Beauty Buzz: How to clean your makeup tools so you don’t get sick

By Andi Douglas, mama of 3 and nwaMotherlode beauty editor

If you’ve been anywhere near social media in the past week, I’m sure you saw this story about a young mother who was paralyzed after using a friend’s make-up brush and contracting a bacterial infection.

Helloooo, worst fear realized.

Although this was an extreme case and it would be rare to share something as personal as makeup with someone who happened to have a staph infection, even everyday oils from another’s skin can mess with your personal balance and cause breakouts.

Or perhaps you think you would never, ever share because “ew”. But if you have little girls in the house that like to play dress-up or teenage boys who might sneak some concealer to hide a blemish, you may unwittingly be encountering the tiny little germs that your family has brought home with them.

Still think you’re immune? At the very least, dirty makeup brushes disrupt your makeup application and that $40 bottle of concealer is going to be a waste.

So now that we have the heebie-jeebies, let’s talk about the proper way to clean makeup brushes:

baby shampooOnce a week, after you’ve done your makeup to allow for drying time, run your brushes under warm water focusing on the tips. Put a small amount of baby shampoo into the palm of your hand and swirl your brush around, similar to how you apply your makeup, to work the shampoo into the bristles.

Rinse under the warm water again, gently squeezing the water out until it runs clear. Be sure not to pull hard at the base because that will result in loose bristles over time.

Although baby shampoo will get the job done, I like to use a grease cutting dish soap for my foundation brush because it seems to cut through the oily product better. This will work the same on makeup sponges but those do need to be replaced every couple of weeks since they are more difficult to get a deep clean.

If you are in the habit of sharing makeup brushes daily with a roommate or your daughter, a daily brush cleaner, like this one from Sephora, will help keep your brushes fresh between deep cleaning.

Sharpening your eyeliner should remove any tainted bits if shared, but don’t forget the little smudgy thing at the end!!! Give it a cleaning as well, especially if you have shared it lately.

mascaraSadly, there is no way to clean a mascara wand and once it has been reinserted into the tube your mascara becomes a tiny jet black incubator for all kinds of bacteria. Regardless of who all is using your mascara, it is recommended that you replace it every three months, especially if you are prone to sties or other eye infections.

This is why I stick to drugstore mascara instead of splurging on the pricier department store brands. I just can’t make myself throw away a $25 mascara, but $7, I can handle.

If it’s been awhile since you took the time to clean your tools, you will be shocked by how good it feels and will quickly get hooked on the weekly ritual.

If you feel like freaking someone out this week, ask a stranger in a public restroom if you can borrow their makeup and watch them back away from you like you’re the carrier monkey from Outbreak.

Andi, 2014Andi Douglas is a Northwest Arkansas mama of three who loves to play with make-up. We’re lucky that she shares her beauty tips, tricks and finds with us here. If you’ve got a question for Andi, contact her at She can also answer your hair questions.