Makeup brushes harbor bacteria. I feel as though this is information every woman (or man) who wears makeup knows — we just don’t really want to think about it.
But what you probably didn’t know is that in addition to exacerbating your adult acne, your dirty-ass makeup brushes may also be aging you and making you sick if you share them with others (and sometimes even if you stick to your own).
According to Brianna May, an esthetician who spoke to NBC 25News, “The moisture and the bacteria is really going to build up and that’s going to cause clogged pores, acne” and “it can get into your oil glands and can cause aging later on.”
Dr. Debbie Palmer, dermatologist and co-founder of Dermatology Associates of New York, agrees. She told Good Housekeeping, “Dirty makeup brushes can expose the skin to oxidative stress from free radicals, which causes a breakdown of collagen and elastin and can result in premature aging.”
NOOOOO. We wear makeup to enhance our looks, not damage them. But that’s not all.
Andrea Blankenship, a cosmetology instructor at Mott Community College in Flint, MI, reiterates what our mothers told us long ago: “Never share, no double dipping.”
If someone else had a staph infection or a MRSA infection, something like that and then you use their sponge…you could be introducing that bacteria directly to your skin.
Sue Koler, also a cosmetology instructor at Mott, cautions makeup users to be especially vigilant about this rule when it comes to sharing eye and lip brushes, as the eyes and lips are mucous membranes, which makes them particularly susceptible to bacteria that could lead to infections such as pink eye or cold sores.
But it’s not just your eyes and lips that are at risk.
Bethanee Schlosser, M.D., director of the Women’s Skin Health Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, told Self that even women who have eczema, use exfoliants, or get waxing done are prone to infection because these leave behind tiny open sores and/or irritation, which is an invitation for bacteria to come on in.
Robert Dudock, a biology professor at Mott, says the kind of bacteria in our makeup brushes are everywhere, and you can’t really completely rid your brushes of them. Still, it’s worth maintaining a regular cleaning regimen when it comes to your cosmetic tools.
Blankenship and Koler recommend cleaning brushes with soap and water, air drying, disinfecting them, and air drying again at least once per week. And as for sponges? They are a one and done tool. Cleaning them is futile, so stock up, ladies (and gents). You’re not going to want to reuse those.
And always, always wash your hands before and after applying makeup.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go slather bacteria all over my face real quick-like. I’m late for work.