How to clean and sterilize your brushes and makeup

Hi everyone!

Does it also feel like spring where you are? It is a beautiful, warm, sunny day here 🙂 As it turned out, a day to learn something new too, which eventually inspired me to write this blog post.

This is what happened…I was visiting the lab where I used to work, and my colleagues complained that in the last few weeks their cultures have been constantly infested with bacterial infections. Let me tell you, in research, those are a real bitch! Even though we work in special hoods, use sterile pipettes and flasks, and try to work as clean as possible, infections with bacteria, fungi or other fun creatures still get through every now and then. What sucks is that when our cell line cultures “get sick”, we have to throw them in the bin, along with the results obtained from experiments performed with them thus far. Then, we need to start a new culture, which may take as long as two weeks to grow to the numbers we need for experimental work. Just like that, a delay of several weeks! You understand the frustration…

To avoid infections from spreading (which apparently is happening to my poor co-workers at the moment!), we clean the lab thoroughly. And here is, where I learned my new thing of the day: less alcohol is more! Let me explain 😉

My supervisor asked my colleagues explicitly whether they used 70% or 96-higher % ethanol for sterilizing purposes because, as it turns out, for reasons I will not go into, highly concentrated ethanol does not kill bacteria, it only fixes them…70% alcohol, on the other hand, doesn’t give the suckers a chance.

Immediately, my thoughts went to my makeup brushes and stash, which I have diligently been sterilizing with 96% ethanol up to now…Oh NOOOOOOO!!!! You mean they are not sterile!!! *gasp for breath*…Perhaps you think, pff so what, big deal?! I, unfortunately, am not like you. I am an obsessive cleaner…yucky own or other people’s bacteria are simply not allowed in my beloved brushes and makeup!!!

So, after this rather long introduction, I will tell you how I clean and sterilize my brushes and makeup.

1. Cleaning and sterilizing makeup brushes

First of all, I clean my brushes a few times a week. At least once a week is what I recommend.

There are two main ways to do this:

  • spot cleaning – refers to the use of premade solutions which can be used for the quick cleaning of brushes. I have a bottle from the local drugstore. Plenty of budget and high-end brands offer those. Basically they contain ethanol…plus some additional goodies to make it smell nice, and maybe take care of the bristles of the brushes. To be honest, I think the same can be achieved with 70% ethanol…I find that, although this method works and is quite convenient to use for quick cleaning, it doesn’t always clean brushes thoroughly, and it makes the bristles quite stiff-feeling.

I only do spot cleaning, when I need to reuse the brushes in a short period of time.

  • deep cleaning – refers to cleaning brushes with a mild shampoo (I use baby shampoo) and lukewarm water. I prefer this method because it leaves my brushes clean and the bristles remain soft afterwards. There are a few things you should keep in mind when you deep clean brushes: 1) try to limit the contact with water only to the bristles themselves (avoid dipping the whole brush in water!); 2) to rinse the water off swipe gently, don’t make a mess of the bristles; 3) lay the brushes flat to air dry (definitely not upwards, so that the water goes into the ferrule!)

Every once in a while, after deep cleaning, I also spray 70% ethanol (from now anyway)  in the bristles to sterilize further.

2. Cleaning and sterilizing makeup 

Contrary to what you think, a lot from your makeup stash can also be sterilized: eyeshadows, powder blushes and bronzers especially. If you are using your makeup on other people, I actually believe, it is your absolute obligation to do so! Seriously, otherwise, it’s just gross!

It’s really easy. All you need is, once again 70% ethanol, and a spraying bottle.

In case you didn’t pay attention earlier: do not use concentrated (96% or higher) ethanol for sterilization, it doesn’t kill bacteria. 70% ethanol does!

Holding the bottle approximately 20-30 cm away from the product you want to sterilize, just mist the ethanol and then let it air dry for a few mintues…it evaporates really quickly. That’s it, literally costs you 3 min to have everything nice and clean again :)The ethanol doesn’t affect the quality of your eyeshadows or blushes, in case you were worried about that.

When you need to use creamy products on more people (cream blushes, lipsticks, gel liners), you can just use a small spatula to get some of the product out, to avoid double-dipping.

I hope this was helpful and let me know if you have any questions or comments 🙂

Now go clean your brushes and makeup!!! hahaha