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Arthur Panov
Arthur Panov

Cleaning Makeup Sponges Brushes |BEST|

Most makeup artists recommend cleaning brushes and sponges at least once a week, but if they are used every day is better to wash them after each use to prevent breakouts or contamination of your natural or synthetic brushes.

cleaning makeup sponges brushes

A 2016 study, focused on beauty products in salons used by multiple consumers, found that a harrowing 100 percent of the skin and eye products were contaminated with bacteria. Fungus or yeast was also found in 19 percent of the makeup brushes used. The takeaway? It's crucial to know how to clean makeup brushes, how often to do so, and when it's time to just throw them the heck out.

We paint, contour, and highlight our faces with makeup brushes every day, but we can't always say the same thing about how frequently we're cleaning our most-used brushes. Giving them a thorough washing every month or so is not enough. According to dermatologists and makeup artists, we should be sudsing up our tools far more often in order to prevent bacteria buildup, which can lead to breakouts.

"At least a few times a year I'm able to track down a new breakout to a patient's old makeup. But there is always the question of how much the makeup brush may have had to do with the problem," says Loretta Ciraldo, M.D., a Miami-based board-certified dermatologist. "When that makeup gets old it may start to harbor bacteria, and the bacteria can overgrow on the surface of the makeup brushes which don't have any antibacterial or antifungal protection. In fact, we know that makeup brushes do grow bacteria and fungus but we don't know how common this is in our own home [if] we're watching them regularly."

There's no one answer for when exactly you must clean makeup brushes, but makeup artists and dermatologists generally agree that the answer is: Often. "I recommend washing makeup brushes at least every two weeks or more if you start to see that there is any makeup visible on the brush," says Dr. Ciraldo.Legendary makeup artist Bobbi Brown is even more conservative, choosing to wash her brushes once per week. Because these brushes are used on your face, the cleaner they are the better, she says. She's a little more lenient with eye shadow and liner brushes, however. "Brushes that are used around the eyes should be cleaned at least twice a month," she says.

Houston-based makeup artist Kat Sketch, who has more than 200 brushes she can rotate through, washes them about every two weeks. But if you don't have a full makeup artist's kit at your disposal, she'd prefer you wash even more often. "I would suggest most people wash their brushes every week," she says. "Makeup brushes can build bacteria very fast, especially ones used around your eye."

Frequent cleansings don't just help keep your skin cleaner. According to makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci, soaping up your makeup brushes regularly can extend the life of the bristles and make for better product application. "Brush hairs and sponges are porous, so they hold onto oils, debris, and bacteria," she says. "If your brushes are dirty, your application will be spotty and blending will be difficult."

There are dozens of cleansers made specifically for cleaning brushes, but makeup artist Benjamin Puckey is an especially big fan of Parian Spirit Professional Makeup Brush Cleaner, which is made from food-grade solvents to gently dissolve powder-, liquid-, and wax-based makeup. If you'd prefer not to buy a cleanser specifically for your brushes, though, your favorite face wash may be all you need. Kim Kardashian's go-to makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic famously uses Philosophy Purity Made Simple facial cleanser because, he says that if it does such a thorough yet gentle job on your face, it will do the same for your brushes.

For Sketch, dense and especially dirty brushes require heartier fare; she's a fan of Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush Cleanser. "This one specifically cleans, disinfects, and leaves your makeup brush dry in one to two minutes flat," she says.

And some dishwashing liquids are good for cleaning, too. Makeup artists like Camara Aunique, Allan Avendaño, and Dominique Lerma all look to the gentle soaps they use on their dishes and silverware for their brushes, with Lerma specifically recommending Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Dish Soap. Dr. Ciraldo even prefers shampoo: "I like sulfate-free shampoo," she says. "It's good to avoid sulfates that may possibly leave a residue on the brush and lead to some irritation or pore-clogging."

As with makeup brushes, make sure to clean your Beautyblenders at least once a week, as the sponges can become filled with skin cells, and bacteria can overgrow, according to Ava Shamban, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills.

Although frequent cleansing can help extend the life of your brushes, there are signs you shouldn't ignore when it comes to determining that they're no longer capable of being the best makeup brush possible.

"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."

An essential part of any beauty routine is taking proper care of your tools, which raises the question: How best to clean your makeup brushes? No matter how flawlessly your favorite pointed concealer or powder-diffusing iterations may still perform, the only way to keep them bacteria-, dust-, and dirt-free is with a weekly washing, says the makeup artist Troy Surratt, whose line of highly covetable brushes are based on principles learned in the calligraphy brush mecca of Kumano, Japan.

Warm water and either gentle soap or a makeup cleanser are still the best tools for the job when it comes to cleaning makeup sponges. If you want to get a little fancier, however, try mixing a spot of gentle soap with a blob of baby shampoo and a dash of olive oil to give your makeup sponge a nourishing soak.

Whether you prefer using brushes or sponges to apply your makeup, make sure that you stick to a regular cleaning routine to make sure that you get the best out of your makeup tools without creating any problems for your skin!

Ideally, you should be cleaning your makeup brushes at least weekly. Of course, the more often you clean, the better, but a thorough clean once a week will keep your brushes in good shape. As for a Beautyblender, daily cleaning after each use is the goal.

Run your brushes under slightly warm water to clear out some of the makeup and oil. Gently massage the bristles of your brush or gently squeeze your beauty blender to saturate the entire applicator with water.

There are a number of drying racks you can buy that are especially made for makeup brushes, but beauty gurus have been hacking their own for years, with everything from pool noodles to folded towels. Whatever you use to dry your brushes, just make sure your bristles are facing down and not drying directly on a surface.

Rinse the tips of your brushes under lukewarm, running water to remove residual makeup. Only rinse the tip, as submerging the whole brush head will eventually dissolve the glue that connects the brush head to the handle.

This solution can be used on both of our methods below, for cleaning makeup sponges and beauty blenders. Keep on reading to find out how to wash your makeup sponge with your DIY makeup sponge cleaner.

With these two methods and your own DIY makeup sponge cleaner, you can be sure that your beauty blenders will be free from bacteria. Remember, stick to Method 1 for your makeup brushes, which may not be suitable for the microwave. For more tips on how to clean makeup stains, keep on reading Cleanipedia.

Deep clean your makeup brushes and sponge with the Real Techniques Brush + Sponge Cleansing Gel. Great makeup application starts with a clean makeup tool. Our exclusive formula is designed to extend the life of your tools by removing makeup, oils, and impurities for a deep clean. Our formula is free of harsh chemicals, not tested on animals, and does not contain alcohol or phthalates.

There are several products that you may already have on hand that you can use to clean your makeup brushes and sponges. For both tools, you can use a gentle shampoo (like baby shampoo), or even Dawn dish soap.

There are also products designed specifically for cleaning makeup tools. For instance, Beauty Blender has sponge and brush cleansers, from small soap bars to liquid cleansers. You can find a variety of cleansers at your local drugstore and online retailers like Sephora and Amazon.

The EcoTools Makeup Brush and Sponge Shampoo is designed to wash away makeup, oil, and impurities from your brushes to improve their performance and give you a smoother makeup application. The shampoo is dermatologist tested, hypoallergenic, and free of parabens, phthalates, and petroleum-based ingredients to leave brushes clean, soft, and healthy. With the easy-to-use Cleansing Shampoo, your brushes will come back to life no matter what makeup look. The formula has been tested to effectively clean your makeup tools without all the bad stuff that can strip the tools of their use. After cleaning you will continue to achieve a streak-free look with buildable coverage that is not animal-tested and completely vegan! Whether you use them for the eyes, blush, foundation or to travel with, EcoTools makeup brushes flawlessly help apply products to your face regardless of skin tone and type. Made from recycled and sustainable materials to make you feel as good as you look with a classic flawless application to match.

Because makeup sponges can take up to a few days to fully dry after washing, we suggest having a few to rotate through so you always have a clean one handy. Then you can batch-wash used makeup sponges (along with your brushes) weekly, using the same lather-rinse-squeeze method.

There's what we know we should be doing and what's, ahem, realistic. In a perfect world, experts say to wash them with every use. "I highly recommend cleaning your sponge daily. With daily use, any makeup tool can accumulate dead skin cells, dirt, oil, pollution and bacteria," says makeup artists Rea Ann Silva, founder of Beautyblender. "So just like washing your face or brushing your teeth every day, this will help keep your makeup tools in tiptop shape."


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