Skin Health

How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Dirty makeup brushes are more than just yucky.

They accumulate product residue, dirt and oil and are a breeding ground for bacteria, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. And grime can lead to acne breakouts and rashes, and can even affect your health.

“Dirty makeup brushes can irritate your skin and cause an infection, such as fungal infections, E. coli, or a staph infection—the latter of which can be very serious,” says board-certified dermatologist Annie Chiu, MD, FAAD, who practices in Redondo Beach, California. “To protect your skin and kill any harmful bacteria that lingers in your makeup brushes, it’s a good idea to wash your brushes every 7 to 10 days.”

To clean your makeup brushes, Dr. Chiu recommends the you do the following:

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

clean makeup brushes with pink powder

Fill a bowl with lukewarm water and a tablespoon of either gentle shampoo or clarifying shampoo.  Using plain soap and water can dry out the bristles.

Never share your makeup brushes with anybody else – and wash them often.

Swirl each brush tip in the bowl. For a good lather, you can also massage each brush tip in the palm of your hand.

Rinse the brush tips under running water.

Continue shampooing and rinsing each brush until the water runs clear from the brush.

Squeeze out excess moisture with a clean, dry paper towel.

Lay your brushes flat to dry on a towel with the tips hanging off the edge of the counter. Do not dry your brushes upright in a container, as this will cause the water to run down the brushes, loosening the glue that connects the brush head with the handle.

“At a time when skin infections are on the rise, never share your makeup brushes with anyone else and wash them often,” Chiu said. “If you suspect that your makeup is causing acne breakouts or other skin irritations, make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.”


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