When was the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes or sponges? Crickets. Yeah, well, join the club. I always worry that I'm either going to destroy the texture of my brushes by washing them or that whatever cleanser I put on them is going to wreck havoc on my face by way of zits. But leaving them caked in foundation is also just... nasty. While you don't need to wash your applicators after each use, you should clean them weekly, especially if you're wearing makeup daily, Jo Levy, a professional makeup artist, previously told Shape.
"Dirty makeup brushes harbor dirt, bacteria, and all kinds of germs that can be transferred to your skin, leading to irritation and breakouts," explained Levy. And, not to freak you out, but unwashed, bacteria-harboring brushes can even lead to infection. So, neglecting your makeup tools is not only gross but it's also doing your skin and health a major disservice. (Related: The 9 Best Pore Cleansers That Actually Remove Dirt, Oil, and Build-Up)
If you're in the market for a liquid cleanser, any kind of mild soap, shampoo, or face wash will do — however, Amazon shoppers have discovered a product that they claim leaves your tools looking as good as the day you bought them. Enter: Ecotools Makeup Cleaner (Buy It, $8, amazon.com), a hypoallergenic, water-based formula boasting plant-based ingredients. Not to mention, it's also fragrance-free, so a safe pick for even those with skin sensitivities.
To clean your makeup brushes, simply run the bristles under warm water so that they're wet, but not soaking. (Pro tip: Point the brush down, so water doesn't drip into the ferrule — the piece that connects the handle and bristles. Water in the ferrule can loosen the glue that holds the brush together and ruin your brush.) Next, squirt a drop of cleanser into your palm and swirl the brush in your hand in a circular motion for about 30 seconds. You'll start to see colorful gunk run off into the sink — it's very satisfying, say shoppers. Finally, give your brush a gentle squeeze with your hand to remove excess water and restore the shape, before laying it flat to dry. If you use a sponge, dampen it with warm water, apply the cleanser to it, and massage; after, squeeze out the water and let the sponge dry standing up.
Not only is Ecotool's Makeup Cleaner Amazon's best-selling makeup brush cleaner, but more than 24,000 reviewers have awarded the product five stars, with many commenting on how fast it works (it literally cleans in seconds), that it won't cause breakouts for sensitive skin types, and hundreds of shoppers say it's made their makeup applicators look brand new again.
"OMG. This stuff has totally changed my brush cleaning routine," wrote one fan. "I had been using just my regular makeup remover I use for my face, or occasionally the liquid beauty blender cleanser for really dirty brushes, but this stuff is of no comparison. I had a Sephora Pro domed foundation brush that I use with my liquid foundation and hadn't cleaned it in months! I know, ew. I tried the BB cleanser and it was okay, but it didn't get nearly as clean as I wanted. Enter the Ecotools brush shampoo. After the first swirl on my wash mat, I could see LOADS of foundation coming out of the brush. It took a little while since there was so much product caked in the brush, but I finally got the water to run clear. After my brush dried I inspected it and it was as if it was BRAND FREAKING NEW! And no residue. I couldn't believe it! Bottom line, if you're like me and put off washing your makeup brushes until they're naaasty, you need this brush shampoo. It will change your life."
"I have VERY sensitive skin so it's hard for me to find a brush cleaner that doesn't break me out. This is it!!" raved another. "Clean scent, easy to use, and works so well to clean my makeup brushes and sponges. But most importantly, it doesn't break me out. It's a win-win and a product that I will continue to purchase!"
More good news? If you're into supporting female-owned businesses, the brand was created by sisters Jen and Stacey. Putting my wallet behind badass women is really just the icing on the cake since the selling point for me is that my stiff, stained, absolutely disgusting makeup brushes can be revived for just $8 — saving my skin and my paycheck.