Saving Face The Beauty Bitch

Meets Obsession Magazine

Dear Beauty Bitch:

I have many expensive make up brushes that I use regularly. But recently, I have experienced a rash of eye infections and am concerned one of my brushes might be the cause.

How often should I clean my brushes or replace them? Thank you in advance for your assistance!

Philomenia P., Daphne, Alabama

Meets Obsession Magazine

Dear Philomenia,

Whether you have sensitive, breakout-prone skin like mine, or are blessed with crazy clear face, taking good care of your makeup brushes is a must.

In terms of your particular predicament, Philomenia, “it sounds like your eye infection was caused by dirt and bacteria from your makeup brush getting into your eye or around the eye area,” says Cecilia Wong, Founder of Cecilia Wong Skincare.

“Cleaning your makeup brushes should be a regular part of your beauty routine. Think of this as a basic hygiene. By cleaning your brushes, you’re ridding them of old makeup, dirt, oil, dead skin, and bacteria. Skipping this step can lead to clogged pores, breakouts, rashes, and even infections.”

And since the eye area is so sensitive, you have to be extra careful. “Never borrow or lend your brushes to anyone,” cautions Riku Campo, makeup artist and author of Best in Beauty. “If, for example, you use a friend’s eyeshadow brush, you could very easily contract pink eye, even if she’s not yet showing signs of it.”

Makeup BrushesCleaning your brushes may seem like a boring chore (and, I’ll admit, it kind of is), but it will add to the longevity of your makeup brush’s life, which means you’ll save money by not having to buy new ones. “Well maintained makeup brushes can last anywhere from six months to two years, depending on the quality of the brushes,” Wong says. “Whether it’s a blush brush or an eyeshadow brush, it comes down to the quality and how well they are maintained.”

Campo recommends buying real-hair brushes over synthetic ones, as they are of better quality and collect dirt and bacteria a little less easily. To find the brush that’s right for you, “rub it against your skin. The bristles should feel soft, not rough or scratchy, and the fibers should also stay intact,” Wong advises.

So what’s the best way to clean your brushes? As a lazy beauty babe myself, I’ve often considered using cleansing sprays that are specially designed for makeup brushes. However, our experts agree that this is not the best method. “Most of these sprays consist mainly of alcohol, so sensitive skin may experience irritation,” warns Leslie Baumann, M.D., owner and CFO of the Baumann Cosmetic and Research Institute and the mastermind behind the super-helpful site

Wong adds: “The alcohol [from these sprays] can also dry up the bristles on the brushes, stripping them of their softness and speeding up their age, so you’ll need to replace them more frequently.”

So if you want to keep your brushes clean and long-lasting, hand washing is the way to go. “A simple soap bar and water combination is one of the best ways to clean your brushes,” Campo explains, “because it thoroughly washes off all dirt, waxes, and bacteria.”

Make Your Own Brush Cleanign SolutionWong recommends cleaning your brushes daily, and has a great DIY concoction for creating a natural spray. “Mix 4 oz. of distilled or filtered water with 15 drops of tea tree or eucalyptus oil, pour into a clean spray bottle, and spritz onto your brushes. These oils have natural antibacterial properties, which are effective in eliminating germs and bacteria.”

The added bonus? You’ll already have the spray prepared, so washing your brushes daily won’t be as much of a chore.

But Wong also emphasizes that, in addition to daily cleansing, you should also deep clean your brushes once a week. “Use 10-15 drops of tea tree or eucalyptus oil mixed with 1 oz. of facial cleanser. Dampen the brushes, apply the mixture, lather up and rinse them out thoroughly. Squeeze out excess water and lay them out on paper towels to dry.”

So, Philomenia, it sounds like an icky, bacteria-ridden brush was the culprit that caused your rash. The good news is, if you use these expert tips and clean your brushes regularly, you hopefully wont have this experience again. And you can keep your expensive brushes rather than having to spend a bundle on new ones.

That said, I’d toss the cruel, culpable shadow brush that caused your infection. No need to tempt fate when it comes to beauty. [hr]