Are Dirty Makeup Brushes Ruining Your Skin (and More)?

Are dirty makeup brushes ruining your skin (and more)? The short answer is yes. But since most women can’t remember the last time they gave their brushes a bath, we figured you might need a little more convincing.

Scroll through to learn all about the unpleasant side effects of dirty makeup brushes.

Dirty Brushes Transfer Germs

Container of pink makeup product on white background

The thing about brushes is they’re only part of the equation when it comes to application. Your makeup is the other half. When your brushes have been collecting dust, dirt, and bacteria, all of that germy buildup gets transferred to your precious products. Germs multiply in wet environments, like your cream blushes and gel liners. Leaving anything with moisture on your brushes will further contaminate them, thus perpetuating the cycle of bacteria. Also, be aware that storing your makeup brushes in the bathroom puts you at another disadvantage. In addition to the moist environment bathrooms provide, your toilet provides a fine mist of germs with every flush too.

Dirty Brushes Compromise Your Application

Broken neutral colored makeup palette

You paid a pretty penny for your brush collection. Not maintaining them shortens their lifespan, and compromises their functionality. When your brushes are dirty, blending is more difficult and pigments deposit unevenly. It’s easy to forget that residue-free brushes deliver better results, but just try to think back to the first time you used a new brush—glorious, right? Plus, with unclean tools you also compromise another major investment—your actual makeup. If you splurged on a gorgeous copper eye shadow, you want the color to show up true to shade. When the bristles of your shadow brushes are already loaded with another product, you’re not going to get the color payoff you want.

Dirty Brushes Irritate Your Skin

Makeup brush with red powder coming off

Caked-on product and weeks’ worth of dust and dirt can dry out bristles, making them brittle and abrasive to your skin. Those bristles are also excellent at trapping pet dander and other common allergens that circulate in the air. Regularly cleaning your brushes keeps the fibers soft, supple, and sanitized, so you won’t irritate your skin or aggravate any sensitivities.

Dirty Brushes Are Dangerous

Small Urban Decay makeup brush

Worse case scenario: pink eye and herpes. Skin irritation and damaged cosmetics aren’t good, but contracting a viral infection definitely takes the cake. Sharing mishandled eye makeup brushes can spread pink eye, and sharing lip brushes can transfer herpes. Keep your brushes clean and to yourself. A grimy eyelash curler is another danger to watch out for. Your lashes can get stuck in product buildup on the curler, and any swift movements can yank them out.

Dirty Brushes Aggravate Acne

Several makeup brushes of different sizes

To recap: Dust, dirt, allergens, toilet germs, bacteria, product buildup, oil, dead skin cells, and more all accumulate on your makeup brushes. Think about it: You put so much time and effort into your skincare regimen, then wipe a brush that’s collected all of the above on your clean skin? Needless to say, that throng of growing bacteria exacerbates acne.

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