We all know what happens when you don't wash your makeup brushes regularly: They build up a whole lotta gunk. But even more forgotten than the makeup brush is the hair brush. That's right: You should absolutely be cleaning your hairbrushes and combs too.
Why Dirty Brushes Are Bad
"Like all your beauty tools, hairbrushes get dirty with repeated use, especially if you're using styling products on your hair," says dermatologic surgeon and RealSelf contributor Sejal Shah, M.D. And it's not just hair clumps and product residue that can clog up your tools - dust mites, dead skin cells and oils can accumulate too. "The buildup on your hairbrush can serve as nidus for bacteria and yeast overgrowth, so there is an infection risk," warns Dr. Shah.
On top of the germs, skipping regular cleanses prevents your brush from working properly. With each stroke of a dirty hairbrush, you're basically redepositing all that buildup back onto the strands and scalp, making your hair look greasier - just one more reason to shampoo those bristles.
To spiff up your brushes and combs, first find out what kinds are in your collection. Remove any built-up hair once a week, and then follow these easy instructions for an occasional wash:
Plastic or Ceramic Brushes
These brushes and combs can all withstand a monthly bath since they can dry completely. "Fill up the sink or bowl with warm water, add a small amount of clarifying or gentle shampoo and thoroughly wash your brushes," Dr. Shah advises. Be sure to rinse them well, then let them air dry.
Tools with squishy bases are a bit trickier, warns Birnur Aral, Ph.D., Director of the Beauty Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. "Paddle brushes might trap water underneath, which may be hard to get out," she says. The lingering moisture can result in unpleasant smells or worse, mold. Aral recommends consulting the manufacturer's care instructions, or washing these brushes every other month.
Take caution with wooden handles too. "The finish on the wood may get ruined with soap and water," says Aral. Again, check the care instructions and refrain from intense scrubbing. "I wouldn't soak any brushes with wooden handles," advises Carolyn E. Forté, Director of the Cleaning Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. "I'd recommend a quick swish."
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