The Dirt On Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes

You already know we have no qualms about displaying our beauty products in all their glory. But nothing kills our aesthetic groove like when our artfully arranged brushes are visibly caked with remnants of makeup.
But, lest we forget, the less-than-elegant appearance of our dirty brushes should probably be the least of our worries — without proper cleansing, makeup brushes can become hotbeds of bacteria and in turn, instigate nasty breakouts. Cringe.
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It's enough to make us want to toss even our most tried-and-true tools altogether. But, before you ditch your favorites, consider treating 'em to some old-fashioned TLC: With proper cleaning, a great set of brushes can last you for a lifetime of flawless (bacteria-free) makeup applications.
From a daily spritz of cleanser to a full-on, deep-conditioning treatment, isn't it time you showed your hardworking, multitasking brushes a little affection? So, read on and think not what your brushes can do for you, but what you can do for your brushes.
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To Stop Build-Up Before It Starts

As annoying as day-to-day upkeep may be, even the ultra-low maintenance among us can handle a quick spritz of brush cleaner, no? Post-application, spray directly on bristles and then swipe across a tissue to remove foundation/powder/eye-makeup/you-name-it residue.

Health wise, this is your first line of defense against bacteria (and its unpleasant effects on your skin). Though this option is more of an in-betweener intended for daily maintenance as opposed to deep cleansing, the problem won't even have a chance to become one in the first place if you use a spray cleanser religiously. It'll save you time and skin-anguish in the long run.

Sephora Daily Brush Cleaner, $15, available at Sephora.
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Treat Your Brushes To A Bath

The ballots have been counted and the general consensus of makeup artists, enthusiasts, and dermatologists alike is that brushes should undergo a manual cleansing treatment at least once a week. Of course, factors like midday re-application and sheer volume of product used may mean your brushes are in need of extra attention, but for most, weekly cleaning is the (oft-ignored) beauty rule of thumb.

Avoid hand soaps and standard shampoos in favor of more mild options: Baby shampoo or a gentle clarifying shampoo should do the job without sucking the life out of your brushes. Start by rinsing brush heads under lukewarm water and follow with a small squirt of shampoo directly on the bristles. Gently lather before rinsing once again and repeat until the remnants of that green eyeshadow are no longer visible and the water runs clear.

Not to turn this into a "thing," but you're going to need to set aside a time to clean your brushes, when you won't be using them for a while — after washing, they'll need several hours to dry. Insider trick: Never dry your brushes with the heads upright, as water may settle into the glue that seals the bristles together, causing it to break down.

Johnson's Baby No More Tears Shampoo Original Formula, $3.99, available at Drugstore.com.
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When You Think You've Reached The Point Of No Return

Consider a deep cleaning as the equivalent of a spa day for your makeup brushes. Once a month or so, make a commitment to give your brushes a heavy-duty, no-holds-barred cleansing. For the most surefire way to eradicate any traces of bacteria, consider implementing this treatment more frequently, especially if you're prone to breakouts or classify your skin type as oily. Or if you've been slacking on the brush-cleaning front and need an intervention, stat (we won't tell).

For this, we're bringing out the big guns: Professional-grade brush shampoos are specifically formulated to banish germs, product build-up, and more. Follow the same procedure as you would with a gentle cleanser, and expect even more radical results (and softer brush heads post-wash) thanks to ingredients that not only clean, but condition bristles.

A brush-cleaning glove turns a deep cleanse into a truly luxurious experience. Its surface is specially textured to wash, rinse, refine, and reshape your brush. Don't forget to rinse the glove itself afterwards — you want to say goodbye to those germs for good.

Bare Escentuals BareMinerals Well Cared For Brush Conditioning Shampoo, $14, available at Nordstrom; Sigma Spa Brush Cleaning Glove, $35, available at Sigma.
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