How to Clean a Beauty Blending Sponge, According to a Celebrity Makeup Artist

September 22, 2023
Reece Andavolgyi
By: Reece Andavolgyi | by L'Oréal
Person using makeup sponge to apply foundation

Makeup sponges have changed the way many do makeup thanks to their expert abilities to blend liquid products, like foundation, cream blush and concealer, helping provide a natural, seamless makeup look. Overall, a makeup sponge is a great tool to keep in your makeup bag, but there’s more to it than just knowing how to use one properly — you also need to know how to clean it.

Neglecting to clean your makeup sponge can have adverse effects on your skin, so it’s highly important that you know how to do it correctly, in addition to how often you should be doing it. Read on to learn how to properly clean your makeup sponges and how often you should be cleansing them, according to a celebrity makeup artist and a board-certified dermatologist. 

What Is a Beauty Blending Sponge?

A makeup beauty sponge (like the NYX Professional Makeup The Marshmallow Blender Sponge or the BeautyBlender The Original Makeup Sponge) is a soft piece of foam that can be used to apply makeup like foundation, cream blush, concealer and face powder. “Beauty sponges have become one of my favorite tools to use as a makeup artist,” says Courtney Hart, LA-based celebrity makeup artist. “Their ability to help seamlessly blend and bounce makeup into place is hard to accomplish with a brush or fingers.” 

How Often Should You Clean Your Beauty Blending Sponges?

As a working celebrity makeup artist, Hart cleans her brushes and makeup sponges after every client, but for personal use, she advises once a week. 

If you’re not cleaning your beauty sponges on a regular basis, it can have adverse effects on the skin and may also affect the way your makeup looks. “If you aren't cleaning your makeup brushes regularly, then you could be spreading bacteria and yeast all over your skin,” says Dr. Hadley King, board-certified dermatologist. “This will increase your risk for more pimples and skin irritations.” 

Like Hart, Dr. King recommends cleaning makeup sponges that you use with cream, liquid and eye products once a week. As for everything else, like face powders, “every other week could be adequate, dry powders are a more challenging environment for microbes to grow in,” she adds.

How to Clean Your Beauty Blending Sponges

Step 1: Start With Oil

“My first trick is to use an oil-based cleanser to break down product in the sponge,” says Hart. “I’ve even tried olive oil and have been very impressed with its ability to dissolve the toughest of makeup stains.” According to Hart, this is the same logic that applies to double-cleansing your face. Oils break down the makeup, then the water-based cleanser helps remove dirt and any leftover residue. 

As Hart mentioned, olive oil works well to break down makeup stains. If you want to reserve this antioxidant-rich oil for your kitchen cupboard, you can get a similar effect with an oil-based facial cleanser like the CeraVe Hydrating Foaming Oil Cleanser

CeraVe Hydrating Foaming Oil Cleanser

Step 2: Wash With Soap 

“Next, go in with warm water and either a makeup sponge shampoo or gentle hair shampoo,” says Hart. Kiehl’s Amino Acid Shampoo is a mild formula that would be great for this. Take your time to massage the soap into the makeup sponge and rinse. According to Hart, rinse until the water runs clear — a good indication that the sponge is clean. This may take some time and patience, but it’s key for removing all the leftover makeup from the sponge.
Kiehl’s Amino Acid Shampoo

Step 3: Microwave the Sponge 

“Something important to remember is that cleaning is NOT the same thing as sanitizing,” Hart notes. Makeup sponges work and blend so well thanks to their porous, spongy texture, but that also makes them really difficult to sanitize. “The closest method I have found and the one I use is to place your sponges in a bowl of soapy water, place in the microwave and turn it on for one minute.” According to Hart, the heat and steam will help kill some of the bacteria.  

Some prefer to disinfect their makeup sponges with dish soap or alcohol, and while this may help to kill germs, the harsh liquids will break down the makeup sponge, and you will need to replace it more frequently. 

Step 4: Let It Dry

After you’ve washed your makeup sponge, place it on a clean paper towel or washcloth and let it dry overnight. To achieve maximum impact from the sponge before you use it again, give it time to dry as opposed to just using it right after. 

When to Replace Your Beauty Blending Sponges

Beauty blending sponges do not last forever. “Using old makeup sponges or brushes that have become contaminated with bacteria or yeast can cause skin irritations or infections,” says Dr. King. Ideally, they should be replaced every three to six months if you’re using them daily. If your makeup sponge has any rips or tears, that’s also a good indication that it is time to get a new one. 

If you don’t like replacing your beauty sponge, you may want to try a silicone sponge. While they  typically don’t blend as well as a foam sponge, the silicone texture is much easier to clean and sanitize. 

Products to Clean Your Makeup Sponges

NYX Professional Makeup On The Spot Makeup Brush Cleaner Spray

This easy-to-use makeup brush and sponge cleaner is perfect for on-the-go use. Just spray your sponge and blot it onto a clean paper towel or washcloth to remove the excess makeup. Make sure to let the sponge dry before using it to apply your makeup. 

NYX Professional Makeup On The Spot Makeup Brush Cleaner Spray

BeautyBlender BlenderCleanser Solid Unscented Sponge & Brush Cleanser

Formulated with aloe and coconut oil, this super-concentrated, solid cleanser removes stains and kills germs on your makeup tools and sponges. It also comes with a silicone mat that helps lift stubborn makeup stains. 

BeautyBlender BlenderCleanser Solid Unscented Sponge & Brush Cleanser

Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush Cleaner 

This professional-grade brush and makeup sponge cleaner removes stains, includes 99.99% antimicrobial disinfectant and boasts a quick-to-dry formula. Use it to clean, disinfect and condition dirty makeup sponges without leaving an oily residue behind. 

Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush Cleaner
Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn

Read more

Back to top