It's Time To Clean Your Makeup Sponges

Whatever you do, don't even think about popping them in the microwave.

Makeup sponges have the power to transform a ho-hum complexion to the kind of flawless-looking skin you might have thought was only possible for airbrushed cover stars or cousin Lorraine who's on a sugar-free diet. We're here to say that with a makeup-blending sponge you can have your cake and eat it too. This little tool of the trade comes with a caveat, though. It's going to need a little care and maintenance to keep it in tip-top shape and to avoid fostering a bacteria breeding ground.

The beauty of makeup sponges is that they're able to disperse and blend makeup by pulling the formula into the sponge instead of just sitting on top, which results in amazingly even application. It also warrants routine maintenance that means a little more than just rinsing your blender under warm water for a few seconds after each use (something you should be doing at the very least). Even if you've already mastered how to clean makeup sponges and do it religiously with every use, you'll still need to replace the tool every three months—for reasons relating to both hygiene and effectiveness.

The best way to clean makeup sponges is to use a formula that is specifically designed to treat the unique porous material. No matter how convincing the YouTube tutorials are, it is not recommended that you pop your makeup sponge in the microwave for a deep steam clean. It will break down the sponge and compromise its effectiveness. Brands like BeautyBlender and Sephora Collection have products that make cleaning just a tad breezier than lathering up with bar soap or baby shampoo, both of which can stand in for a makeup sponge cleansing formula in a pinch.

Makeup Sponges
Getty/Blanchi Costela

It's best to refer to the instructions on your product of choice but, to give you an idea of how to clean your makeup sponge, you'll want to start by wetting the sponge and applying cleanser, paying particular attention to worked-in stains. Use your fingers to work the solution into the entire sponge, using something similar to a kneading technique and alternating swirling in the palm of your hand, if you don't have a makeup cleansing mat. If you're using a mat, swirl the brush gently over the textured area, rotating the brush to ensure all sides of the brush receive a sudsy coat. Rinse off the sponge, squeezing out any remaining soap. If you've skipped a few washes between uses (not ideal, but we get it), you might need to repeat this process one or two times to work out the more stubborn stains.

Once you're satisfied that your makeup sponge is clean as a whistle, allow it to dry completely in open air. You don't want to stick it in a dark corner of your medicine cabinet or throw it back into your makeup bag where it will hold in moisture and give bacteria a field day. Leave it on a clean counter, ideally on a drying rack to ensure every last angle can air dry completely.

If you've noticed acne appearing on your cheeks, or anywhere that your makeup sponge touches, you're likely well overdue for a thorough brush washing. If you're unable to wash your brush with every use (we understand) do work out excess makeup under warm running water instead, and definitely don't go any longer than a week between properly lathering up your brush.

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