How to Tell When It's Time for a New Makeup Brush

It might be time to toss yours in the garbage.

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You wouldn't use the same toothbrush forever, so why hang on to that makeup brush for so long? Here's when to start fresh — and why it makes a difference to your skin.

Toss a Brush If...

It's Gunked Up: Haven't cleaned that brush in a while? It's probably caked with makeup, oil, dust, and germs. And that may be why you're breaking out. One study found that after a month, the number of bacteria on unwashed makeup brushes was too high to count. Hello, pimples! Plus, a yucky brush can actually change the color of your pretty makeup.

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It Feels a Little Scratchy: Rough bristles are abrasive and can cause microscopic tears on your skin, making it more vulnerable to acne-causing bacteria.

It Looks Like an Old Broom: If the bristles are falling out or fraying, well, hey! Buy a new one. A misshapen brush won't apply makeup cleanly and evenly.

When You Replace It:

Consider the Bristles: Animal hair is the softest, but it's also more porous and tends to trap dirt, oil, and bacteria. These days, better quality synthetic bristles — made of nylon or polyester — are easy to find. Before you buy, sweep the brush over the inside of your wrist to make sure it's not too stiff or rough.

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Store it Properly: Stand it up in a cup and keep it in a dry place — not your steamy bathroom — to stop bacteria from growing. On the go? Stash it in a ziplock bag so it doesn't smoosh against other things in your purse.

Please, Clean It: Wash all your brushes every few weeks with baby shampoo. The fibers will stay germ-free and supple.

Experts: Anita Simonian, MPH; David E. Bank, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center; Zakia Rahman, MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology, Stanford University; Jessi Butterfield, New York-based makeup artist; Maureen Burke, Los Angeles- and New York-based makeup artist

This story originally appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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