Updated Guide to Cleaning Your Sponges
We love our makeup sponges, but when was the last time we gave them a good cleaning? In this tutorial, we’ll discuss how makeup sponges function and retain bacteria, as well as some tips to clean your sponge and keep it in top condition.
What Are Makeup Sponges For?
Beauty sponges, aka makeup sponges, are tools used to apply liquid or cream foundation smoothly and evenly.
They can be used with a wet or dry application method and will help blend your cosmetics effortlessly while pressing them into your skin for a natural look that won’t sit on top of it uncomfortably.
Makeup sponges can help you achieve that perfect, airbrushed look.
How To Use Makeup Sponges
A cosmetic sponge can be used for more than just foundation; it can also apply concealer, cream-based blush, shadow, and highlighter.
The added moisture helps the product glide on easily and “stipple” into your skin to create a natural look.
Applying makeup is a breeze with the right sponge! Consider using different shapes and styles of sponges to fit every need, such as hard-to-reach spots like the corners of your eyes and nose.
Makeup will look flawlessly blended near the hairline, jawline, and difficult areas.
How are makeup sponges manufactured?
Sponges are commonly made from foam, but not all types of foam are created equal. Be sure to avoid sponges that contain latex if you have a latex allergy, as they could cause a life-threatening emergency.
If you don’t have an allergy, nevertheless, be warned, as latex is also a known skin irritant and can be especially harmful to those with sensitive skin.
This sponge is made from high-grade, bacteria-resistant foam to keep you safe and healthy.
How Clean Are Makeup Sponges?
Sponges are susceptible to holding a variety of bacteria if they aren’t cleaned often enough. Most makeup sponges contain properties that absorb water, and when this happens, it provides the perfect environment for bacteria to develop.
Without proper cleaning, your makeup sponge can become a petri dish of bacteria in just a few days.
Out of all the cosmetic products that were tested, 70-90% of them were contaminated. The pollution was found to be the highest in blender-style foam makeup sponges. These types of sponges contained:
- Staph aureus is a common staph infection bacteria that lives on the skin in damp and dark areas, such as under the arms or in the groin.
- E. coli is a bacteria typically found in raw, undercooked meat that can cause food poisoning. E. coli lives in the stomach and intestines, but external sources such as poor hand washing can transfer it elsewhere.
- Citrobacter freundii is a bacteria commonly found in human and animal feces.
Just like a swab of cell phones would reveal, the items we touch the most are loaded with germs. These bacteria cause food poisoning, skin infections, and urinary tract infections.
How Often Should I Replace My Makeup Sponge?
Expiration dates are not something that the U.S. requires manufacturers to place on their cosmetics or applicators, making it tricky to know when it’s time to toss your product.
If a product, such as a sponge, smells bad, is discolored, or has broken down, it’s best to get rid of it. These are all signs that the item is no longer usable.
Depending on how often you use your sponge, it should be replaced every 3 to 6 months – even if you regularly and routinely clean it. If you’re using your sponge frequently (on a daily basis), it’s always better to replace something sooner rather than later.
What Are the Consequences of Using a Dirty Makeup Sponge?
So, why worry about bacteria in makeup sponges? After all, they could make you sick. However, it is more probable that they’ll cause skin breakouts instead.
Still, who wants to chance using a germ-infested product on their face?
Dirty sponges are a common cause of pimples and blemishes. Just as you wouldn’t use a dirty towel to dry your face, you shouldn’t use a dirty sponge to apply your makeup.
Otherwise, you risk transferring bacteria that could clog your pores and damage your skin.
How To Clean Your Makeup Sponge
If you want clean skin, you need to use clean beauty tools—it’s that simple. A buildup of dirt and bacteria on your sponge can cause all sorts of problems, from breakouts to dullness.
Luckily, we’ve put together a quick routine for keeping your sponges in tip-top condition.
1. Use a Cleanser
While your facial cleanser might be able to clean your makeup sponge, it’s not necessary to use such a luxurious product. You can simply opt for something cheaper: mild dish soap, baby shampoo, or even a gentle cleansing bar of soap will do the job just fine for lightly soiled sponges.
When faced with heavier dirt, you should check with the manufacturer on their website or label to see if your machine-washable instructions are included; most often than not, you will be able to throw in your sponge inside of a garment bag intended for delicates.
Cleanse your sponge with an oil-based cleanser to help remove makeup, dirt, and grime. Those with oily skin should particularly use this method, as it will help break down the oils in cosmetics that can lead to clogged pores.
2. More soap
To keep your makeup sponges clean, add a small drop of liquid soap, cleanser, or another cleaning agent after each use. The foam will create bubbles, so you don’t need to use much.
3. Warm Water
To clean your sponge and remove any residual makeup, dirt, or oil, massage it gently with warm water. If you want to avoid excess soap bubbles, use running water instead of still water.
You can tell if your sponge is clean if the tinted water runs clear when you squeeze it rather than being murky from leftover makeup pigments.
Gently rinse your sponge after each use. Avoid twisting the sponge, as this could damage it beyond repair. If there is a heavy oil or dirt buildup, repeat steps 1–3 until the water is free of debris.
If there are any areas that seem especially difficult to clean, you can pre-treat them by soaking your sponge in soapy water for around 10 minutes. After that, just follow the first four steps until the stain is gone.
Never put your makeup sponge in the dryer or use any heated tool to try and speed up the drying process, as this could damage the fibers or melt the foam. Allowing your makeup sponge to air dry is the best way to dry it.
Do This to Apply Makeup Cleanly
Here are five tips to avoid bacteria and germs while applying makeup.
1. Sterilize Your Hands
Hand hygiene is one of the best ways to prevent germ transfer and keep your makeup clean. Here’s how: we all know that before we start cooking, it’s important to wash our hands thoroughly.
The same concept applies when we’re getting ready to put on makeup! Whether you’re using your fingers or brushes, starting with clean hands will decrease the amount of bacteria being transferred from your face onto your products, as well as increase product efficacy.
2. Cleaning Your Tools
Your brushes don’t have to be shiny and new out of the box, but they should at least appear well-kept. If your makeup brushes look like they’ve seen better days, it may be time to invest in some new ones. In the meantime, clean your makeup brushes with a brush cleaner before using them on your skin to avoid breakouts.
3. A Better Way to Apply Makeup
By using a disposable spatula to take makeup out of the container, you are preventing bacteria from being transferred to your product and tools. Also, apply makeup from the back of your hand instead of directly from brushes or fingers in order to reduce contamination.
4. Avoid These Practices
You may be used to blowing powder off your brush, wiping product away with your hands, or touching your face with dirty hands during your makeup routine, but avoid these bad practices, which can lead to contaminated products and dirty brushes.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Replace Your Older Products and Tools
Although there is no federal expiration date requirement for cosmetics in the U.S., it’s still a good idea to replace your products every three months, just to be safe. If you don’t use them within that time frame, old makeup and applicators can harbor bacteria that may result in breakouts or skin infections.
Clean Your Sponges Regularly
Maintaining a clean and bacteria-free makeup application is easy with the right habits and tools.
Use antimicrobial sponges that are gentle on your skin, made of cleaner ingredients, and less likely to cause irritation or breakouts.
Natural brands like 100% Pure only use the highest quality tools and cosmetics available, so you can trust their products to be safe for your skin.