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How to Clean Makeup Brushes and Sponges

Start Fresh. Finish Flawless.

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A Clean Sweep for Brushes (& Sponges!)

When it comes to makeup, there are a lot of “rules”. And by rules, we don’t mean “you should never pair a heavy eye with a dark lip” (We’re all for it!). More like not sharing mascara, replacing your foundation every six months, and washing your face before bed. But since HALEYS is all about breaking rules, think of this more like a suggestion, call to action, or old-school begging: Please clean your makeup brushes and sponges.

Turns out, brushes don’t just grip makeup—they also harbor bacteria, product buildup, dirt, oils, and everyday gunk that can clog pores and cause breakouts. If that isn’t gross enough, a dirty brush is less effective at applying makeup.

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Brush Up on the Basics

Because you’re a Smart Beauty, here’s the 411 on what and when.

To maintain smooth blending and optimal skin health, some brushes should be cleaned more than others. A good rule of thumb: brushes that apply liquid or cream, including our Kabuki brush, should be cleaned at least weekly (twice a week for extra brownie points). Brushes that are typically used with powder, like eyeshadow brushes, can be cleaned every 1-2 weeks.

Sponges, including our Re-mix Complexion Sponge, should (ideally) be washed after every use and tossed after 3 months due to bacteria buildup that can irritate skin.

And when it comes to knowing when to wash your brushes and sponges, it’s not complicated. Some telltale signs include when blending becomes streaky, when blemishes begin to appear or when it just starts to smell, well, funky.

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DIY Cleanser Options

Getting your brushes and sponges so fresh and so clean doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of green. No cleanser? No problem! Instead, try a DIY method with ingredients you already have in your bathroom or kitchen.

  • Olive oil + dish soap
  • White vinegar + dish soap
  • Baking soda + water
  • Baby shampoo
  • Castile soap (or similar gentle cleanser)

HOW TO WASH YOUR MAKEUP SPONGE

  • Step 1: Add a dime-sized amount of cleanser to the palm of your hand.
  • Step 2: Massage cleanser into DRY sponge.
  • Step 3: Swirl sponge around in your palm with cleanser until fully saturated.
  • Step 4: Rinse under warm water, squeeze, and repeat until water runs clear.
  • Step 5: Lay flat on a paper towel to dry overnight.

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HOW TO WASH YOUR MAKEUP BRUSHES

  • Step 1: Wet the brush's bristles with lukewarm water.
  • Step 2: Add a dime-sized amount of cleanser to the palm of your hand.
  • Step 3: Swirl bristles around in your palm with cleanser until fully saturated.
  • Step 4: Place bristles under warm water and rinse until water runs clear. (You may need to wash and repeat a few times if your brush is really dirty.)
  • Step 5: Squeeze out any excess water, pat the bristles with a clean towel, and shape into desired form.
  • Step 6: Lay flat on a paper towel to dry overnight.

Brush Tips & Tricks

Now that you’ve got the cleaning down pat, our insider tips will keep your favorite brushes looking—and holding up—great.

  • Try not to let water enter the wrap (space between the bristles and handle) as this can cause the brush to separate over time.
  • Never dry upright as this allows moisture to seep in and possibly form mildew.
  • When drying, position bristles in their most natural position since they will dry in this shape.
  • Let bristles hang off the counter when drying to avoid a misshaping.
  • Always remember to wash your brushes by tying it to a weekly or bi-weekly routine, like applying a face mask or washing your sheets.

Cleaning your brushes (and sponges!) may sound like a hassle, but once you know the drill, it’s actually quick, easy, and oddly satisfying. Plus, your skin and makeup will look better. Brilliant, isn’t it?

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