10 Terrifying Things Dirty Makeup Brushes Do To Your Face

dirty brushes

You (hopefully) wash your face every day. But if you’re faithfully cleansing and moisturizing only to follow up with a sticky, dusty powder brush, you’re painting a week’s worth of dirt and grime right back on your face. Don’t sabotage yourself and wash those germ sticks regularly to avoid problems like persistent irritation and sparse eyelashes.

How often is regularly? Depends on where you store your brushes and what kind of products you use. If the bristles of your brush are stuck together with old product, it’s been too long. Use liquid foundation and keep your brushes on the vanity where they get blasted with hairspray? Wash those suckers twice a week. Monthly is the absolute outer limit if you wear makeup daily.

I keep a rotation of three stippling brushes for liquid foundation, and wash all eye, cheek, and face brushes every week or two. If you’re lazy, find an inexpensive brush you love (shout out BH Cosmetics) and buy doubles so you can stretch time between washings.

BH Cosmetics

You should totally take my word that a quick clean is so, so worth it, but here are 10 better reasons.

1. Dirty Brushes Break You Out

If you skip the rest of the article, hear this: dirty makeup brushes are giving you acne. If you think foundation is ruining your skin, it could be your routine and not the product itself. Wipe off the lid after each use and clean those brushes. Even if your skin is “clean,” your brushes are still collecting oil, dust, dead skin, and fallout from greasy hair products you spray around your mirror. Do not save it up in your brushes unless you enjoy wiping a concentrated mess of filth all over your T-zone.

2. Dirty Brushes = Terrible Color Payoff

To get naturally blended eye shadow or dramatic looks like a cut crease, you need a precise application that you cannot get with a dirty brush. Keep eye shadow brushes clean and dry so you know exactly what colors you’re putting on your face.

3. Dirty Brushes are a Circle Jerk for Germs

Let’s say you don’t wash your brush, allowing it to accumulate bacteria, dust, and dirt. Then, you swirl it in your expensive face powder or gel eyeliner, transferring all that grime into your beloved products. Gels and creams are wet environments where germs can multiply, just waiting for you to feed them again with a dirty brush. It’s like swapping an infection back and forth with your partner. Products that should last six months or a year can go off and spoil, and the circle of acne continues.

4. Dirty Brushes Cause Skin Irritation

Bristles that are caked with dust and product can dry out and become brittle, making them more abrasive to your skin. Cleaning your brushes regularly keeps natural and synthetic fibers soft and supple. It’s your face, people. You want a cloud, not a Brillo pad.

5. Dirty Brushes Give You Poo Face

Are you a freak like me that dunks her toothbrush in rubbing alcohol every three weeks? YOU SHOULD BE. Toilets spew a fine mist of whatever’s inside every time you flush. Let that sink in. Aim to keep your brushes (tooth and face) at least 6 feet from the throne, sanitize regularly, and keep your pooper lid closed.

6. Dirty Brushes Could Rip Out Your Eyelashes

Curling your eyelashes is an inherently dangerous activity (and this is coming from someone that at one point separated any clumped lashes with straight pins). Don’t make it worse with a gross eyelash curler. Product build-up on your curler can stick to hair, pulling out a few or all of your precious lashes. Plus, you know, pink eye. If you can’t be bothered to replace the pads, at least give the curler a wipedown with an alcohol-soaked Q-tip to remove any visible grime.

7. Dirty Brushes Give You Herpes and Pinkeye

Herpes loves a moist environment. And the whole point of lipgloss is to be wet and wild forever and ever amen. Share your Netflix password, share your curling iron, but Do NOT share your lip or eye brushes, especially if you live somewhere like a college dorm where pinkeye is living on every surface.

8. Dirty Brushes Ruin Your Investment

Cleaning your brushes keeps them in good shape and prolongs their life. Decent brushes often cost as much or more than cosmetics, so it’s worth the ten minutes you’ll spend cleaning them to keep them looking nice for years.

9. Dirty Brushes Cause Mystery Breakouts and Allergies

You may think you have sensitive skin, when all your skin really objects to is being attacked with leftover cat hair lurking in your makeup brush. Keep them clean, and you’ll know if you’re really allergic to your foundation, synthetic bristles, or that new cleanser you tried.

10. Dirty Brushes are Just the Gateway Drug

Don’t use makeup brushes? Dipping your fingers into pots of moisturizer is just as bad. Make sure your hands are clean before applying anything that doesn’t come in a tube. If you’re feeling OCD fancy, fill a tiny spritzer bottle with rubbing alcohol and mist your lipstick bullets (the actual color, not just the tube). Seriously, your lipstick is probably covered in food particles and sneeze germs. You can also mist a tissue with alcohol and wipe off the surface of bronzers, blush, and frequently used shadows. Wash everything, basically.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a quick and dirty lesson on how to clean your filthy, filthy face brushes.

You can reach this post's author, Mandie Williams, on twitter.
Share This Post:
    • aly

      my OCD brain is shrieking. i am going to sanitize my entire vanity when i get home… and i will be back tomorrow to learn how to clean my brushes. everyone who wears makeup needs to know this!!!!

    • Ivy

      Aack, I am ready to clean my brushes. I am ready for tomorrow to learn how!

    • LynnKell

      I knew some of the stuff above and I keep procrastinating cleaning my brushes… that makes a great new year’s (ja) resolution.