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Improve your brush game and shake it off (bacteria, that is)

Improve your brush game and shake it off (bacteria, that is)

Despite the warnings about keeping our brushes clean, people are still in denial about the potential bacteria living inside their brushes. So, we put on our lab coats and got beauty deep in bacteria.

In the name of curiosity and hygiene, our faithful beauty addicts in the office volunteered to test for bacteria resistance and growth on both natural and nylon bristles. You see, we use both types of bristle in our brushes at Urban Beauty United and word on the street is that nylon is more hygienic than natural and we wanted to find out the truth!

We conducted some tests to look at the growth rate and presence of bacteria both in the lab and on our dedicated volunteers.

Our first baseline test in the lab sought to find an obvious difference between nylon and natural bristles after applying some nasty lab bacteria and letting it multiply in a petri dish…. Much to our disappointment, there was no clear winner here or considerable bacteria growth.

We then gathered the girl gang for the nylon vs natural battle!

Firstly, we wanted to test daily powder application in a controlled environment – 10 days using natural bristles and then 10 days using nylon bristles, placing the brush into a sealed bag after each use. Secondly, we wanted to freestyle for 1 month to really see how dirty our brushes got. So using our brushes exactly how we would on a normal day and yep… no washing!

Once our bathrooms started to look like a scene out of CSI we went back to the lab… (results take longer than an ad break we assure you!).

While we (and a lot of beauty editors out there) thought that nylon would be the ‘cleaner’ choice, our results overall showed similar data from both types of bristle material, to the point where you couldn’t say that one was better than the other. Each participant had various levels of bacteria found, proving that yes – brushes need to be cleaned regularly.

So, it looks like it’s about how you scrub it, not what it’s made of. What does that mean for us dirty girls?

We asked professional makeup artist Amy Harrison Jess for her hottest tips on keeping squeaky clean.

  1. Watch where you stick it – bacteria will breed in wet products or damp areas
  2. Watch where you keep it – how clean is your makeup bag or vanity? Who has been touching your tools?
  3. Don’t be gross – Clean your brushes properly, why would you spend a million on your skin care and not your tools.

“The cleanliness of your products and brushes is really important,” says Amy. “You need to stay on top of it. If you have sensitive skin, unclean brushes might lead to little pimples and breakouts, and if you have eczema or cold sores, your brushes can spread the germs around.

“Keep your brushes healthy. Like makeup, they’re not cheap! If you look after them well, you’ll have them for a long time.”

So are you game to look in your makeup bag? Or tell your boyfriend – hands off! If your brushes feel sticky or you can’t remember the last time they had a wash… they’re in need of love – or a total revamp.


Third party testing was conducted by Institut Mérieux, Mérieux NutriSciences, Silliker Australia Pty Ltd

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