According to dermatologists from the American Academy of Dermatology, dirty makeup brushes can wreak havoc on the skin. In addition to collecting product residue, dirt, and oil, makeup brushes are a breeding ground for bacteria. This could compromise your complexion—in the form of acne breakouts and rashes—as well as your health, they say.
“Dirty makeup brushes can irritate your skin and cause an infection, such as fungal infections, E. coli, or a staph infection—the latter of which can be very serious,” says board-certified dermatologist Annie Chiu, MD, FAAD, who maintains a private practice in Redondo Beach, California. “To protect your skin and kill any harmful bacteria that lingers in your makeup brushes, it’s a good idea to wash your brushes every 7 to 10 days.”
To clean your makeup brushes, Dr. Chiu recommends the following tips:
1. Rinse the tips of your brushes under lukewarm, running water to remove residual makeup. Only rinse the tip, as submerging the whole brush head will eventually dissolve the glue that connects the brush head to the handle.
2. Fill a bowl with lukewarm water and a tablespoon of either gentle shampoo or clarifying shampoo. Using plain soap and water can dry out the bristles.
3. Swirl each brush tip in the bowl. For a good lather, you can also massage each brush tip in the palm of your hand.
4. Rinse the brush tips under running water.
5. Continue shampooing and rinsing each brush until the water runs clear from the brush.
6. Squeeze out excess moisture with a clean, dry paper towel.
7. Lay your brushes flat to dry on a towel with the tips hanging off the edge of the counter. Do not dry your brushes upright in a container, as this will cause the water to run down the brushes, loosening the glue that connects the brush head with the handle.
“At a time when skin infections are on the rise, never share your makeup brushes with anyone else and wash them often,” says Dr. Chiu. “If you suspect that your makeup is causing acne breakouts or other skin irritation, make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.”
These tips are demonstrated in “How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes,” a video posted to the AAD website and YouTube channel. This video is part of the AAD’s “Video of the Month” series, which offers tips people can use to properly care for their skin, hair, and nails. A new video in the series posts to the AAD website and YouTube channel each month.
About the AAD
Headquartered in Rosemont, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology, founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 19,000 physicians worldwide, the AAD is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the AAD at (888) 462-DERM (3376) or aad.org. Follow the AAD on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology), Twitter (@AADskin), Instagram (@AADskin1), or YouTube (AcademyofDermatology).