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There are two types of makeup-wearers in this world: Those who regularly clean their brushes, and those who do not. In reality, we all know that we should fall into the former category, but it can be a hard habit to get into (hi, guilty).
What's scary is that this isn't just a bad habit—It can be deadly. Dirty makeup brushes can transmit staph, a potentially lethal bacterial infection. Sounds sensational? It’s true: One woman became paralyzed from sharing a makeup brush, and another contracted Cellulitis from an unwashed eyebrow brush.
“Cleaning your brushes regularly is extremely important for your face and for the lifespan of your brushes,” says celebrity makeup artist, Megan Lanoux. “Unwashed brushes collect bacteria that you are then putting in your products and on face."
The danger is real: Why risk your health when cleaning your brushes is super easy and fast? Below, you'll find how Lanoux cleans her brushes to increase their lifespan—and how you can keep yours clean and safe, too.
To wash them regularly, invest in a cleansing mat
At least once a week, run brushes under warm water and swirl on a textured surface with mild soap. Sure, you can use your hands to clean the brush, but a cleansing mat will do the job more quickly and effectively. “I like using this brush cleaning scrubber from Sigma ($32),” says Lanoux.
The specially designed silicone mat fits inside most sinks and has seven textures to wash any type of brush for a nice, deep clean. This inexpensive handheld version on Amazon has an average 4.3 star rating with over 1,000 reviews.
Continue to suds and rinse until water runs clear. Reshape bristles and lie brushes flat on a paper towel: If you prop them on end with the bristles up, water will seep down toward the handle and loosen the adhesive that keeps the brush held together. Once they're dry, fluff them up and you're good to go.
If you're pressed for time, use a special brush wash
Just because you're busy is no excuse to let those brushes collect grime. “If I am on the fly, I use Parian Spirit brush cleaner ($18),” says Lanoux. “It cleans them perfectly and leaves them smelling fantastic!” The citrus-scented formula dissolves everything from wax-based foundation to powder eyeshadow while also conditioning and disinfecting.
If you have time for a deep clean, use a combination method
When she has more time, Lanoux opts for soap, water, and her cleansing mat. “I use dish soap and Origins Clean Energy gentle cleansing oil ($31)," she says. "The soap deep-cleans and the oil gently strips off any makeup.”
Lastly, skip this brush spinning device that’s getting plenty attention on social media: It’s not gentle enough, says Lanoux. “It seems a little harsh. After a few uses, the [brush’s] bristles may start to fall out more frequently.” You're better off keeping it simple, and of course, keeping it clean.