Be honest: when was the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes? Last week? Last month? Can't remember? If it has been that long, you are playing a dangerous game with your skin. The good news is that cleaning your beauty tools is an easy process that requires a few steps. You just need to remember the basics and do them consistently. Take proper care of your skin, and it can help you live your best life.


Why Clean Makeup Brushes

Sebum is the natural oil made by the skin's sebaceous glands. Mixed with makeup, the combination clogs your pores, providing a breeding ground for bacteria. While this is s recipe for acne, it also means spreading more serious infections, such as cellulitis or even MRSA, which can become health hazards. Cleaning makeup brushes and other tools regularly is good for your skin and overall health.

Clean-makeup-brushes clogged-pores bacteria stock_colors / Getty Images

Natural vs. Synthetic

Natural brushes are reserved for dry makeup applications and are best cleaned with lukewarm water and gentle soap once a week. Synthetic brushes are typically used for wet makeup, such as cream blushes or lip liners. They need to be washed every other day because that wetness is a breeding place for bacteria. To clean, use an alcohol-based brush cleaner, because it breaks down the wax and grease build-up. While you can keep natural makeup brushes for years, you need to replace synthetic brushes every quarter or sooner.

Natural-brush Synthetic-brush cclickclick / Getty Images

Loosen Residue

The first thing is to run each brush tip under lukewarm water. Makeup and sebum can make brush tips pasty. Running it under the lukewarm water loosens the build-up. Make sure you're wetting just the tip of your brush, below the ferrule, and not the whole brush. Running the whole brush under warm water tends to loosen the connective glue, making the bristle head shaky. Additionally, water can get inside the brush, leading to mildew and mold.

Residue bristles brush-tip Dmytro Pokulityi / Getty Images

Wash and Swirl

Remember, regular soap and detergent dry out the bristles. Use your favorite moisturizing, antibacterial hand soap, or a gentle shampoo in a bowl of lukewarm water. Swish each brush's tip in the soapy solution until it lathers. Rinse until the water runs clear. It is a good idea to do these one at a time, so you can make sure each is properly cleaned. When done, squeeze the excess water from the tips, lay them on the towel, making sure the tips are hanging over the edge of the table. This one trick helps brushes keep their shape.

Antibacterial-soap gentle-shampoo Anetlanda / Getty Images

Moisturizing Brushes

Keeping natural brushes conditioned and soft can be done in a couple of ways. The easiest is by using hair conditioner. After cleaning it, you administer conditioner, much like you would your own hair: condition, rinse and let it dry. Another way is to combine extra virgin olive oil with your cleansing soap. After you rub the brush in the mixture, swirl it against your hand and then rinse under lukewarm water, until there is no more lather.

Hair-conditioner olive-oil Dmytro Pokulityi / Getty Images

Tossing Brushes

There are people who have had their makeup brushes for years. Some treat them better than family. After a certain point, they need to be replaced. Telltale signs include shedding or discoloration of bristles or a shaky bristle head. If they smell musty after cleaning, that is a sure signal that they need to be replaced. To maximize the life of your brushes, make sure you clean and moisturize regularly. But, if they look too rough to pass for workable, then, regardless of how much it stings your budget, replace them.

Shedding-bristles old-brushes Jarek Fethke / Getty Images

Cleaning Tweezers

Tweezers are important to clean because they come in contact with various body fluids. If you share tweezers, you need to ensure they are cleaned after each use. Start with some soap and water for that initial clean. Grab a cotton swab dipped in hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol, clean the tips, then leave it to dry on a towel.

Cleaning-tweezers hydrogen-peroxide PeopleImages / Getty Images

Eyelash Curler

To clean your eyelash curler, use a cotton ball dipped in baby oil to clean off the metal bar and rubber pad. Wipe off any oil and makeup residue with a cloth that was dipped in soapy water. Make sure you wring out excess liquid from the cloth, so it is damp, not dripping. Finally, rinse off the top part under the faucet, ensuring the water does not get on the metal joints. Pat it dry and check if there is any residue remaining. If there is, clean it again.

Eyelash-curler baby-oil ultramarinfoto / Getty Images

Makeup Bags and Cases

Your makeup bags and cases provide cross-contamination opportunities, and having clean brushes inside a dirty case makes no sense. One thing you can do is to use a food-safe antibacterial spray for bags made of polyester or plastic. You can even use the same spray to wipe brush handles, which are also sources of oil and bacteria. If your makeup bag is cloth, throw it in the washing machine and use the hot cycle to kill germs.

Makeup-bag makeup-case Amax Photo / Getty Images

Cleaning Palettes

Cleaning and disinfecting color palettes is quick and easy. First, soak it in warm, soapy water. This softens dried-on makeup and residue. Then, use a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to disinfect the palette. This naturally sanitizes and gets rid of any lingering residue. While you're doing that, use an isopropyl-soaked swab to wipe down your sharpeners. Run the swab over and between the blades, as well as inside the holes.

Color-palettes isopropyl-alcohol eriyalim / Getty Images


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