Talking dirty: how dangerous is the bacteria on your make-up brushes?

You’ll never look at your cosmetics bag in the same way again…

If you’re like the majority of cosmetic users, you probably don’t give much thought to the cleanliness of your make-up brushes. And even if you intend to wash them regularly, it’s probably one of those mundane tasks that you’re always procrastinating over. But the threat posed by potential bacteria lurking within the bristles is real: not only can it cause spots, irritate your skin and worsen wrinkles, but it can also be seriously detrimental to your health.

Think I’m exaggerating? You should try telling that to Australian mum Jo Gilchrist who was left in a wheelchair after contracting MRSA from her friend’s make-up brush. She borrowed the tool to cover a spot and was left with a straph infection, which invaded her body and eventually attacked her spine. While this is an example of an extreme case, her story is a stark reminder of how easily dangerous bacteria can spread via something as seemingly harmless as a make-up brush.

At best, applying your make-up with filthy tools every morning could clog your pores and increase the likelihood of blemishes. What’s more, you could be exposing your skin to oxidative stress, which can cause collagen and elastin to breakdown - leading to premature ageing. 

Everyone’s skin and body contains naturally occurring germs that are completely harmless. These can exist on your brushes and make-up products without posing any threat to your health or skin whatsoever. But it’s when these levels of bacteria become too high or when your tools come into contact with disease and infection causing germs – known as pathogens – that problems arise. 

So, for example, if you apply your foundation with dirty hands and then use a brush to apply powder or blusher you run the risk of transferring bacteria. Likewise, if you store your brushes in a germ-riddled environment like a bathroom, bacteria from the toilet can quite literally end up on your face. These germs can then spread and enter your body through your mouth, eyes and broken skin or pimples – leading to the transmission of viruses and diseases.

It is pretty sickening stuff.

So just how dirty are the tools in your make-up bag? In a study we conducted of used make-up brushes borrowed from 35 consumers, make-up artists and beauty counters, a laboratory deemed 58 per cent as “too unhygienic for use.” Thirty-four per cent actually contained more bacteria than your average toilet brush. And one supposedly clean brush that had been sitting on a make-up counter ready for use on an unsuspecting customer was harbouring more than 40,000 bacteria.

The results were surprising, even after we’d polled 1,000 women and found that 44 per cent had never washed their brushes. Never. Washed. Them. Ever.

Given that it is such a time consuming process, we can completely understand why most people don’t wash their make-up brushes by hand as regularly as experts recommend (that’s once a week, in case you were wondering). It’s a messy task that can take a lot of time and effort. What’s more, drying your brushes so they are ready for re-use can take at least 24 hours, which is an understandable inconvenience.

In a focus group we carried out, it was this lengthy drying time that put off most make-up users from regular cleansing. So if you are part of the majority not washing your brushes every week, you certainly aren’t alone.

The more we looked into this issue, the more we realised that there was a need for a product that made the lives of consumers and make-up professionals easier. We realised that people needed help washing and drying their brushes quickly and effectively so they could minimise the germs in their make-up bags.

That’s why I invented the StylPro Make-up Brush Cleaner and Dryer. It hygienically cleans and dries every kind of make-up brush in around 30 seconds. In fact, there’s no other product like it on the market.

The beauty is that it’s really simple to use: you attach any make-up brush using one of eight collars before dunking it into the bowl containing water and soap (or cleanser for tougher oil-based formulas). You then press a button and spin the brush around to swirl away make-up and bacteria before slowly lifting it out of the liquid to dry.

The brush comes out completely clean and bone dry in about half a minute.

To ensure that the StylPro is not only faster but also more hygienic than traditional methods, we worked with an independent laboratory to guarantee results. Scientists deliberately applied 100,000 bacteria to a number of clean brushes. They then used an identical amount of make-up on each brush before cleaning some using antibacterial soap and water, some using a well known branded brush cleanser and some using the StylPro. The tests proved that the StylPro is as good, if not better, at removing bacteria versus soap and water and branded make-up brush cleaner sprays. Visually, the brushes looked much cleaner too. But best of all, unlike all other methods, the brushes were completely dry and ready to re-use immediately.

When I told celebrity make-up artist Lisa Eldridge about my invention, she gave me an even bigger challenge: to remove the notoriously tough Estée Lauder Double Wear foundation from a flat Kabuki brush. This was an incredibly difficult task and led to the development of the unique StylPro Brush Cleanser containing wheat germ and other cleansing ingredients. When used with the StylPro Make-up Brush Cleaner and Dryer, it leaves brushes looking and feeling as good as new.

You have to see it to believe it.

So if your make-up bag is harbouring it’s own dirty little secrets, fear not. It’s never been easier to rid your brushes of dangerous and unwanted bacteria. As mentioned previously, it’s a good idea to sanitise your tools once a week to minimise germs. You could even try introducing StylPro as part of your Sunday evening routine. See, we bet you feel better already!

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