The dirty truth: how often should you wash your make-up brushes?

How often do you wash your make-up brushes? Once a week? Every month? Never? This simple yet mundane task feels like a chore (with a capital C), but it's necessary. Here's everything you need to know.

There are many reasons why we need to clean our brushes on a regular basis; the first one being, the more caked your bristles are in foundation, the more harmful they’ll be to your skin.

Over time, foundation and powder dry out the bristles in your brush, making them rough and scratchy. They then become abrasive, especially if you have sensitive skin. Washing your brushes removes this backlog of make-up and keeps the bristles soft and fluffy.

What's more, brushes are a breeding ground for bacteria. Every time you use one, it collects oil and dead skin cells from your face; not to mention dust and dirt from your make-up bag or handbag.


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As if rough, germy bristles weren't bad enough, brushes covered in old make-up can hinder new make-up application. It takes more effort to achieve a flawless, even coverage when the fresh product is muddied with the old (especially when it comes to contour and eyeshadow application).

Do you really want to continue using these tools without washing them first?


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The expert advice

Make-up artist Eilis Downey at Brown Sugar tells, "I recommend washing your personal make-up brushes once a week minimum, as bacteria builds up in the brushes and can cause breakouts. As a make-up artist, I wash my brushes daily. I also disinfect my brushes between clients to stop cross-contamination."


Aidan Corcoran, Brown Thomas Beauty Stylist agrees. He tells us, "Ideally, you should be washing your brushes once a week. Bacteria can grow so easily and an accumulation of make-up can stop the brush blending as perfectly as you’d like."

Eilis adds, "Everyone should always have a brush cleaner handy; something that dries fast to prevent colours mixing and gel brushes from hardening on you."

For example, the StylPro make-up brush cleaner and dryer (€69.99, Boots) is a battery-operated tool that cleans and dries your brushes in seconds. It’s suitable for both synthetic and natural hairs, and it works with almost all brush types.

StylPro brush cleaner

Alternatively, try the Sigma Beauty Dry'n Shape Spa (€27.95, Cloud10 Beauty). This gadget, which holds up to 18 brushes, gives your bristles a thorough clean and dries them fully while maintaining their normal shape.

Sigma Beauty, Dry'n Shape Spa

If gadgets aren't your thing, Aidan says, "I use the brush cleaner from MAC (€15.50 from Arnotts) as it sterilises and dries within a minute. Synthetic brushes are my preferred tools as they have the benefit of lasting longer and drying more quickly after a clean."

MAC Brush cleaner

Regardless of your method, though, make sure you clean your brushes in some way, shape or form. Eilish puts it plainly; "Your brushes are the most important part of your make-up kit; they need to be looked after if you want them to last," she warns. "Good brushes you invest in can last you a lifetime."

Duly noted. Excuse us while we get washing.

Photo: Annie Spratt, Unsplash

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