefit from a cool, dry environment. Humidity can damage the glue that holds the bristles to the brush head, which can cause them to fall out over time.

Leaving makeup brushes in damp areas can also cause bacteria to build up on the bristles, which can lead to unwanted breakouts. Make sure to store your brushes in a clean, cool place when you’re not using them.

It’s recommended to wash your brushes at least once a week to keep them looking their best and free of any dirt, grime or excess makeup that may be building up. If you’re regularly applying foundation or other cream-based products, it’s a good idea to wash your brushes more frequently to avoid any potential breakouts.

After washing your makeup brushes, it’s important to let them air dry before storing them. This will help to prevent any moisture from damaging the bristles, as well as ensure that they’re ready to use when you need them again. There are a few different ways to let your brushes air dry, including laying them flat on a towel or using a makeup brush drying stand.

If you’re unsure how often to wash your brushes, it’s a good idea to consult with a professional makeup artist. They can provide you with the advice that’s right for your unique skin type and complexion. A professional can also teach you the proper technique for cleaning your makeup brushes, which will help to preserve the shape of your brushes and protect them from breaking down over time.

5. Don’t Forget to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

A dirty makeup brush is a breeding ground for bacteria. Not only can it transfer bacteria from your hands to the bristles, but it also prevents you from getting a clean, even application of your products. Regularly cleaning your brushes can keep them from losing their shape, becoming brittle, or turning yellow.

Makeup brushes should be cleaned at least once a week, but ideally every 3-4 days. Keeping up with this routine can help them last longer and give you the best results.

To start, run the bristles of your brush under lukewarm water. Be careful not to get the ferrule—the part that connects the brush head to the handle—wet, as this can loosen the glue that holds it together. After rinsing, use a gentle cleanser to wash your brushes. Avoid harsh chemicals, which can dry out the bristles and damage your brushes. You can find makeup brush cleaners online, at beauty stores, or at makeup counters.

The most common makeup brush cleaners are dish soap and baby shampoo, but there are many other options. Just make sure that whatever you choose is not too abrasive, as regular soap can dry out brushes made with natural hair.

Once your brushes are washed, let them air dry. You can lay them flat over a towel or a piece of fabric, or you can use a makeup brush stand to hold them up while they are drying. It is important not to use a hot hair dryer, as this can cause the bristles to lose their shape. Once your brushes are completely dry, they can be stored in a bag or pouch until you need them again.