By Iolee Anagnostopoulou

Ugh, it’s that time of the month again…No, not that one! I’m referring to my monthly makeup brush-washing session. You see, I find the process incredibly dull, and I’d gladly swap it with any other chore! Nevertheless, I still do it. Yes, I’m one of those–apparently few–people, who wash their brushes often, regardless of how tedious I find the process. 

It’s shocking how many women omit to clean their brushes or think that washing them once a year ‘should do’. These are tools you use to apply products on your face with – it should go without saying that they need to be cleaned and sterilized regularly. 

Particularly during the current pandemic, when increased hygiene is crucial. Anything that comes in contact with your skin—let alone your face—should be kept as germ-free as possible.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends washing your brushes every 7 to 10 days, depending on how often you use them. I recently extended this to once monthly, as I barely use makeup in lockdown! Here are three risks you’d be facing by skipping a regular brush-cleaning routine:

Skin issues

Every time you apply makeup, the bristles get caked in product, dead skin cells, oil and dirt from your epidermis—the final layer of skin between you and the world After you’ve used and stored it, these things settle into the bristles, along with germs naturally accumulating from the surrounding environment, creating a gooey buildup.

Dirty brushes produce a streaky and blotchy makeup look and are an excellent breeding ground for yucky bacteria, which can cause breakouts and aggravate skin conditions, such as acne

What’s more, the buildup ruins the brush’s original softness and flexibility, making it dry, rough and harsh on your skin, leading to redness, irritation and increased sensitivity. Such scouring can permanently roughen your skin’s texture and damage its natural protective coating, decreasing its brightness and making it look drab. 

Overall health risks

Did you know that the accumulated dirt and bacteria on unwashed brushes increase the risk of catching a fungal or viral infection, such as conjunctivitis or herpes? Especially if you share them with your BFFs—which is a big no-no

Nasty bacterial infections can grow and lurk in dark and moist environments, like the applicator of your liquid lipstick and your mascara’s spoolie brush—yes, those need washing too! 

The dangerous bacteria multiplying on them can trigger the development of diseases and bacterial infections, which could spread to the delicate skin areas around your lips and eyes.  

Decreased brush lifespan

Top-end brushes cost approximately $40-$50 USD apiece. With such a considerable investment, get the most out of them by cleaning your brushes regularly with a cleaning solution ensures that their quality is maintained and that makeup residue doesn’t irreversibly ruin them. 

The longer you let them sit around dirty, the harder they become to clean and quickly become unusable.  Furthermore, dipping a dirty brush into your favourite powder or eyeshadow will contaminate it and cause it to break down more quickly—another loss! 

Washing your brushes

I know I said brush-washing is daunting, but it’s actually straightforward if you follow these easy steps:

  1. Purchase a good scrubbing mat and washing soap, designed for brushes. DIY options include mild baby shampoo or gentle face cleanser—avoid harsh detergents.
  2. Place the mat in the sink and pour some washing solution in a small bowl.
    DON’T soak your brushes in the sink, as the water will loosen the glue at their base and eventually warp the wood.
  3. Rinse the bristles with water – always lukewarm – and work them into the soap. 
  4. Gently move the bristles in all directions on the mat, spreading the soap evenly and removing all stubborn buildup. 
  5. Rinse under running water, gently pushing out the soap and water with your fingers. 
  6. Reshape the brush with your fingers and let dry in a clean area pointing downwards, to avoid water from dripping on the glue at the base or use a rack.  
  7. Once they’ve completely dried, loosen the shape by gently running the bristles on your palm and – tadaaa! As good as new! 

See? It wasn’t so bad!  

Regularly washing your makeup brushes contributes to a healthy skin care routine and good personal hygiene. It increases their longevity, enhances makeup application and makes you less likely to experience skin irritation, clogged pores or random zits. Yes, it’s still a hassle—but once you become mindful of it, it’s a matter of habit really.  

So, roll up your sleeves, get that makeup bag, play your Spotify playlist in the background to inject some enthusiasm and have a happy brush-washing session!