1. You need to steam clean your sponges
A monumental amount of gunk can build up in your sponge and sometimes a wash and wring just won't remove every last scrap. Instead, Siobhan Kelly, Napoleon Perdis National Creative Makeup Artist, recommends steam cleaning them.
"A steam clean is the best way to ensure you clean your sponges properly to avoid bacteria and product build-up which can cause nasty breakouts."
Step 1: Begin with a bowl filled with lukewarm water.
Step 2: Apply a pea-sized amount of shampoo or liquid soap directly onto the sponge and lather.
Step 3: Place the sponge into the water bowl and pop in the microwave for 30 seconds. This acts as a steam cleaner and releases existing product which is already inside the sponge.
Step 4: Once the water/bowl has cooled, rinse thoroughly into the basin using gentle squeezing motions.
Step 5: Continue to rinse until all of the product has been removed and the water runs clear. Repeat if necessary.
Step 6: Squeeze the water out of the makeup sponge and lay flat on a towel to dry.
TIP: Avoid using excessive amounts of spray brush cleaner as this may dissolve or tear the sponge.
2. Never blow dry your brushes, because SPLIT ENDS AND SAY WHAAAT?!
While a quick dry is generally a good dry, it's not the case with makeup brushes. Not only can the heat from your blow dryer can melt the glue on the brush, meaning the head can separate from the wand, it can also do much worse...
"Heat can also cause 'split-ends' on each bristle resulting in a rough and harsh feeling when used on the skin."
3. Lay your brushes flat to dry (because they get tired standing up too)
First of all, you're going to need to squeeze out any excess water after you've washed your brushes because it likes to seep. This method will help your brushes dry quicker but it'll also help protect them from nasty rust. Yep, the stuff you thought was reserved for an old, rickety fence.
"If brushes are placed upright after washing, excess water may trickle into the handle and ferrule causing rust and deterioration."
4. You need to condition your brushes
Just like your own head, not only do your brushes need a shampoo, they need a condition too. Because so many of them are made out of natural hair bristles.
"They're made out of natural hair for quality and durability reasons, so to keep them smooth and soft, just like hair, adding a conditioner works wonders. Simply apply a drop of conditioner after shampoo and rinse thoroughly for the best result."
5. You can get rid of those hectic makeup stains
For hard-to-shift stains on synthetic brushes (which are more susceptible) like red lipstick and waterproof makeup, Siobhan recommends using makeup remover. Who would've thought?
But if you want to save your makeup remover for your face, try this proven technique:
Step 1: Run your brushes through lukewarm water to remove excess product.
Step 2: Next, take a bar of soap or Sard to the palm of your hand and swirl each brush in circular motions to create a lather.
Step 3: Continue until all product has been removed and the water runs clear. Repeat if necessary.
Step 4: Squeeze excess water out of brushes.
Step 5: Using a small towel, gently press the brush reshaping the bristles as you go.
Step 6: Lay brushes on a flat surface to ensure water does not run into the brush handle.
6. Clean your brushes depending on usage
It seems obvious, the longer you leave your makeup brushes the more bacteria will build up (particularly when you're using liquid products with them), but it doesn't mean you have to clean them all the goddamn time. (We do have Netflix to watch and what not).
"To help prevent breakouts and uneven makeup results, makeup brushes should be cleaned regularly. For those who wear makeup daily, once a week is ideal. For those who keep makeup for special occasions, ensure you wash your brushes once a month."
7. You should toss your sponges regularly
While the most hygienic applicators are brushes and sponges, it doesn't mean you should continue washing them and keep them forever under lock and key.
"Sponges should be kept for no longer than three months and should be cleaned through that time with the steaming method previously mentioned. Good quality brushes with real hair bristles have a life span of a few years, depending on how well you look after them."
The article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com.au