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How to clean your makeup brushes to avoid unnecessary breakouts

We’re all friends here so let’s be honest. How often do you really clean your makeup brushes? Once a week? Once a month? Once in a blue moon? And even more importantly, do you actually know how to clean your makeup brushes?

Why is it so important to clean your makeup brushes?


While there are some jobs that can wait (tidying your wardrobe, decluttering your kitchen drawer) there’s a good case for making cleaning your makeup brushes a priority.


Unwashed brushes put under a microscope have been shown to harbour a variety of different bacteria, and even mites. It’s no surprise then that buffing a brush that’s skipped wash day onto your skin can lead to unwanted skin complaints like clogged pores and breakouts. At worst, and in cases where a dirty tool touches an open wound (like a freshly-picked spot), it can even cause infections.


Why are our makeup brushes brimming with bacteria, you might ask. It’s down to a combination of factors. First up, texture. Creamy, liquid makeup by its very nature contains water, creating a welcoming environment for bacteria to thrive in. And of course, it isn’t just makeup that our brushes are coming into contact with. As we blend brushes across our skin they're mopping up a cocktail of natural oils, sebum and dead skin cells. If you’re topping up your makeup during the day, there’s likely to be additional grime and invisible pollution particles in the mix too.


Don’t forget your makeup bag too


Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t end with our brushes. In fact, it’s only really the beginning. Applying makeup on the go is the norm, which means many of us can be found resting our makeup bags on public surfaces, like train seats and bathroom counters. Even if we’re not doing that, we’re still throwing our makeup bags into a potentially less-than-pristine handbag amongside cash, crumbs and the like. The solution? At least once a month, empty your makeup bag completely and give both the inside and out a thorough clean with antibacterial wipes.


How to clean your makeup brushes


We’ve covered the why, so now onto how to clean makeup brushes. Follow these handy guides to say godbye to clogged, grubby brushes and hello to fresh, fluffy ones.


Option 1: On the go


Don't have time for a proper clean? As a bare minimum, wiping your makeup brushes with a clean tissue after use will help to soak up any residue.


Option 2: Quick fix


When you're on the move or running water isn't an option, spray brush cleaner onto the bristles of your brush. Then, swirl onto a clean piece of tissue or a muslin cloth until the colour starts to ebb away.


Option 3: Deep Clean


Step 1

Dampen the bristles of your brush with warm water before working in a cleanser to loosen the product. The type of cleanser you use is down to personal preference, and could be either a bar of soap or a mild shampoo.


Step 2

Keep working the product into the brush and rinsing until the water starts to run clear. Remember to angle your brushes downwards under the tap, making sure it's only the bristles you're getting wet.


Step 3

Gently pat your brush onto a clean towel and leave flat to dry.