Think Makeup Makes You Break Out? It Might Be Dirty Brushes

Keeping your brushes clean and new can prevent bacteria growth

Think Makeup Makes You Break Out? It Might Be Dirty Brushes

You may practice the most scrupulous face-washing habits, cleaning carefully every morning and always being sure to remove your makeup at night. But if you aren’t washing your makeup brushes regularly too, you might be undermining all that good work.

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Every time you touch an unwashed brush to your face, you’re not just applying makeup. You’re also applying dirt, oil and old makeup. And if you store your brushes in a cup on your bathroom counter, they also can acquire hairspray, perfume, dust, sneezes and other stuff floating around in your bathroom’s air.

Many people think that foundation or makeup cause their skin to break out. But bacteria-filled brushes can just as easily be the culprit.

RELATED: Is Eyeliner Bad for Your Eyes? Keep Makeup from Harming Your Health

When to wash

Keeping your makeup tools clean can go a long way toward keeping harmful bacteria from getting on your face, dermatologist Melissa Piliang, MD, says.

How often you should wash your brushes depends on what you’re using, Dr. Piliang says.

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“You will want to wash more often brushes that are used for wet products or products with a lot of liquid like concealer and makeup – say once a week,” Dr. Piliang says. “That will clean the product off and let the brush do its function better.”

“Any products that you use around your eyes should be washed every two weeks, even if it’s a dry product like eye shadow, because the eyes are more prone to infection,” Dr. Piliang says.

Other brushes used for dry cosmetics — like powder — that you don’t use around your eyes can be washed once a month, Dr. Piliang says.

If you use sponges to apply liquid makeup, pay special attention to keeping them clean, Dr. Piliang says. The sponge absorbs the makeup and the moisture potentially can lead to bacteria and yeast overgrowth.

“Most makeup products are formulated with that keep that from happening. But if you let the makeup build up over time and it sits there for months and months, you could develop a bacterial infection if you’ve have a cut in your skin,” Dr. Piliang says.

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RELATED: The Surprising Places You’ll Find Germs – and How to Avoid Them

How to wash

Dr. Piliang recommends using a mild soap — like dish soap or even shampoo — to wash your makeup tools and utensils.

Clean them gently with soap in warm water and let them sit on a towel to dry for a day or overnight.

Sometimes it might be best just to throw out your makeup sponges, brushes or applicators and buy new ones. When the tips of the brushes look frayed or worn, or when the brush has lost its shape, they won’t function as well as they should anyways.

If you develop a very red eye, eye drainage or any eye pain after applying makeup, it’s time to call your doctor.

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