Any chap serious about incorporating makeup into his daily routine, should be aware of the risks that come with having makeup applicators that are not clean. Cosmetic makeup is fantastic as it can really alter your appearance and improve on imperfections that maybe you aren’t so confident on. You’re spending your hard-earned coin on various makeup products & tools to apply, so why are you allowing yourself to not get the full benefits from them?

Mens BrushWhether you are full face, or a simple touch-up kinda guy. If you aren’t regularly cleaning your brushes and sponges, then you really should be. It sounds like a real tedious task (take it from me, at first, I thought the exact same) and getting into the habit sounds like a push. So, let me put it this way for you instead. Would you take kitchen cloth riddled with bacteria build-up, micro-oils and residual matter and wipe it across your countertop and then prepare food? Well, no you wouldn’t. Because that’s just nasty… Obviously, an extreme comparison but the same principles apply. Your seemingly “clean” looking applicators are in fact a house-party for bacteria to breed and do things bacteria do…

Lads however I’ve compiled an easy-to-follow list of the risks that come from un-cleaned brushes and tools. You’ll also find some methods at the end of the post on how to clean them DIY style at home. Take a look here (as I put the scare into you.)
- Firstly, it’s just plain nasty! - Bacteria breeding grounds – Each time you use a brush bacteria levels increase. The more you clean, the less amount (and they are in their millions) that reside in the bristles/sponge holes. I said house-party above for a reason… - Bacteria leads to acne-related breakouts and spots. Help prevent future breakouts from appearing and current ones from spreading any further. - Residual oil and micro dirt – Bristles will pick up (absorb really) any micro-traces of grime from the skin. Overtime this will hinder the performance of the applicator and increase bacteria to grow. - Dead skin cells – Another build-up includes fragments of dead skin. Again, another place for bacteria to accumulate on. - Longevity – not only does a clean brush prolong its lifespan. But you’ll find your bank account thanks you in the process. - The performance of your brushes/sponges will show. When applying makeup, dirty brushes create patchiness, uneven texturing and become streaky. Clean brush = smoother application every time. - Softer bristles – you’ll notice with the point above that your bristles aren’t as soft. The dirtier the brush, the more irritation you’ll face against your skin. - Congested pores – Dirty brushes transfer grime back into your pores (which you’ve probably just extracted from your morning cleanse). Limit the cross contamination and support healthier skin.

So, there you have some points worth considering before you look at your brushes again. Thankfully, its (really) simple to clean your brushes and improve the quality of your makeup application and skin health. It is imperative to never soak or submerge your brushes completely. Try to only get the bristles wet and not around the base of the head of the brush. It is glue that holds the bristles to the stem of the brush and using soap, cleanser and lukewarm water can shift the glue.
- For incredibly dirty brushes, try rubbing olive oil into them to break down residual matter. This makes it much easier to then wash them thoroughly afterwards. - Take your facial cleanser (I use a sensitive skin or tea tree related solution) and apply a tiny amount to the palm of your hand. - I wet my brush and then in circular motions, gently work the bristles into the cleanser to get it all soaped up. - I rinse through with running water and with my fingers just massage any parts through until the water is clear. - Repeat the cleanser step should you require to. - Squeeze excess water/moisture out from your brush using a clean flannel towel. - Re-form the brush head to its original shape – this ensures the brush applies your product correctly. - When laying your brushes down to dry, use a clean towel. However, SO important to let the head of your brushes hang off the edge of the counter/table, to allow air to completely circulate around them. If you don’t do this step and leave them against the towel completely, your brush bristles can get mildew. - Never dry your brushes vertically either, with bristles facing upright position. Gravity pulls water downwards into the base of the brush head and again cause a loosening of the bristles.

There are however a lot off different techniques to clean your brushes with. Formulated solutions created specifically to cleanse bristles, household items such as dish soap liquid, using a washing machine and a delicates bag. Although they are great options to try, we advise a simpler approach. I personally use a tea-tree solution manly because of its antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and astringent properties. The approach above has always worked well for me and my brushes have lasted for such a long time.

I would advise to clean your brushes every week. The more your clean them, the better the performance and the longevity. The same principles apply for cleaning makeup beauty blenders. Multi-pack sponges however should be tossed after one used. But blenders of the microbial-resistant kind are to be reused for up to 4 months. Cleanse them the same way you would with a brush and allow to dry. I often dry with a kitchen paper towel by squeezing them until no moisture is left against the paper towel. Take note chaps, because at the end of the day its better for your skin (and your wallet!).

By Thomas Benjamin Cooper