This is How Often You Should Clean Your Makeup Brushes, According to an Expert

Plus a 5 Step Guide for Cleaning Makeup Brushes

Corrie D.
ByCorrie D.

How often should you be cleaning your makeup brushes and beauty tools? You may not realise it, but your makeup brushes are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and other microorganisms. Dirty beauty tools can cause acne, skin infections, irritation, and contaminate your products. Product build-up also weakens the brushes ability to blend, which can cause irritation and redness, as well as prevent a smooth application and flawless finish. Cleaning your makeup brushes regularly will also increase their longevity. Cleaning is essential to maintain brush quality, as product build-up weakens fibres, eventually causing them to break. 

The beauty experts at RY, spoke with doctor and skincare expert Dr Deborah Lee on how often we should be cleaning and replacing our makeup brushes and sponges. Keep reading to see this expert's advice.

Photo of Makeup Brushes by Tatiana G.

Photo by Tatiana G.

How often should we be cleaning our beauty tools? 

Makeup brushes used with dry powders should be washed 1-2 times per week and daily if used with a liquid foundation. Makeup sponges should also be washed every day and replaced every 3-6 months.

Dr Lee says: “Makeup brushes are cited as a possible reservoir of infection for the dangerous, contagious, superbug - methicillin-resistant staphylococcus (MRSA). This bacterium is a cause of a wide range of skin conditions, as well as systemic illnesses. It can result in erysipelas, cellulitis, impetigo, folliculitis and skin carbuncles. 
If you don't wash your makeup brushes, they gradually get clogged up with dead skin cells, dried clumps of makeup, dirt and grime. This makes applying foundation smoothly impossible. You end up trying to plaster it on more thickly, which is expensive and nonsensical. Stiff bristles can cause tiny micro-abrasions in the skin, allowing bacteria to get into the deeper layers of the skin. Trauma to the skin increases inflammation with increased levels of oxidative stress. This is harmful to good skin health. There are reports of an increase in conjunctivitis and blepharitis associated with the use of dirty mascara brushes."

If you look after your beauty tools properly (washing and drying them effectively), they can last years. When the bristles start to fall out, it’s time to replace them. Dr Lee advises always purchasing good quality brushes. "These should feel soft in the palm of your hand, not dry and bristly. Check you can’t see any bristles falling out of them, as this indicates low quality. Natural bristles are superior; they tend to hold the colour pigments better than synthetic ones. However, these are derived from animal sources, which, depending on how they are produced, may not be popular with animal lovers. If you want a good makeup finish, the quality of your makeup brushes is essential."

Photo of makeup brushes by Kelli B.

Photo by Kelli B.

5 Step Guide on How to Clean Makeup Brushes

Step 1: Choose your favourite makeup cleanser

Step 2: Run the tip of the brush under the tap to wet it, using lukewarm water. Take care not to let the handle end of the brush where the bristles attach get wet, as this will damage the glue and encourage the bristles to drop out. Focus on cleaning the tip of the brush.

Step 3: Add some cleanser to the brush and swirl this around, pressing the bristles into your palm with a circular motion and getting a good lather. You can use a brush cleaning mat for this if you prefer. Then wash the bristles again under the tap to get rid of all the suds and grime.

Step 4: Squeeze the bristles downwards, between your finger and thumb, to get rid of the excess water. 

Step 5: Lay the damp brush on a towel to dry overnight.

Photo of makeup Brushes by Kelly C.

Photo by Kelly C. 

Looking for a new cleaner? Check out some of these options rated highly by our Influenster members: 


Show us which beauty tools you're working with by adding a photo to the #MyVanity Gallery. And be sure to review which brushes, sponges, and cleaners your friends should pick up – and which ones they should leave behind. 

About the Author
Corrie D.
Corrie D.
Former Influenster. You can see my reviews and product insights on my OG Influenster account: @corriedavidson. Follow me on Instagram @CorrieReviews, YouTube @CorrieDavidson, tiktok @CorrieDavidson.