Viral TikTok Video Shows The Dangers Of Dirty Makeup Brushes

Acne, allergic reactions, and conjunctivitis are definitely not what we think of when applying our makeup. But, if you're not taking the proper precautions when it comes to your makeup brushes, then these issues could become a reality.

By Simone Sydel4 min read
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According to a viral TikTok video, dirty makeup brushes may be behind your common skin concerns, but that's certainly not the worst thing that can happen.

Appropriately labeling makeup brushes a "breeding ground for bacteria," the video goes on to show the stuff of nightmares we don't see when we pick up our brushes and swirl them across our skin carefree.

A warning to all makeup enthusiasts and newbies, this video is a must-watch, which is why in this article, we're discussing the dangers of dirty makeup brushes, how often you should be cleaning them, and how to clean them properly to ensure safe makeup application.

Dirty Makeup Brushes Are a Potential Health Hazard

The viral TikTok video by Daniel Day (@themicroguy) details an experiment highlighting the dangers of using dirty makeup brushes.

The video starts with Day collecting a sample by swirling a dirty makeup brush in a petri dish and letting it sit in a safety cabinet for some time before revealing the shocking results of a slimy, gooey layer of bacteria and fungus on top of the makeup residue from the brush.

The video sparked a wave of comments across social media, with users horrified by the results and sharing their own stories about using dirty makeup brushes and only bothering to clean them after they can’t be used anymore due to makeup buildup.

"It's no secret that dirty makeup brushes can give you acne," said Day in the video, but can it go even further than that?

In case you didn't already figure it out, the answer is yes. Dirty makeup brushes can spread bacteria and even fungus to your skin which can result in rashes, infections, and even allergic reactions. One reason for this is that, through applying makeup, the bristles on our makeup brushes collect the bacteria that reside on our skin. And these strains of bacteria are most commonly commensal, meaning they live with us and on our skin without causing any harm.

However, in order for them to not cause any harm, they have to be balanced. But, this balance tips over when we remove some of that bacteria from our skin and allow it to accumulate on the bristles of our brushes, mixing with makeup residue, skin oil, and other pathogens from the environment before returning the accumulated mixture back to our skin with the next makeup application, which automatically causes an imbalance in our microbiome and leads to skin issues.

Along with acne, which, realistically, is the best-case scenario compared to other things that may happen, this practice can also lead to more severe issues, like an allergic reaction. An allergic reaction is characterized by an overall systemic immune response against a foreign invader, which in the case of dirty makeup brushes, is the bacteria that accumulates between the bristles.

This bacteria can then find the tiniest crack in our skin which may very well be invisible to the naked eye, and enter our body, gaining complete access to everything our skin is designed to protect. Our immune system will then perceive the invader as a threat and start to fight against it, warning us that something is wrong through various symptoms, such as redness, itching, rashes, and even more severe reactions like difficulty breathing and chest pains.

In addition to that, dirty makeup brushes can also lead to bacterial conjunctivitis, which is a condition caused by staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that already resides on our skin but which, when allowed to accumulate on a makeup brush and come into contact with the eyes, can cause inflammation of the conjunctiva which can lead to some very uncomfortable symptoms like red eyes, itching, burning, and blurred vision, that can last for days or even weeks.

So, dirty makeup brushes can definitely cause more than just acne and can potentially lead to some incredibly uncomfortable and potentially life-threatening conditions.

Antibacterial Spray Made Things Even Worse

As the video progresses, it only goes from bad to worse, as Day introduces us to the concept of using antibacterial spray on makeup brushes in an attempt to eliminate some of that bacteria. Antibacterial sprays are commonly used by makeup artists between makeup applications as they are a quick way to remove makeup residue.

Unfortunately, the results of this practice were definitely not what a vast majority of the viewers were expecting, as, according to themselves, many rely on this method to maintain the cleanliness of their brushes without spending too much time and effort cleaning them.

Using antibacterial sprays on your makeup brushes causes bacteria to produce a biofilm that ensures their survival.

As it turns out, using antibacterial sprays on your makeup brushes will only agitate the bacteria, causing them to produce a biofilm that ensures their survival and makes them even more resistant to disinfectants. This means that not only are we failing to remove the bacteria from our brushes, but we’re also allowing the ones that remain to become even more challenging to remove. This also means that if you experience a significant side effect due to the use of dirty makeup brushes, which are now ridden with extremely organized generations of bacteria, it will be much harder to treat due to them developing antibiotic resistance.

How To Clean Your Makeup Brushes To Ensure Safe Makeup Application

The viral TikTok video presented a visual confirmation of what we were all afraid of, but it also provided us with an opportunity to learn how to properly clean our makeup brushes in order to keep them free of all the potential hazards that come with them.

As it turns out, makeup brushes should be washed more frequently than you probably thought, and depending on how often they are used, they should be cleaned every week or twice a month at the very least.

However, people don't wash their brushes regularly, not because they take the risk of experiencing side effects lightly, but because this is a complicated task that requires time and effort that many simply don't have.

But washing your brushes doesn't have to be complicated, and you can even allow them to clean themselves with the following method:

  1. Mix a teaspoon of apple cider or white vinegar and (optionally) a teaspoon of your facial cleanser in a mug or a pot.

  2. Add boiling water and whisk the mixture.

  3. Place your brushes into the foamy liquid, ensuring the bristles are completely submerged.

  4. Leave your brushes in the mixture for at least 20-30 minutes so that the vinegar neutralizes the bacteria.

  5. Rinse them with lukewarm water, ensuring soap is thoroughly removed from each brush.

  6. After you're done, pour the mixture away, and place your brushes in the same pot to air dry, with their bristles up.

  7. Finally, store your brushes in a clean and dry container, as you don't want to contaminate the now clean brushes by allowing them to come into contact with a dirty container.

Closing Thoughts

And there you have it! An easy and practical way to keep your makeup brushes clean without overcomplicating the process.

So make sure to take the few necessary steps to keep your makeup brushes germ-free at least 2-3 times a month to ensure the health of your skin and minimize the risk of experiencing unpleasant side effects.

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