Spending

When to replace your makeup brushes and beauty sponges, according to cosmetics experts

"If you're noticing they are getting kind of stiff and clumping together ... it's time to toss it."

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As the vaccine rollout continues, the prospect of a more social summer and fall is becoming more likely. This means you might be revisiting your makeup bag and seeing some brushes and beauty sponges you haven't used for months.

Old makeup applicators aren't as effective at applying products and pose a health risk, says Jenna Rosenstein, beauty director at Bazaar.com. "One of the lowest side effects would be some breakout or irritation," she says. "On the scarier side of things, it could be a breeding ground for bacteria and you could end up with some more serious skin issues or skin infections."

Here's how often you need to replace your makeup brushes and beauty sponges, how to make them last as long as possible, and some surprising places you can find great deals on them.

How often should you replace your makeup brushes and sponges?

There are two types of brushes, Rosenstein says: natural and synthetic. Good quality natural brushes will cost more, but also last longer, she says: "Natural brushes could last several years. Synthetic ones could last you about one year."

Rosenstein's favorite brand is Artis brushes. A five-brush set will run you $185 at Nordstrom.

Natural brushes could last several years. Synthetic ones could last you about one year.
Jenna Rosenstein
beauty director at Bazaar.com

There are often clear signals that it's time to throw your brushes out. If your brush looks noticeably different from the day you got it or has developed an odor, it might be time to dispose of it. "If you're noticing shedding, if you're noticing they are getting kind of stiff and clumping together, or if it gets a weird smell, it's time to toss it," Rosenstein says.

With makeup and blending sponges, watch to see if there are cracks or there's "significant staining." If so, it's probably time to replace them. Beauty blenders do not last as long as brushes, Rosenstein says: "I would say you should hold on to those no longer than three months."

What can you do to make your brushes and blenders last longer?

"In an ideal world, we would be washing our makeup brushes after every use," Rosenstein says. "Do any of us do that, though? No."

To make your brushes last as long as possible, you should wash them regularly with baby shampoo or face wash. "Aim for twice a month with cleansing," Rosenstein says. "It is a reasonable and great goal to have. And any more than that, even better."

Makeup sponges, such as those from Beautyblender, need a little more attention if you want them to have a longer shelf life. "You should be squeezing out a Beautyblender and rinsing with soap and water at least once a week," she says.

You should be squeezing out a Beautyblender and rinsing with soap and water at least once a week.
Jenna Rosenstein
beauty director at Bazaar.com

When is the best time to buy new brushes?

Beauty stores like Sephora and Ulta regularly hold sales around Easter and Mother's Day, says consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch: "Often, these sales may offer discounts limited to certain products or brands, or may offer a deal like $5 off orders of $50."

"Watch for semiannual sales from Sephora and Ulta to pop up around April and during the fall season," adds Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com.

From March 14 to April 3, Ulta hosts its 21 Days of Beauty event where different brands and products go on sale every day. "This is an excellent example of an upcoming beauty sale worth shopping, as it'll include 50% off Beauty Steals in a variety of categories," Ramhold says. For instance, on March 30 you can get 50% off a Beautyblender Dream Swirl, which reduces the price from $20 to $10.

Don't forget to look outside of your typical beauty stores, too. Costco, for example, has great beauty sales, Ramhold says. "You might not think of the warehouse store as a good place to shop for beauty products, but you can find surprisingly great deals on well-known brands by shopping online."

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