We Tested Our Makeup Brushes for Bacteria, and the Results Were Shocking


Isabella Behravan

Yes, we're told time and again that our makeup brushes and sponges are hotbeds for gunk and bacteria. Yes, we know it's best to toss them after a certain amount of time, no matter how diligently we clean them. Yes, as beauty editors, we really should know better. But here's the thing about microscopic particles—it's really easy to adopt an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality. There are (literally) bigger things to worry about, right?

But in reality, ignoring the problem can wreak havoc on our skin—or worse, our health. So in the name of a self-imposed reality check, we thought it only made sense to finally give ourselves a visual of what's really hiding on those brushes. We nabbed some agar petri dishes on Amazon, swabbed some of our most-used brushes and go-to foundation sponge, and 72 hours and one makeshift incubator later, we had our answer. Take a look for yourself.

Not so fast—unless they smell, are several years old, or remain stubbornly dirty even after a thorough scrubbing (color stains notwithstanding), there's no need to toss them just yet. The lesson here is more about how important it is to care for your brushes, and to not overlook what you simply can't see. Wash your brushes on a weekly basis, and ideally, store them in a drawer or case where they have limited exposure to air. And consider adopting some of these genius cleansing hacks and products that Byrdie editors swear by:

Your brushes aren't the only bacteria breeding ground on your vanityavoid breakouts and infections by following our comprehensive guide to makeup expiration dates.