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August 6, 2022  |  Beauty & Personal Care

How to clean makeup brushes, hair tools, eyelash curlers and more

Longevity, skin health and high performance are just a few of the many benefits to cleaning your beauty tools. Using household products you may have on hand, it just takes a few extra minutes out of your week to keep your beauty routine as luxurious and healthy as possible. It is a habit worth forming and will optimize your makeup application and hair styling.

Why is it so important to clean your beauty tools?

Taking the time to cleanse your makeup, hair and skin tools at least once a week or biweekly is going to protect you against harmful bacteria. Exposure and long-term usage of dirty tools can lead to breakouts, eye styes and infections. Not to mention, if you already have had some form of topical or internal bacterial infection, disinfecting tools like eyelash curlers and makeup sponges stops the spread of the infection on your body and into your other products.

The life span of your beauty tools extends when you put extra care into maintaining their condition. For example, a hot tool with product buildup on it can cause hair strands to split, so the quality of your tool will decline without proper maintenance. 

Cleaning vs. sanitizing

The main difference between the two practices is the involvement of antibacterial soap or alcohol versus a soap that just removes grime and dirt. Cleaning is appropriate for tools that you use often and just want to remove buildup and product. Disinfecting is a better option if your tools need sanitization after an infection or if someone has borrowed your tools. 

Germs can spread from your applicator to your skin, eyes or hair and can cause health problems down the line. Assess how often you use each tool, and make a plan to clean them every 10 uses.

How to clean beauty tools

Makeup brushes

Begin by wetting your makeup brushes with warm water. Using any gentle soap, antibacterial soap or a brush cleansing product, massage the bristles with your desired cleanser, and wash until the water runs clear. If your brushes have been used heavily, it may take longer for you to remove the pigment from the brush tip. 

Some pigments may stain the bristles, but as long as the water runs clear, the brush is clean. Make sure that all soap and product has been removed during the washing process because buildup can cause skin irritation and breakouts.

Once rinsed, squeeze out any excess moisture from the brush and let them sit out to dry. Your brushes should be fluffy and return to their natural shape after they are completely dry.

Makeup sponges

Sponges have become one of the most popular application tools in recent years but can retain a high volume of bacteria if not cleaned regularly. Start by submerging your sponge in warm water. Apply a generous amount of the soap of your preference, and distribute the product evenly over the entire sponge. 

Run under water, squeeze soap and grime out of the sponge and repeat until the water runs clear. This usually takes some time as the soap needs to penetrate all of the porous layers of the sponge to extract all of the bacteria and buildup. Once the sponge is free of product, let it air dry. 

Eyelash curlers

These tools often become the fastest to collect dirt and residue. Not to mention, eyelash curlers can be a direct way to get an eye infection, such as conjunctivitis or a sty. All you’ll need to disinfect your curler and avoid any ailments is rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab. 

Soak the entire tip of a cotton swab with the alcohol. Apply the swab onto all surfaces of the eyelash curler, and watch the grime wash away. After cleaning the entirety of the eyelash curler, rinse under warm water to remove excess alcohol and to avoid any contact with alcohol in your eye. Dry it with a washcloth or let it air dry before use.

Hairbrushes

This cleaning method is not unique to any one type of hairbrush and can be used for any hairbrush you own. Firstly, remove all hair from the brush using a removal tool or any fine-toothed comb and pull upward to relax the hair from the bristles. Once there is no hair remaining, soak the brushes in warm water with a cleansing shampoo or antibacterial soap.

After soaking for about an hour, take a toothbrush and scrub all the dirt and product between the bristles. You can use a little bit of alcohol on the toothbrush to eliminate all the germs, but make sure to rinse with soap once more to prevent your hair from drying when you next use the brush. Rinse and let air dry when the brush contains no more residue.

Hot hair styling tools

Flat irons, curling irons or any hot tool you use to style your hair will need just as much attention as your makeup tools. Take caution with cleaning any hot tool. Submerging your hot tool in water is extremely dangerous and ruins it, so be sure to use as little moisture as possible. You’ll want to start by unplugging your tool and letting it cool off. Once cooled, take a cloth dampened with soapy water and rub along the barrel to remove buildup.

For a more intense cleanser (or if product is sticking on after using the soapy cloth), opt for rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad. This should help get rid of any extra scum. Ensure the tool is entirely dry before using it.

Hair dryers

Taking a bit more time than the other tools listed, cleaning your hair dryer still should be prioritized. Before cleaning, make sure your hair dryer is unplugged and cooled. Most hair dryers have a removable filter located at the opposite end of where the heat comes from. Remove this filter and extract all of the hair, lint and dust inside the filter. Any extra residue can be removed using a toothbrush. 

As for the rest of the hair dryer, take a cotton pad with alcohol or a soapy, damp washcloth to remove any product from the surface. Let it air dry completely before use.

Q. What should I avoid using when cleaning makeup brushes and hair tools?

A. It’s best to use products that do not have any fragrance because this can cause skin irritation.

Q. Is hot or cold water best for cleaning beauty tools? 

A. Warm water is ideal for breaking up makeup, product and oils. It also kills bacteria. Avoid very hot water — that can damage the bristles on your tools.

Q. How often should I clean my brushes? 

A. You should clean them every one to two weeks. 

What you need to buy for cleaning your beauty tools

Brush Bath Purifying Makeup Brush Cleaner

Brush Bath Purifying Makeup Brush Cleaner

A completely vegan formula, this brush cleaner can be used without water and only requires a spritz on your brush head to remove makeup, oils and other gunk. This product can be used on both natural and synthetic brushes.

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta

Olivia Garden Brush Cleaner

Olivia Garden Brush Cleaner

This hair tool effectively removes hair and lint from any type of hairbrush. With just an upward stroke of this tool through the bristles of your brush, it removes all debris. This dual-ended tool has one side for hair removal and one for scrubbing buildup off the surface of the brush.

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta and Amazon

Travel Size Brush & Sponge Cleaner

Travel Size Brush & Sponge Cleaner

If you are on the go and need a quick wash, this cleaner is multipurpose and can be used for both brushes and sponges. Use the same technique as mentioned above, and watch the grime rinse away.

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta

Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush Cleaner Pro Starter Kit

Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush Cleaner Pro Starter Kit

This two-piece set includes a cleaning tin and liquid cleanser to enhance your washing experience. Place the liquid in the tin, and press out all toxins from your makeup brushes.

Where to buy: Sold by Sephora and Amazon

Norate Brush Cleaning Mat

Norate Brush Cleaning Mat

Make brush cleaning quick and painless with this cleaning mat. Silicone ridges and grooves offer deep cleansing action and penetrate the layers of your makeup brush.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Hot Tools Styling Iron Cleaner

Hot Tools Styling Iron Cleaner

This cleaner is specifically designed to clean hot hair styling tools and can be used on any ceramic, tourmaline or metal surface. It removes product buildup to prevent damage to your hair during future uses.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Isabella Acitelli writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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