You know you need to wash your makeup brushes (and if you didn’t, see here for the handful of reasons why you should). Not only can a nasty brush harbor bacteria and lead to irritation but it also just doesn’t work as well—after all, it’s pretty difficult to get that perfect product transfer using a brush caked with gunk.
OK, so you regularly wash your brushes until they’re spick and span (applause!). Over time, though, you may notice those bristles becoming frayed and spiky to the touch—which doesn’t exactly lend a pleasant makeup experience, either. Are you over-washing your brushes, or is the tool simply past its prime?
Why you should condition your makeup brushes.
Your brushes are made of superfine, tiny hairs: be it animal hairs or synthetic, vegan fibers that rival the look and feel of natural strands. And hair, as you may know, needs moisture to stay soft and shiny.
That’s where conditioner comes in: No matter which hydrator you choose (our favorites here, if you’re curious), a good conditioner will contain nutrients that can penetrate the hair shaft and soften the fiber. As hair consultant and trichologist Sarah Roberts once told mbg, “Conditioner will hydrate your hair and help it to be less frizzy, as its purpose is to also smooth your cuticles and add softness. Think of when you add softener to your clothes after washing them.”
Think about it: If you only used shampoo to cleanse the gunk out of your hair without adding back in moisture and nutrients, you would likely have one dry, rough mane. The same goes for your makeup brushes: “Just like any other hair, it needs conditioner if it’s going to stay strong,” says Scortezz.
That said, run a conditioner through your brushes after washing out all the pigment. It shouldn’t take much—just a dollop or two can really make a difference—and it should help your brushes stay soft and fluffy.
Help your brushes last longer by conditioning them after every wash (which, if you wear makeup regularly, means every other week). Over-cleansing can dry out the hairs—just like the hairs on your head!—but coating them in moisture can keep the bristles smooth and featherlight.