Besides the fact that it’s officially spring cleaning season, now more than ever, you need to make sure all of your beauty tools are properly sanitized and sparkling clean. These are items that pat makeup on your face, which you’ve been instructed to avoid touching at all costs, comb through your hair and treat your skin, so clearly they need to be pristine.
To get the lowdown on how we should clean these tools right now, we spoke to Kelli J. Bartlett, artistic director at Glamsquad, and San Francisco-based dermatologist Caren Campbell, who both offered advice on how to remove germs and bacteria from these products.
“These beauty tools can harbor virus, fungal and bacterial organisms, which can get into the skin and cause local and systemic infections,” Campbell says.
Well, yikes! Below, we break down their advice, and recommend their go-to products, along with customer favorites.
Cleaning makeup brushes and sponges
“It is a good practice to deep clean your brushes at least once a week,” Bartlett says. “And even more if the brush touches your mouth, eyes, open skin (such as blemishes) or you leave your brushes uncovered where dirt and dust can accumulate.”
Sponges should also be cleaned often — or tossed completely. “Submerge the sponge in water, then rub it against a solid soap like the Beautyblender Blendercleanser Solid or a quarter size amount of the liquid soap,” she says. “In a pinch, you can use a dish soap. Squeeze the sponge until the water runs clear. Lay on a clean towel to dry.”
BeautyBlender Blendercleanser Solid Wave Sponge & Brush Cleanser ($16; sephora.com)
“In my opinion, the best way to give your brushes a deep clean is to shampoo them with a soap or cleanser, specifically formulated for makeup brushes, like Beautyblender’s Blendercleanser,” Bartlett says. “This product allows you to break down dirt, oil, makeup and bacteria efficiently, and whisk it away with water.”
Beautyblender Liquid Blendercleanser ($18; sephora.com)
The same formula is available as a liquid cleanser as well.
“Think of this wet cleansing method like a good hair shampoo,” Bartlett says. “After cleansing, be sure to lay flat to dry on a clean, sanitized surface with a paper towel or clean cloth underneath to wick away moisture.”
Sephora Collection Solid Brush and Sponge Cleaner ($15; sephora.com)
Another option is this fan-favorite cleaner, which has a 4.8-star rating on Sephora, with one reviewer writing, “This product smells amazing and really cleans my makeup brushes better than any other product. My brushes are the softest they’ve ever been and really feel clean.”
Sonia Kashuk Makeup Brush Cleaning Spray ($6.80, originally $8; target.com)
If you’d rather apply a spray cleanser, this cult-favorite from Sonia Kashuk is the perfect solution. One reviewer writes, “It works every bit as well as the more expensive brands and at a great price! I’m actually on my second bottle of it.”
Jane Iredale Botanical Brush Cleanser ($16, originally $20; dermstore.com)
Formulated with seaweed extracts, witch hazel and grapefruit oil to condition and keep brushes soft, this is ideal if you’d prefer a fast-drying brush cleaner. Just spray this on, wipe the brush on paper towels or a bath towel, and wait until dry.
Up&Up Beauty Wedges - 96ct ($6.99; target.com)
And if you think cleaning all your makeup brushes is a bit of a pain, Target’s got these great makeup wedges you can use and toss. It’s also got packages of 24 eyeshadow sponge applicators, so you can finally replace all the old cruddy ones in your makeup bag.
Cleaning your makeup
Yes, you can clean your actual makeup, and you should, too. As Bartlett explains, “Powders should be wiped clean with a tissue or cotton ball, then sprayed with a sanitizing spray, like Cinema Secrets, or with at least 70% rubbing alcohol.”
Cinema Secrets Makeup Sanitizing Spray ($18; sephora.com)
A favorite of makeup artists, this spray is formulated to sanitize products just one minute after spritzing it on everything from eyeshadows to powders.
Beauty So Clean Sanitizing Mist ($16.97; amazon.com)
Another favorite of professional makeup artists, this mist is designed to remove bacteria and germs from cosmetics like compacts and blushes just 10 seconds after spraying.
Nars Pencil Sharpener ($6; sephora.com)
“Pencils should be shaved in a sanitized sharpener, which you can sanitize with alcohol, and then shaved and rubbed clean with a tissue dipped in alcohol, too,” Bartlett says.
Keeping your hair tools clean
For your brushes and combs, “Use antibacterial soap like Dial Liquid,” says Campbell, “And rinse with warm water until the water is soap free.” For tools, like hair dryers, flat irons and curling irons, Campbell says, “when not plugged in or warm, wiping them with an antibacterial wipe weekly would be a good idea.”
These items are in high demand, for obvious reasons, but they come back in stock from time to time. For antibacterial soap, check Target and Amazon, and for disinfecting wipes, check Target and Amazon as well.
How about your other body products?
Campbell also says you need to take care of how you store your razor and mindful of how often you replace it.
“Be sure you store your razor outside of the shower,” she says. “The warm, moist environment can cause bacteria to grow on the razor, increasing your risk of folliculitis (bacteria growing in the hair follicle). You should also ideally change your razor regularly, like every week.”
The same advice can be said for keeping things like body loofahs clean, too, with a new loofah recommended every month.
Venus Treasures Women’s Disposable Razors ($6.99; target.com)
Target fans give these razors 4.5 stars, and the pivoting head glides around every curve for easy hair removal.
Schick Hydro Silk 5 Women’s Disposable Razors ($9.99; target.com)
Also beloved by shoppers, these razors feature a rubber grip and a water-activated moisturizing serum around the blades.
Billie Razor Kit ($9; mybillie.com)
This subscription-based service can automatically send you new razor blades every month so you’ll always have a spare or two on hand. Plus, they come in a wide array of super-cute colors.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed prices at the time of publication.