Do a big brush-off

Here are some quick tips for taking care of the brushes you use every day.

Makeup brushes: You go to the trouble of washing your face every day. So why would you then go and spread bacteria all over it with dirty makeup brushes? Made from synthetic fibres like nylon or from the fur of animals, brushes can trap bacteria in their bristles, and the bacteria then feed on microscopic skin cells and the moisture from makeup. Day to day, a quick spritz with water or with a specially formulated brush cleaner followed by a gentle wipe-down will keep brushes clean.

You should do a deeper clean at least once a week for foundation and concealer brushes. Other brushes can go longer:

  • Run brushes under warm water.
  • Pour a small amount of baby shampoo into your palm and gently dab the brushes into the shampoo.
  • Rinse the brushes in warm water.
  • Delicately wipe the brushes clean and lay them flat to dry (if needed, re-shape the bristles on the brush).

You can also simply use your daily cleanser to wash your brushes. Professional cleaners can be harsh, and thus sometimes irritating to the skin. Using your daily cleanser is also good way to ensure you will not suffer an allergic reaction, since you already know how it treats your skin. If at any time the bristles look worn or shed, throw out that brush and purchase a new one.

Toothbrushes: It would seem like toothbrushes would harbour lots of icky bacteria. And while our mouths definitely harbour millions of germs, there's not much risk left behind on your toothbrush. All you need to do is follow a few simple guidelines:

  • Rinse your toothbrush thoroughly after each use.
  • Leave it to dry in an upright position.
  • Avoid cross-contamination (and an increased risk of infection) from others: never share toothbrushes or allow toothbrushes to touch.
  • To prevent bacteria build-up, store toothbrushes in open air, rather than in a sealed-up container.
  • Don't bother with extreme measures you may read about. There's no need to disinfect your toothbrushes in the dishwasher or microwave!
  • Replace every 3 to 4 months, or earlier if you notice the bristles look worn or splayed.

Hairbrushes: When you rake a brush through your hair, the bristles grab onto dirt, dust, and any hair product you've used. A gunky brush just drags gunky stuff back into your hair. Now-and-then maintenance can keep your brushes fresh and lasting longer. Day to day, simply clear your brush of hair after each use. For a deeper clean, try this:

  • Use the pointy end of a comb to de-snag all of the hair wrapped around the bristles.
  • Then you need to cleanse. You can do this by running the brush under warm water and using an old toothbrush dabbed with shampoo to scrub between the bristles.
  • Or you could fill your sink with warm water and swish the brush around in it to loosen up dirt and left-behind hair.
  • Either way, follow up with a rinse. Shake out excess water and dry with a towel. Place upside down so water doesn't get trapped back into the base of the brush.

Shaving brushes: If you happen to be one of those retro types, you may lather up with a shaving brush. Depending on frequency of use, with proper maintenance a shaving brush can last a good, long while. Make sure you're thoroughly rinsing and shaking out your brush after each use. Handle the bristles with care, and always dry in open air with the bristles facing down. For a deeper clean, try this every few months:

  • Rinse the bristles in a mixture of 20% vinegar and 80% water.
  • Rinse and massage a cream rinse into the bristles. Rinse again.
  • Dry in open air with bristles facing down.

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