Tips for Cleaning Make-up Tools and Brushes

Your make up tools could be making you sick. Hard to believe? Yet the next time you get an eye infection or experience an acne break out, you might find that your make-up tools are the culprit. Without frequent cleaning, they quickly clog up with dirt, oils, make-up residue, skin cells and of course bacteria – in fact, they can harbour huge infestations of bacteria which you then smear all over your face and even into the sensitive areas around your eyes.

Make-up tools should be cleaned regularly – ideally every week and with some items, such as an eyelash curler, after every application. However, this does not mean that it has to turn into a major chore. Here are some handy tips for quick, simple ways to clean your make-up tools:

Step 1

Gently shake, tap or swirl your brushes and other applicators around to remove as much loose debris as possible. You may find that you need to use your fingers to gently part the hairs in a brush, to loosen any trapped dirt and dust and make-up residue.

Step 2

Gently rinse each tool under warm water, again using your fingers to part the hairs and bristles of the brushes to make sure that they are thoroughly rinsed by the water flow. You will see a lot of make-up and dirt come off just with plain water.

Step 3

For more embedded dirt and make-up residue, you may need to use a cleaning solution. This can just be household soap or a facial cleanser or mild shampoo – a few drops will be sufficient and should be mixed with water and gently worked with your fingers into a good lather. You will see more colour, dirt, oil and skin debris released from the brushes and tools.

If you have brushes made of synthetic hairs, this will be more than adequate. However, if you have brushes with natural hair or bristles, you may find that they are affected by the astringent properties of the shampoo or soap and will become dry and brittle over time. Therefore, for these, you may like to invest in a special make-up brush cleaner sold in pharmacies or at make-up counters. These will not only effectively clean any dirt and residue from the brushes, they will also contain a disinfect that can kill any bacteria remaining in the brushes. Finally, they will also contain a conditioning additive which will help to keep your brush bristles soft.

Step 4

Rinse your make-up brushes and applicators under the warm running water again, really working through the bristles to make sure that you have removed any trapped soap or cleaner and dirt. If you are rinsing a sponge pad or powder puff, squeeze it several times to make sure that you expel all the tainted water each time before absorbing the flow of fresh clean water.

Step 5

For brushes, fill up a cup with clean water and swish and bob your brushes in this, alternating with rinsing under running water.

Step 6

Keep rinsing all tools and applicators until the water runs out clean. If they are still tainted after a period, you may need to repeat the steps using the shampoo or make-up cleaner. And this means you should definitely clean your make-up tools more often!

Step 7

Shake the brushes and applicators thoroughly to remove as much excess moisture as possible. Gently wipe them on a clean cloth or paper towel – don’t grind or push them into paper towel. For the sponges, makes sure you squeeze them out as thoroughly as possible to expel as much water as you can and then press them gently against a paper towel to absorb some more.

Step 8

Place the clean implements in a place with good airflow – this is very important because if they don’t dry well, you will end up with mould and mildew and even more bacterial growth. You can even place them under a fan, if you like or by an open window with a breeze. You could even try a hair dryer on a cooler setting.

Step 9

For brushes, don’t forget to reshape them with your fingers and lie them down with the bristle end hanging off the edge of the counter or table, so that they will not dry misshapen. You will need to allow between 4 to 8 hours for brushes to dry thoroughly, depending on how thick and full they are and your environment.

Finally, don’t forget your make-up bag! Many women invest in beautiful, expensive make-up bags but never give any thought to how clean they are. Just like your make-up brushes and sponges and other applicators, the make-up bag should be emptied and cleaned regularly, using mild soap and water – and then thoroughly dried (inside out) before replacing the make-up tools inside them.

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