Dirty Makeup Brushes and Bacterial Infections

By October 27, 2017Beauty, Jennifer Rock
makeup brushes infection

What is one of the scariest things that can happen to your skin? In my nerdie opinion, it would be a skin infection that occurs due to dirty makeup brushes.

Why is it the scariest? Because it is COMPLETELY preventable.

There are reasons why skin experts like moiself warn against dirrrty makeup brushes. And I do not mean Christina Aguilera dirty, because there is nothing sexy about a swollen, red section of your face due to the fact that you are simply too lazy to give your brushes a swish and a rinse now and again.

Makeup brushes allow us to get a streak-free, flawless makeup base quickly and easily and they are such an essential tool in the modern makeup-wearers kit. However, they are a hotbed for bacteria – not only can bacteria cling to the length of each individual bristle, it can also make a little nest for itself where the bristles meet in the casing.

So not only is cleaning your brushes essential but they must be cleaned properly too. Running them across a baby wipe (yuck) is not going to do a whole lot. To kill the bacteria, they need to be thoroughly disinfected with something antibacterial.


What can happen when you do not clean your makeup brushes?

I was contacted through Snapchat by a member of the Nerd Herd who very unfortunately contracted an infection from their dirty makeup brushes. As you can see from the pictures, the poor woman had painful, red swelling across her jawline.

makeup brushes infection

One of the most common skin infections that can occur due to dirty brushes would be the staph infection, short for Staphylococcal, which can progress into something much more insidious.

Last year, a beauty blogger by the name of Katie Wright went viral with her story of how she attempted to pop an under the skin spot and suddenly her whole face felt like it was on fire. If that’s not another reason not to pick at your face, I don’t know what is! When she went to the emergency room, they told her that she had a staph infection that developed into cellulitis.

Cellulitis affects the dermis, deep, deep into the superficial layers of the skin. Because of inflammation happening far down into the skin, the surface swelling is often firm and there may be a blister at the top. It is not the most appetising way to imagine your skin, but it can become a reality if you are laissez-faire about cleansing your brushes.

In the case of Katie Wright, she was given antibiotics from a drip in hospital to clear up the infection and realistically, even though I am not a medical professional, you would be looking at a course of antibiotics at the very least. This means that the physical effects could take a while to die down, leaving you mildly disfigured while you wait.

Skin infections are not the work of facialists, clinicians or beauty therapists – naturally, those suffering from them must be advised on what to do from a medical practitioner.


The Other Horrors Caused By Not Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes

Not cleaning your makeup brushes can also cause and exacerbate everyday congestion. If you are one of those people that uses salicylic acid, swallows down their vitamin A and is a keen hydrator and you STILL can’t crack the code as to why you have bumpiness and spots, take a look at the things around you that introduce bacteria to your face.

Many of us keep our makeup brushes in less than sanitary areas… this is a mild dig at those who leave their tools exposed in the bathroom, in case you were wondering. This bacteria is not the naturally occurring, beneficial bacteria that your skin’s protective layer needs to operate as it should – this is the type of bacteria that can funnel into your pores and cause the accompanying red ring of inflammation around congestion!

I am by no means an MUA. In all of my years in the beauty field, it has never been my strongest point. How and ever, properly cleaning your brushes also prolongs their life and preserves them properly. How are you going to apply the right colour when your brush has the whole rainbow caked between its bristles?!


How to Wash Your Brushes To Avoid Skin Horrors

makeup brushes infection

It seems like many, many people believe solidly in the powers of baby shampoo for a thorough brush cleanse. Yes, baby shampoo is respectful of the brush fibres, whether natural or synthetic, but it is not antibacterial – it removes the old makeup but not the bacteria so it is a bit pointless.

The cult hero, the ELF Cosmetics Daily Brush Cleaner, is an affordable and antibacterial solution. It is a spray that admittedly is filled with the bad type of alcohol but you spray your brushes and wipe them off on a cloth, a bit of tissue, whatever you like so you’re not applying the alcohol directly to your face. Although I am usually very much anti denatured alcohol, it kills bacteria in one fell swoop.

On top of this, you can give your brushes a more general cleanse to get rid of all traces of product once a week (or once every two weeks, if you can’t bring yourself to committing to weekly). As long as you are getting rid of bacteria daily, cleansing with baby shampoo thereafter is fine.


The Nerdie Moral Of The Story

Many presume the worst thing that can happen from not cleaning their brushes regularly enough is poor makeup application or the odd spot. You now know that it leaves you open to bacterial infections that can cause serious damage… Spritzing your brush with an antibacterial cleanser after putting on your slap takes around one minute. That is one minute to save you days, weeks or months of emotional and physical turmoil. A small sacrifice for skin health, if you ask me.