Pop quiz: Would you ever put something covered in staph and bacteria on your face? Answer: You probably already are.
Despite all the warnings to wash your makeup brushes on the regular, we’re willing to bet it’s been quite a while since those babies have had a bath (after all, who has the time?). But while you’re slacking on your cleaning routine, those brushes are gathering dust, dirt, and bacteria—which, until you wash off, you’re putting directly onto your face. Ew.
Your bristles can get bombarded with any bacteria that has come into contact with your skin or contaminated your makeup (yet another reason not to lend your mascara to your bestie), but the most common germs are Staphylococcus and Streptococcus—the bad boys of the bacterial world responsible for staph infections and strep throat, says Sejal Shah, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
And all that nastiness that’s collected on your makeup brushes can do a number on your complexion. “You can actually have a host of issues from dirty brushes,” says Shah. “Acne, skin irritation, rashes, bacterial skin infections, and eye infections just to name a few. I’ve even seen fungal infections and herpes.” Yikes.
So how to avoid this from happening to you? “I recommend cleaning brushes once a week, sometimes more or less depending on how much use the brushes are getting, what they are being used for, and the person’s skin type,” says Sejal Shah. Those of you with super-oily or acne-prone faces may want to wash more often. If your brush is no longer soft or has gunky build-up, it’s wayyyy past due.
There’s a wide array of brush cleansers and conditioners to choose from, but baby soap works just as well (and is inexpensive). And in between weekly cleanings, Shah recommends spritzing on a quick-dry daily brush cleanser—like Make Up Forever Instant Brush Cleaner ($12,sephora.com)—to keep things fresh before you apply your makeup.