Makeup brushes touch your face on a daily basis, which is why it’s so important to use high-quality brushes and regularly clean them. But even with a proper cleaning routine, makeup brushes don’t last forever.
Depending on the quality of the materials and the way you take care of your brushes, their lifespan may vary significantly.
So, how often should you replace your makeup brushes? Typically, makeup brushes can last you 2-3 years and maybe even longer if they are cleaned and stored properly. Makeup sponges, on the other hand, last 3-6 months with proper care.
In this post, we will go over different types of makeup brushes and how long they last. We will also give you a few tips on cleaning and storing your brushes to help extend their lifespan.
How Often Should You Clean Your Makeup Brushes?
When we talk about how often you should replace your makeup brushes, we can’t ignore the biggest factor that affects them: cleaning.
Most makeup brushes, the ones with bristles, need to be cleaned every week. We’re talking eyeshadow brushes, bronzer brushes, blush brushes, powder brushes, and foundation brushes.
If it has a bristle, you should be cleaning it once a week. If you’re using a sponge makeup applicator, you need to wash it every single time you use it. That’s right, every time!
Since sponges absorb everything, they are likely to pick up bacteria and oils from your face. The bacteria grow very well in damp and porous spaces, which can lead to breakouts and acne the next time you put the brush on your face.
This is why it’s so important to keep your brushes clean – your skin will thank you for it!
How Often Should You Replace Your Makeup Brushes?
Now that you know how often you should be cleaning your brushes, they should last you a long time. However, even with proper cleaning, brushes don’t last forever.
Bristle brushes can become stiff and deformed after a while, and no amount of cleaning can help. They can also begin to shed and lose bristles, leaving behind little hairs on your face when you’re doing makeup. These are all good signs that your brushes are approaching the end of their time.
Most brushes will perform well if cleaned properly for 2-5 years on average. But the exact timeline depends on the type of brush, as there are different options on the market:
Synthetic Makeup Brushes
Synthetic makeup brushes are made out of man-made materials, such as nylon or polyester. They are cheaper to produce than natural makeup brushes, and they perform really well, so lots of people love these brushes.
Synthetic fibers also have a unique way of gravitating toward each other, which allows for a smoother makeup application.
You’ll find great synthetic brushes for foundation, eyeshadow, and bronzer applications.
Another great thing about synthetic brushes is that their bristles are less porous than those made of natural fibers. Because of this, they don’t have a tendency towards harboring and growing bacteria within the bristles, which allows them to last longer.
You should still be washing your synthetic brushes every week to make sure they are safe to use and last a long time.
Synthetic brushes can range in quality depending on where they were produced and how they were designed. Most of them will last you at least 2-3 years and possibly longer.
As long as your brushes don’t exhibit any signs of damage, such as shedding or a foul smell, you should be able to use them for up to 3 years.
After 3 years it is best to replace your synthetic brushes because they likely won’t be performing as well as new ones at that point.
Natural Makeup Brushes
Natural makeup brushes have bristles that are made of animal hair, such as goats, squirrels, or sables.
These brushes have been around for hundreds of years. They work exceptionally well with powder makeup products like blushes and eyeshadow, but some of them are designed to be used with cream makeup as well.
These brushes are usually more costly than synthetic brushes and are made using high-quality techniques. Because of that, they can last up to 5 years with proper care! It can also be very hard or even impossible to find cruelty-free animal hair brushes, which is why we recommend synthetic.
These brushes also need to be cleaned very thoroughly in order to make them last this long. This is because natural fibers, just like human hair, have pores and cuticles, where dirt, bacteria, and oils can get stuck.
This is why it’s important to wash your natural makeup brushes thoroughly at least once a week using a special cleanser that is safe to use on natural bristles.
As with synthetic brushes, you’ll be able to tell that your natural brushes have “gone bad” if they change texture, start shedding, or develop a weird smell. As long as these things aren’t happening, you can use them for up to 5 years before you replace them.
As we mentioned above, makeup sponges should be replaced much more frequently than makeup brushes.
There are different makeup sponges out there – the inexpensive kind that come in bulk and the pricier ones that are made with antimicrobial materials.
The ones that come in bulk are not meant to be reused, so it’s best to throw them away after each use. You might be able to clean them and use them for a few days, but don’t expect them to last any longer than that.
If you have a proper makeup sponge that is meant to be reused, you can stretch it a lot longer. These makeup sponges (such as Beautyblender and similar brands) are made using higher quality foam that has antimicrobial properties. This allows it to last longer and prevents bacterial overgrowth.
We recommend replacing these makeup sponges every 1-3 months. This is because they are still porous and absorb a lot of makeup, oil, dirt, and bacteria which can damage the brush itself as well as cause breakouts on your skin.
With proper care, your makeup sponge can last up to 3 months. To make it last this long, ensure that you are cleaning your brush after every use and allow it to dry in an environment with proper ventilation.
If your makeup sponge becomes discolored or develops a smell, throw it out ASAP. This could be a sign of mold, which is the last thing you want to put near your face!
Eyeliner And Lip Brushes
Some eyeliner brushes, eyebrow brushes, and lip brushes can be put into this category if they come in contact with thick and oily makeup. Think makeup that comes in a tub like gel eyeliner or lipstick tins.
If your brushes are constantly coming into contact with this type of makeup, the build-up is inevitable. It can be hard to wash this kind of makeup out, even if you stick to a weekly cleaning routine.
These brushes tend to last less than 1 year because eventually, they become stiff and difficult to use. Your makeup application will suffer if you don’t replace these in a timely manner.
Tips For Making Your Makeup Brushes Last Longer
Now that you know the general timeline for your brushes, we want to share a few tips that you can use to make sure your brushes last as long as possible:
- Use the right kind of cleanser for your brushes – if you have natural bristle brushes, it’s important to use a cleanser that won’t dry out the hairs.
- If you don’t have access to a cleanser, a gentle shampoo or face wash can be used instead.
- Avoid hot or cold water while cleansing your brushes – lukewarm works best.
- When done cleaning, squeeze out any remaining water using a clean towel.
- Do not dry your brushes on a towel or in an upright position. The best way to let them air-dry is by putting them on the edge of a counter or sink with the bristles hanging over the edge – this way, they won’t get flattened.
- When drying a makeup sponge, you can allow it to dry in an upright position, just make sure it’s not drying in a damp room and there is proper ventilation.
- Keep the brush head (where bristles connect to the handle) away from soap and water to keep the adhesive from washing away and causing premature shedding.
- Don’t keep your makeup brushes in a makeup bag where they can get dirty and damaged.
- It’s best to store makeup brushes in a cup or a roll where they will be protected.
- Do not keep your makeup sponge in an airtight container – leave it somewhere it can air-dry until your next use.
Makeup brushes can last you a long time if they were made with high-quality materials. The key is to take proper care of them, which means cleansing regularly, drying properly, and storing your brushes away from other makeup tools.
When it comes to synthetic vs. natural bristle brushes, both can last you around 3 years on average, with natural brushes having a slightly longer lifespan due to better quality of materials.
Sponge applicators last up to 3 months with proper care.
As long as you are aware of all timelines and taking good care of your brushes, they will last you a long time before you have to replace them.