Makeup junkies, the-world-over, straddle between two extremities: those that religiously set Sunday aside to clean their brushes. And those who… err, don’t. What’s least surprising is that the diligent kind are far and few. The rest happily seem to live in denial. Honestly speaking, unclean makeup brushes are the hotbeds of gunk and bacteria. So much so that they’re giving your toilet seat covers, door knobs, escalator railings tough competition. And despite the awareness, we’re carelessly painting our faces with these filthy dust and germ collectors.
According to a survey taken by Business Wire, 22 per cent of women admitted to never cleaning their brushes, 39 per cent clean them less than once a month and a staggering 65 per cent only clean their brushes to avoid bacteria, breakouts and blemishes. This isn’t even the appalling bit. The dirtier truth is that 31 per cent of our millennials don’t even know how to clean their brushes…despite the wide selection of cleansing tools and products available in the market today to spoil them rotten.
Just as in life, with our makeup too, avoiding the problem further intensifies it. With each swipe of your makeup brush, dirt and debris settle onto your skin’s surface and seep back into your pores. Which invariably clogs and congests them. Weeks (or months) old makeup can lurk in your brushes’ bristles, causing a buildup of gunk and grime. Without a clear pathway to the surface, your skin’s natural oils get backed up, causing a dull, dry complexion. Most definitely leading to breakouts and acne as well. Besides, they also expose your skin to oxidative stress from free radicals which cause the breakdown of collagen and elastin, thus resulting in premature ageing. So, the next time you put the blame on your hormones, weather or even pollution – give yourself a serious rethink.
Take this lightly, and you could say hello to the pink eye AKA conjunctivitis. Your eyes are the most susceptible to infection. It’s why your eye brushes ought to be washed at a quicker frequency than any other. Uhm, even the unassuming eyelash curler has the power to yank out your lashes. How, you may ask? Picture this: You’re running late, and the finishing touch to your look is curling your lashes. By now, your curler is full of greasy, sticky mascara (all hail your laziness and negligence) and it’s pulled at your lashes and pulled them out. Not the finishing touch you anticipated, right? On the other hand, watch out for vulnerable, unarmed situations as well. Moments when we veer towards our friends for help. It’s these moments when you ought to remind yourself that sharing or borrowing your tools with a friend is akin to sharing or borrowing your germs with that friend. And if there’s allergies involved – there’s your fickle finger of fate.
Case in point an Australian mother, Jo Gilchrist, who learnt it the hard way in 2015. She reportedly shared her brushes with a friend, and that was that. Next thing she knew was that she’d contracted Cellulitis Staph infection, leaving her paralyzed in the legs and arms. Little did she know then that her friend was already suffering from staph infection. Lesson to learn: aside from accumulating skin cells, dirt, oil, pollution, brushes are the breeding grounds for bacteria. And that they multiply in wet environment. The likes of staphylococcus, streptococcus, E. coli, fungus and other viruses are rife. Dig deeper, and you’ll realize how rampant these infections are. Herpes is another big infection to steer clear of.
And if you’re under the impression that your job ends at just sweeping it clean, you’re mistaken. How and where you store them is imperative too. Like the bathroom is ought to be off-limits. Throwing your damp brush in a drawer creates the perfect ambiance for microbials to grow because it’s dark and warm. Your medicine cabinet, however, gets the nod.
And to think of it even on a lighter note, it seriously tampers with application. Our bristles stick to each other, harden overtime, get brittle, and finally fall off. Not just does it pinch the pocket, but also lends itself to a dodgy, less flawless finish. You trash it. Look for an alternative and the saga continues. No points for guessing the obvious solution here. Sanitize your brushes to make them last longer. Although if you ask influencer Stevie Miller, she’ll add yet another prerequisite. That is, to buy all your beauty products from an authorized vendor only. In 2015, her video went viral. The one where she found four bugs (with wings et al) sneakily residing inside her beauty blender. Four. Tiny. Bugs. In. Her Beauty. Blender. To validate her plight, she took us through the discovery. By slowly and scarily, tweezing and snipping through her brand-new buy.
The clincher? What if this were to happen to us? Odds are that unlike Stevie, we’d probably co-exist with these parasites, and wouldn’t even know it. Just the thought gives us the chills! So rare case scenario or not, it’s advisable to stay cautious, always stay clean and stay conscientious. And perhaps it’s time to brush over your monthly responsibilities, all over again?
Don’t fret just yet! Read on to know how to clean makeup brushes like a pro.
Seven steps to keep your fuzzy brushes squeaky clean:
- Clean your brushes once a month, at the least.
- Wet the bristles with lukewarm water.
- Place a drop of makeup brush cleanser, any mild shampoo or hand wash into the palm of your hand.
- Gently massage the tips of the bristles in your palm.
- Rinse the bristles. Continue until water becomes clear.
- Squeeze out the excess moisture with a clean towel.
- Dry the brush with its bristles hanging off the edge of a counter, allowing it to dry in the correct shape. Never let your brushes dry on a towel — the bristles can become mildewed. Rub it against a paper towel instead.
Things to consider when washing makeup brushes:
- While washing your brush, keep its base away from water. Since the bristles are glued to the base, the water and detergent can cause the glue to disintegrate, loosen up and eventually shed.
- Don’t hold your brushes up or dry it vertically. Water can percolate into the ferrule (the piece that joins the bristles to the wand), loosen the glue thus leading to bristle loss.