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Reader, when was the last time you washed your makeup brushes? Was it last week? Was it when you used blue eyeshadow last Halloween? Or does this question spark a follow-up along the lines of "... you're supposed to clean those?" (don't worry, we've all been there).
Regardless of your answer, let's face it: If you're reading this article, you probably need to wash your makeup apparatus, stat, and fortunately, we're here to help.
From how often you need to scrub your concealer brush to which cleansers will leave your brushes feeling soft *and* sparkling clean, here's everything you need to know about washing your beauty tools.
- Do I *Actually* Need to Wash My Brushes?
- How Often Should I Wash My Beauty Tools?
- How Do I Wash My Makeup Brushes?
Do I *Actually* Need to Wash My Brushes?
According to dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo, the answer is a resounding yes — unless you want fungus and bacteria blended into your smokey eye.
"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," Ciraldo told Allure earlier this year. "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."
Aside from the "ick" factor, the microorganisms hiding between the bristles of your blending brush can negatively impact your skin, posing a risk of infections and even serving as a sneaky catalyst for acne.
"At least a few times a year I'm able to track down a new breakout to a patient's old makeup," Ciraldo revealed, noting that even then, "there is always the question of how much the makeup brush may have had to do with the problem."
How Often Should I Wash My Beauty Tools?
The answer to this bold inquiry is a bit more complicated than meets the eye. Although the American Academy of Dermatology Association states that makeup brushes should be cleaned every seven to ten days, individual experts have differing takes on the topic.
To dermatologist Geeta Yadav, the question of how often you should wash your makeup brushes boils down to idealism versus reality.
"Ideally, you'd wash all your makeup tools every single day, but I know this is unrealistic," Yadav told Cosmopolitan. Instead, Yadav suggested striking a happy medium, incorporating cleansing your makeup tools into your end-of-week routine. "Make it a Sunday-night activity so that you can start your week off fresh," she proposed.
Meanwhile, Ciraldo had a slightly more lax approach when it comes to cleaning beauty tools. "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," she explained.
In summary? While you could theoretically go 10-ish days between cleanings, the more often you suds up your brushes, the better.
How Do I Wash My Makeup Brushes?
Now that you've penciled in a date with your beauty tools every Sunday evening, how does one actually go about properly cleaning them?
After removing any loose makeup by running your brushes under running, water, fill a bowl with water and some type of cleanser.
Though the American Academy of Dermatology Association suggests using a gentle or clarifying shampoo, many makeup artists seemingly prefer facial cleansers or specific brush cleaners.
To Kim Kardashian's makeup artist, Mario Dedivanovic, Philosophy's Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser is a must-have when it comes to cleansing brushes. "It does a great job at cleaning the makeup brushes, too," he explained back in 2018 via an Instagram post detailing why he loves the product. "I do use it to clean my makeup brushes now and then."
To New York-based makeup artist Tommy, Sigma's Sigma's Sigmagic Brushampoo is a must-have for cleaning particularly dirty brushes. "This soap is great because it has a really simple ingredient list, and it works on all brushes — both natural and synthetic ones," he told Allure.
Once you've selected your cleanser and added it to the bowl of water, circle the fluffy part of the brush alongside the bottom of the bowl. While a regular bowl works just fine, placing a silicone texture mat at the bottom can help achieve a deeper clean. Rinse with water. Repeat these steps until the water from the brush runs clear.
Once your brush collection looks good as new, squeeze out the extra liquid from the brushes before laying them flat on a paper towel to dry.
Philosophy's Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser retails for $13 at ulta.com.
Sigma's Sigma's Sigmagic Brushampoo retails for $19 at sigma.com.
J.Cat Beauty's Silicone Pad Brush Cleaner retails for $6.99 at ulta.com.