How to Clean Makeup Brushes

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The modern make up brush is a complicated thing. Brushes come in dozens of shapes and sizes, ranging from fluffy round natural bristled hulks for loose powder to the three synthetic hairs in a handle for lining lips. Each of these brushes has a different use, or range of uses. To the make-up experts, using a blush brush to apply eye shadow is a crime against nature. These brushes all carry one similarity: they are coated with germs. Each time that you swipe a brush against your skin, a few skin cells go back up onto the brush.

These cells are carried by the crèmes still on the bristles or are scraped up by the rougher bristles of brushes that hold powders. If you double dip your brushes, a fraction of those cells are deposited into your makeup. This is particularly intimidating with crème make-ups, with are little more than designer petri dishes. If you have reoccurring acne flair ups, and have exhausted your options for what could be causing them, look into that make-up box/drawer/shelf/closet. Each brush and pot of color is probably infected with the same tiny bugs that cause you to need concealer in the first place. Now is the time for action.

Cleaning Natural Bristled Brushes

Natural bristled brushes are more absorbent that their synthetic counter parts and there for require more special attention. Ideally, you will have purchased a brush cleaner at the local cosmetics counter or at any of hundreds of online providers. A five-minute soak in one of these will clean and disinfect some of the most frightening brush you could imagine. (Time will vary based of brand of cleaner and delicacy of brush). Afterward, use a clean dry towel to wipe off excess colors and reshape the bristles.

Dry brushes flat on a clean surface. Drying with the bristles up with cause water/cleanser to run into the ferrule of the brush and dissolve the adhesive. Drying bristles down will alter the shape of the bristles and can cause breakage. If you have natural bristled brushes and no brush cleaner, a 1-3 minute soak in rubbing alcohol will do the trick. Bigger, fluffier brushes will need to soak longer than delicate ones. Be careful when using alcohol on your brushes, because it can damage the adhesives holing them together.

Cleaning Synthetic Bristled Brushes

If your brushes are synthetic bristled, brush cleaners is still the recommended method. Soaking will still work, though swishing the bristles in a small amount of the cleanser can be effective, because synthetic are not as porous as natural bristles. If you are roughing it, without the cosmetic brush cleanser, cool water and anti-bacterial soap will work. Run the water over the brush, then gently work the soap into the bristles and rinse. Don't pull or squeeze the bristles, as this can cause the bristles to come apart. (You'll be more likely to listen once you get an eye shadow brush bristle under your contact lens!) Once again, always dry brushes flat to give them a longer life span. Whenever possible dry in natural sunlight with will prevent more bugs from taking root in the moist bristles.

Washing Sponge Applicators

Yes, those harmless little wands that come with your eye shadow need to be washed too. Soak them in soapy water then squeeze them out under running water until no more color comes out. Easy!

A Note on Lash Combs and Mascara Tubes

Clean you lash comb/eye brow brush as regularly as you clean the rest. The acne you are suffering from now is annoying and embarrassing, but an eye infecting can range from annoying (and contagious) to blinding. Literally. When you buy a new tube of mascara cut off the brush under the cap to keep you from using it. Double dipping your mascara can lead to, at the least, a fungus that makes your lashes thin and weak. At the worst you could go blind. Rare, but still true. Mascara applicators are available for purchase all over the inter net and at even the barest discount stores. If you still can't find one, go to a department store make-up counter and beg for a few of their disposable applicators. You can wash these and not worry about the germs getting in your eyes.

When to Wash Make-up Brushes

Every day would be best, especially if you are trying to get rid of pesky acne. The everyday rule is also a good idea if your little sister/roommate/mother borrow your make-up brushes. At the least wash them every week. Wash your mascara applicator every day. Yes, I mean that. Every single day.

Washing Your Make-up

You may remember that those spot-causing germs weren't just on your make up brushes, but were also in the make-up itself (thanks to your naughty double dipping habit). Powdered make-up isn't too much of a worry because the dry atmosphere isn't a big breeding ground for germs. A good thing to, since you can't clean powders without ruining them. Bottled make up is similarly impossible to clean, so please please don't double dip into a bottle.

If you use a brush to apply liquid foundation or blush, pout a small amount onto a yogurt lid or the back of your hand and use that as a palette. Sticks and pots of crème make-up can be sanitized. You should do this if you use your fingers to apply the color, double dip into the color with a dirty brush, or use the stick directly on your skin (like most people do with lipstick). Use a bit of tissue or a cotton ball dampened with alcohol to wipe the surface of the crème that was contaminated. Let it dry for thirty second before putting the lid back on.

A Word to the Wise

Does this sound like a lot of work? It isn't a big deal if you just buck up and do it, but there is an easier route. Apply your makeup with clean hands and those little one-time-use disposable sponge wedges and cotton balls. You can get the same lovely effects as with the brushes, without the work of all the sanitation. Just use it and toss it in the trash.

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