How to Clean a Beauty Blender

Wondering how to wash beauty blenders? Here's the best way to clean makeup sponges
Getty Images

Q: What is the best way clean a beauty blender?

A: God bless those teardrop foundation applicators, they have become a cosmetic routine essential. But a dirty makeup sponge is not the best thing to put on your face. So make sure you remember to clean your beauty blender regularly: give it a good wash with your choice of cleanser, rinsing it until the water runs clear and the sponge is soft. And to kill those nasty germs and prevent mould, you might want to try a zap in the microwave.

girl using blender to do makeup
Smooth operators: beauty blenders

What is a beauty blender is and how it is used?

A beauty blender is a makeup sponge used to apply foundation. The genius inventor behind the original Beauty Blender is US makeup artist Rea Ann Silva, who came up with the idea in the late 1990s when she was working on the show Girlfriends. When the program started shooting in HD you could see the lines caused by the sharp edges of traditional makeup sponges. So Rea set to work to come up with something better.

I would sit in my trailer and cut up wedge sponges into little tear drop shapes and wet them before use. They were my secret weapon on set,” Rea tells Instyle, adding she got the idea to start selling them when the ones she made for herself kept mysteriously going missing!

The iconic teardrop shape has a pointy bit for those tricky narrow parts of the face and the round bottom makes for seamless application: just wet your blender, add your favourite foundation and away you go. [Some controversially prefer to keep their blenders dry. Our motto: Do what works best for you.]

Now beauty blenders are everywhere – and used by everyone, from Kim Kardashian to Chelsea Handler! – and there are plenty of different types you can try. There are round ones and flat ones, white ones and black ones, and ones made of all kinds of different sponges. There’s even a new trend for silicone ones that don’t suck up your expensive foundation and are easy to clean with just a good rinse.

But if you want to know how to clean a beauty blender, you’ve come to the right place.

dirty beauty blender
Clean me! (Credit: Getty Images)

Why is it so important to have a clean makeup sponge?

Applying makeup can help you look like you have flawless skin but if you don’t clean your face – and your applicators – properly, your skin can end up more spotty than before.

“With every application, your brushes and sponges collect oil, dust, dead skin, and residual makeup,” says the UPMC website. “If not regularly and properly cleaned, these tools can re-deposit these less-than-pleasant substances back on your face, clogging your pores. Sanitising and cleaning your beauty tools can reduce the transmission of excess bacteria onto your face and prevent breakouts.”

soap and water
Best way to clean beauty blender? Soap and water (Credit: Getty Images)

What tools and products do you need in order to clean a beauty blender yourself?

It comes as no surprise that when asked how to clean a beauty blender, the original Beauty Blender site recommends using its specially designed products, such as the solid cleanser, liquid cleanser or the Instaclean spray for clean, soft, mould-free makeup sponges.

But using specialist products can be spendy. The basics for how to wash beauty blenders are water and some kind of soap – liquid or solid, a bowl or sink to do the cleaning in, and a clean, airy space to dry the makeup sponge when you’re done.

what is a beauty blender?
What goes in, must come out (Credit: Getty Images)

Step by step guide on how to wash a beauty blender

1. Damp it down
Start by wetting your beauty blender. Squeeze and let go a few times under the tap so the water goes all the way into the middle.

2. Apply the cleanser
Whether you are using a solid soap or liquid cleanser, now is the time to add the cleaning agent to the makeup sponge.

3. Get sudsy with it
In a bowl of water or your sink, massage the beauty blender so the soap starts to become a lather. The old makeup on the inside of the sponge should start to come out.

4. Gently does it
A good quality beauty blender is made of delicate material. So don’t be too rough in this cleaning process, just squeeze and rub softly till all the makeup seems to be out of the makeup sponge and the beauty blender feels soft.

5. Rinse and repeat
Every now and again, change the water or rinse under the tap, till the water coming out of the beauty blender when you squeeze it is clear.

6. Home and dry
When you are happy with how clean your cosmetic tool is, leave it to dry in a clean, airy spot that’s not in direct sunlight.

How else can you clean your Beauty Blender?

As/if (above) tests several different products to see how to wash beauty blenders the best. Some seem to do quite a good job, even though they are cheaper than official Beauty Blender merch.

And even though the Beauty Blender official how-to guide warns against using vinegar (cheap but nasty) and zapping in a microwave, make-up blogger Tati thinks the latter is actually a pretty smart idea, as the heat kills nasty germs that can do damage to your face (and make your blender smell whiffy with mould and bugs). Watch her explain below

How often should you clean your beauty blender?

Hmmm. There is differing opinions.
Beauty Blender’s Rea reckons you should clean your makeup sponges every day, while 
Cosmopolitan warns the bar soap method can be too harsh for the makeup sponge and recommends saving that routine for once a month. If your skin is prone to breakouts, it’s probably a good idea to keep your applicators as clean as you can.

Or you could try one of the new silicone products, like this one below from Sephora, that are super easy to clean (and they don’t suck up all your product).

silicone blender
Sephora has a $15 silicone makeup sponge (Credit: Sephora)

How to wash a beauty blender that has stubborn stains?

It’s enough to make your hair go white. But if you’ve tried everything else and you don’t want to just chuck out your beauty blender, you could try the mitt (pictured below). It’s another official Beauty Blender product that is supposed to be great on stains and also for cleaning makeup brushes. But be gentle with it on the makeup sponge: one review said their beauty blender started to fall apart after use.

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