Let’s start with the most obvious: Dirty brushes are a breeding ground for bacteria (insert obligatory ‘duh’ here). “Keeping your brushes clean ensures that you’re not transferring germs between your face and your makeup,” explains makeup artist, beauty expert and founder of Lazy Perfection Jenny Patinkin. This holds especially true for cream products kept in your bathroom, she adds (humidity in the air and water in the product encourage bacterial growth).
Aside from the ick factor, there’s also the matter of efficacy. Dirty brushes deposit a layer of oils from your skin onto your makeup, creating a hard film on the surface that makes it hard to get the product onto the brush, notes Patinkin. (If your makeup looks speckled or shiny, that’s a telltale sign). Plus, dirty bristles can start to stick together, leading to streaky application, and not cleaning brushes in between colors can affect how the color looks. The bottom line: Clean yo’ brushes.
For a Fast Fix In Between Uses
Lightly rub the brush on a washcloth or towel (one that’s specifically reserved for this use, and this use only.) While this quick fix isn’t necessarily enough to get rid of germs, it’s sufficient to remove excess product and will help extend the length of time you can go between deeper cleans. Just avoid using paper towels or tissues if your brushes have natural bristles: Paper products contain tiny fibers of wood pulp that can get into the porous natural hairs and dry them out.
A Spray or Wipe Also Works
To quickly address the germy component, a brush cleansing spray is the laziest way to clean makeup brushes. It contains alcohol to sanitize, but also conditions the bristles so that they won’t dry out. Just spritz lightly, since ODing on the spray can leave behind an unwanted residue. Patinkin advises using only one to two spritzes and holding the bottle six inches away from the brush.